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CARPENTER v. DIZIO

January 9, 1981

Theodore CARPENTER
v.
Officer John DIZIO, Officer Joseph Flite, Officer Joseph Feeney, Officer Sidney Landis, Officer Ernest Allmond, Officer John Monaghan, Officer Terrence Mulvihill and the City of Philadelphia



The opinion of the court was delivered by: BECHTLE

MEMORANDUM

This case arose from an incident which took place on January 27, 1977. The plaintiff, Theodore Carpenter ("Carpenter"), was walking alone in the vicinity of 13th and Cuthbert Streets in Philadelphia at approximately 8:30 p.m. when he was approached by a person who appeared to him to be a "bum." While pushing Carpenter, the "bum" demanded money from him. Thinking that he was about to be mugged, Carpenter struck the person once. This "bum" was in reality Philadelphia Police Officer John Dizio. Four other plainclothes officers of the Philadelphia Police Department's "Grand-pop" Squad arrived on the scene and proceeded to repeatedly strike and beat Carpenter, using their fists and drawn gun butts, thereby inflicting severe injuries to him.

 The injured Carpenter, bleeding and dazed, after being secured in handcuffs and placed in a police wagon, was taken to Metropolitan Hospital and later to Wills Eye Hospital for treatment of his injuries. He was subsequently driven to the Police Administration Building where he was charged with various crimes, including robbery, receiving stolen goods, resisting arrest, aggravated assault and terroristic threats. At a preliminary hearing, it was determined that probable cause had existed for Carpenter's arrest. Unable to post bail, he remained incarcerated at the Philadelphia Detention Center until February 2, 1977.

 Carpenter was brought to trial in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas before the Honorable William J. Marutani on November 25, 1977. On November 29, 1977, a jury found him not guilty of all criminal charges.

  Subsequently, Carpenter brought the instant civil rights action alleging various constitutional violations by Officers Dizio, Joseph Flite, Ernest Allmond, John Monaghan, Sidney Landis, Joseph Feeney and Terrence Mulvihill, as well as the City of Philadelphia ("City"). *fn1" On December 14, 1979, after an eight-day trial, a jury returned a verdict in favor of the plaintiff on the state pendent claims against the following defendants: (1) Officers Dizio and Flite on charges of false arrest, false imprisonment and malicious prosecution; and, (2) Officers Allmond and Monaghan on charges of assault and battery. *fn2" Further, the jury assessed $ 13,000 in compensatory damages and $ 20,000 in punitive damages against the police officers and the City. The City was held liable on the theory of respondeat superior on the state claims.

 The defendants presently seek a new trial or a judgment non obstante veredicto, charging that the Court erred in:

 (1) applying the Pennsylvania statutes of limitations;

 (2) failing to apply the doctrine of collateral estoppel to a preliminary state court determination of probable cause;

 (3) admitting into evidence the former testimony of a witness at the state criminal trial;

 (4) failing to dismiss the charge of malicious prosecution against Officers Dizio and Flite;

 (5) failing to dismiss the pendent state claims;

 (6) applying the doctrine of respondeat superior to the City on state pendent claims; and,

 (7) assessing punitive damages against the City.

 Upon examination of the alleged errors, the motion of the defendants for a new trial will be denied, and the defendants' motion for a judgment non obstante veredicto will be granted in part and denied in part. The ...


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