Unlawful Seizure of Property
A husband and wife who were avid Little League pin collectors designed and produced a little league pin commemorating the Williamsport Police Department. Williamsport Police Captain Raymond Kontz III came to their home, threatened their arrest for producing and possessing the pins without the City’s “approval”, and confiscated the pins without a search warrant. The husband and wife tried to complain to the Mayor and Police Department in an effort to get their property back but were threatened by Captain Kontz that if they did not drop the matter, they would be charged with a felony. Mike Zicolello of Schemery Zicolello represented the couple in a Federal Civil Rights lawsuit against Captain Kontz. At trial, neither Captain Kontz nor Williamsport Mayor Gabriel Campana could explain why or how the City had the right to seize the couples’ little league pins. Additionally, Captain Kontz was forced to acknowledge that he never logged the pins in to the Department’s property room, instead keeping them in his possession. The Federal Jury found that Captain Kontz had violated the couples’ Civil Rights and awarded them $14,553 in compensatory damages and $45,000 in punitive damages. The jury verdict was upheld by United States District Judge Matthew W. Brann who concluded jurors found Kontz “bullied a mild-mannered couple” into turning over the pins. While a petition for attorney fees and costs was pending, which are recoverable after a favorable civil rights verdict, the parties reached a settlement where the City of Williamsport’s insurance company agreed to pay a total of $180,000.