A federal court in White Plains has dismissed a lawsuit originally filed on March 20, 2012 by Clarkstown Teacher Cathleen (Cathy) Malgieri against then-Clarkstown Board of Education member Donna Ehrenberg. The U.S. District Court’s action took place about two weeks ago. Malgieri’s lawsuitalleged intentional infliction of emotional distress, violation of her right of free speech, interference with her employment contract and violation of civil service law.
The lawsuit filed in New York State Supreme Court charged Ehrenberg with violations of school board policy and sought monetary damages.
Ehrenberg’s attorney Brian S. Sokoloff of Westbury said, “The judge found legally the plaintiff did not have a right to sue my client.”
Sokoloff said the judge found Malgieri’s claims were not the basis for a lawsuit and he was “gratified” by the determination. Ehrenberg’s legal representation had been provided by the school district. A majority of school board members approved her request for counsel in April 2012. The board attorney told them the district’s insurance carrier would cover the legal costs.
Malgieri released a statement through her attorney Stephen L. Barry of Hawthorne.
"While we are disappointed with the judge’s decision, the central issue was always what was best for the Clarkstown Schools. We wanted to make sure the teachers could work in a supportive environment and not have to worry about pressure from School Board members.”
The original lawsuit was filed March 20 and on April 5, Ehrenberg’s attorney filed a Notice of Removal to have the complaint heard in federal court. Malgieri’s amended complaint was filed on May 24.
Malgieri’s statement pointed out the federal judge did not rule on all aspects of her claim, leaving open the possibility of an appeal or a re-filing in state court.
“After a long wait the judge rendered a decision that held that our sole Federal claim could not be maintained but she refused to rule on the State claims by dismissing those causes of action "without prejudice" which means they can be renewed should we choose to re-file in State Court. Therefore, there has been no determination on the merits regarding the tortious interference with contract, or intentional infliction of emotional distress claims.”
Malgieri ended her written remarks saying her intention was to do “what is in our long term best interest and the best interest of the Clarkstown School District.” She expressed appreciation for people who had supported her.