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Westmoreland County Register of Wills Ginsburg seeks dismissal of defamation lawsuit

| Thursday, Sept. 26, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

Attorneys for Westmoreland County Register of Wills Michael Ginsburg said his client cannot be sued over comments made about an employee's job performance because he is an elected official.

Ginsburg, a first-term Republican from Penn Township, on Wednesday asked Westmoreland County Judge Richard E. McCormick Jr. to dismiss a defamation lawsuit filed against him this month.

Ginsburg was sued by an employee in his office over published comments he made in response to a complaint filed against him with the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission. In that complaint, staffer Katie Pecarchik contended Ginsburg and his chief deputy, Charles Humberger, sexually harassed her and made the office a hostile work environment.

In an interview, Ginsburg responded to those allegations by saying he experienced discipline problems with Pecarchik.

Ginsburg's lawyers, Christian D. Marquis and Teresa O. Sirianni, contend the comments are protected under state law because he is a “high public official” and asked that the lawsuit be dismissed because Pecarchik did not disclose how she was damaged by the statements.

Ginsburg has not disputed making the statements about Pecarchik but has denied allegations that he sexually harassed her.

Pecarchik's lawyer, David Millstein, said on Wednesday that Ginsburg is not protected under government immunity provisions in the law.

“Knowingly making statements that are false is not protected by privilege,” Millstein said.

Ginsburg is being represented by the Pittsburgh law firm of Marshall Dennehy Warner Coleman and Goggin. Westmoreland County commissioners are expected to hire that firm formally on Thursday on Ginsburg's behalf.

Rich Cholodofsky is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-830-6293 or rcholodofsky@tribweb.com.

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