Johnson, Duffie, Swewart & Weidner - Law
Always a Step Ahead

News Release


Attorney Powell obtains summary judgment in federal civil rights/excessive force claim against Township and its officials.


On October 16, 2017, Attorney Darren Powell obtained summary judgment on behalf of the remaining Township official in a federal civil rights case. Plaintiff, a former police officer himself, alleged that the Township police officer violently assaulted him as he was lodging a complaint with the Township against the officer for improper conduct. According to Plaintiff, when the officer overheard the complaints, he assaulted him and repeatedly struck him, resulting in Plaintiff's hospitalization. Plaintiff claimed that the assault was performed with direction and/or approval of the Township supervisor and/or was the result of improper Township policies and procedures. Plaintiff initially brought suit against the Township, the police department and several officials.

After a series of successful motions to dismiss, Plaintiff's claims were limited to a Section 1983 supervisory liability claim and a state law claim of assault and battery against the Township Supervisor who "directed" the officer. In pursing summary judgment on these final claims, Attorney Powell argued that a single Township supervisor lacked the authority to control the police officer, because that authority is statutorily vested in the "board of supervisors" not a single supervisor. Powell also argued that the Plaintiff failed to establish that the Supervisor actively encouraged or participated in the purported assault and battery.

In granting summary judgment, the Court concluded that, in light of the statute that places such authority over the police department the "board of supervisors", Plaintiff had failed to establish a superior/subordinate relationship between the police officer and the single Township supervisor Officer. As such, the Court dismissed the federal civil rights claims. The Court also concluded that Plaintiff had failed to establish that the Supervisor encouraged, directed or participated in the assault. As such, the Court dismissed the entire case.

Please contact Darren Powell at (717) 761-4540 or for further information.