(CN) – A former police officer whose chief publicly called him a liar over his role in a fight with “Jersey Shore” star Ronnie Ortiz-Magro cannot sue, a federal judge ruled.
Joshua Thomas, a police officer for Monmouth Beach, N.J., had been off-duty and strolling the Seaside Heights boardwalk in August 2009 when he got into an altercation with Ortiz-Magro and was arrested.
Though Thomas was allowed to return to work once the charges were resolved, the department fired him in early 2010 when “Jersey Shore” aired footage of the episode in its pilot season.
Thomas quickly filed two lawsuits, one against the borough of Monmouth Beach and another against MTV. In the suit against the network, Monmouth Beach police chief Drew Winans signed an April 2012 certification describing his review of the “unedited video footage.”
“Based on my review, I found Mr. Thomas’ prior reports to me regarding the incident were inaccurate,” Winans wrote. “Because Mr. Thomas lied to me and others and lost his credibility, I recommended that Mr. Thomas’ employment with the department be terminated.”
Two months later, Thomas filed a federal complaint against the borough and Winans, claiming that their failure to hold a name-clearing hearing tarnished his reputation in violation of Section 1983 of federal law. Thomas, a U.S. Coast Guard veteran, also alleged various state-law violations including breach of contract.
He said 495 Productions, which filmed the 2009 altercation for “Jersey Shore,” had security guards restrain him while Ronnie was allowed to flee the scene so that Thomas and his wife could be arrested. The footage of the assault that MTV aired meanwhile was allegedly “edited completely out of context.”
U.S. District Judge Michael Shipp dismissed the complaint with prejudice last week.
“Plaintiff concedes that a two-year statute of limitations applies to the case at bar,” Shipp wrote. “This suit was initiated on June 28, 2012, more than two years after plaintiff’s termination. Thus, plaintiff’s liberty interest in a ‘name clearing hearing’ in the course of being terminated is time barred.”
Winans made the allegedly defamatory statement in 2012, but “the certification which is the only allegation of harm to plaintiff’s reputation cannot stand on its own,” according to the ruling.
“Having dismissed the sole federal claim at issue, the court declines to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over plaintiff’s New Jersey state claims,” Shipp wrote.
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