Penn. Couple Suing Police, Insurance Company After Hibiscus Mistaken for Pot

November 20, 2017

  • November 20, 2017 at 11:38 am
    Fair Playing Field says:
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    I guess Nationwide wasn’t on their side.

    I do not understand the adjuster’s motive, and the company should certainly be liable for his actions. I think it would be wise on Nationwide’s part to offer settlement.

    There’s also the issue of the police, who should train their force better in drug recognition, not to mention the idea of treating citizen like citizens unless there’s good reason to treat them as dangerous criminals.

    • November 20, 2017 at 6:07 pm
      Earl Smith says:
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      I absolutely agree with both of Fair Playing Field’s statements. I’m no marijuana advocate, but I will certainly never be using Nationwide’s services after hearing this. That’s no way to treat your customers. “On your side” yeah, right… I’ll bet the good folks at Reddit are having fun with this story.

  • November 20, 2017 at 1:29 pm
    Hmmmmm says:
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    How can you confuse a hibiscus plant with a marijuana plant? Leaves are very different. Seems like a major fail from both parties.

    • November 20, 2017 at 2:00 pm
      seasonschanging says:
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      I had a hibiscus plant that looked like a pot plant. It was a swamp mallow. Grew right by my front steps. Got lots of double-takes.

    • November 20, 2017 at 2:03 pm
      insurance mom says:
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      oh, Nationwide, you are so screwed!

  • November 20, 2017 at 2:04 pm
    Gork says:
    Hot debate. What do you think?
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    Here’s the issue that’s been missed – if it were a 10-foot tall, flowering, sticky, smelly pot plant, the “first responders” (oink) still acted disrespectfully.

    Remember “first responders”, Trump won’t be president forever…

  • November 20, 2017 at 2:33 pm
    Ernie says:
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    Must have been a “potted” plant.

  • November 20, 2017 at 4:07 pm
    the downvoter says:
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    In somewhat related news, a couple in Colorado is suing their local cannabis distributor after their recently purchased plant turned out to be hibiscus and not the “sticky-icky” they had hoped. Said hibiscus plant was smoked anyway, though was deemed “dank” and “a buzzkill”. An amicable out of court settlement was reached with the couple being compensated in Domino’s pizza coupons and all three Harold and Kumar movies.

  • November 20, 2017 at 4:30 pm
    TexasStory says:
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    This is maddening that the officers treated these people so badly for a potential small drug crime.

    I have a similar story:

    My sister is a law abiding citizen who lives in Colorado and came out to Texas to visit me in her truck. After she crossed the border, two cops pulled her over and kept her on the side of the road for two hours while they tore apart her car. In addition, they brought a drug-inspection German Shepard to sniff out her vehicle. The German Shepard put big long scratches down the side of her truck. After two hours of not finding anything, like she told them they wouldn’t, they let her go. No compensation for the ruined paint job or spending two hours sitting on the side of the highway. All for having Colorado plates on her car.

    The funny part of the story is she brought me a souvenir; it was a small green clay pot in a plastic bag with a card that read “A little ‘Pot’ from Colorado”. The officers were not amused. They were destructive and without a sense of humor. Maybe “they” should smoke more pot.

  • November 20, 2017 at 4:49 pm
    Realist says:
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    The War On Drugs……………….done by buffoons.
    And the beat goes on……………

  • November 20, 2017 at 5:11 pm
    TxLady says:
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    It gets better. From the original article:
    On Oct. 26, Nationwide sent the Cramers a policy notification letter claiming to have found marijuana growth on the property.

    The letter stated that if they failed to remove the marijuana plants, Nationwide would cancel their insurance policy.

    Nationwide is not on their side. Think Peyton can make a commercial jingle out of this one?

    • November 26, 2017 at 7:39 pm
      Mrbob says:
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      Up until this comment I was thinking nationwide had been correct in reporting the potential of criminal activity. But this notification is over the top. Write a check.

