Owsiany v. City of Greensburg

Lawsuit to stop the city of Greensburg from retaliating against a lawyer and his client who filed a civil rights lawsuit alleging use of excessive force by police.

Court/Assoc.: U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania

Attorneys/Firms: Sara Rose & Witold Walczak (ACLU-PA ); Kathleen Nandan & Sarah Hansel (Reed Smith)

On December 2, 2015, the ACLU of Pennsylvania and the law firm Reed Smith filed a lawsuit  on behalf of a Greensburg man and his former attorney, who were sued by the city of Greensburg in retaliation for pursuing an unsuccessful federal civil rights case against the city and four of its police officers. The lawsuit claims that the city’s actions violate the Petition Clause of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, which protects an individual’s right to sue the government. 

The lawsuit argues that the First Amendment bars governmental entities from filing lawsuits against individuals who have sued them for civil-rights violations because of the risk that such suits will chill people from exercising their right to petition. It asks the court to prohibit Greensburg from proceeding with its lawsuit against Wisneski and Owsiany.

On December 21, 2016, the ACLU of Pennsylvania and the city of Greensburg reached a settlement on behalf of a resident and his former attorney, who were sued by the city after they pursued an unsuccessful federal civil rights case against the city and four of its police officers.

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