Municipal Law Experience

Sherr Law Group Wins on Summary Judgment

Client: Jefferson Codorus Joint Sewer Authority, York County, Pennsylvania

Client’s Issue: Inability to build new waste water collection systems and treatment plants for Jefferson Codorus Joint Sewer Authority, a privately held company in Codorus, PA, charged with building sewage disposal systems.

Sherr Law Approach:  Zealously represented the client throughout two-plus years of litigation, developing legal strategies necessary to advocate for client’s right to build new waste water collection systems and treatment plants.  Had Sherr Law Group not won the case, its client would have been responsible to pay $300,000 plus costs and attorney’s fees.

Result:  Won on summary judgment.


Spring Township Drug Apprehension

Client: Multiple police officers from Spring Township.

Client’s Issue: Spring Township police officers were involved in the apprehension of an unruly drug suspect. The suspect attempted to avoid apprehension by driving his vehicle toward the police officers—who responded by firing their weapons at the suspect (hitting him once in the shoulder).  A chase ensued, but ultimately the suspect was captured, taken to the hospital, and then delivered to central booking. Despite having pled guilty to resisting apprehension, the suspect brought a federal law suit Pro Se, suing Spring Township and the police officers involved for alleged excessive use of force.

Sherr Law Approach: On the basis that force was reasonably necessary given the situation, Sherr Law Group aggressively defended Spring Township. A summary judgment was granted for the township and all individual defendants represented by Sherr Law Group, except one officer. Interestingly, a big downtown firm picked up prosecution of the action on behalf of the plaintiff, Pro Bono. When attorneys entered, we contacted them early and often about voluntarily dismissing remaining officer. Sherr Law Group utilized a series of police car surveillance videos, which showed that the remaining officer was not deliberately indifferent to the serious medical need of the plaintiff. This video compilation was prepared and shared with the plaintiff’s attorneys and voluntary dismissal was eventually given.


Arndt v. Slatington Borough, Pennsylvania

Client’s Issue: Man sued in federal court for allegations of excessive force and violation of constitutional rights upon being arrested by three Slatington Borough police officers. Arndt suffered bilateral injuries to his elbows and claimed it was from the force applied during his arrest.  Our clients strongly denied the allegations and wanted to prove in court that they did not violate Mr. Arndt’s rights during the arrest.

Sherr Law Approach: We provided an opinion that due to the circumstances of the incident, which was completely provoked by the plaintiff, along with the strength of the defense, that we should only offer a very small nuisance value on the case.  We vigorously prepared the matter for trial. Result: After completing a four-day jury trial in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, the jury found in favor of all three defendants and defense verdicts were entered for all defendants.


Police Borough

Client’s Issue:  3 police officers, their chief and Borough were sued for excessive force and failure to train, by a person who had bilateral ligament damage in his elbows caused by his arrest.  There were frequent police contact with the individual prior to the event and police believed the event and law suit were possibly a set up and that any settlement would encourage similar events.

Sherr Law Approach:  Strongly advocate against settling the case despite plaintiff’s counsel constant insistence that case could settle for a minor amount.  Prevailed upon decision makers to allow matter to go to trial. Result:  Federal Jury Trial resulted in a defense verdict for all defendants.


School District

Client’s Issue: Client sued as a result of an alleged hazardous condition of playground.  A child fell off playground apparatus and the claim was that the surface was unsafe and constituted a hazard.

Sherr Law Approach: Conducted discovery and defense was asserted that the surface was not the cause of the accident and it was not negligent having the surface.  We employed a national expert on playground safety to testify.

Result: Defense verdict at trial.


Township, Police Chief and Supervisors

Client’s Issue: Civil Rights suit brought against client by a female Sergeant in the police department.

Sherr Law Approach: Aggressively defended the matter asserting the non-liability of the municipal law clients.

