Federal Courthouse in Pittsburgh / photo by Jim Henderson

A federal judge has denied a motion to dismiss a lawsuit brought against the Borough of Beaver by a man who suffered severe bite injuries from the department’s K-9 during a traffic stop in 2016.

Beaver Borough and Police Chief Dan Madgar filed court motions asking a federal judge to remove them as defendants in a lawsuit brought by James Edward Cicco. Officer Jeffrey Wijnen-Riems (then the department’s K-9 handler who conducted the traffic stop of Cicco) and Officer Bo Blinn (who later responded to assist Wijnen-Riems on the stop) are also named defendants in the case.

Cicco alleges in his complaint that Beaver Borough and Chief Madgar had failed to act to prevent “vicious and unprovoked attacks upon, unreasonable treatment of, and the use of excessive force upon members of the community and criminal/civil defendants.”

While Officers Wijnen-Riems and Blinn filed answers to the complaint made against them in Cicco’s lawsuit, the Borough of Beaver and Chief Madgar asked a judge to dismiss the lawsuit against them outright. The town and its chief argued that even assuming all the factual accusations in the Cicco’s complaint were true (which is not admitted) the allegations were insufficient to establish a case against them as a matter of law.

United States District Judge Mark Hornak issued a ruling this week denying their motion following oral arguments held in court.

“[T]he Court concludes that the claim as asserted does facially support a claim for negligence on behalf of the [Borough of Beaver and Police Chief Madgar],” wrote Judge Hornak. “[T]he Court cannot say as a matter of law that a malicious prosecution claim could not exist against [the Borough and Police Chief] […] The Court concludes that there is a sufficient factual basis pled to make out a claim that the charges [filed against James Cicco] were brought without probable cause.”

Judge Hornak continued, “[T]he Court cannot conclude as a matter of law that the incident in 2010 (separately and in conjunction with those which came before it) is not so serious that it would have put every reasonable Chief of Police on notice of the substantial risk of serious constitutional violations by placing [Officer Wijnen-Riems] back on the street.”

Judge Hornak’s ruling effectively means that the Borough of Beaver and its Chief will both need to continue defending against the lawsuit along with the two named officers.

The Borough of Beaver and Chief Madgar were ordered to file a response to James Cicco’s complaint before November 28th.

See Also: A complete archive of the Beaver Countian’s coverage of the Cicco matter is available here.

John Paul
John Paul is the founder of the Beaver Countian. He reports full-time for the site, specializing in investigative journalism with an emphasis on public corruption.


  1. Now listen up Beaver.. Eclection Day is Tuesday November 7th. If you want change – you vote Mayor Hamilton OUT!
    The Mayor controls the Board and Madgar.
    End this gang mentality!

  2. If it was not for JP and the Beaver Countian, this would have never gone this far and Jeff W-R would still be terrorizing the people of Beaver and surrounding areas.
    Lets hope the “Judge” in the other article gets his balls wacked also!

  3. Mayor Tom Hamilton and Chief/Manager Dan Madgar remain on the job. They enabled this by not taking action against W-R. An election is coming up that could change much of the problem by electing a new Mayor. Cashdollar would put an end to the problem. Vote for that change or the problem will continue. The election will be determined by only a couple hundred votes. So, don’t sit this one out.

    • Cashdollar is an absolute nightmare. Think about it, he has been practicing law for well over 40 years and still has to take DUI cases to eke out a living. When on council in Beaver, he was an embarrassment. Madgar is the person to blame, and he will have his day in court.
      Do not be a one issue voter. If you know Lauson Cashdollar, and I do, believe me, he will do more harm than good to those who reside in Beaver.

  4. Justice will be served after the civil trial against officer psycho is concluded and Riems is living in a van, down by the river!
    Please someone tell Mungo that the smarmy little depraved dispatcher didn’t escape unscathed from this clusterfuck?!?

  5. Just to be clear for all those in favor of “sticking it” to the officer, and anyone else y’all are cheering for you realize there’s insurance for that right? So as you all hide behind your screens and rip everyone and anyone apart I pray! I seriously pray you never find yourselves in any sticky situation and get crucified by misfits who just like to cast stones. Not saying there’s no fault here anywhere but glass houses people glass houses

    • Misfits casting stones.What about the depraved monsters that perpetrated this act on another human being. Said human being handcuffed behind his back while the dog ripped open his chest. They they belong behind bars and not in annoynomus protective custody but in a prison where everyone knows who they are and what they did……….

    • Only speaking for myself, I’m just glad he’s no longer wears a badge. Albeit, per the BC, that’s due to an internal investigation, I’ve heard one rumor from several people what that’s about, but I’m guessing it will just get swept under the rug, since he’s no longer Beaver’s problem.

    • Hundreds of people have been and already are being crucified by a bunch of misfits The BEAVER COUNTY SHERIFFS DEPT.

      • News flash, this article and every article written by JP isn’t about the sheriffs office. We got the point already!

  6. Judge Hornak continued, “[T]he Court cannot conclude as a matter of law that the incident in 2010 (separately and in conjunction with those which came before it) is not so serious that it would have put every reasonable Chief of Police on notice of the substantial risk of serious constitutional violations by placing [Officer Wijnen-Riems] back on the street.”

    The judge succinctly sums up the issue with Madgar and Hamilton.

  7. From what I understand, this is the 9th suit against this officer and at least one was settled for $300k. Until the city gets the message that the behavior is not acceptable, it will continue. The city could have insulated itself years ago and chose not to so I don’t feel bad for them. I feel bad for the tax payers of beaver.

