University of Michigan Law School
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Case Name Augustine v. Ramsey PN-PA-0015
Docket / Court 2:13-cv-06606 ( E.D. Pa. )
State/Territory Pennsylvania
Case Type(s) Policing
Special Collection Occupy
Case Summary
On November 13, 2013, twenty-six protesters associated with Occupy Philadelphia, a large continuous political protest, filed a complaint in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania against the City of Philadelphia and nine city police commissioners and officers. The ... read more >
On November 13, 2013, twenty-six protesters associated with Occupy Philadelphia, a large continuous political protest, filed a complaint in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania against the City of Philadelphia and nine city police commissioners and officers. The plaintiffs, represented by private counsel, claimed, inter alia, that the City of Philadelphia had used excessive force, including assault and battery, to forcefully restrain protesters from exercising their freedom of expression on public property. Plaintiffs brought suit under 42 U.S.C. §1983 for violations of their First, Fourth, and Fourteenth Amendment rights, and sought compensatory and punitive damages and injunctive relief.

Specifically, the plaintiffs claimed that in the early morning of November 30, 2011, police officers removed them from a public space where protesters had been gathering for the previous seven weeks as part of an ongoing protest. The process of removal involved destruction of encampments and all personal property contained therein. Additionally, the Commissioner and Deputy Commissioner of the Philadelphia police made orders to arrest protesters, which the plaintiffs claim was based solely upon the anticipated protests resulting of their decision to evict the protesters. In the process of arrest, the plaintiffs were surrounded by defendant police officers on bicycles, corralled against the wall of a building, and unable to move. The plaintiffs were then handcuffed and taken into custody.

On March 6, 2014, defendants filed a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim. The District Court (Judge Berie M. Schiller) ordered oral arguments on the motion to dismiss, which were held on April 15, 2014. On May 20, 2014, the court dismissed the plaintiffs' Fourth Amendment claims of excessive search and unreasonable search, finding that the plaintiffs' complaint had not offered sufficient facts on either claim. 2014 WL 2115479. The order granted the plaintiffs leave to amend the complaint.

On July 23, 2014, Judge Schiller consolidated another case, Reyes v. Ramsey, with this action, and directed that the claims of the plaintiff in Reyes be added to the plaintiffs' amended complaint. The plaintiffs filed their amended complaint on August 14, 2014.

The parties engaged in discovery throughout the rest of 2014 and 2015. A discovery dispute arose concerning the deposition of the Police Commissioner. On November 15, 2014, the court granted the defendants' motion for a protective order for the Commissioner, finding that as a high-ranking official, he should not have to sit for deposition unless his testimony would be necessary and unavailable from a lesser ranking officer. The court stated that if information obtained in the depositions of lesser ranking officers were to suggest that the Commissioner's deposition was necessary, the plaintiffs could move for reconsideration of the protective order. The plaintiffs filed such a motion for reconsideration on November 30, 2015, and the court vacated the protective order, finding that subordinate officers' testimony provided ample evidence that the Commissioner was directly involved in the subject matter of the litigation and therefore permitting the plaintiffs to take his deposition.

On July 25, 2016, the case was dismissed with prejudice pursuant to the agreement of the parties. The settlement does not appear to be publicly available.

Richard Jolly - 05/16/2014
Sarah McDonald - 08/17/2018


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Due Process
Freedom of speech/association
Unreasonable search and seizure
Defendant-type
Law-enforcement
General
Assault/abuse by staff
Excessive force
False arrest
Over/Unlawful Detention
Personal injury
Search policies
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
State law
Defendant(s) City of Philadelphia
Deputy Police Commissioner
Police Commissioner
Plaintiff Description A group of twenty-six protesters associated with Occupy Philadelphia claimed, inter alia, that city police retaliated against their protected speech and assembly, used excessive force, and unlawfully arrested and falsely imprisoned them.
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted No
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer No
Nature of Relief Unknown
Source of Relief Settlement
Form of Settlement Private Settlement Agreement
Filing Year 2013
Case Closing Year 2016
Case Ongoing No
Docket(s)
2:13-cv-6606 (E.D. Pa.)
PN-PA-0015-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 07/25/2016
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Complaint [ECF# 1]
PN-PA-0015-0001.pdf | Detail
Date: 11/13/2013
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Memorandum [ECF# 13] (2014 WL 2115479) (E.D. Pa.)
PN-PA-0015-0002.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 05/20/2014
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
First Amended Complaint [ECF# 22]
PN-PA-0015-0003.pdf | Detail
Date: 08/14/2014
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judges Schiller, Berle M. (E.D. Pa.)
PN-PA-0015-0002 | PN-PA-0015-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Hetznecker, Paul J. (Pennsylvania)
PN-PA-0015-0001 | PN-PA-0015-0003 | PN-PA-0015-9000
Hoffman, Elizabeth A. (Pennsylvania)
PN-PA-0015-0003 | PN-PA-0015-9000
Krasner, Lawrence S. (Pennsylvania)
PN-PA-0015-0001 | PN-PA-0015-0003 | PN-PA-0015-9000
Long, Lloyd III (Pennsylvania)
PN-PA-0015-0001 | PN-PA-0015-0003 | PN-PA-0015-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Shoffel, Amanda C. (Pennsylvania)
PN-PA-0015-9000

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