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Minor v. River, 2023 U.S. App. LEXIS 14239 (3d Cir. June 8, 2023) (Ambro, C.J.). The Delaware River and Bay Authority (DRBA) hired Frank Minor as its Deputy Executive Director in 2009 and terminated him in December 2017. Minor, believing he was fired for his support of then-incoming New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy, sued the DRBA and its Commissioners for violating his First Amendment right to political affiliation. Following discovery, the defendants moved for summary judgment. In that motion, the Commissioners sought qualified immunity. The Court rejected their request. Ruling that a reasonable jury could conclude that Minor’s responsibilities were purely administrative by the time he was dismissed, it reasoned that the Commissioners were barred potentially by the First Amendment from firing Minor on account of his politics. Because there is a genuine dispute of material fact concerning whether Minor held such a position as Deputy Director, we lack jurisdiction to review the District Court’s denial of qualified immunity as to Chairman James Hogan and therefore dismiss the appeal as to his claim. The question of his immunity must await the determination of facts at trial.
The remaining Commissioners may ultimately face the same fate. But first, our precedent requires the District Court to “analyze separately, and state findings with respect to, the specific conduct of each [Commissioner].” Grant v. City of Pittsburgh, 98 F.3d 116, 126 (3d Cir. 1996). As no such individualized analysis was performed, we assert limited jurisdiction, vacate the qualified immunity order as it relates to these defendants, and remand for a “careful examination of the record . . . to establish . . . a detailed factual description of the actions of each individual defendant (viewed in a light most favorable to the plaintiff).” Id. at 122 (citing Johnson v. Jones, 515 U.S. 304, 311, 115 S. Ct. 2151, 132 L. Ed. 2d 238 (1995)). To aid our review, we need to learn more about whether each Commissioner could “know that his or her specific conduct violated clearly established rights.” Id. at 121 (emphasis omitted) (citing Anderson v. Creighton, 483 U.S. 635, 636-37, 107 S. Ct. 3034, 97 L. Ed. 2d 523 (1987)). An individualized analysis will provide that information. Because there are material facts in dispute, we cannot say as a matter of law that the Deputy Director position is one for which political affiliation is an appropriate requirement. This means we lack jurisdiction to review Chairman Hogan’s appeal and will dismiss it. James, 957 F.3d at 167.6 We assert limited jurisdiction to vacate and remand the Court’s qualified immunity order as it relates to the remaining Commissioners. Grant requires a separate analysis for each individual defendant and one was not performed. 98 F.3d at 126.