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MORRISON v. FOX

December 18, 1979

CLARENCE MORRISON, Plaintiff
v.
BARRY FOX, Individually, and as a Detective in the Pittsburgh Police Department; PAUL DeMAIO, Individually, and as a Detective in the Pittsburgh Police Department; GLENN HORES, Individually, and as a Detective in the Pittsburgh Police Department; BERNARD CIGANEK Individually, and as a Detective in the Pittsburgh Police Department; TIM REGAN, Individually, and as a Detective in the Pittsburgh Police Department; WILLIAM HAHALYAK, Individually, and as a Detective in the Pittsburgh Police Department; STEPHEN P. JOYCE, Individually, and as the Assistant Superintendent of the Pittsburgh Police Department; and THE CITY OF PITTSBURGH, a municipal corporation, Defendants



The opinion of the court was delivered by: SNYDER

This Section 1983 action by Clarence Morrison against the City of Pittsburgh, the Assistant Superintendent of Police, and six members of the Detective Division of the Pittsburgh Police Department seeks damages for unlawful arrest. We find in favor of Morrison only as against the six Detectives and judgment will be entered accordingly.

I. Findings of Fact

 1. The Plaintiff, Clarence Morrison, is a citizen of the United States and a resident of R.D. # 1, Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania.

 2. The individual Defendants are all residents of the City of Pittsburgh and members of its Police Department.

 3. The individual Defendants at all times were Police Officers of the City of Pittsburgh, County of Allegheny, a governmental subdivision of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

 4. Jurisdiction of the court is by virtue of Title 28, United States Code, Section 1343.

 5. At all times material, all named police officers were acting under color of their official capacity and their acts were performed under color of the ordinances of the City of Pittsburgh and statutes of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

 6. On May 20, 1977, at about 11:30 A.M., the wife of Defendant Detective Barry Fox informed her husband she had been assaulted in their home by a unknown white male. The intruder, accompanied by Coleen Fox, Barry Fox's former wife, abducted Fox's son, Sean.

 7. There was a pending custody matter in the local courts at that time which had not been resolved.

 8. Barry Fox immediately went to his home and observed that his wife, Lynda Fox, had received bruises and contusions in the ensuing scuffle, and that a two inch thick wooden door had been extensively damaged. Lynda stated to Barry that the child was taken away in a maroon colored Ford Mustang containing four people described as two women, a white male, and another male wearing a white hat.

 9. About 2 P.M. on May 20, 1977, Detective Fox proceeded to the Office of City Magistrate Stephen Laffey, and after describing the offenses to the Magistrate, the Magistrate typed out criminal complaints which Barry Fox signed against Coleen Fox, John Doe and Jane Doe, charging Kidnapping, Section 2904, Burglary, Section 3502, Aggravated Assault, Section 2702, and Conspiracy, Section 903 of the Criminal Code of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. *fn1"

 11. Detective Fox had been alerted to the fact that the maroon Mustang was at Sunny Jim's parking lot by his father, who had recalled a previous incident, approximately one year before, in which a Coleman Mulkerrin was also involved in a custody matter, and Detective Fox was lead to believe that Mulkerrin may have been involved in the abduction of his son Sean.

 12. Detective Fox was directed by his superior, Detective DeMaio, to leave his weapons at the police station, but was given permission to accompany the other detectives herein named to Sunny Jim's Restaurant and Bar, outside the City limits.

 13. The Detective Defendants, Fox, DeMaio, Hores, Ciganek, Hahalyak and Regan, then proceeded to the area of Kilbuck Township and met two officers from the Borough of Emsworth and a police officer from Kilbuck Township near the restaurant, the latter three officers accompanying the Pittsburgh Detectives, but taking no part in the investigation.

 14. Upon arrival at Sunny Jim's parking area, the Detectives observed a maroon Mustang with the license plate bent up which corresponded with the description given by Lynda Fox that although she had gone into the street to get the license number, she had been unable to do so because the license plate had been bent. The Detectives bent down the license plate, took the number, and verified the ownership of the vehicle as being that of Clarence Morrison.

 15. On May 20, 1977, at approximately 4:30 P.M., Plaintiff Clarence Morrison was patronizing Sunny Jim's Restaurant and Bar.

 16. In the meantime, Detectives Hores, DeMaio, Fox and Ciganek entered the bar, identified themselves as police officers and/or detectives, and upon inquiry as to whom the maroon Mustang belonged, Clarence Morrison volunteered that he was the owner of the vehicle. Morrison was dressed in levis, boots and a shirt, and was wearing a brown hat. Morrison then accompanied the Detectives into the parking lot for questioning and, after being advised of ...


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