Police officer’s attorney requests new trial in Little League pins case

An attorney representing a Williamsport police officer who lost a civil jury trial after jurors believed he violated a couple’s Constitutional rights by seizing their Little League pin collection has requested the sitting judge who presided over the case grant a new trial.

In a motion to set aside the jury verdict and ask for a new trial filed this week in U.S. Middle District Court, David J. MacMain, representing city Police Agent Raymond O. Kontz III, seeks to either have the verdict vacated and a new trial or reduction in the $45,000 in punitive damages jurors awarded to Randy and Janete Shrey.

Attorney Michael J. Zicolello, representing the Shreys, said he was aware of the motion and has also filed a petition before U.S. Middle District Court Judge Matthew W. Brann that asks for payment of attorney fees.

Zicolello said he is seeking $153,400 in attorney fees and $8,174 in costs to be paid by Kontz and the city police insurance.

Jurors believed the Shreys had their rights violated when Kontz seized their souvenir pins in 2008. Jurors awarded the couple $45,000 in punitive and $14,553 in compensatory damages.

In his motion, MacMain argues that absence of any egregious conduct by Kontz exists for punitive damages to be awarded. He has requested Brann examine the officers’ conduct and review evidence of conversion (theft).

Jurors believed Kontz violated the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution when he accepted pins from the couple during an investigation into a report from Little League International in July 2008. The amendment protects people from police taking personal property without warrants, Zicolello said.

City Finance Director William E. Nichols Jr. said the city has insurance to pay for police involved in lawsuits and said he did not know whether the legal costs of the trial and any appeals before the court would result in adjustments of the insurance rate.

Should Brann grant MacMain’s motion, Zicolello said he would file an appeal with the Third Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia.