Nicholas Malfitano Apr. 19, 2016, 11:48am


PHILADELPHIA – A Pittsburgh man who attempted to overturn the issuance of a violation of probation detainer has not emerged victorious from that legal action.

On April 13, judges Thomas L. Ambro, Patty Shwartz and Richard L. Nygaard of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit opted to uphold a ruling from the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania, in their per curiam decision reached in the case of Dion McBride.

While on probation from a state court conviction, McBride was arrested and charged with numerous theft and fraud charges. As a result, on Aug. 20, 2012, the Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas issued a violation of probation detainer against McBride. Though McBride filed to have the detainer lifted, those motions were unsuccessful.

In 2014, McBride filed a civil complaint under 42 U.S.C. Section 1983, alleging the detainer violated his due process rights. McBride’s lawsuit named Robert O’Brien as a defendant, identified on the detainer as the Court Liaison Probation Officer, who filed a motion to dismiss the complaint.

A Magistrate Judge ruled O’Brien was due to receive immunity under the Eleventh Amendment to the U.S. Constitution on McBride’s federal claims, and immunity under Pennsylvania’s Political Subdivision Tort Claims Act (PSTCA) shielded him from a state law claim of false imprisonment.

The judge also held that O’Brien was entitled to Eleventh Amendment immunity to the extent that he was sued in his official capacity under Section 1983, and that immunity under Pennsylvania’s Political Subdivision Tort Claims Act (PSTCA) protected him from a state law claim of false imprisonment. The Magistrate Judge also concluded that O’Brien had authority and jurisdiction to issue the detainer and that McBride’s due process and Sixth Amendment rights were not violated.

McBride appealed, leading O’Brien to file a motion to summarily affirm.

“McBride seeks damages under Section 1983...resulting from the issuance of a probation violation detainer. To the extent that McBride alleges that his confinement on the detainer violates federal law, a favorable outcome would necessarily demonstrate the invalidity of his detention,” the Third Circuit said. “McBride has not successfully challenged the detainer in any state or federal proceeding. Therefore, because he may not proceed under Section 1983, the District Court properly granted O’Brien’s motion to dismiss.”

The federal appeals court felt likewise about the state law claim.

“Nevertheless, dismissal of this claim was appropriate because O’Brien was immune under PSTCA for any alleged damages on account of acts he took within the scope of his duties. Moreover, McBride did not allege any conduct by O’Brien that would fall outside the scope of immunity provided for in the PSTCA,” the Third Circuit said.

“For the foregoing reasons, we conclude that there is no substantial question presented by this appeal. Accordingly, O’Brien’s motion to summarily affirm is granted, and we will summarily affirm the District Court’s dismissal of McBride’s complaint,” the Third Circuit concluded.

The appellee is represented by Lee M. Dellecker of the Allegheny County Law Department, in Pittsburgh.

U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit case 15-3276

U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania case 2:14-cv-01129

From the Pennsylvania Record: Reach Courts Reporter Nicholas Malfitano at nickpennrecord@gmail.com

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