Are State Constitutional Tort Claims Allowed ?
In Commonwealth v. Edmunds, 526 Pa. 374, 586 A.2d 887 (1991) the Supreme Court set forth clear guidelines for courts to follow when interpreting provisions of the Pennsylvania Constitution on questions of first impression.
As a general rule, litigants should brief and analyze the following stated factors:
(1) text of the constitutional provision;
(2) history of the provision, including Pennsylvania case law;
(3) any related case law from other states;
(4) policy considerations, including unique issues of state and local concern, and their applicability within modern Pennsylvania jurisprudence.
The Supreme Court agreed that depending on the issue involved, an examination of federal case precedent may be helpful in the state constitutional analysis.
Other state courts have allowed state constitutional tort claims based on:
(1) reasoning contained in the Restatement (Second) of Torts 874A (1979) (Restatement);
(2) analogy to an action under Bivens v. Six Unknown Named Agents of Federal Bureau of Narcotics, 403 U.S. 388, 91 S. Ct. 1999, 29 L. Ed. 2d 619 (1971);
(3) common-law antecedents of constitutional provisions under interpretation, or a combination of these.