Fired city manager sues Clairton, 3 on council who voted for his ouster

Friday, May 26, 2000

By Alyson Hudson

Former Clairton Manager Domenic Curinga has sued the city in federal court, claiming he was wrongly fired in January.

Curinga's suit, against the city and council members George Adamson, Thomas Meade and Domenic Virgona, claims that he was fired because of his unsuccessful campaign for district justice against incumbent Armand Martin last year.

The council majority of Adamson, Meade and Virgona, who are Martin supporters, voted to fire Curinga. Councilman Terry Julian and Mayor Dominic Serapiglia were opposed.

The lawsuit said Curinga was terminated without cause in violation of his contract.

"I had a five-year contract, and for 2 1/2 years, I lived up to that contract," said Curinga. "I expected the city to live up to it, too."

The contract said that if he was terminated without cause, he was to receive a lump-sum payment of 12 months' salary and health insurance for three months. He never received it.

Curinga is seeking damages for loss of income, benefits and reputation, humiliation, inconvenience and litigation fees. He also seeks reinstatement as city manager.

Attorney Samuel J. Cordes said the firing violated Curinga's constitutional rights.

"[Curinga] was dismissed because he didn't support a candidate," said Cordes. "When government takes action in retaliation of that, they violate the First Amendment."

Clairton's attorney, Vincent Restagno, said Curinga would not be able to prove violation of his constitutional rights or that he had a valid, enforceable contract with the city.

The case has been assigned to U.S. District Judge Robert Cindrich.