Carman v. Carroll, No. 13-2371 (3d Cir. 2014)Annotate this Case
Responding to a dispatch, Pennsylvania State Trooper Carroll and another trooper proceeded to the Carman home to search for a man who had stolen two loaded handguns and a car with New Jersey plates. Arriving at the Carman residence, the troopers bypassed the front door and went directly to the back of the house and onto a deck adjoining the kitchen. On the deck, a scuffle ensued between Carroll and Andrew Carman. In a suit under 42 U.S.C.1983, the Carmans challenged Carroll’s warrantless entry onto their’ property. Carroll argued that he did not violate the Carmans’ Fourth Amendment rights because he entered into their curtilage, the area immediately surrounding their home, while executing a legitimate “knock and talk” encounter. The district court denied the Carmans’ judgment as a matter of law on their unlawful entry claims; a jury found that Carroll acted reasonably. The Third Circuit reversed in part. Because Carroll proceeded directly through the back of the property and did not begin his visit at the front door, the “knock and talk” exception to the warrant requirement dd not apply. The court affirmed the jury verdict regarding the unlawful seizure claim; there was sufficient support for the jury’s finding that Carroll acted reasonably.
The court issued a subsequent related opinion or order on December 18, 2014.