Former Pennsylvania Assistant Fire Chief Alleges Conspiracy

WILKES-BARRE - Former city Assistant Fire Chief Thomas Kosciolek in his lawsuit accuses the city and his labor union of conspiring to force him out of his job and of violating his constitutional rights.

Not only do the city and the firefighters union deny the allegations, but their attorneys submitted a 15-page legal brief this week outlining the reasons why the case should be thrown out.

Kosciolek, a city firefighter for 27 years, sued the city and Local 104 of the International Association of Firefighters in federal court claiming they conspired to force him to retire or accept a demotion.

He is suing for damages that include: "back pay, front pay, emotional distress, embarrassment, humiliation, attorneys fees, costs, expenses," as well as other compensation.

Another former assistant fire chief, Robert Turinski, filed a similar lawsuit, which is working its way through the court system.

Both men said their union did not support them in their grievance against the city and that the union president, Thomas Makar, took one of their jobs.

In the Kosciolek case, attorneys for the city and the union submitted a motion to dismiss the suit, claiming his arguments are "woefully deficient."

"At best, (Kosciolek) has offered scattershot allegations that the parties 'must' have been working in concert," the city's lawyers wrote. "Of course, this supposition is simply not enough for an adequate conspiracy pleading."

The attorneys went on to say that the court should dismiss the suit because of Kosciolek's "utter failure" to provide evidence of a conspiracy.

The city and union's attorneys also noted that Kosciolek amended his original lawsuit after an attorney for the union advised his attorney of several "defects" in the original complaint.

Kosciolek's attorney, Cynthia L. Pollick, said it is common for defendants to file motions for dismissal and added that she will file her answer to that motion by Oct. 26.

"I will obviously oppose it vigorously, because I don't believe that there is sufficient grounds to dismiss this complaint," Pollick said.