Pennsylvania Firearm Owners Association
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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
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    Media, PA, Pennsylvania
    (Delaware County)
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    Default It finally comes to an end - "Offer of Judgment" reached with Philadelphia

    Finally, this can be put to bed.

    This morning, after two weeks of considering an Offer of Judgement from the City of Philadelphia, my lawyers, the ACLU and I have accepted a settlement offer to bring this chapter to a close.

    Mr. Fiorino is represented by the ACLU of Pennsylvania and Benjamin Picker of McCausland Keen & Buckman.


    The following can be attributed to Benjamin Picker:


    “This was never about the money. Mr. Fiorino was seeking change in the way the City trains its police officers and vindication in connection with the violation of his constitutional rights.* The City and the individual officers, including Commissioner Ramsey, have agreed to the entry of a judgment against them, which shows that they are cognizant of having violated Mr. Fiorino’s constitutional rights.* In addition, since this lawsuit was filed, the City has taken steps to train its officers on the rights at issue in this case to prevent this from happening again. Mr. Fiorino is happy with the result of this case.”


    More information about the case, including the original complaint, can be found here:


    http://www.aclupa.org/legal/legaldoc...iladelphia.htm
    I'll post more later - I'm typing this from my iPhone in a parking lot where i am NOT operating my car at the moment.

    Edited to Add: Sorry about that, I've been running around all day for work and haven't had a chance to really sit down organize a proper post.

    Anyway...

    There's a lot of circumstances that went into making this decision. I wanted so badly to see this result in the people who were to blame for the incident in Feb 2011, and to see written evidence that this was not going to happen again. This whole mess, while not perfect, has handled a large portion of those concerns.

    First and foremost, in regards to the authorities being held accountable: the officers at the end of this, Sgt. Dougherty and Off. Ruben, are not the ones who are solely to blame for what happened to me. While they were the catalysts for it, so to speak, it wasn't completely their fault that they had improper training, although they do share in the blame for that. All the way up the chain, right to the brass themselves, so few officers knew the law, that the lack of training was a collective failure for the entire department.

    Obviously, their attitude during the stop and their use of language was entirely their responsibility.

    Since this incident, all the press it received, and both lawsuits, the Philadelphia Police Department has, in my opinion, taken several steps towards treating law-abiding firearm owners with more respect, and abiding by the law themselves with regards to licensing and carry. From my own first-hand experiences of being in and out of Philadelphia for various things, I've seen the evidence of this

    Over the course of only a few months between 2010 and 2011, I had been stopped three times for open carry. Since after February 2011, I haven't decreased my frequency of visiting the city - and I haven't been harassed, stopped, or mistreated by the PPD at all. Does it mean I never will be again? No, but it's certainly a huge improvement.

    I've also been privy to some of the training materials in regards to the response of how they are retraining their officers for OC. There have been roll-call training sessions, memorandums, new policies, and other documentation and training materials that have been handed out, both which I have seen with my own eyes and have heard about from other people. New recruits for the PPD are even being trained for several hours about the legality of the practice of OC. Again, it's not perfect, but it is better, and it's continuing to improve from my point of view.

    The PPD will never put out a press release, or even an apology, that states they were wrong. The officers involved will likely never say they are sorry, but that's okay in the grand scheme of things, in my opinion. The entire police force now knows, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that open carry is legal, which is a VAST improvement over what once was.

    Am I satisfied with the monetary compensation for all my trouble? That's not even a part of all this. I was never, ever in this for money. I didn't go out one day and say, "hey, how can I antagonize the cops so they attack me and I can make a payday out of it in court?" I simply wanted to peacefully exercise my rights as an American citizen without being treated like a violent criminal. When that happened anyway, I tried going through the proper channels - I went to Internal Affairs, I filed complaints, and I tried to take care of it internally the way it's supposed to be done. But the police department ignored it and continued allowing their officers to treat law-abiding citizens like crazed felons, arresting them and threatening (in some cases actually pressing) trumped-up charges against people who committed no crimes.

    That's why I filed this lawsuit. To help stop the unacceptable behavior that plagued people who just wanted to mind their own business. Awareness of the topic is the biggest, and most difficult, step to affecting change - and everyone knows about this now. The money was never a motivator, and nothing any detractor says can change that.

