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 ...
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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On February 13, 1989, in an unpublished ruling, District Judge Edward N. Cahn certified the plaintiff class, finding that the allegations satisfied the applicable federal procedural rule governing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