PHILADELPHIA – A local police chief was recently dismissed from a Crum Lynne man’s lawsuit alleging his civil rights were violated by the chief and a number of his department’s police officers.
On June 15, Judge Gene E.K. Pratter of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania ruled Brookhaven Chief of Police Randolph McGoldrick would be excused from Ray A. Arditi’s multiple-count civil rights violation suit versus 10 officers from the Brookhaven Police Department.
Per Arditi’s complaint, he claimed he was at a McDonald’s restaurant on May 31, 2015 and told an acquaintance that another customer present in the restaurant, Catherine Herbert, stole his wallet at some point in the past, and that she and another patron, Paul Mick, attempted to use Arditi’s credit cards to make online purchases.
Supposedly, Herbert overheard these comments and became agitated, threatening suicide and calling 911 in the process.
When Arditi left the restaurant, he claimed officers handcuffed him “for no reason” for several minutes and threatened to use a taser on him, while taking his car keys pocket and searching his car. Arditi was eventually released without facing criminal charges.
Arditi said he went to the police department to complain about his treatment, but alleged McGoldrick “denied him access to a police report and threatened to issue a criminal summons if he complained.”
“Mr. Arditi subsequently received a criminal summons from Officer Subers, charging him with disorderly conduct. Those charges were dismissed because the police officers failed to appear at a hearing on the charges,” Pratter said.
Arditi then initiated a four-count lawsuit under 42 U.S.C. Section 1983, claiming all defendants “violated his Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment rights by illegally searching his car and seizing him.”
“More specifically, he alleges that the defendant Police Officers were all personally involved in the illegal search and seizure, and that defendant Police Chief McGoldrick ‘acted and/or failed to act and that allowed the present and continued infringement of Constitutional violations to occur by threatening those who complain, such as plaintiff, and failing to investigate or reprimand change any of the substance of his claims in so doing,” Pratter commented.
“In Count Two, he claims under Section 1983 that all defendants violated his Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment rights by using excessive force against him, and he restates allegations concerning Chief McGoldrick similar to the language quoted above,” Pratter added.
Count Three of Arditi’s complaint claims defendant officer Richard Subers and McGoldrick maliciously prosecuted him in violation of Pennsylvania law, while Count Four, claims Subers and McGoldrick conspired under 42 U.S.C. Section 1983, to “bring criminal charges in order to intimidate him and deter him from complaining of illegal conduct.”
Chief McGoldrick moved to dismiss the first two counts, arguing that he was not present at the McDonald’s at the time of the incident and, accordingly, cannot be held liable for any alleged violations that took place there, before he even knew of Arditi.
“Chief McGoldrick argues that Mr. Arditi has not alleged that he was personally involved in any aspect of the McDonald’s parking lot confrontation, and that therefore those counts must be dismissed as to him because a civil rights claim cannot be based solely on supervisory liability,” Pratter explained.
“Mr. Arditi argues that he need not allege that Chief McGoldrick was present at the McDonald’s incident, because he has alleged that Chief McGoldrick ignored his later complaints and initiated malicious prosecution against Mr. Arditi, which was intended to stymie legitimate complaints and indicates that Chief McGoldrick does not supervise his officers,” Pratter stated.
However, Arditi’s rationale did not find favor in the federal court.
“Mr. Arditi has not pleaded any causal link between Chief McGoldrick’s actions and the actions of the officers in the McDonald’s parking lot,” Pratter said. “Accepting Mr. Arditi’s allegations as true, at most, Mr. Arditi has alleged that Chief McGoldrick committed additional violations in the days following the incident, but nothing in the Third Amended Complaint supports the argument that Chief McGoldrick did anything to cause the McDonald’s incident, let alone that he was even aware of it before Mr. Arditi brought it to his attention the next day.”
Pratter then exonerated McGoldrick only from the first two counts of Arditi’s suit, Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment violations of the plaintiff’s protection against illegal search and seizure and excessive force.
“Thus, the Court will grant Chief McGoldrick’s motion and dismiss Counts One and Two as to Chief McGoldrick only,” Pratter concluded.
The plaintiff is represented by Stephen Thomas O’Hanlon of The O’Hanlon Law Firm, in Philadelphia.
The defendants are represented by Robert P. DiDomenicis of Holsten & Associates in Media, Christopher Paul Boyle of Marshall Dennehey Warner Coleman & Goggin in King of Prussia, plus David J. MacMain and Tricia D. Ambrose of The MacMain Law Group, in Malvern.
U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania case 2:15-cv-05511
From the Pennsylvania Record: Reach Courts Reporter Nicholas Malfitano at firstname.lastname@example.org