Lawsuit against Nazareth after man's suicide dismissed

By Asia Mayfield | Oct 18, 2018

PHILADELPHIA - Claims filed against the Borough of Nazareth after a mentally ill resident committed suicide during an encounter with the police have been dropped. 

Judge Joseph Leeson determined that plaintiff Nicole Haberle, acting as the administrator to the estate of Timothy Nixon, failed to demonstrate that the borough acted with “deliberate indifference.” Haberle arguments rested under the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990.  

The ruling was filed on Oct. 2 with the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.  

In May 2013, Timothy Nixon called Haberle and told her that he was contemplating suicide. Haberle called the Nazareth Police Department after she learned that Nixon had access to a firearm. Multiple officers responded to the call. Officer Daniel Troxell knocked on Nixon’s door and announced himself as a cop. Nixon took his own life in response.  

Haberle’s initial complaint was dismissed by the court. She then filed an appeal. 

The court noted that, “Although the Third Circuit Court of Appeals found that Haberle had not stated an ADA claim against the Borough, it remanded with instructions that ‘Haberle should be given the narrow opportunity to amend her complaint with respect to her ADA claim.'”  

In response, Haberle filed an amended complaint. She added allegations that the cops routinely mistreated mentally ill suspects. Prior to the incident with Nixon, an officer had recommended a change in the way the department treats the mentally ill.  

According to the court, “Pursuant to the Third Circuit’s opinion, Haberle must allege deliberate indifference to succeed on her ADA claim against the Borough. ‘Deliberate indifference is a stringent standard of fault.'”  

Haberle’s claim failed because she did not prove the police department purposefully and deliberately ignored obvious risks. She did not establish a pattern of bad behavior nor did she prove that the incident with Nixon was egregious enough to be considered under a single incident theory of indifference. 

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