  • November 20, 2017 at 5:33 pm
    integrity matters says:
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    Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see.

    • November 20, 2017 at 8:12 pm
      Random_Anon says:
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      Are you serious? An arrest is an arrest nonetheless, and thats a wrongful arrest. And the embarrassment is just that, embarrassing to them and their character, in their lives and neighborhood, and can probably be brough up as defamation of character

      • November 21, 2017 at 2:11 pm
        integrity matters says:
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        Yes, very serious. Someone detained with handcuffs is not an arrest.

        The tactics they used are protocol until they can get the situation under control (yes, I agree they failed on waiting too long to release her from the handcuffs and back of the car).

        These tactics are for their (police, alleged perp and public’s) protection.

        Pretend for a moment if their 30-40 year old son (or teenage grandson) lived with them and WAS a drug dealer. The cops would know about that “how”? And, the cops are supposed to let a person get dressed before they make sure the house is safe and secure?? Since when do drug dealers about to get busted “play fair”? (Again, I am not saying these people are drug dealers, but only hindsight has proven that.)

        • November 21, 2017 at 3:02 pm
          Fair Playing Field says:
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          Instead of pretending, why don’t we just stick with reality?

          Here’s something else that hindsight proved about the Cramers, and which the police had every reason to suspect beforehand: they’re not criminals.

    • November 21, 2017 at 9:53 am
      Fair Playing Field says:
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      I’m going to go out on a limb and propose that after reviewing the (most likely non-existent) rap sheets for Mr. and Mrs. Cramer, not to mention prior police dispatches to their address, the police department did not need to send a dozen officers to train their rifles on the front door (as stated in the lawsuit) when the warrant was served.

      Also according to the suit, Mrs. Cramer was forced to stand outside the house – hands cuffed behind her back, in her underwear and without shoes — for 10 minutes, before being perp-walked down a gravel driveway and deposited in the back of a patrol car on an 82-degree day for four-and-a-half hours.

      No, nothing to see here, folks. Just cops doing their job and don’t you criticize because you’ve never been one. I mean, we’re talking about the possibility of backyard marijuana cultivation here.

      “A bit embarrassed, maybe”? No, I’m thinking more unreasonably scared and humiliated.

      I am decidedly pro police, but I believe in community policing. Save the paramilitary deployment for when it’s truly needed. In this case it appears the small town (pop. 7,000) police force thought they finally had a chance to use all their cool gear and tactics and went at it gung-ho. I think the Cramers were detained for so long because once the police realized the mistake they had made they ransacked the house in a futile attempt to find anything that might justify the raid, which of course they didn’t.

      And all because a Nationwide agent “ratted” on one of his customers.

      • November 21, 2017 at 1:59 pm
        integrity matters says:
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        You must think the police have an amazing crystal ball that they use to determine what actual danger lurks inside every house and building.

        It doesn’t matter how many times the police have been called to a house or if there is a pre-existing rap sheet. That will certainly help if the info exists but the absence of the information doesn’t mean they can let their guard down.

        You said you believe in community policing. Please define what you mean by that. Neighborhood watches aren’t equipped to handle drug dealers (and I am not saying these people were drug dealers).

        • November 22, 2017 at 11:49 pm
          George Lee says:
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          Please excuse me while I vomit. Integrity Matters would not recognize “integrity” if it jumped up & bit him on the butt. If someone is placed in cuffs & their movement forcibly restricted. they, according to the Constitution are “arrested”, except in the good old USA. And, of course, if “they” are not “integrity matters”.

          • November 29, 2017 at 8:41 am
            integrity matters says:
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            George, you said “If someone is placed in cuffs & their movement forcibly restricted. they, according to the Constitution are “arrested”, ”

            Please specifically point out in the Constitution where it says “if handcuffs are put on a person, they are officially arrested”.

            Thanks!

