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CITY PHILADELPHIA v. LOUIS MIDDLETON (05/20/85)

decided: May 20, 1985.

CITY OF PHILADELPHIA, APPELLANT
v.
LOUIS MIDDLETON, APPELLEE



Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County in the case of Louis Middleton v. City of Philadelphia, No. 2150 May Term, 1981.

COUNSEL

Barbara W. Mather, City Solicitor, with her, Barbara R. Axelrod, Deputy City Solicitor, for appellant.

David Rudovsky, Kairys & Rudovsky, for appellee.

President Judge Crumlish, Jr. and Judges Rogers, Williams, Jr., Craig, MacPhail, Doyle and Barry. Opinion by Judge Barry. Judge Williams, Jr. did not participate in the decision in this case. Dissenting Opinion by President Judge Crumlish, Jr. Judge Doyle joins in this dissent.

Author: Barry

[ 89 Pa. Commw. Page 363]

In this companion case to Capanna v. City of Philadelphia, 89 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 349, 492 A.2d 761 (1985), the City of Philadelphia (appellant) appeals an order of the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County denying its post-verdict motions for judgment n.o.v. or a new trial.

Louis Middleton (appellee) initiated this action when he filed a suit charging the City of Philadelphia and several of its police officers with false arrest, false imprisonment, assault, battery, and negligent denial of medical care. The complaint also included several federal claims which are not directly at issue in this appeal. The jury found in appellee's favor on all counts based on the following evidence offered at trial.

Appellee, while on a lunch break, suffered a diabetic attack and collapsed on the sidewalk. He was approached by city police officers and was accused of being drunk. When he tried to explain that he was ill, the officers struck him causing severe injuries and loss of consciousness. He was then placed under arrest and taken to a cell where he was locked up for more than eight hours. During this time he received no medical attention despite the fact that he was wearing a wrist bracelet indicating his diabetic condition.

The jury awarded appellee $10,800 for compensatory damages. It also awarded punitive damages against the police officers in the amount of $7,000.00 and against the city in the amount of $13,000.00. The city moved for judgment n.o.v. or a new trial but the trial court denied the motions. This appeal followed.

The only question presently before us is whether the City of Philadelphia enjoys governmental immunity in cases such as this one where police misconduct is alleged. Appellant argues that pursuant to the Political Subdivision Tort Claims Act (Act), 42 Pa. C.S. §§ 8541-8564, it may not be held liable for any damages

[ 89 Pa. Commw. Page 364]

    sustained by appellee unless the conduct complained of falls within one of the eight exceptions listed in Section 8542 of the Act. Appellee concedes that his action does not fall within any of these exceptions but he argues that appellant waived its ...


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