Sosa v. City of Woonsocket Police Department, 032720 RISUP, PC-2019-4868

Docket Nº:C. A. PC-2019-4868
Opinion Judge:GIBNEY, P.J.
Party Name:ENRIQUE SOSA, Plaintiff, v. CITY OF WOONSOCKET POLICE DEPARTMENT, Defendant.
Attorney:For Plaintiff: Gary T. Gentile, Esq. For Defendant: John J. Desimone, Esq.
Case Date:March 27, 2020
Court:Superior Court of Rhode Island
 
FREE EXCERPT

ENRIQUE SOSA, Plaintiff,

v.

CITY OF WOONSOCKET POLICE DEPARTMENT, Defendant.

C. A. No. PC-2019-4868

Superior Court of Rhode Island, Providence

March 27, 2020

For Plaintiff: Gary T. Gentile, Esq.

For Defendant: John J. Desimone, Esq.

DECISION

GIBNEY, P.J.

Before this Court is Plaintiff Enrique Sosa's (Plaintiff) "Application to Show Cause" as to why the Woonsocket Police Department denied him certain procedural rights under the Law Enforcement Officers' Bill of Rights (LEOBR), G.L. 1956 §§ 42-28.6 et seq. Plaintiff was terminated by the Defendant City of Woonsocket Police Department (Defendant or Department) without notice or a pre-termination hearing. Jurisdiction is pursuant to § 42-28.6-14(b) and G.L. 1956 § 9-30-1.

On September 13, 2018, Plaintiff was arrested in Uxbridge, Massachusetts. Plaintiff broke into his then-girlfriend's apartment, and an altercation ensued when she returned home. Plaintiff was charged with felony breaking and entering, felony assault with a dangerous weapon, and assault on a family/household member. That same day, Defendant suspended Plaintiff from the Woonsocket Police Department without pay.1

Plaintiff appeared before the Uxbridge District Court on January 14, 2019 where he pled by admitting to sufficient facts as to the charged offenses. (Uxbridge District Court Transcript (Tr.) at 2:16-4:4, Jan. 14, 2019.) The court continued the case without a finding for one year and imposed probation conditions such as counseling, drug and alcohol screenings, and a batterers program. Id. at 7:16-19; see also Compl. Ex. C, Tender of Plea or Admission and Waiver of Rights at 1, Jan. 4, 2019.

On or about April 3, 2019, the Defendant terminated Plaintiff's employment effective immediately pursuant to § 42-28.6-13(i). (Compl. Ex. 4, Termination Notice, Apr. 3, 2019.) At oral argument before this Court on February 18, 2020, Defendant claimed that Plaintiff's admission to sufficient facts in the Uxbridge District Court was the equivalent of a guilty plea to a felony offense and therefore it did not need to provide the procedural rights under the LEOBR. Plaintiff initiated the present action on April 17, 2019, seeking a declaration of rights under § 42-28.6-4 and asking this Court to reinstate his employment and declare his termination unlawful because there was no notice or hearing. (Compl. at 4.)

Pursuant to § 42-28.6-14(b), an officer who is denied...

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