Result: Jury Verdict for Defendants Case Citation: Karchnak v. Swatara Township, 446 Fed. Appx. 432 (3d Cir. 2012)


Police Officer and Borough

Client’s Issue: President of Borough Council sued Borough and Borough Police Officer for altercation occurring between them.

Sherr Law Approach: Aggressive discovery and negotiating posture in which we strongly asserted the lack of liability of our clients.

Result: Jury verdict affirmed on appeal. Case Citation: Tobin v. Badamo, 79 Fed. Appx. 217 (3d Cir. 2003)


Township and Municipal Officers

Client’s Issue:  Lawsuit filed against township and elected officials by another supervisor claiming election fraud, violation of Supervisor’s civil rights and slander.

Sherr Law Approach:  Aggressively defended matter through discovery and Motion for Summary Judgment resulting in summary judgment being granted on behalf of clients.


Township

Client’s Issue: Lawsuit against Township and individual Supervisors claiming that an existing Supervisor was defamed during an election by accusations that he was guilty of theft of services by using Township resources for his campaign.

Sherr Law Approach: Aggressively defended the matter on basis of truth of the assertions made against the Plaintiff, lack of publication of alleged defamatory statements and privilege.

Result: Summary judgment granted for Defendants affirmed on appeal by Third Circuit Court of Appeals


Individual

Client’s Issue: Client was a Borough Council Member accused of defamation by a Borough Police Officer because of statements made to Borough residents and the State Police about the misdeeds of the Officer including sex with under aged girls.

Sherr Law Approach: Aggressive defense.  Filed Preliminary Objections to original Complaint and four Amended Complaints.  Asserted privilege and factual defenses.

Result: Case settled for small nuisance value, which was a small fraction of what was being requested.


Township

Client’s Issue: Three teenage fatalities in an auto accident alleging Township was liable for allowing a dangerous condition of the road consisting of lack of warning signs and other traffic controls.

Sherr Law Approach: Aggressively defended matter and established record through depositions and request for admissions sufficient to move for summary judgment.

Result: Favorable settlement reached after extensive discovery and while summary judgment motion was pending.


Municipalities

Client’s Issue: Defended several different municipalities in actions brought by the Pennsylvania’s Attorney General Office challenging local land use ordinances regulating intensive farming activity under the ACRE statute.

Case Citation: Commonwealth v. Locust Township, 968 A.2d 1236 (Pa. 2009), 49 A.3d 502 (Pa. Cmwlth. En banc 2012); Commonwealth v. Richmond Township, 2 A.3d 678 (Pa. Cmwlth. 2010).


Municipality

Client’s Issue: Defense of township in an action under the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act.

Sherr Law Approach: We filed a Motion for Summary Judgment after aggressively defending the matter through discovery and motions practice.

Result: Summary judgment on behalf of client, which was appealed both to the Commonwealth Court as well as to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.  Case established that there is no right to a jury trial under PHRA and was hailed as the most significant employment law case of the year by the Legal Intelligencer. Case Citation: Wertz v. Chapman Township, 741 A.2d 1272 (Pa. 1999).


Municipality

Client’s Issue: Township sued for alleged violations of Pennsylvania Sunshine Act for holding closed door meetings with various entities involved in a lawsuit over the operation of a quarry in the township.

Sherr Law Approach: Aggressively defended matter through discovery and motions practice, and filed Summary Judgment Motion.

Result: Summary Judgment Motion was granted, affirmed on appeal to both Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court and the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.  Established that municipal legislature need not conduct open door meetings if purpose of meetings are for fact finding not for deliberations.

Case Citation: Smith v. Richmond Township, 82 A.3d 407 (Pa. 2013).


Municipality

Client’s Issue: Township Supervisors, members of the Planning Commission and others sued for alleged civil rights violations by a developer whose development plans were denied by the Township.  Developer claimed over $12 million in damages.

Sherr Law Approach: Aggressively handled matter through discovery and filed Motion for Summary Judgment.

Result: Motion for Summary Judgment granted.