        • November 27, 2017 at 1:45 pm
          mrbob says:
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          They had photo’s of the plant in question one would think prior to getting to the point it did someone would have at the very least have investigated to be 100% certain that it was in fact Marijuana. From photos I looked at the plants are not even remotely similar.

  • November 21, 2017 at 2:32 pm
    Fair Playing Field says:
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    integrity matters wrote:

    “You must think the police have an amazing crystal ball that they use to determine what actual danger lurks inside every house and building.”

    No, I just don’t think you need to send a dozen police with guns drawn to the private residence of senior citizens because someone reports that pot is growing in the back yard. We’re talking pot. In the back yard. Of senior citizens. In a very small town.

    Cops don’t have crystal balls, but they do have things like property records and court records, not to mention police arrest records. Do you think they looked at these for the Cramers? I certainly do, and I seriously doubt there was anything to suggest that the two senior citizens were nefarious criminals, or harboring them.

    I think the police should treat a citizen as a citizen unless they have valid reason to believe otherwise. The possibility of pot growing in the freaking back yard isn’t a valid reason in my book.

    You apparently believe police should treat citizens with wariness and suspicion until their innocence can be confirmed. That sure doesn’t sound like “Protect and Serve” to me.

    • November 21, 2017 at 3:11 pm
      Rosenblatt says:
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      Guilty until proven innocent :(

      • November 22, 2017 at 8:56 am
        Fair Playing Field says:
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        Indeed. I imagine if integrity matters was to be pulled over near his house and forced to lie spread-eagle in the street in front of his neighbors until the cops could ascertain there’s no threat in his car (because, you know, there could be weapons in it – after all, they don’t have an amazing crystal ball), he’d be singing a different tune.

        • November 29, 2017 at 9:11 am
          integrity matters says:
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          La la la laaaa. Nope, I would not sing a different tune.

          First of all, I would comply with whatever the cop requested of me. I would not backtalk, argue, complain that I was innocent or make any stupid moves that would cause the cop to think I was trying something stupid.

          If I actually deserve that treatment because I did something wrong, I would absolutely be embarrassed. But, I would not blame the cops because I would accept responsibility for my actions. Because…integrity matters.

          • November 30, 2017 at 9:29 am
            Fair Playing Field says:
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            integrity matters wrote:

            “If I actually deserve that treatment because I did something wrong, I would absolutely be embarrassed.”

            Tell me again what it was the Cramers did wrong in order to “actually deserve that treatment”?

      • November 29, 2017 at 9:12 am
        integrity matters says:
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        No, cautious until the situation is deemed secure.

        • November 29, 2017 at 9:13 am
          integrity matters says:
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          This was in response to Rosenblatt.

    • November 29, 2017 at 9:06 am
      integrity matters says:
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      All of you playing Monday morning quarterback have no clue what it is like to be a cop. Especially in this day and age.

      All of you are naïve if you think a simple report that someone might be growing marijuana in their backyard means that they all turn out that way, REGARDLESS of who allegedly lives there or what their arrest history is.

      Did you all miss the story of the cop responding to a car accident where the car overturned and the cop went up to see if the driver was okay? Unfortunately, that cop was shot and killed for NO REASON. But cops are just suppose to think everyone is good and nice until the perp does something wrong. Even then, you bleeding heart liberals and fools that don’t know the every day danger the police face and think cops should not use deadly force when confronted in a dangerous situation. Real life is not a video game and movie where the bad guys miss when shooting at the good guys. Likewise, the good guys cannot simply shoot the person in the leg or the gun out of the perp’s hands.

      I’d love for one of you to spend a month on the job with a cop that has to deal with this crap every day.

