Janowski v. Div. State Police


Oral Argument
09/02/09 – 09/02/09

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Case Description: The Division of State Police employed Janowski as a state trooper from January 28, 1989 until April 20, 2005. Throughout his tenure, Janowski served in the United States Army Reserve. On April 15, 2002, Janowski arrested an individual for driving under the influence. Because of an inadequate search, he failed to discover two knives and a small caliber handgun until he placed the suspect in a holding cell. The DSP charged Janowski with violating a DSP Rule and Regulation. Janowski elected to have a Superintendent’s Hearing, after which the DSP imposed a penalty in the form of a 64-hour suspension, one-year probation, and officer safety training coursework, effective July 16, 2002. Three months later, the Army called Janowski to active duty. The Superintendent notified Janowski that his one year probationary period would toll during military duty. Janowski returned to the DSP on November 5, 2003, under probation that would have lasted until July 2004. On February 15, 2004, however, he arrested another individual for driving under the influence and arranged for another troop to transport the vehicle’s passenger to Troop 1. Janowski then searched the vehicle, where he found two knives and a handgun, but did not relay this information to anyone until after he returned to Troop 1. While searching the passenger at Troop 1, Janowski failed to locate a pack of cigarettes, a butane lighter, toothpicks, a dime bag of cocaine, chapstick, a roll of lifesavers, and a keychain with numerous keys. The DSP charged Janowski with violating DSP Rule and Regulation #1 for failure to search the passenger properly, and Job Performance Standard #12 for failure to notify Troop 1 and the transporting officer that the passenger could be armed and dangerous. Janowski elected to have a hearing before the Divisional Trial Board, which unanimously decided to terminate his employment. On appeal, the Secretary of the Department of Safety and Homeland Security affirmed the Board’s decision to terminate employment. The United States Attorney General declined Janowski’s request to bring an action under USERRA. Approximately two years later, Janowski filed a complaint in Superior Court.

Proceedings Description:
Janowski appeals the trial judge’s grant of the State’s motion to dismiss pursuant to Superior Court Civil Rule 12(b)(1), this action for employment discrimination. He claims that the State denied him employment rights guaranteed by 29 Del. C. § 5105 and the Uniformed Service Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994 (USERRA). The State responds that its sovereign immunity bars Janowski’s claim.
Outcome: The Supreme Court of Delaware affirms the lower court's ruling.


Case Information
Case Number
175, 2009
Criminal Case
Practice Area
Civil Rights
Expert Witnesses
    Lay Witnesses


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