Case Citation: Honey Brook Estates v. Honey Brook Township, 2012 WL 2077188 (E.D. Pa. 2012).


Municipality

Client’s Issue: Municipality sued by a company that had purchased ground from the Township that contained a former municipal landfill.  Claim was that township failed to disclose.

Sherr Law Approach: Aggressively defend the matter both in Federal Court and Bankruptcy Court after the Plaintiff filed for bankruptcy.  The matter was tried in Federal District Court, reversed by the Third Circuit Court of Appeals, and then moved to Bankruptcy Court and retried.

Result: After the retrial in Bankruptcy Court, the matter was settled for a favorable amount.

Case Citation: Joshua Hill v. Whitemarsh Township, 294 F.2d 482 (3d Cir. 2002).


Municipality

Client’s Issue: Municipality sued by a company that had purchased ground from the Township that contained a former municipal landfill.  Claim was that township failed to disclose.

Sherr Law Approach: Aggressively defend the matter both in Federal Court and Bankruptcy Court after the Plaintiff filed for bankruptcy.  The matter was tried in Federal District Court, reversed by the Third Circuit Court of Appeals, and then moved to Bankruptcy Court and retried.

Result: After the retrial in Bankruptcy Court, the matter was settled for a favorable amount.

Case Citation: Joshua Hill v. Whitemarsh Township, 294 F.2d 482 (3d Cir. 2002).


Municipality

Client’s Issue: Municipality and individual Township Officials sued by landowner whose development plan had been denied.

Sherr Law Approach: Aggressively defended matter through trial and appeals.

Result: Defense verdict in favor of municipality affirmed by the Third Circuit Court of Appeals.

Case Citation: Corneal v. Jackson Township, 94 Fed. Appx. 76 (3d Cir. 2004).


Municipality

Client’s Issue: Clients sued in civil rights and other constitutional matters.

Sherr Law Approach: Very aggressive proactive approach to Federal Court litigation as a result of short time periods and strict oversight by the Court.  H Strategic use of motions:  Have tried over 20 federal cases to successful jury verdicts including defense of police officers and prison guards in civil rights suits, discrimination employment claims, land use matters and product liability claims.

Result: Successful results on behalf of clients.


Municipality

Client’s Issue: Municipality was sued by a person who fell off of a bleacher at a ball field while trying to step off the bleachers.  The allegations of defect were substantiated in that the bleachers were not adequately secured.

Sherr Law Approach: Concentrated on damage claim as liability was not much of an issue.

Result: Entered into favorable settlement.

 


Borough

Client’s Issue: Lawsuit in Federal Court in Harrisburg, alleging on behalf of nine known or unknown minor girls, that Borough police officer was having sex and using drugs with these under-aged girls.  Officer had been criminally indicted.  Client concerned with costs involved, poor publicity and the erosion of public trust.  Allegations against the Borough were for negligent hiring, supervision, and training of the officer.

Sherr Law Group Approach: Quickly deposed the alleged victims to give them their say, and to establish the scope of the problem.  Widely praised for sensitivity in dealing with the victims.

Result: Negotiated a favorable settlement after matter was pending only a few months.  Minimal publicity arose out of the matter.  Borough, through our advice, acted definitively in taking steps forward regarding hiring and training practices.


Township

Client’s Issue: Lawsuit against the Township and individual supervisors claiming that an existing supervisor was defamed during an election by accusations that he was guilty of theft of services by using Township resources for his campaign.

Sherr Law Group Approach: Aggressively defended matter on basis of truth of the assertions made against the plaintiff, lack of publication of alleged defamatory statements and privilege.

Result: Summary judgment granted for defendants affirmed on appeal by Third Circuit Court of Appeals.


Manufacturer

Client’s Issue: Sued for patent infringement and defamation.

Sherr Law Group Approach: Defended on basis that similar sounding name was not an infringement and claims that defamatory statements were true.

Result: Summary judgment awarded to the defendant.