  8. Aldo G. : Remove the double negative, and the statement is more damning:

    Judge Hornak continued, “[T]he Court (can) conclude as a matter of law that the incident in 2010 (separately and in conjunction with those which came before it) is (delete not) so serious that it would have put every reasonable Chief of Police on notice of the substantial risk of serious constitutional violations by placing [Officer Wijnen-Riems] back on the street.”

    The original statement avoids the difficulty presented in a positive sentence — rewritten as a double negative. It is nice evasive lawyer speak to avoid accountability. But the message is clear.

  9. An insurance settlement offer will be coming shortly. I really hope that Mr. Cicco doesn’t take the easy money and takes this to trial. I also hope his attorney doesn’t suggest he settle for the quick cash. There are always strings attached like no admission of wrongdoing. We’ve already seen that federal judges aren’t part of the good old boy network like the local yahoos and a jury will ultimately award many times the offer amount along with the finding of wrongdoing.

    Patience, Mr. Cicco…. You’ll be well rewarded for it.

    • Um…not always. Those large jury settlements can and almost always are appealed, and you end up with nothing, or you die before the case is ever settled. That is why it is better to take the settlement and call it a day. Just ask the Johnson baby powder family.

      • That’s why you win the big award, let the other side appeal the size of the verdict then make your own settlement offer. It will be many times what you were initially offered. Not to mention the fact that the tables are turned and you’re setting the terms of any agreement and not the defendants’ insurance companies. Remember, the appeal has to be made based on an error in applying the law. Fed judges make very few mistakes compared to state judges.

    • snapperhead:

      Don’t make it into a personality contest. If people were angered in the past, the people usually deserved what they got. The issue at present is attempting to turn the Beaver administration around and prevent further problems. And there are TWO candidates, not 3 or 10. No one else is waiting in the wings, for now or for the future.

      I back one of the horses in this race, and that backing is realistic and pragmatic. If W-R, Madgar and the borough walk, the borough goes back to the way it was, the way it has been for 20 years of dealing with W-R. That is how the former lawsuits ended. Don’t be surprised if W-R is welcomed back into his former job. And then it starts all over again. As George David was reported saying after his trial, “Not Guilty! That means it didn’t happen.” That could happen here.

      This is the one chance to change things. Miss this one, and there will likely not be another chance until Hamilton breaks Linn’s record for most years on the job. At times, a milquetoast is more dangerous than someone who is not afraid to set things straight, even angering those who deserve it. The problem is not only the W-R thing. It is a dysfunctional, unaccountable borough government that is led by a weak, do-nothing mayor and an autocratic Chief/Manager.

      And, I have nothing personally to gain from the election. Nothing at all.

      • Do not forget that Lausen was on Beaver Council, and hyphenated was never an issue LC, felt needed to be addressed.
        Raven, so you live in Beaver?

    • My reply goes more to Seer than Snapperhead. Most of the events with W-R occurred prior to my being on Council. There were two W-R events while I was on Council. During the first such event, I trusted the Chief to provide full and accurate information that was not done. I should have been more insistent about looking into that matter but as I said I made the mistake of trusting what I was being given by the Chief after leaving Council I received information that was very different from what I and the rest of Council was given by the Chief. Through a very serious event with a different police officer, I learned while still on Council that I could not trust the Chief or Mayor to deal properly with charges of police misconduct. Both worked to minimize discipline that should have resulted in a discharge. This brings me to the second W-R event while I was on Council. Police officers reported events that they learned of second hand which involved accusations of a wholly improper deployment of the dog with a single injury to the victim who was reputed to be handcuffed and lying on his stomach at the time. Knowing that reporting this to the Chief and Mayor would be useless, I tried to get an outside agency to investigate this matter and collected and provided information. The outside agency did not conduct an investigation. I make this reply not to prove that W-R did what I was told he did. That would have required an investigation and tough law enforcement interviews of others at the scene. I do offer this to refute the claim that W-R was never an issue in my mind during my time on Council. Lauson Cashdollar

      • There was an investigation. You don’t like the outcome of the results, so your goal is to publically humiliate the Chief and Mayor. You spread this fictional babble as if it were true because you KNOW this is your ONLY hope to become Mayor. You can’t run on your reputation because that won’t get the job done. Right?

  10. Hopewell Twp. is planning on getting a K9 for the police department…. Can’t wait to see what this will cost the township ….Dog is cheap…liability insurance and lawsuits are not. Oh well , another tax increase..

    • It’s not just the cost of the dog. It’s the initial training, continuous training, overtime for any call outs and care of the dog. Plus with Hopewell being so close to Aliquippa, this dog will do most of its work in Quip. K-9’s need weekly work for them to be good which comes at a cost. Look at Aliquippa’s last dog that became a pet because of poor handling.

    • If you’re a Hopewell resident, which I’m assuming you are, and your child wanders off into the woods or the dog can track the prowler/burglar at your residence, are you still going to bitch?

    • Raven, then you really have no horse in this race. Oh shit, I know I am in for some well researched, wordy ravenisms, I guess I deserve it, so go ahead.

      • You are reading comments that usually take less than one minute of my time. If more people took one minute to get involved in the corruption discussions, things might be less fucked up than they are.

  11. The sad thing is voters aren’t concerned with getting educated on matters such as this. Attendance at public meetings are more like fan club meetings. If any Beaver resident has attended meetings they would surely agree with Raven’s observations. Hamilton is a great guy, and maybe Cashdollar isn’t but someone has to do something. Council should have done something years ago but if you see them at a meeting you will see that they lack any real direction. I guess nobody noticed that when council reinstated the water authority board that they loaded it with council members and relatives.

    • Hahahahaha! Go back to eating dinner with Peg. The only correct comment you made is “Hamilton is a great guy”.



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