with business or contractual relationships. Defendants say that like defamation, these torts do not violate the constitution.
Defendants' argument is not persuasive. The constitutional element that was missing in Paul v. Davis is pervasively present in this case.
Plaintiffs complain first that they were defamed by false statements in the defendants' Report of Examination and in numerous press releases. But unlike the libel in Paul, this defamation did not stand alone. Rather, it was intimately connected with the suspension of plaintiffs' license to engage in the insurance business and with the allegedly malicious attempt to have that license permanently revoked. Moreover, beyond the attempted license revocation, the complaint charges that defendants attempted to destroy the plaintiff companies and prevent them from ever conducting their lawful business.
Surely the plaintiffs had a protected property interest in their right to engage in the insurance business. The state recognized this interest by granting plaintiffs a license and affording them the protection of law in conducting their affairs. It is noteworthy too that this was an extremely substantial interest. Certainly, it was far more substantial than some of the examples relied upon in Paul, supra, such as the right to operate a vehicle or hold a government job.
The complaint more than adequately draws a nexus between each of the torts it alleges and the defendants' interference with plaintiffs' property interest. Beyond the defamation, plaintiffs charge that defendants trespassed on their premises, harassed their employees and associates, and interfered with their business and contractual relationships. The complaint specifically alleges that by each of these acts, defendants furthered their efforts to infringe on plaintiffs' right to conduct their business. These were not isolated torts, standing alone. Rather, they were accompanied by the alleged attempt of state officials to deprive plaintiffs of a substantial property interest without due process of law. I hold, therefore, that the complaint adequately states a cause of action for conspiracy to violate civil rights.
Some consideration must also be given at this juncture to several other points raised by defendants which bear on the sufficiency of plaintiffs' cause of action.
First, defendants argue that even if plaintiffs were deprived of a property interest, it was not without due process of law, since prescribed administrative and judicial procedures were followed. The very utilization of these procedures, however, is a part of what plaintiffs challenge. The complaint alleges that defendants initiated the suspension proceeding and its attendant investigation in deliberate bad faith, for the purpose of harassment, and with the goal of destroying Safeguard's business. Surely such actions, if proved, would violate due process. Cf. Freeman & Bass, P. A. v. State of New Jersey Commission of Investigation, 486 F.2d 176, 178-79 (3d Cir. 1973).
Secondly, defendants suggest that as to one category of conduct charged in the complaint, plaintiffs have no standing. Reference is made here to the sixth category identified earlier. Essentially, the charge in this category is that, acting at defendants' direction, uniformed police officers of the City of Philadelphia positioned themselves on plaintiffs' premises and unlawfully searched persons entering or leaving the building. It is also charged that the police falsely arrested one of plaintiffs' officials.
Defendants argue that plaintiffs have no standing to raise these claims. Plaintiffs have offered no response. I find the defendants' position to be persuasive. It is clear that one may not sue or recover damages for the violation of another's civil rights. McGowan v. State of Maryland, 366 U.S. 420, 429, 81 S. Ct. 1101, 1107, 6 L. Ed. 2d 393 (1961); cf. Gilmore v. Utah, 429 U.S. 1012, 97 S. Ct. 436, 50 L. Ed. 2d 632, reh. denied, 429 U.S. 1030, 97 S. Ct. 655, 50 L. Ed. 2d 636 (1976). Plaintiffs have offered nothing to show that they were injured by the illegal search and false arrest of third persons.
Defendants also argue that the acts alleged in the eighth category of conduct fail to state a cause of action. Once again, plaintiffs have made no response. In this category, the complaint charges that the defendants committed perjury and conspired to suborn perjury. Defendants correctly point out that such acts do not give rise to a civil cause of action for damages. See Ginsburg v. Halpern, 383 Pa. 178, 118 A.2d 201 (1953). Nor, therefore, do they support an action for damages under the civil rights laws. Bryant v. Commonwealth of Kentucky, 490 F.2d 1273 (6th Cir. 1974); Hahn v. Sargent, 388 F. Supp. 445 (D.Mass.), aff'd, 523 F.2d 461 (1st Cir. 1975), cert. denied, 425 U.S. 904, 96 S. Ct. 1495, 47 L. Ed. 2d 754 (1976).
In summary then, I will grant defendants' motion for summary judgment as to the sixth and eighth categories of conduct discussed above, and plaintiffs may not recover damages for injuries arising from these acts. In all other respects, the motion for summary judgment on the ground that the complaint fails to state a cause of action under the civil rights laws is denied.
