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State Police Officer Was Immune From Suit For Intentional Torts Committed In The Course Of His Employment

March 5th, 2018

In Justice v. Lombardo, 2017 WL 5329370, (Pa. Cmwlth. Ct., 11/14/17), the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court held that a State Police Officer had sovereign immunity from intentional tort claims brought by a motorist who sued for assault and battery, invasion of privacy, intentional infliction of emotional distress, false arrest, false imprisonment, and abuse of process arising from a traffic stop where the trooper handcuffed the motorist to get her off a busy highway when her vehicle was being towed.  In this case, the trooper stopped the motorist, and found that she was driving on a suspended license.  Since she could not drive from the scene, the motorist called a friend to drive her car from the scene.  While waiting, the trooper called a tow truck and ordered the motorist to exit the vehicle.  There are conflicting versions of what occurred next, but the trooper ended up handcuffing the motorist.  When the motorist’s friend arrived, the trooper removed the handcuffs and allowed her to leave.  The Commonwealth Court held that the trooper’s conduct was within the scope of his authority, and therefore he was immune from suit.  Consequently, the decision of the trial court denying the trooper’s motion for judgment JNOV was reversed, and the case was remanded with instructions to the trial court to enter judgment in favor of the trooper.

Before Brobson, and Wojcik, J.J, and Pellegrini, S.J., Opinion by Pellegrini

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