Dismissal sought in Binsack lawsuit
Scott J. Binsack is solely responsible for his recent imprisonment, and claims that Shamokin City officials violated his constitutional rights have no merit, five defendants say in a motion to dismiss a federal lawsuit.
A defense attorney responded Friday to a November lawsuit filed by Binsack, claiming Binsack's own admission to absconding parole is what landed him back in prison and was not the result of a conspiracy,++ as he alleges.
"It is a matter of public record that it was plaintiff's failure and refusal to a fundamental condition of his parole by refusing to attend mandatory meetings with the probation office that, and only that, resulted in his return to prison," the motion to dismiss says.
The motion was made by attorney Rolf E. Kroll, of Camp Hill, on behalf of the City of Shamokin and four city officials - Chief Clerk Steve Bartos, Code Enforcement Officer Rick Bozza, Police Chief Ed Griffiths and Councilman R. Craig Rhoades.
Two other defendants, agent Susan Stout and her supervisor, David Frederick, of Pennsylvania Board of Probation and Parole (PBPP), are not included in the motion.
Binsack, represented by Frank Kepner Jr., Berwick, claims the defendants conspired to deprive his constitutional rights to free speech, assembly,
due process and liberty. The suit's five counts also say Binsack's ability to develop real estate opportunities was "seriously damaged," that his "good name, reputation, honor and integrity" were injured, and that he has suffered emotional distress.
He seeks in excess of $75,000 each in compensatory and punitive damages from the city and the PBPP, along with the six individual defendants.
The city's motion claims no "casual link" exists to show the city or its officials acted in retaliation and violated Binsack's First Amendment rights, and that his allegations of a damaged reputation come "in conclusory fashion" and without proof.
Claims that his rights to due process and to free speech were violated, that city officials conspired against him and that emotional distress was intentionally inflicted upon him don't meet the rule of the law, according to the motion.
"In this case, at worst, plaintiff, in his complaint, asserts a number of interactions with moving defendants that may have been deemed by him to be unpleasant, but certainly don't rise to the level of extreme or outrageous conduct," the suit claims.
The motion asks that Bartos, Bozza, Griffiths and Rhoades be dismissed from the lawsuit individually, claiming their identification as individual defendants is redundant and creates confusion since they were acting in an official capacity for the city.
It also asks that any punitive damages sought not be awarded, arguing a municipality is exempt by law from such claims.
Binsack said he was serving as a consultant to Steven Crone's real estate firms S&S Capital LLC and Hometown Revitalization Group LLC. The pair formally introduced themselves to city council during a public meeting in August and shared with council members an "investor prospectus" detailing their firms' intentions to revitalize the local economy and housing market.
Troubles from his past in northeastern Pennsylvania were subsequently reported, and the two took umbrage with the publicity and from there on butted heads with city officials on various issues.
Binsack's profile was heightened locally when, to detail his protests and claims of conspiracy, he created a Facebook page titled "Something's Smokin' in Shamokin" and uploaded several web videos by the same name.
Binsack failed to show for a parole meeting on Oct. 25, and taunted law enforcement through online postings and videos. He was apprehended in New York on Nov. 20, the same day his lawsuit was filed. He was recommitted to prison for six months and, upon release in May, must report to a community corrections residency along with obeying other terms.