PHILADELPHIA - An attorney waiting too late to file a discrimination lawsuit against the City of Philadelphia resulted in two men losing their case in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania Nov. 19.
Judge Gerald Austin McHugh ruled on the case.
Ricky Lowe and Saleem Abous-Salaam filed their lawsuit after their allegedly brutal encounter with the city’s police department, which they said violated their Fourth and 14th amendment rights. Salaam and Lowe said they were searched, physically assaulted, and beaten before being taken into custody and charged with disorderly conduct/fighting.
They were initially stopped because the officers said Lowe threw a gun on the ground, but no gun was found.
"The attorney they hired waited until the last day of the statute of limitations period to initiate that case and then failed to serve the defendants for more than a year,” the court said. “Plaintiffs’ attorney failed to make any service at all, and, regrettably, plaintiffs are bound by her mistakes.”
While the reasoning for the counsel’s delay was the office being short-staffed after a receptionist’s spouse was shot, the court said that wasn’t a sufficient reason for the case to survive dismissal.
Under state regulations, the plaintiffs had until Oct. 27, 2016 to bring their claims, which was two years after their run-in with the officers. While their counsel did file a writ of summons within the allotted time, her misstep was when she didn’t serve the actual summons within the legal timeframe.
The court pointed out that the Supreme Court has already decided that a plaintiff has to be held by their counsel’s actions and dismissed the lawsuit.