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Jimmy Murphy v. Mifflin County Regional

IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE MIDDLE DISTRICT OF PENNSYLVANIA


June 6, 2011

JIMMY MURPHY,
PLAINTIFF
v.
MIFFLIN COUNTY REGIONAL
POLICE DEPARTMENT, ET AL., DEFENDANTS

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge Conner

ORDER

AND NOW, this 6th day of June, 2011, upon consideration of the April 28, 2011 Order of Magistrate Judge Malachy E. Mannion denying defendant Mifflin County Regional Police Department's ("Mifflin") motion for a protective order staying discovery (see Doc. 73), and upon further consideration of the objection of Mifflin to the order (Doc. 74); see L.R. 72.2 (stating that "[a]ny party may appeal from a magistrate judge's order determining a non-dispositive pretrial motion or matter . . . within fourteen (14) days after issuance of the magistrate judge's order"), filed on May 2, 2011, wherein Mifflin asserts that "it is well-settled law that police departments operated by municipalities are not 'persons' amenable to suit pursuant to § 1983," (Doc. 75, at 5), and it appearing that the court shall set aside any portion of an order found to be "clearly erroneous or contrary to law," L.R. 72.2, and the court finding that a municipal police department, as a subdivision or agency of a municipality, is not an appropriate defendant in a § 1983 action, see Martin v. Red Lion Police Dep't, 146 Fed. Appx. 558, 562 n.3 (3d Cir. 2005); Texter v. Merlina, No. Civ. A. 1:04-CV-0173, 2005 WL 1513117, at *1 (M.D. Pa. 2005); Draper v. Darby Tp. Police Dep't, --- F. Supp. 2d ---, 2011 WL 830292, at *4 (E.D. Pa. Mar. 7, 2011) (dismissing claims against police department on grounds that a police department is not a "person" for § 1983 purposes); James v. Lumberton Police Dep't, Civil No. 06-2188, 2006 WL 3733024, at * 3 n.2 (D.N.J. Dec. 12, 2006) (stating that "a police department is not a 'person' subject to suit under § 1983"); Johnson v. City of Erie, 834 F. Supp. 873, 878-79 (W.D. Pa. 1993) (granting motion to dismiss police department, which was a sub-unit of the city, as improper party); PBA Local No. 38 v. Woodbridge Police Dep't, 832 F. Supp. 808, 825-26 (D.N.J. 1993) (concluding that police department is not a "person" under § 1983 and therefore not an appropriate party) (collecting cases), and the court concluding that Judge Mannion's conclusion to the contrary is clearly erroneous,*fn1 and it appearing that pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 26(c) "[t]he court may, for good cause, issue an order to protect a party or person from annoyance, embarrassment, oppression, or undue burden, or expense," FED. R. CIV. P. 26(c), and the court determining that the decision on whether to grant a stay must be made on a case-by-case basis, see McLafferty v. Deutsche Lufthansa A.G., Civil Action No. 08-1706, 2008 WL 4612856, at *1 (E.D. Pa. Oct. 15, 2008) (citing In re Plastics Additives Antitrust Litigation, N. Civ. A. 03-2038, 2004 WL 2743591, at *5 (E.D. Pa. Nov. 29, 2004)),*fn2 and the court concluding that, given that a municipal police department is not a person subject to suit pursuant to § 1983, a stay of discovery against Mifflin County Regional Police Department is warranted, it is hereby ORDERED that:

1. The order of Magistrate Judge Mannion dated April 28, 2011 (Doc. 73) is VACATED.

2. The motion for a protective order (Doc. 71) filed by Mifflin County Police Department is GRANTED.

3. Discovery against Mifflin County Police Department is STAYED pending resolution of Mifflin County Police Department's motion for summary judgment (Doc. 68).

CHRISTOPHER C. CONNER United States District Judge


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