Pa. woman sues Lower Merion Township, police officers for false arrest, civil rights violations

By Jon Campisi | Apr 21, 2014

A suburban Philadelphia woman is suing Lower Merion Township and two

of its police officers over an incident this past June in which the plaintiff was arrested following a domestic altercation at her home and subsequently found not guilty of the criminal charges against her.

Health Wright asserts claims of false arrest and false imprisonment over the June 2, 2013, incident, which began when the father of her children contacted authorities to say that the plaintiff was screaming at him and instructing him to leave her home.

After answering the call, Officers Shawn Clifford, Carl Harper and a John Doe not identified by name in the lawsuit entered the home without cause or justification and confronted Wright, grabbing the woman and forcibly twisting her arms, causing what the lawsuit claims were “physical and emotional harms.”

The officers, without cause or justification, arrested and charged Wright with endangering the welfare of children, recklessly endangering another person and disorderly conduct, the complaint states.

“Ms. Wright was dragged from her house handcuffed and in view of her neighbors, causing her additional harms including but not limited to embarrassment, humiliation and damage to reputation,” the lawsuit reads.

Wright was initially held in police custody for “many hours,” the suit states, although a magisterial district judge subsequently dismissed all charges against the plaintiff following a Sept. 30, 2013, preliminary hearing.

Wright, the lawsuit says, never engaged in any illegal conduct that would have been justification for use of force or arrest.

The complaint even accuses the defendant officers of fabricating evidence to support their actions.

The officers, the complaint alleges, did not have probable cause or any lawful basis to subject Wright to the use of force, detention, arrest and prosecution.

And even assuming the officers did have lawful grounds upon which to detain Wright, they still used “unreasonable and unnecessary force in effectuating the arrest,” the suit says.

In addition to the state claims of false arrest and false imprisonment, assault and battery, malicious prosecution and emotional distress, the suit contains a count of federal civil rights violations.

Wright seeks an unspecified amount of compensatory and punitive damages along with attorney’s fees and other relief.

She is being represented by Philadelphia attorney Paul Messing of the firm Kairys, Rudovsky, Messing & Feinberg.


The federal case number is 2:14-cv-02241-AB.

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