By David Mazzenga
HONESDALE—Borough Council members Robert Jennings and Jim Brennan removed themselves as plaintiffs from pending litigation regarding the appointment of Councilor Travis Rivera, filed against the borough and its council members on February 14.
The complaint was refiled on March 13, citing Juanita Pisano as the sole plaintiff.
No other changes were made to the roughly 30-page document.
Brennan noted he and Jennings were advised by their legal counsel, Ronald Bugaj, to withdraw as they were not the aggrieved parties.
The suit states Pisano was the first candidate to be nominated, and was nominated by Brennan with Jennings providing a second.
The suit states Mayor Sarah Canfield was present at the Jan. 15 meeting, and “...was not allowed to or asked to break the tie vote with respect to the appointment of Plaintiff Pisano to fill the vacancy on Honesdale Borough Council.”
Court documents continue to state: “Had Mayor Canfield been allowed to cast a vote, it is believed that she would have voted in favor of appointing Plaintiff Pisano to fill the vacancy on Honesdale Borough Council, which would have resulted in Plaintiff Pisano's appointment to Honesdale Borough Council.”
At the January 22 meeting, Brennan “...brought to the attention of Honesdale Borough Council his position that Mr. Rivera was improperly appointed to fill the vacancy....because Mayor Canfield was never consulted to break the tie vote,” the suit states.
Though officially withdrawn from the suit, Brennan stated he still supports the complaint because he feels “the actions of council are in conflict with state law.”
In an interview Thursday, Bugaj stated he and remaining plaintiff Pisano will continue pursuing the litigation as they feel the borough acted improperly and wish to bring that before the court.
The defense filed preliminary objections to the original complaint on March 14.
Defense counsel and Honesdale Borough Solicitor Rich Henry, stated that despite the document being voided by the change in plaintiffs, the objections remain pertinent.
Pending advisement from the Borough Council, Henry stated it is likely they will refile their corrected objections.
The objections call into question the applicability of filing for the case at hand.
The objections state, “Since there is only one council seat in question and Plaintiffs Jennings and Brennan both are seated on council, the Complaint provide[s] no averments as to how Jennings and Brennan have been injured.”
Additionally, though addressed in the amended complaint, the objections call into question the degree to which the plaintiffs are aggrieved.
The objections state, “Pisano is the sole Plaintiff who may have any grounds to complain, but her Complaint rests with the speculative postulation that, if the borough mayor had been asked to break a tie, the mayor would have voted in favor of Pisano.
“There is nothing in the record or pleadings to suggest same.”
Additionally, the objections state the complaint lacks specificity in litigation the defense needs to answer.
According to the objections, “Rule 111, Pa.R.C.P. 1111, governs Quo Warranto actions and our case law specifies the use of same, generally limiting commencement of such action to the Attorney General or the District Attorney and an individual certainly cannot commence such an action to address an alleged wrong unless that individual has been specifically aggrieved.”
Given their objections, the defense asked the court to dismiss the complaint with prejudice.