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No Violation Against City's Anti-Discrimination Policy

09.02.05

No Violation Against City's Anti-Discrimination Policy

By Madelaine Vitale, Staff Writer, (609) 272-7218

Reprinted with permission from the September 2, 2005 issue of The Atlantic City Press. Copyright 2005.  Further duplication without permission is prohibited. All rights reserved.

Federal Judge Throws Out Lawyer's Suit Against A.C.

A U.S. District Court judge threw out former Atlantic City Assistant Solicitor Michael Mosca's federal claims against the city, saying Mayor Lorenzo Langford and other city officials did not violate the city's anti-discrimination policy when they fired Mosca without a hearing.

Mosca claimed his due process rights were violated. He contended the mayor wanted him out after black city workers wrongfully accused him of making racial comments about the mayor at a 2001 Christmas party. The former city worker, who is the prosecutor in Ventnor, claimed the administration wanted him out so that a black lawyer that he and the mayor were friends with could get his job.

Langford, Business Administrator Benjamin Fitzgerald, public defender Avis Cole and municipal prosecutor Billie Moore were named defendants in the 18-count lawsuit.

U.S. District Court Judge Joseph E. Irenas ruled on counts nine through 18 of the lawsuit alleging discrimination, defamation and retaliation late last week.

He said there is no evidence that the Langford administration should have granted a hearing because the alleged racial remarks were not in the workplace. "This hardly translates into (a) charge of workplace discrimination requiring some kind of fact-finding investigation," Irenas said in the decision.

"Mr. Mosca has not demonstrated any racial animus on the part of the defendants, nor has he shown any deprivation of his constitutionally protected rights, privileges and immunities, therefore his claims must fail," Irenas wrote.

The judge said the first eight counts of the lawsuit should go back to state Superior Court because they involve alleged violations of state law.

Mosca's attorney Lou Barbone filed the lawsuit in Superior Court in 2002. It was later transferred to federal court.

Attorney Charles Ercole, who represented Atlantic City, said the judge decided the case right and eloquently.

Ercole said Mosca's claims were ridiculous, and he had no basis for a lawsuit. He said a Superior Court judge will likely rule the same way as Irenas if the first eight claims go back to civil court.

Business Administrator Benjamin Fitzgerald said, "We are gratified by the decision and it was a very thoughtful, well-reasoned and interesting decision. Judge Irenas is known for his prose. The judge's ruling speaks for itself."