3. Statute of Limitations
The only matter remaining to be determined in this case is the question of which limitations period should be applied. As in any civil rights case, I must apply the limitations period pertaining to actions most closely analogous to the one before me under the law of Pennsylvania. Henig v. Odorioso, 385 F.2d 491 (3d Cir. 1967), Cert. denied, 390 U.S. 1016, 88 S. Ct. 1269, 20 L. Ed. 2d 166, Reh. denied, 391 U.S. 929, 88 S. Ct. 1814, 20 L. Ed. 2d 671 (1968). In doing so, it is to be remembered that this is an action for conspiracy.
To resolve the statute of limitations issue in this case, one might be tempted simply to apply the limitations period properly applicable to each of the overt acts. Certainly, the acts charged in the categories of conduct that remain a part of this case can easily be analogized to various state law torts. Thus, categories one and four pertain to the making of false statements in the Report of Examination and in press releases. 456 F. Supp. at 693. This is analogous, of course, to defamation. Category two alleges that defendants posted insurance company investigators on plaintiffs' premises without plaintiffs' permission for the purpose of harassment. Id. This can be analogized to the tort of simple trespass to property, i.e., trespass Quare clausum fregit. See Kopka v. Bell Telephone Co. of Pennsylvania, 371 Pa. 444, 91 A.2d 232 (1952); Nido v. Chambers, 70 Pa. D. & C. 2d 129 (1975). Category three charges that defendants contacted various financial institutions in order to freeze plaintiffs' funds. Category five states that defendants refused to authorize the payment of salaries, bills, and other expenses. Category seven alleges that defendants informed various third parties, including agents, brokers, creditors, and other insurance companies, that the plaintiff company had been suspended because it was insolvent, thereby causing plaintiffs to lose both insurance protection and revenue. 456 F. Supp. at 693. The acts charged in all three of these categories are most closely analogous to the state law tort of interference with business and contractual relations, a tort recognized under the law of Pennsylvania. See Dupree v. Hertz Corp., 419 F. Supp. 764 (E.D.Pa.1976); Loughrey v. Landon, 381 F. Supp. 884 (E.D.Pa.1974).
Trespass Quare clausum fregit is expressly included in the six year limitation period of 12 P.S. § 31. Similarly, the same six year period has been held to govern the tort of interference with business and contractual relations. Dupree, supra, 419 F. Supp. at 768; Loughrey, supra, 381 F. Supp. at 886. The tort of defamation, on the other hand, is subject to a one year limitation period. 12 P.S. §§ 31 and 32.
In a conspiracy action, however, it is incorrect to apply different limitation periods to each of the overt acts alleged. Rather, "(t)he Pennsylvania statute of limitations pertaining to the substantive offense most closely related to that which defendants were alleged to have conspired to commit would govern." Ammlung, supra, 494 F.2d at 814.
In essence, this complaint alleges that defendants conspired to prevent plaintiffs from conducting their insurance business. If such a charge is analogous to any state law tort at all, it would be that of interference with business and contractual relations. As noted above, this tort is subject to a six year limitations period. Moreover, it has been held that all actions in trespass not involving bodily injury are governed by the six year period of § 31. Meyers v. Pennypack Woods Home Ownership Association, 559 F.2d 894, 902 (3d Cir. 1977). I hold, therefore, that the six year limitations period of 12 P.S. § 31 governs this entire case. In a conspiracy action, the limitations period begins to run from each overt act. Ammlung, 494 F.2d at 814-15. The earliest acts alleged occurred in 1967, and the complaint was filed less than six years later, in 1971.
Therefore, no aspect of this case is barred by the statute of limitations.
For the reasons expressed above, the defendants' motion for summary judgment will be granted with respect to the plaintiffs' cause of action based on 42 U.S.C. § 1985(3). The motion will also be granted as to plaintiffs' action based on perjury or suborning perjury and on the illegal search and false arrest of third persons. In all other respects, the motion must be denied.
In my previous opinion on defendants' motion for summary judgment, I stated that no evidence would be received at trial regarding any of defendants' acts that were protected by an absolute immunity. 456 F. Supp. at 694. Plaintiffs now argue, however, that even if they cannot recover damages for this conduct, evidence regarding the commission of such acts is still relevant to show the existence of defendants' alleged conspiracy, and to show that the defendants acted in bad faith.
I agree that my previous statement, effectively excluding such evidence, was premature. The resolution of this issue will depend on whether the prejudicial nature of the evidence would outweigh its probative value. Such determinations are best made at the time of trial. Therefore, I express no opinion now on how this matter will or should be resolved.