    When we received the Offer of Judgement, which proposed we accept an offer of $25,000 to put this case to bed, I spent quite some time thinking about it. I had to consider everything I explained above, decide whether or not that amount of money was appropriate compensation for the way my rights were violated, and find out if anything else could be done to solidify the new training. All of this is compounded by the fact that I am not made of money, and recent events in my personal life otherwise have made it that I needed to have a plan of action for the short-term, rather than the next two years.

    In discussing the offer with my attorneys and the city of Philadelphia, it was made clear that no written agreements would be made to train officers other than what they are already doing. In fact, it was specifically stated that no non-monetary stipulations would even be considered. While disappointing, this reminds me of the saying, "the proof is in the pudding," in that the training is already happening.

    Also, you have to remember that if an Offer of Judgment is made and turned down, and the case goes to court, even if you win, the judge or jury may not find that you are owed as much money as the original Offer was, and since that offer was made, you can end up owing more money that you are awarded, which would REALLY put me in the hole. The kicker to this is that if you go to court for this type of case, you can't demand that new training be done, and it can't be a part of the award at the end of the case - you can only be awarded money.

    As a result of all these circumstances, I came to the independent conclusion that it was best to accept the offer. I am satisfied with this result, considering the totality of the last year's events and developments, even though I know that many of you may be somewhat disappointed. For that, I genuinely am sorry, but some of the things that people were calling for - imprisonment of the officers involved, loss of jobs and pensions, etc. - were just unreasonable, and frankly, that's not how the legal system works.

    I truly believe in my heart that we, as a community, will be better off after all of this. To have been a part of such a change is, well, humbling to say the very least.

    So many people deserve so many thanks. Everyone here in the PAFOA community who offered advice, financial assistance, or encouragement. My lawyers who put a lot of time and effort into this whole ordeal. My girlfriend, who's stuck beside me the whole time and supported me 100% even when she disagreed with me. People from around the country who have chipped in to help. The media, who received this story and presented it fairly and in a largely unbiased way.

    Seriously. Thank you.
    Last edited by ViperGTS19801; March 8th, 2012 at 05:34 PM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Location
    Wellsboro, Pennsylvania
    (Tioga County)
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    Default Re: It finally comes to an end - settlement reached with Philadelphia

    That is good news. Looking forward to the details.
    MikeP

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
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    Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
    (Allegheny County)
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    Default Re: It finally comes to an end - settlement reached with Philadelphia

    Congratulations!
    MORDENTE MEUM

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Location
    skippack, Pennsylvania
    (Montgomery County)
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    Default Re: It finally comes to an end - settlement reached with Philadelphia

    Congrats, and thanks for not being a whore about the settlement.

  5. #5
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    Behind You, Watching, Always Watching
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    Default Re: It finally comes to an end - settlement reached with Philadelphia

    Sounds like a win to me

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2010
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    Butler, Pennsylvania
    (Butler County)
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    Default Re: It finally comes to an end - settlement reached with Philadelphia

    Congrats Mark. Thanks for standing up for our rights. We all won.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
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    Lancaster, Pennsylvania
    (Lancaster County)
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    Default Re: It finally comes to an end - settlement reached with Philadelphia

    Congratulations!

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Nov 2008
    Location
    Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
    (Philadelphia County)
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    Default Re: It finally comes to an end - settlement reached with Philadelphia

    Awesome news!

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Windsor Twsp., Pennsylvania
    (York County)
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    Default Re: It finally comes to an end - settlement reached with Philadelphia

    WAT DA FUG???

    You mean the payola wasn't 80 million dollars, the officers involved weren't shot by firing squad, and Chief Ramsey and Mayor Nutter weren't hung in the Town Square at high noon???

    BLASPHEMY! OUTRAGE! INJUSTICE! ANGRY/ROWR!


    Oh, and uh, congratulations!

    Although I and many of us are interested in the details it should be no secret that your adventures have already initiated more change than all your detractors put together.

    Well done and congratulations!

    Alas...
    You must spread some Reputation around before giving it to ViperGTS19801 again.
    No Victory rep for you just yet.


    ETA: Maybe now you can get rid of that POS and buy a car that runs!
    .
    Last edited by Curmudgeon; March 8th, 2012 at 02:26 PM.
    While many claim to support the right, precious few support the practice.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Location
    Upper Pottsgrove, Pennsylvania
    (Montgomery County)
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    Default Re: It finally comes to an end - settlement reached with Philadelphia

    Bring my suit to applebees. I'm happy if you're happy

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