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Buffalo Township ‘marijuana’ case heads to federal mediation

March 31, 2018 GMT

A Buffalo Township couple’s federal civil rights lawsuit is heading to mandatory mediation.

Edward Cramer and his wife, Audrey, claim township police and an insurance agent mistook their flowering hibiscus plants for marijuana. They allege they were handcuffed and forced to sit in the back of a police car for hours while police searched their house and property for marijuana in October.

The couple initially filed a lawsuit in Butler County Court, but the case was moved to federal district court.

The Cramers, both in their late 60s, are alleging use of excessive force, false arrest, false imprisonment, intentional infliction of emotional distress and invasion of privacy.

The case is scheduled for mediation April 17 in the Pittsburgh offices of mediator David White.

Expected to participate in the session are the couple’s attorneys, attorneys for Nationwide Insurance and its agent, and legal counsel for Buffalo Township police.

The Cramers were released without being charged,because police found no marijuana on their property.

Later that month, Nationwide sent the Cramers a policy notification claiming marijuana had been found growing on the property and, if the couple failed to remove the plants, Nationwide would cancel their insurance.

The Cramers’ lawsuit said a Nationwide insurance agent came onto their property to investigate an insurance claim and, while there, took pictures of their hibiscus plants so “as not to reveal that they had flowers on them so that they would appear to resemble marijuana plants.”

Chuck Biedka is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-226-4711, cbiedka@tribweb.com or via Twitter @ChuckBiedka.