Case: Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. Porter

2:77-cv-01164 | U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania

Filed Date: Oct. 6, 1977

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Case Summary

On October 6, 1977, the Attorney General of Pennsylvania filed suit in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, seeking injunctive relief prohibiting defendants, a police officer and local officials of the Borough of Millvale from violating the constitutional rights of the residents of Millvale. The complaint alleged that Millvale police officer Baranyai engaged in an extended pattern of beating citizens, false arrest, unconstitutional detentio…

On October 6, 1977, the Attorney General of Pennsylvania filed suit in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, seeking injunctive relief prohibiting defendants, a police officer and local officials of the Borough of Millvale from violating the constitutional rights of the residents of Millvale. The complaint alleged that Millvale police officer Baranyai engaged in an extended pattern of beating citizens, false arrest, unconstitutional detention, harassment and intimidation. It further alleged that Baranyai's misconduct was condoned and ratified by the Millvale chief of police, mayor and borough council. The complaint was amended to join four individual plaintiffs and to seek class action relief. The District Court (Judge William W. Knox) denied class certification and the matter proceeded to trial in April 1979.

A non-jury trial on the matter lasted 14 days, with 61 witnesses testifying. The District Court made extensive findings of fact and ruled in favor of plaintiffs against all defendants. Of particular note was evidence presented that defendant Baranyai had been convicted of criminal assault and malfeasance in office, stemming from one of the many alleged incidents of misconduct, yet the police chief failed to take any disciplinary action whatsoever. Likewise, the borough council failed to take any action following the conviction and the Attorney General's lawsuit. The District Court issued a permanent injunction against all defendants prohibiting them from participating in or encouraging future civil rights violations. Commonwealth of Pa., 480 F.Supp. 686 (W.D. Pa. 1979). The defendants appealed.

The Appellate Court affirmed in part and reversed in part, holding that the grant of injunctive relief was not overbroad and was warranted against the defendant officer, the police chief and the mayor, but not against the borough council. Commonwealth of Pa. v. Porter, 659 F.2d 306 (3rd Cir. 1981), cert. denied, 458 U.S. 1121 (1982).

Summary Authors

Dan Dalton (1/6/2007)

People


Judge(s)

Adams, Arlin Marvin (Pennsylvania)

Aldisert, Ruggero John (California)

Garth, Leonard I. (New Jersey)

Gibbons, John Joseph (Pennsylvania)

Higginbotham, Aloyisus Leon Jr. (Pennsylvania)

Hunter, James III (New Jersey)

Knox, William W. (Pennsylvania)

Seitz, Collins Jacques (Delaware)

Sloviter, Dolores Korman (Pennsylvania)

Van Dusen, Francis Lund (Pennsylvania)

Judge(s)

Adams, Arlin Marvin (Pennsylvania)

Aldisert, Ruggero John (California)

Garth, Leonard I. (New Jersey)

Gibbons, John Joseph (Pennsylvania)

Higginbotham, Aloyisus Leon Jr. (Pennsylvania)

Hunter, James III (New Jersey)

Knox, William W. (Pennsylvania)

Seitz, Collins Jacques (Delaware)

Sloviter, Dolores Korman (Pennsylvania)

Van Dusen, Francis Lund (Pennsylvania)

Attorneys(s) for Plaintiff

Boas, Paul D. (Pennsylvania)

Louik, Michael (Pennsylvania)

Attorneys(s) for Defendant

Dice, Bruce E. (Pennsylvania)

Maiello, Alfred C. (Pennsylvania)

Tuplin, Frank P. (Pennsylvania)

Weis, Daniel J. (Pennsylvania)

Other Attorney(s)

Askin, Frank (New Jersey)

Ennis, Bruce J. (District of Columbia)

Schneider, Elizabeth M. (New Jersey)

Sims, Charles S. (New York)

Documents in the Clearinghouse

Document

2:77-cv-01164

Opinion

480 F.Supp. 686

Nov. 16, 1979

Nov. 16, 1979

Order/Opinion

79-02653

79-02685

79-02684

Opinion

U. S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit

1981 U.S.App.LEXIS 18844

March 26, 1981

March 26, 1981

Order/Opinion

80-01875

80-01876

80-02063

80-02064

Opinion of the Court [Affirming Judgment]

U. S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit

642 F.2d 687

April 13, 1981

April 13, 1981

Order/Opinion

79-02653

79-02685

79-02684

Opinion of the Court

U. S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit

659 F.2d 306

Aug. 5, 1981

Aug. 5, 1981

Order/Opinion

81-00465

Memorandum Decision

Porter v. Pennsylvania

Supreme Court of the United States

458 U.S. 1121, 102 S.Ct. 3509, 73 L.Ed.2d 1383

July 2, 1982

July 2, 1982

Order/Opinion

Resources

Docket

Last updated Aug. 5, 2022, 3:25 a.m.

Docket sheet not available via the Clearinghouse.

Case Details

State / Territory: Pennsylvania

Case Type(s):

Policing

Key Dates

Filing Date: Oct. 6, 1977

Case Ongoing: No reason to think so

Plaintiffs

Plaintiff Description:

Citizens of the Borough of Millvale whose constitutional rights were violated by the Millvale Police Department.

Public Interest Lawyer: No

Filed Pro Se: No

Class Action Sought: Yes

Class Action Outcome: Granted

Defendants

Millvale Police Department, Regional

Case Details

Causes of Action:

42 U.S.C. § 1983

Constitutional Clause(s):

Unreasonable search and seizure

Availably Documents:

Any published opinion

Outcome

Prevailing Party: Plaintiff

Nature of Relief:

Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement

Source of Relief:

Litigation

Order Duration: 1979 - 0

Issues

General:

Excessive force

Failure to discipline

Failure to supervise

Failure to train

False arrest

Inadequate citizen complaint investigations and procedures

Racial profiling