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Case Name Cliett v. City of Philadelphia PN-PA-0008
Docket / Court 85-1846 ( E.D. Pa. )
State/Territory Pennsylvania
Case Type(s) Policing
Case Summary
On March 27, 1985, the Philadelphia's police department began an operation they referred to as "Operation Cold Turkey," which was carried out in an attempt to reduce drug-related activity in certain areas of the city. Afterward, individual plaintiffs represented by private counsel and an attorney ... read more >
On March 27, 1985, the Philadelphia's police department began an operation they referred to as "Operation Cold Turkey," which was carried out in an attempt to reduce drug-related activity in certain areas of the city. Afterward, individual plaintiffs represented by private counsel and an attorney with the ACLU filed a complaint against the city and its police commissioner in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. According to the plaintiffs' allegations, the city's police department stopped, frisked, and/or questioned over 1,400 persons, of which close to 200 were taken to the police station and formally charged or arrested. The plaintiffs claimed that the operation was unconstitutional because it caused them to be stopped based solely on their presence in the targeted high-crime areas, and they sought monetary damages for the alleged violation of their constitutional rights, as well as injunctive relief. In addition, the plaintiffs filed a motion for class certification.

On April 10, 1985, in an unpublished ruling, District Judge Donald W. VanArtsdalen approved a consent decree which ordered the police to observe all constitutional requirements in carrying out Operation Cold Turkey and to refrain from stopping individuals based solely on their presence in the target areas.

Judge VanArtsdalen granted the motion for class certification on October 17, 1985, and certified a subclass, as well. The court found that the plaintiffs' allegations were sufficient to satisfy the commonality and typicality requirements of the applicable federal procedural rule, because the plaintiffs had alleged that their claims arose out of a common course of conduct by the police. The court also found appropriate the certification of a class because the liability that plaintiffs sought to establish was based on the operation itself, rather than on the circumstances surrounding each individual stop or arrest. If, later, it appeared that individual circumstances of each encounter became predominate over the issue of the constitutionality of the police operation, the judge observed that he could then de-certify the class. As of his October 1985, ruling, however, Judge VanArtsdale defined the class to consist of those individuals who were stopped, frisked and/or questioned by police as a result of, or in carrying out, the Philadelphia Police Department's Operation Cold Turkey. Further, the judge certified a subclass consisting of those individuals who were either charged with summary offenses or arrested as a result of Operation Cold Turkey. The judge directed the plaintiffs to propose a form of notice to the class members.

We do not have a copy of the complaint or other documents from the case, other than the judge's class certification order. We have no further information about additional activity in this case.

Mike Fagan - 06/25/2008


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Unreasonable search and seizure
General
Excessive force
False arrest
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Causes of Action
Defendant(s) City of Philadelphia
Plaintiff Description Those individuals who were stopped, frisked and/or questioned by police as a result of or in carrying out the Philadelphia Police Department's Operation Cold Turkey.
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 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 No
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 [Granting Class Certification] 10/17/1985 (1985 WL 3181 / 1985 U.S.Dist.LEXIS 14832) (E.D. Pa.)
PN-PA-0008-0001 PDF | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Judges VanArtsdalen, Donald West (E.D. Pa.)
PN-PA-0008-0001
Monitors/Masters None on record
Plaintiff's Lawyers Kairys, David (Pennsylvania)
PN-PA-0008-0001
Presser, Stefan (Pennsylvania)
PN-PA-0008-0001
Defendant's Lawyers West, Valerie (Pennsylvania)
PN-PA-0008-0001
Other Lawyers None on record

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