The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

March 6, 2013

Former commissioner Allen Cwalina loses bid for back pay

The Daily Item

— HARRISBURG -  Former Northumberland County Commissioner Allen Cwalina, who sued the state for more than $75,000 in pay and benefits, lost his appeal in Commonwealth Court.

The court Tuesday affirmed the dismissal of the breach-of-contract complaint Cwalina, 53, filed following his October 2009 suspension from his $122,000-a-year position as a deputy secretary for the Department of Labor and Industry in the wake of a DUI conviction.

Cwalina had been working for the department a little more than a year on Nov. 26, 2008, when he was involved in a hit-and-run crash while driving a state-owned vehicle.

He was convicted of drunken driving — his second DUI conviction in nine years — and suspended without pay and benefits in October 2009. Cwalina claims he was forced to quit and filed the lawsuit alleging the state breached an agreement allowing him to remain on the job if he successfully completed an employee assistance program, which he did.

The Commonwealth Court found the trial court properly dismissed Cwalina’s complaint, which they also determined was filed several months too late.