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LAWRENCE v. CITY OF PHILADELPHIA

January 21, 1988

James Lawrence
v.
City Of Philadelphia, et al.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: BRODERICK

 BRODERICK, J.

 Plaintiff James Lawrence alleges a cause of action under 42 U.S.C. Section 1983 as well as pendent state claims for false imprisonment, assault and battery, malicious prosecution, and unlawful search and seizure against the City of Philadelphia and six individual officers. Presently pending before this Court is plaintiff's motion for summary judgment against the six individual officers as to his federal cause of action.

 I.

 Summary judgment is appropriately entered if the moving party demonstrates to the court that no genuine issue exists as to any material fact, and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. In determining whether the movant has met his burden, the court is required to inquire "whether the evidence presents a significant disagreement to require submission to a jury or whether it is so one-sided that one party must prevail as a matter of law." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, 477 U.S. 242, 106 S. Ct. 2505, 2512, 91 L. Ed. 2d 202 (1986). Disposition of the matter by summary judgment is inappropriate, however, where the evidence in the record reveals a genuine issue as to a material fact. "Even if the preponderance of the evidence should appear to lie on the moving party's side, the court's function is not to decide issues of fact, but only to determine whether any issue of fact exists to be tried." Ness v. Marshall, 660 F.2d 517, 519 (3d Cir. 1981).

 In moving for summary judgment, the moving party is required to identify for the trial court those portions of the record which demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of material fact. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 106 S. Ct. 2548, 2553, 91 L. Ed. 2d 265 (1986). If the moving party meets this burden, the opposing, non-moving party "must do more than simply show that there is some metaphysical doubt as to material facts" but, rather, must come forward with "specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial." Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio, 475 U.S. 574, 106 S. Ct. 1348, 1356, 89 L. Ed. 2d 538 (1986). In reaching its ruling on a motion for summary judgment, the court must view all inferences in the light most favorable to the non-moving party and resolve all doubts against the moving party. United States v. Diebold, Inc., 369 U.S. 654, 655, 82 S. Ct. 993, 994, 8 L. Ed. 2d 176 (1962).

 II.

 The material facts concerning which there is no genuine issue are as follows: Plaintiff was president-steward of the "Robert Foerderer Leather Workers' Association" (the "Club"), a "club" as that word is defined by the Pennsylvania Liquor Code. 47 Pa. C.S.A. Section 1-102. On the morning of April 11, 1986, after individuals were observed exiting the club after the curfew for serving liquor, the individual officers attempted to enter the club in order to perform an inspection. The officers were denied entry and departed. The following morning, April 12, 1986, the officers again sought entrance to the club. The officers did not have a search warrant and were not accompanied by any agents of the Liquor Control Board ("LCB"). The officers were admitted into a small vestibule area where they informed the doorman that they had come to inspect the club for Liquor Code violations. Plaintiff James Lawrence refused to permit the officers to enter the club and was, as a result, placed under arrest and charged with violation of 47 Pa. C.S.A. Section 4-493(21) -- "Refusing the Right of Inspection". The officers proceeded to perform an inspection and search of the club which revealed no violations of the Liquor Code. Charges against Mr. Lawrence were subsequently dropped.

 As of the date of the incident in question, April 12, 1986, the Liquor Code of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, authorized warrantless searches of liquor licensed establishments by "employees of the board [who] are designated enforcement officers or investigators". 47 Pa. C.S.A. Section 2-209. The statute provided in pertinent part:

 
Such employees of the board as are designated "enforcement officers" or "investigators" are hereby declared to be police officers and are hereby given police power and authority throughout the Commonwealth to arrest on view, except in private homes, without warrant, any person engaged in the unlawful sale, importation, manufacture or transportation, or having unlawful possession of liquor, alcohol or malt or brewed beverages, contrary to the provisions of this act or any other law of this Commonwealth. Such officers and investigators shall have power and authority, upon reasonable and probable cause, to search for and to seize without warrant or process, except in private homes, any liquor, alcohol and malt or brewed beverages unlawfully possessed, manufactured, sold, imported or transported. . . .

 47 Pa. C.S.A. Section 2-209. In addition, 47 Pa. C.S.A. Section 4-493(21) provided for criminal penalties for refusing to permit inspections:

 
It shall be unlawful--
 
. . . .
 
(21) For any licensee, or his servants, agents or employees, to refuse the [Pennsylvania Liquor Control] board or any of its authorized employees the right to inspect completely the entire licensed premises at any time during which the premises are open for the transaction of business, or when patrons, guests or members are in that portion ...

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