Friday, November 6, 2020

Judge Mannion of Federal Middle District Court Addresses Section 1983 Claims Relative to Police Entry into House in Response to Domestic Disturbance


In the case of Cost v. Borough of Dickson City, No. 3:-cv-1494 (M.D. Pa. Oct. 15, 2020 Mannion, J.), the court addressed summary judgment motions filed by a municipality and Defendant police officers in a §1983 Civil Rights litigation. The court granted the motion in part and denied it in part. 
According to the Opinion, the case arose out of a police response to a domestic disturbance. 

 The Defendant police officers asserted that they had knocked on the front door of the home numerous occasions to no response. The officers testified that, based upon the details of the 911 call, which included a notation that children were screaming, and given that, when the officers arrived on the scene and heard yelling and heard a female shouting the word “stop” inside of the residence, and given that everything then became quiet when they approached the front door, the officers eventually forced a door open after which certain individuals, including one of the Plaintiffs, were arrested. 

It was then determined that the disturbance involved an argument with the daughter of the family over a cell phone. 

After one of the Plaintiffs identified themselves within the home, that Plaintiff was released. The other Plaintiff refused to identify himself and was put in the police car to be transported to a processing center. That person was placed under arrest for Disorderly Conduct. Upon arrival at the processing center, that Plaintiff then identified himself and was released. Thereafter, a citation issued to that Plaintiff was dismissed after the officer failed to appear at the hearing. 

The Plaintiffs thereafter brought suit against the various Defendants with each Plaintiff alleging an unlawful search and seizure claim under the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment, a Fourth Amendment excessive force claim, a state law assault and battery claim, and a Fourth Amendment and state law false arrest and false imprisonment claim, and a claim of inadequate supervision and training by the borough. The Plaintiff who had been taken for processing also alleged Fourth Amendment and state law malicious prosecution claims. 

After reviewing the current status of the law on these types of claims, the court granted the motions at issue in part and denied them in part. 

Anyone wishing to review a copy of this decision may click this LINK

I send thanks to Attorney Patrick J. Murphy of the Scranton office of the Bardsley Benedict & Cholden, LLP law firm for bringing this case to my attention.

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