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Public Entity and Civil Rights Litigation

Our firm has over 20 years of experience in handling public entity liability matters in civil courts. A significant strength of Marshall Dennehey Warner Coleman & Goggin is the regional representation we provide insurers and self-insureds. The practice group defends public entities in the state and federal courts of Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Florida, Delaware, Ohio and New York, and in the various administrative agencies.
 
Public entity liability encompasses a broad range of claims against local governments and townships, including claims against police departments, zoning boards and school districts. Our attorneys have defended local governments against claims of:

  • Excessive force by police
  • Improper police pursuit
  • Failure to maintain real estate or highways
  • Negligent design of roads
  • Inadequate traffic control devices

 
Members of our firm have also defended zoning boards in:

  • Land use claims
  • Claims arising from political or racial discrimination

 
Our representation of school districts has included:

  • Claims alleging improper student discipline
  • Inappropriate student contact
  • School bus accidents
  • Claims arising under the Rehabilitation Act
  • Individuals with Disabilities in Education Act

 
The Public Entity Liability Practice Group has also handled various employment liability matters on behalf of governmental agencies, such as:

  • Claims of violation of the Police Tenure Act
  • Claims of discrimination in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act
  • Age Discrimination in Employment Act
  • Family Medical Leave Act
  • Title VII
  • Other federal and state statutes

 
Our civil rights practice involves defending claims that allege deprivation of an individual's civil rights by a public entity. Such claims are brought under 42 U.S.C. 1981, 1982, 1983, 1985, and 1986 and may be "stand alone" claims brought by third parties or employees and may be combined with claims of employment discrimination.
 
We handle every case with a practical, results-oriented approach that balances strong representation with realistic cost containment. We would welcome the opportunity to work with you in handling your public entity and civil rights litigation. We are also available to give presentations and conduct training seminars at your location or ours.
 
Marshall Dennehey Warner Coleman & Goggin serves clients in Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Tampa, Orlando, Jacksonville, Ft. Lauderdale and communities throughout Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, Ohio, Florida and New York.

Case Study December 1, 2012

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May 16, 2013
The plaintiff alleged that our client, along with several township officials and Commission employees, conspired against him to violate his First Amendment right to run for political office. The court concluded that the plaintiff failed to produce...
May 16, 2013
Obtained a defense verdict in a national origin and disability discrimination case. Fourteen of the seventeen counts were dismissed based on our summary judgment motion, including the failure to accommodte claim. We received a defense verdict on the...
Nov 1, 2012
We successfully obtained summary judgment for a local municipality sued under the Uniform Services Employment and Reemployment Law (USERRA) and the Pennsylvania Military Affairs Act (PMAA). The claimant had alleged damages of $1.7 million. The court...
Mar 1, 2012
We obtained a defense verdict after a six-day trial in the U.S. District Court in a case involving complex 1st Amendment, 14th Amendment Equal Protection, Title VII and state law issues on the division of authority between a row officer (elected...
Sep 19, 2011
Attorney obtained summary judgment on behalf of a County in a Title VII Race Discrimination Claim. The plaintiff, a former Judicial Secretary and Tipstaff, alleged that the County discriminated against her because of her race by refusing to hire her...
Sep 8, 2011
Attorneys obtained summary judgment in a civil rights action against an Area School District and two of its former administrators. The plaintiff was a high school student who claimed she was subjected to bullying by several of her basketball...
Aug 29, 2011
Attorneys obtained summary judgment in a case in which the plaintiff claimed that he was falsely arrested and in doing so was subjected to excessive force. Plaintiff, a 72 year old man, went to a county courthouse to conduct "research." He had in...
Aug 18, 2011
Attorneys obtained judgment for a client. The case involved 1st, 4th and 14th Amendment claims as well as a conspiracy claim against our client, a police officer and state department of transportation officials, after plaintiff was fired from his...
Jun 20, 2011
Attorney obtained summary judgment in an excessive force/false arrest claim. The plaintiff, a convicted felon, was driving the wrong way on a busy highway and was arrested by our client for drug possession and DUI. He was sent back to prison for...
Jun 20, 2011
Attorney received a defense verdict on behalf of a police officer accused of excessive use of force. A 64-year-old grandmother was restrained by a police officer when she aggressively approached him and tried to get around him to intervene in the...

