The opinion of the court was delivered by: MARVIN KATZ, Senior District Judge
FINDINGS OF FACT AND CONCLUSIONS OF LAW
Plaintiff Rollin Scott Schall ("Schall") brings claims under
42 U.S.C. § 1983 against Corporal Joseph A. Vazquez
("Vazquez") of the Pennsylvania State Police for violations of
his Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment rights, alleging that he was
illegally seized and subject to excessive force by Vazquez.
Schall is seeking compensatory and punitive damages from Vazquez.
In addition, Schall seeks damages based on supplemental
Pennsylvania law claims. After a bench trial, the court makes the
following findings of fact and conclusions of law:
I. FINDINGS OF FACT
1. Schall is an individual employed as a civilian maintenance
worker with Pennsylvania State Police Troop M Bethlehem Barracks
in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. Schall has been employed in that
capacity since December 1991.
2. Vazquez has been employed as an officer with the
Pennsylvania State Police for approximately 24 years and was
assigned to Troop M Bethlehem Barracks on September 1, 1983. 3. Schall and Vazquez worked together at the Bethlehem Barracks
for approximately 12 years. They had developed a friendly
relationship at work that included "horseplay" such as verbal
taunts, throwing food at each other, and pushing or shoving each
4. Schall and Vazquez both consented to this type of horseplay
behavior prior to January 31, 2003. The horseplay prior to this
date never involved a firearm.
5. On Friday, January 31, 2003, Schall and Vazquez were both on
duty at the Bethlehem barracks.
6. Between 12 and 1 p.m. on January 31, 2003, Schall was
sitting in the barracks lunchroom. Several other State Police
employees were present, including Roger Andras, Tina Koren,
Trooper Paul Iannace, and Trooper Christopher Sullivan.
7. Vazquez entered the lunchroom sometime between 12 and 1 p.m.
with a plate of cupcakes, which he set down on a table. Schall
spoke to Vazquez, commenting on Vazquez's weight and telling him
he should eat a cupcake.
8. Vazquez responded with a similar comment about Schall and
left the lunchroom to hang up his coat. Less than a minute later,
he returned to the lunchroom and spoke with Schall again.
9. After conversing with Schall for several minutes, Vazquez
grabbed Schall near the top of his head using his left arm. With
Schall's face pressed against Vazquez's chest in a headlock-type
hold, Vazquez removed his service revolver with his right hand
and held it against Schall's head. This event was not preceded by
physical horseplay on this day.
10. Schall could not see the exact position of Vazquez's
service revolver because his face was turned towards Vazquez's
11. Vazquez pointed the loaded gun at Schall's head for a few
seconds. 12. After a few seconds, Vazquez placed his weapon back in its
holster and released Schall from the headlock hold.
13. Schall did not resist Vazquez's physical force while being
held in the headlock.
14. Schall did not believe he was free to go until Vazquez
reholstered his weapon and released him from the headlock hold.
15. After Vazquez released him, Schall walked out of the
16. On Monday, February 3, 2003, Vazquez's superiors told him
that there would be an internal investigation into the January
31, 2003 incident.
17. After the January 31, 2003 incident and the subsequent
internal affairs investigation, Vazquez received a six-week
suspension from the State Police without ...