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Case Name Arrington v. City of Philadelphia PN-PA-0007
Docket / Court 88-2264 ( E.D. Pa. )
State/Territory Pennsylvania
Case Type(s) Policing
Case Summary
In the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania in 1988, two plaintiffs filed a complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, naming as defendants the City of Philadelphia and various police officials and officers. Represented by private counsel and attorneys with the ACLU of ... read more >
In the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania in 1988, two plaintiffs filed a complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, naming as defendants the City of Philadelphia and various police officials and officers. Represented by private counsel and attorneys with the ACLU of Pennsylvania, the plaintiffs alleged that the defendants, as part of an aggressive police hunt for the "City Center Stalker" (a then-unidentified black male suspected of a series of armed crimes), violated the federal Fourth Amendment rights of the plaintiffs and a class of similarly-aggrieved persons. They alleged that all of the plaintiff class had been detained and questioned, in varying degrees, by police who contended each detained individual resembled a composite drawing of the wanted suspect. According to the plaintiffs, the police department had authorized its officers to stop, question, frisk and detain black men "who bore a minimal resemblance" to the composite drawing. After the suit was filed, the defendants agreed to a consent decree that stated that "no person shall be taken into custody into a police district or other police facility based solely on that person's race, sex, and/or age resemblance to the police composite or physical description of the Center City Stalker." The plaintiffs also sought both compensatory and punitive damages for themselves and all others subjected to the police department's investigation.

On February 13, 1989, in an unpublished ruling, District Judge Edward N. Cahn certified the plaintiff class, finding that the allegations satisfied the applicable federal procedural rule governing class action certification. In so ruling, the judge rejected a defense claim that individual issues would predominate over class issues. According to the defendants, the circumstances of each stop of an individual would have to be examined to determine if the police violated the Fourth Amendment. Instead, said the judge, the issue of the validity of the police operation predominated over the individual circumstances of each detention. If, as the case progressed, individual questions of law or fact predominated over common questions, the judge indicated he could then de-certify the class.

We have no additional information about activity in this case.

Mike Fagan - 06/25/2008


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
General
False arrest
Racial profiling
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
Defendant(s) City of Philadelphia Police Department
Plaintiff Description All persons stopped, frisked, questioned, and/or detained as a result of the Philadelphia Police Department's 'Center City Stalker' investigation."
Indexed Lawyer Organizations None on record
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status granted Yes
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Unknown
Source of Relief Settlement
Form of Settlement Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree
Order Duration not on record
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 02/03/1989 (1989 U.S.Dist.LEXIS 19117) (E.D. Pa.)
PN-PA-0007-0001 PDF | LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: LexisNexis
Judges Cahn, Edward Norman (E.D. Pa.)
PN-PA-0007-0001
Monitors/Masters None on record
Plaintiff's Lawyers Kairys, David (Pennsylvania)
PN-PA-0007-0001
McCallum, Terry (Pennsylvania)
PN-PA-0007-0001
Presser, Stefan (Pennsylvania)
PN-PA-0007-0001
Rudovsky, David (Pennsylvania)
PN-PA-0007-0001
Thurschwell, Adam (Pennsylvania)
PN-PA-0007-0001
Defendant's Lawyers Petrillo, Maria L. (Pennsylvania)
PN-PA-0007-0001
Straub, John (Pennsylvania)
PN-PA-0007-0001
Toti, Ralph J. (Pennsylvania)
PN-PA-0007-0001
Other Lawyers None on record

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