UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT EASTERN DISTRICT OF PENNSYLVANIA
December 19, 1962
Christopher ROBERTS, a minor, by his father and natural guardian, Howard S. Roberts, and Howard S. Roberts, in his own right
William TRAPNELL, Jr., and Commissioners of Lower Merion Township
The opinion of the court was delivered by: DUSEN
This cause of action was brought under 42 U.S.C.A. § 1983
and alleges that the minor plaintiff was deprived of the privileges and immunities guaranteed to him by the Fourth, Fifth, Seventh and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution. The Complaint alleges that the minor was shot by the individual defendant, a police officer of Lower Merion Township, Montgomery County, without any just cause or provocation, was kicked by said officer while wounded, was refused the company of his friends when taken to the hospital, and was refused permission to telephone his parents. The Complaint further states that these acts were done under color of law, that the acts were committed wantonly, maliciously, and without just cause, and that no charges were ever preferred against the minor plaintiff or his companions. It is alleged that 'all of the defendants, including those who comprise the Commissioners of Lower Merion Township, know this and have known it ever since said acts were committed.' The Commissioners of Lower Merion Township filed a Motion to Dismiss (Document No. 4), which is now before the court.
Lower Merion Township, a municipal corporation, is a First Class Township and governed by the Pennsylvania First Class Township Code, 53 P.S. § 55101 et seq. Under such Code, the corporate power of a township of the first class is vested in the Board of Township Commissioners. See 53 P.S. 56502. The Board has the general power to prescribe the manner in which the powers of the Township are to be carried out and to regulate the affairs of the Township.
The Civil Rights Act under which this action was brought does not include municipalities within the definition of 'persons' who may be sued for violation of § 1983. Monroe v. Pape, 365 U.S. 167, 187, 191, 81 S. Ct. 473, 5 L. Ed. 2d 492 (1961); Egan v. City of Aurora, Ill., 365 U.S. 514, 81 S. Ct. 684, 5 L. Ed. 2d 741 (1961); Hewitt v. City of Jacksonville, 188 F.2d 423, 424 (5th Cir. 1951), cert. den. 342 U.S. 835, 72 S. Ct. 58, 96 L. Ed. 631 (1951); Charlton v. City of Hialeah, 188 F.2d 421, 423 (5th Cir. 1951).
In this case, the Complaint against the 'Commissioners of Lower Merion Township' will be dismissed for failure to state a claim on which relief can be granted in this court and for lack of jurisdiction over the subject matter. The 'Commissioners of Lower Merion Township,' who comprise the Board possessing the corporate power of the municipal corporation, were sued as a legal entity.
This Complaint cannot be sustained under 42 U.S.C.A. § 1983. Handy Cafe, Inc., v. Justices of The Superior Court, 248 F.2d 485 (1st Cir. 1957),
cert. den. 356 U.S. 902, 78 S. Ct. 561, 2 L. Ed. 2d 580 (1958). See Monroe v. Pape, supra, and Egan v. City of Aurora, supra.
There is no diversity of citizenship.
AND NOW, December 19, 1962, after consideration of the foregoing Motion, the attached briefs, supplemental and reply briefs of counsel, the letter of December 7 attached to plaintiffs' supplemental brief, and the record, IT IS ORDERED that the MOTION OF THE COMMISSIONERS OF LOWER MERION TOWNSHIP TO DISMISS (Document No. 4) is granted, and the Complaint as to them is hereby dismissed, without prejudice.