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 ...
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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On April 10, 1985, in an unpublished ruling, District Judge Donald W. VanArtsdalen approved a consent decree which ordered the police to observe all constitutional requirements in carrying out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