Suit Says 'Excessive' Police Search Damaged Autos Stored At Business

Posted: January 07, 1993

The owner of a Morrisville storage and junk yard - a convicted felon - is suing the Doylestown Township and Falls Township Police Departments for performing an "unreasonably intense and excessive" search of his property.

George Haedrich contends that the search damaged some automobiles stored at his business, Bob's Towing & Storage, at Route 1 and My Lane in Morrisville.

According to the suit, filed last week in Bucks County Court, police used backhoes and cranes to dig holes and move vehicles, "causing extensive damage to the vehicles and to the premises."

Haedrich says in the suit that many of the vehicles were owned by others and that he was responsible for any damage.

The suit contends that the search took place on Aug. 24, 1992, but criminal records state that the search took place two years earlier, on Aug. 24, 1990.

At the time, police charged Haedrich with conspiring with another man to hide a 1985 Ford Bronco. The alleged scheme would allow the other man could report it stolen and receive insurance money.

The police report stated that police received a tip saying Haedrich intended "to have the vehicle destroyed, hidden, taken apart or otherwise placed in a location where the vehicle would not be found."

At his trial on March 9, 1992, Haedrich was found not guilty of insurance fraud.

One year earlier, however, on April 16, 1991, Haedrich was convicted of receiving more than a half-dozen stolen vehicles, including two backhoes.

The vehicles, police said, were recovered at Bob's Towing & Storage.

Haedrich was out on bail until his sentencing on July 24, 1992, when he was ordered to state prison for three to six years.

In his lawsuit, Haedrich contends that the search, conducted with a warrant, was "invalid in that (it was) based on the uncorroborated tip of a confidential informant and no independent investigation was made by (the police) to determine the likelihood that the items alleged by the confidential informant to be on the premises were in fact on the premises."

Haedrich is asking the court to award him for physical damages in excess of $50,000 and for punitive damages that were in excess of $1 million.

Jeffrey Garton, attorney for Doylestown Township, said this week that the search was valid, noting that the police departments involved had to show probable cause to obtain a search warrant.

And, Garton said, "to my knowledge, there was no damage unnecessarily caused.

"Objects were moved during the course of the search, but it was done as carefully as possible."

Michael Sellers, attorney for Falls Township, said he had not yet seen the suit, but was "satisfied that Falls has no liability in this matter."

He added that Haedrich had made the same charges during his criminal trial, and that they were denied at that time.

*

A Bucks County jury ruled last month that the cleanup costs associated with a 100,000-gallon gasoline spill in Newtown Township in 1982 totaled $8 million.

The Sun Pipe Line Co., whose pipeline was ruptured by a cable television installer, has already collected most of that money in out-of-court settlements, an attorney for the company said, but now the pipeline company is asking the court to force two other companies ruled partially responsible for the spill to fork over 29 percent of the $8 million tab.

In the decade-long legal battle surrounding the spill, a jury ruled that five companies were responsible for a ruptured pipeline that spewed unleaded gasoline into the ground near Route 332 on Nov. 12, 1982.

In that spill, about 50,000 gallons "infiltrated the soil," according to legal documents. Sun Pipe Line then started a cleanup of the spill, spurred by state groundwater protection laws.

The five companies that the earlier jury ruled should be held responsible for paying the cleanup bill were, according to documents:

Tri-State Telecommunications Inc., responsible for 40 percent of the cleanup costs.

Sun Pipe Line was itself responsible for 18 percent.

E.A. Design Ltd. for 14 percent.

Engineer Jan Gouza and the engineering firm of Pickering, Corts & Summerson Inc. for 15 percent.

Davis Enterprises for 13 percent.

Attorney Bruce Chasan, who represents Sun, said Tri-State and Davis settled out of court. Only E.A. Design, and Gouza and Pickering refused to settle, Chasan said.

In separate motions filed late last month, Sun is asking that the remaining parties pay their 29 percent of the $8,080,362 verdict and that a judge compute how much should be added to that bill for late fees.

"If we get the delay damages we're asking for, we'll get (total) damages in the neighborhood of $4 million" from the two remaining companies, Chasan said.

Danielle Renee Arend of Emmaus, Pa., said she went to the Hair Cuttery in Doylestown Borough for a 1:30 p.m. appointment on Dec. 12, 1991, to have her hair cut and colored.

At 8 p.m., when Arend finally left, she contends that she had endured a treatment that burned her scalp and turned her hair "numerous and varied colors." Later, she says, her hair fell out.

Arend is suing the Hair Cuttery and its parent firm, CHN Inc., based in Falls Church, Va., for negligence.

The suit, filed late last month in Bucks County Court, contends that she

went to the salon to "touch up" her blond hair.

During her 6 1/2-hour session at the Hair Cuttery, the suit says, Arend ''was constantly experiencing a burning sensation" on her scalp.

The lawsuit contends that employees of the Hair Cuttery used the wrong type of hair dye, which caused Arend "to undergo great mental anguish and physical pain."

An attorney for the company had no comment on the case.

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