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Appeals Court Affirms Summary Judgement

08/26/2021
Appeals Court Affirms Summary Judgement

In a 16-page opinion a three-judge panel of the Third Circuit United States Court of Appeals has upheld U.S. District Judge Joseph F. Leeson, Jr’s dismissal of a civil rights lawsuit against the Allentown police department.  

Last October, Judge Leeson granted a motion of summary judgement in favor of the department, the city and four police officers in the case of a 17-count lawsuit filed by Roeuth and Michael Raymond Morency.  The suit alleged false arrest, false imprisonment and malicious prosecution in connection with Michael Morency’s June 15, 2018, arrest on charges of simple assault and disorderly conduct following a dispute with a neighbor and the neighbor’s son in which Morency displayed a handgun.

As a condition of bail on the charges, Michael Morency was not to be in the home if weapons were present.

The lawsuit also claimed that Michael Morency and his home were searched illegally and that while in custody police ransacked the home taking two guns and $2,000 in cash.

The city noted in its filings with the Court that officers asked for and received permission from Roeuth Morency to enter and search the home.  The city noted in its filings with the Court that police did not take anything.  Plaintiffs did not contest that, in fact Roeuth Morency said she did not recall seeing officers take anything and she had the firearms removed and placed in a safety deposit box.

According to the Appeals Court panel, the District Court correctly granted summary judgment in the officers’ favor on Michael’s false arrest, false imprisonment, and malicious prosecution claims and agreed with the District Court that Roueth voluntarily consented to the search and that the officers were entitled to qualified immunity.

In granting the city’s motion for Summary Judgement, Judge Leeson had noted that Plaintiffs did not contest the city’s presentation of the facts.

The charges against Michael Morency were dismissed at a preliminary hearing in July 2018.

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