University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
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Case Name Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. Porter PN-PA-0001
Docket / Court 77-1164 ( W.D. Pa. )
State/Territory Pennsylvania
Case Type(s) Policing
Case Summary
On October 6, 1977, the Attorney General of Pennsylvania filed suit in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, seeking injunctive relief prohibiting defendants, a police officer and local officials of the Borough of Millvale from violating the ... read more >
On October 6, 1977, the Attorney General of Pennsylvania filed suit in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, seeking injunctive relief prohibiting defendants, a police officer and local officials of the Borough of Millvale from violating the constitutional rights of the residents of Millvale. The complaint alleged that Millvale police officer Baranyai engaged in an extended pattern of beating citizens, false arrest, unconstitutional detention, harassment and intimidation. It further alleged that Baranyai's misconduct was condoned and ratified by the Millvale chief of police, mayor and borough council. The complaint was amended to join four individual plaintiffs and to seek class action relief. The District Court (Judge William W. Knox) denied class certification and the matter proceeded to trial in April 1979.

A non-jury trial on the matter lasted 14 days, with 61 witnesses testifying. The District Court made extensive findings of fact and ruled in favor of plaintiffs against all defendants. Of particular note was evidence presented that defendant Baranyai had been convicted of criminal assault and malfeasance in office, stemming from one of the many alleged incidents of misconduct, yet the police chief failed to take any disciplinary action whatsoever. Likewise, the borough council failed to take any action following the conviction and the Attorney General's lawsuit. The District Court issued a permanent injunction against all defendants prohibiting them from participating in or encouraging future civil rights violations. Commonwealth of Pa., 480 F.Supp. 686 (W.D. Pa. 1979). The defendants appealed.

The Appellate Court affirmed in part and reversed in part, holding that the grant of injunctive relief was not overbroad and was warranted against the defendant officer, the police chief and the mayor, but not against the borough council. Commonwealth of Pa. v. Porter, 659 F.2d 306 (3rd Cir. 1981), cert. denied, 458 U.S. 1121 (1982).

Dan Dalton - 01/06/2007


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Unreasonable search and seizure
General
Excessive force
Failure to discipline
Failure to supervise
Failure to train
False arrest
Inadequate citizen complaint investigations and procedures
Racial profiling
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
Defendant(s) Millvale Police Department
Plaintiff Description Citizens of the Borough of Millvale whose constitutional rights were violated by the Millvale Police Department.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations None on record
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status granted Yes
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer No
Nature of Relief Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Litigation
Form of Settlement None on record
Order Duration 1979 - n/a
Case Closing Year n/a
Case Ongoing Unknown
Additional Resources
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Case Studies Federal Enforcement of Police Reform
By: Stephen Rushin (University of Illinois College of Law, University of California, Berkeley - Jurisprudence and Social Policy Program )
Citation: 82 Fordham Law Review 3189 (2014)
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

  Panopticism for Police: Structural Reform Bargaining and Police Regulation by Data-Driven Surveillance
By: Mary D. Fan (University of Washington)
Citation: Forthcoming, 87 Washington L. Rev. __ (2012).
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

  What Happens When Police Are Forced to Reform?
Written: Nov. 13, 2015
By: Kimbriell Kelly, Sarah Childress and Steven Rich (Frontline/Post)
Citation: Washington Post (Nov. 13, 2015)
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

Docket(s)
No docket sheet currently in the collection
General Documents
Opinion 11/16/1979 (480 F.Supp. 686) (W.D. Pa.)
PN-PA-0001-0002.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Google Scholar
Opinion 03/26/1981 (1981 U.S.App.LEXIS 18844)
PN-PA-0001-0004.pdf | LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: LexisNexis
Opinion of the Court [Affirming Judgment] 04/13/1981 (642 F.2d 687)
PN-PA-0001-0005.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Westlaw
Opinion of the Court 08/05/1981 (659 F.2d 306)
PN-PA-0001-0001.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Google Scholar
Memorandum Decision 07/02/1982 (458 U.S. 1121)
PN-PA-0001-0003.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Westlaw
Judges Adams, Arlin Marvin (Third Circuit)
PN-PA-0001-0001 | PN-PA-0001-0004 | PN-PA-0001-0005
Aldisert, Ruggero John (Third Circuit)
PN-PA-0001-0001 | PN-PA-0001-0004
Garth, Leonard I. (D.N.J., Third Circuit)
PN-PA-0001-0001 | PN-PA-0001-0004
Gibbons, John Joseph (Third Circuit)
PN-PA-0001-0001 | PN-PA-0001-0004 | PN-PA-0001-0005
Higginbotham, Aloyisus Leon Jr. (Third Circuit, E.D. Pa., FISCR)
PN-PA-0001-0004
Hunter, James III (Third Circuit)
PN-PA-0001-0001 | PN-PA-0001-0004
Knox, William W. (W.D. Pa.)
PN-PA-0001-0002
Seitz, Collins Jacques (Third Circuit, FISCR)
PN-PA-0001-0001 | PN-PA-0001-0004
Sloviter, Dolores Korman (Third Circuit)
PN-PA-0001-0004
Van Dusen, Francis Lund (E.D. Pa., Third Circuit)
PN-PA-0001-0005
Monitors/Masters None on record
Plaintiff's Lawyers Boas, Paul D. (Pennsylvania)
PN-PA-0001-0001 | PN-PA-0001-0002
Louik, Michael (Pennsylvania)
PN-PA-0001-0002
Defendant's Lawyers Dice, Bruce E. (Pennsylvania)
PN-PA-0001-0001 | PN-PA-0001-0002
Maiello, Alfred C. (Pennsylvania)
PN-PA-0001-0001 | PN-PA-0001-0002
Tuplin, Frank P. (Pennsylvania)
PN-PA-0001-0001
Weis, Daniel J. (Pennsylvania)
PN-PA-0001-0001 | PN-PA-0001-0002
Other Lawyers Askin, Frank (New Jersey)
PN-PA-0001-0001
Ennis, Bruce J. (District of Columbia)
PN-PA-0001-0001
Schneider, Elizabeth M. (New Jersey)
PN-PA-0001-0001
Sims, Charles S. (New York)
PN-PA-0001-0001

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