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Lawrence Crews, By His Mother and Natural Guardian, Lynette Crews, and v. City of Chester and Officer John Kuryan

January 25, 2012

LAWRENCE CREWS, BY HIS MOTHER AND NATURAL GUARDIAN, LYNETTE CREWS, AND LYNETTE CREWS, IN HER OWN RIGHT, APPELLANTS
v.
CITY OF CHESTER AND OFFICER JOHN KURYAN



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Rochelle S. Friedman, Senior Judge

Argued: October 18, 2011

BEFORE: HONORABLE DAN PELLEGRINI, Judge*fn1 HONORABLE PATRICIA A. McCULLOUGH, Judge HONORABLE ROCHELLE S. FRIEDMAN, Senior Judge

OPINION BY SENIOR JUDGE FRIEDMAN

Lawrence Crews (Crews) and his mother, Lynette Crews (together, Plaintiffs), appeal from the October 21, 2010, orders of the Court of Common Pleas of Delaware County (trial court), denying their motion for summary judgment, dismissing their complaint against the City of Chester (City) with prejudice, and entering summary judgment in the City‟s favor. We affirm in part and reverse in part.

On the evening of August 29, 2001, then-fifteen-year-old Crews was standing at the corner of Tenth and Potter Streets in the City talking with three other males. When police approached the area on bicycles, someone yelled "5-0," and Crews and the other individuals dispersed and ran. Officer John Kuryan apprehended Crews and charged him with loitering in a high drug activity area in violation of City Ordinance Number 7-1990 (Ordinance),*fn2 which states:

771.01 POSTING HIGH DRUG ACTIVITY AREA.

(a) The Mayor is hereby empowered to designate any area in the City in which twenty-five (25) arrests have been made in a six (6) month period relating to drugs, as a "High Drug Activity Area".

(b) The Mayor may order the posting of signs in such an area giving warnings to travelers, thereon, that such an area is a "High Drug Activity Area".

(Ord. 7-1990 §1, 2. Passed 8-15-90.)

711.02 VIOLATION.

It shall be unlawful for any person/persons who has been observed either standing, sitting or otherwise loitering for over thirty minutes in a high drug activity area and after questioning by police, could not give a lawful and reasonable explanation for his presence there, to remain or return after being requested to leave by a police officer.

(Ord. 7-1990 §3. Passed 8-15-90.)

711.99 PENALTY.

Any person who violates any provision of this article shall be fined not more than six hundred dollars ($600.00) and, in default of payment thereof, shall be imprisoned not more than ninety days.

(Ord. 7-1990 §4. Passed 8-15-90.)

Crews was arrested, handcuffed, and transported to the police station, where he was held in police custody for approximately one hour until his mother arrived.

At a summary hearing in November 2001, a district justice dismissed Crews‟ citation because both the prosecutor and Officer Kuryan failed to appear.*fn3

On June 23, 2003, Plaintiffs filed a complaint against the City and Officer Kuryan*fn4 in connection with Crews‟ August 2001 arrest. In their complaint, Plaintiffs challenged the Ordinance‟s constitutionality and sought declaratory and injunctive relief, as well as damages for personal injuries and emotional distress suffered by Crews. Plaintiffs also sought damages for medical and legal expenses incurred by Crews‟ mother. The City filed an answer and new matter. Following brief discovery, both Plaintiffs and the City filed motions for summary judgment. The trial court initially dismissed the complaint on the ground that Plaintiffs lacked standing to pursue their claims. Plaintiffs timely appealed.

On appeal, this court held that Plaintiffs had standing to challenge the Ordinance because:

[a]lthough the citation was dismissed, such does not change the fact that Crews was adversely affected by the Ordinance, in that he was taken into custody and issued a citation for violation of the Ordinance and retained counsel to defend the subsequently dismissed citation.

Crews v. City of Chester, 983 A.2d 829, 833 (Pa. Cmwlth. 2009). However, we concluded that a remand was necessary for the trial court to make factual determinations, if needed, with regard to Plaintiffs‟ constitutional claims. Id. Therefore, we reversed and remanded for further proceedings.

On remand, the trial court denied Plaintiffs‟ summary judgment motion, granted the City‟s summary judgment motion, and dismissed Plaintiffs‟ complaint with prejudice. In its opinion, the trial court concluded that: (1) Crews‟ First Amendment rights were not violated; (2) the Ordinance is neither vague nor overbroad; (3) Plaintiffs were not entitled to damages for Crews‟ injuries because the City has sovereign immunity; (4) Plaintiffs‟ emotional distress claim was unsupported by the evidence; (5) Crews‟ civil rights were not violated under ...


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