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Law Alerts October 1, 2019
Eastern District of Pennsylvania Judge Schmehl found that an involuntary commitment for observation pursuant to Section 302 of the Pennsylvania Mental Health Procedures Act (50 P.S. § 7302) is not an adjudication or commitment under 18 U.S.C...., Case Law Alerts, 4th Quarter, October 2019 Case Law Alerts is prepared by Marshall Dennehey Warner Coleman & Goggin to provide information on recent developments of interest to our readers. This publication is not intended to provide legal...
Law Alerts September 1, 2019
Supreme Court of Pennsylvania Overturns City’s Attempt to Collect “Maintenance Fee” from Public Utility by Mark J. Kozlowski, Esq. Local municipalities are faced daily with unique challenges that require them to test the limits..., The material in this law alert has been prepared for our readers by Marshall Dennehey Warner Coleman & Goggin. It is solely intended to provide information on recent legal developments and is not intended to provide legal advice for a specific...
Defense Digest Article September 1, 2019
Defense Digest, Vol. 25, No. 3, September 2019 By Douglas C. LaSota, Esq. & Benjamin R. Wright, Esq.* Key Points: Under 35 P.S. § 7210.501, municipalities were required to adopt and enforce the UCC as their municipal building..., Defense Digest, Vol. 25, No. 3, September 2019. Defense Digest is prepared by Marshall Dennehey Warner Coleman & Goggin to provide information on recent legal developments of interest to our readers. This publication is not intended to provide...
Law Alerts August 1, 2019
Appellate Division Discusses Inter-Relationship Between Tort Claims Act and Malicious Prosecution By Matthew J. Behr, Esq. In Murphy v. Shaw, Docket No. A-3715-16T3, the Appellate Division provided guidance as to the accrual date for a malicious..., The material in this law alert has been prepared for our readers by Marshall Dennehey Warner Coleman & Goggin. It is solely intended to provide information on recent legal developments, and is not intended to provide legal advice for a specific...
Law Alerts July 1, 2019
The plaintiff left work when a snow storm caused an emergency early closing. She slipped on accumulated ice and snow that was un-shoveled and unsalted. The defendant was granted summary judgment because determining where to begin shoveling snow and..., Case Law Alerts, 3rd Quarter, July 2019 Case Law Alerts is prepared by Marshall Dennehey Warner Coleman & Goggin to provide information on recent developments of interest to our readers. This publication is not intended to provide legal advice...
Law Alerts July 1, 2019
In May, a federal judge sitting in the Middle District of Pennsylvania dismissed a lawsuit filed by a gay aluminum manufacturing worker who had claimed he was subjected to harassment and a hostile work environment on the basis of his sexual..., Case Law Alerts, 3rd Quarter, July 2019 Case Law Alerts is prepared by Marshall Dennehey Warner Coleman & Goggin to provide information on recent developments of interest to our readers. This publication is not intended to provide legal advice...
Defense Digest Article June 1, 2019
Defense Digest, Vol. 25, No. 2, June 2019 By Michael L. Detweiler, Esq.* Key Points: Claims against local governmental agencies pursuant to vehicle liability exception were actionable only if harm was caused by the voluntary movement of...,   Defense Digest, Vol. 25, No. 2, June 2019. Defense Digest is prepared by Marshall Dennehey Warner Coleman & Goggin to provide information on recent legal developments of interest to our readers. This publication is not intended to...
Law Alerts April 25, 2019
Update to Filing of Late Notice of Tort Claim  by Matthew J. Behr, Esq. Recently, the Appellate Division affirmed the granting of a motion to file a late notice of tort claim in the case of Kuczinski v. State of New Jersey, A-3694-17T2 (April..., The material in this law alert has been prepared for our readers by Marshall Dennehey Warner Coleman & Goggin. It is solely intended to provide information on recent legal developments, and is not intended to provide legal advice for a specific...
Law Alerts April 1, 2019
The District Court dismissed all of the plaintiff’s 42 U.S.C. §1983 claims against the individual defendants and the City of Newark, finding that he had not adequately pled Fourth Amendment violations or a custom of warrantless searches..., Case Law Alerts, 2nd Quarter, April 2019 Case Law Alerts is prepared by Marshall Dennehey Warner Coleman & Goggin to provide information on recent developments of interest to our readers. This publication is not intended to provide legal advice...
Law Alerts January 1, 2019
The plaintiff was sexually assaulted while incarcerated. She did not file a notice of tort claim within the requisite 90 days because she was not aware of this requirement. Upon her release, she retained an attorney. Five months later, she sought..., Case Law Alerts, 1st Quarter, January 2019 Case Law Alerts is prepared by Marshall Dennehey Warner Coleman & Goggin to provide information on recent developments of interest to our readers. This publication is not intended to provide legal...

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Chair

Joseph J. Santarone Jr.
Chair, Public Entity & Civil Rights Practice Group
(215) 575-2626
jjsantarone@mdwcg.com

Additional Contacts

Scott G. Dunlop
Office Managing Attorney
(412) 803-1144
sgdunlop@mdwcg.com

Related Practice Areas

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