The Case of the Black Friday Brawl

Bannan v. City of Philadelphia 1-cv-04680 (E.D. Pa. Feb. 9, 2012).

Target Fighting Carts Corral

Photo by Kevin Trotman

A shoving match with a police officer and human beings standing in something called a “cattle chute”?

It can only be Black Friday, that feared and revered day after Thanksgiving when shoppers awake in the dead of night to fight over a Crock-Pot. This case takes place in the wee hours of Black Friday at a Wal-Mart in Philadelphia.

The plaintiff and his family went through the “cattle chute” to enter the store, but couldn’t find a cart when they got in. The plaintiff left the store, found a cart in the parking lot, and tried to reenter the store not via the chute, but by lifting the cart over a barrier. Two Philly police officers told him to leave and escorted him from the premises. He tried to come back in via the chute, but the officers escorted him from the premises again.

Whether that escort was actually a shove to the ground was the subject of dispute. The plaintiff brought an excessive force claim against the police under 42 U.S.C. §1983. The defendant officers filed a motion for summary judgment arguing, as the court put it, that “one shove is not excessive as a matter of law.”

Ultimately, the court held that one shove can be excessive; it depends on the shover, the shovee, and the circumstances surrounding the shove. Drawing all of the inferences in the plaintiff’s favor, the court basically says that the plaintiff was a slightly intoxicated, “relatively innocuous annoyance,” and it would be up to a jury to decide whether the shove was excessive.

You can read the full opinion online here:

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2 Responses to The Case of the Black Friday Brawl

  1. Mr. Atwi says:

    I was trying to read the PDF file but it would’t open with, kindly confirm if link is opening , or if you can attach link for word file.

    thank you

  2. Site Editor says:

    The pdf is located on the US District Court of Eastern Pennsylvania website. If you cannot access it at the link above you can use the citation given in the post above:

    Bannan v. City of Philadelphia 1-cv-04680 (E.D. Pa. Feb. 9, 2012).

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