Fromer v. Town of Windsor
Government immunity constitutes a defense to a lawsuit and is not an affirmative cause of action that is available to a plaintiff who once served as a government official. Allegedly, the plaintiff, Robert Fromer, served as a commissioner on a municipal inland-wetlands agency, and the defendant town council elected to remove him. Fromer sued, alleging that the defendants violated his due-process rights, failed to provide sufficient cause for his removal, in violation of the Connecticut Supreme Court's 1980 decision in Obeda v. Board of Selectmen, and retaliated because he exercised his rights to free speech. The District Court denied Fromer's motions for a preliminary injunction and for a writ of mandamus. It granted the defendants' motion for summary judgment, and Fromer appealed. The 2nd Circuit reviewed the decision to grant the motion for summary judgment de novo. Summary judgment is appropriate "[w]here the record taken as a whole could not lead a rational trier of fact to find for the non-moving party," pursuant to Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., a 1986 decision of the U.S. Supreme Court. Fromer's arguments lacked merit. He was not entitled to immunity from removal, as he claimed, because immunity is a protection that extends to a defendant in a lawsuit, and he is the plaintiff. The District Court properly concluded that there were no genuine issues of material fact, and that the defendants were entitled to judgment as a matter of law. The 2nd Circuit affirmed the judgment of the District Court, Hall, J.