      One last thing, it’s amazing to me the number of you downplay the illegality of marijuana because “it’s only marijuana”. It’s still illegal in most states of the country and according to the Federal government. Just because a law is stupid doesn’t mean you can break the law and expect no consequences. A 30 year old having sex with a 17 year old is considered pedophilia. But the government will hand out condoms to the 17 year old and allow her to have an abortion without her parents consent. So she is “mature enough” to have condoms, but not mature enough to choose a partner that is older than her. You can’t have it both ways people and pick and choose to follow what laws you like and which ones you don’t.

      • November 29, 2017 at 1:40 pm
        mrbob says:
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        Integrity,
        Although I agree with you that LEO’s have a extremely tough job and in this crazy world they must protect themselves so that they get to go home to their families. Why after they had the scene secured could they have not allowed the woman to put on a pair of pants and shoes. This whole thing in my opinion looks like small town cops thinking they were on to a “major” drug bust.

        • December 4, 2017 at 9:22 am
          integrity matters says:
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          mrbob, Thanks for your reply and comments. I totally agree that they should have allowed the woman put on pants and shoes as soon as they knew the scene was secure.

      • November 30, 2017 at 9:19 am
        Fair Playing Field says:
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        If you think every infraction warrants an armed response, the one who is out of touch is you, my misguided friend. Are you currently an active law enforcement officer?

        Really, if it’s that bad out there shouldn’t open carry be legal across the USA? If the police are always in danger, aren’t WE ALL always in danger?

        Finally, you sure like to use straw men and unrelated situations as you flail to make a point. Why not stick to the subject at hand, which is two senior citizens were engaged at gunpoint by a dozen officers and detained for over four hours while their house was ransacked before the police finally determined that they had committed no crimes, and all because someone sent the police a picture of plants in the couple’s back yard and speculated that they were marijuana.

        Do you think this was a good allocation of police resources, particularly in a town of just 7,000 people?

        We already know you think it’s perfectly acceptable for police to engage any citizen at gunpoint regardless of the infraction because it’s a mad, mad, mad, mad world out there, so I’ll just shake my head and leave that one be, but do you think the period of time the couple was detained necessary to determine whether the plants were marijuana?

        Finally, do you think the police should have confirmed the plants were marijuana BEFORE searching the house? After all, wasn’t the complaint that the couple was growing marijuana outside? If the suspected plants are not pot, what’s the issue?

        I eagerly await your reasoned response, hopefully free of straw men, unrelated arguments or accusations of not knowing what it’s like to be a cop.

        • December 4, 2017 at 9:44 am
          integrity matters says:
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          FPF,

          I am not in law enforcement but have a family member that is. I am in risk management and insurance. In risk management, you have to evaluate and prepare for the potential risks BEFORE they happen. Police Training tries to employ this preparedness.

          All of your arguments of what the cops should or should not have done have a rear view perspective. Please acknowledge that neither your nor I “know” how the call came in. They are likely responding to a simple call that mentions that someone is growing pot in their house or yard. How can they possibly know that it might not be part of a bigger drug operation before they get there? Do you think they should simply send one cop and knock on the door and ask “are you growing pot?”

          Are you a cop? I agree that every infraction does not warrant an armed response, BUT, they have to be prepared in the event the situation changes and they NEVER know when that is going to happen. Until you know what it is like to be a cop and put your life on the line everyday, I suggest you keep your opinions to yourself about how they “should work”.

          Yes, it is THAT BAD, out there. Even in small towns. How do you possibly know what a good allocation of police resources is when you do not know what the situation you are walking into is? You’re naivety is really showing.

          I do not own any firearms but am seriously considering to take some courses and get some. Open carry should be legal across the US because we would be safer in the long run. Law abiding gun owners could help protect us from the criminals that do not care what laws are on the books. But, alas, too many liberals can’t understand that concept.

  • December 5, 2017 at 9:35 am
    Fair Playing Field says:
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    Fantastic. After numerous posts admonishing others that they don’t know what it’s like to be a cop, it turns out NEITHER DO YOU. And spare me the tripe about the mean streets of “risk management and insurance” being similar.

    re: “Please acknowledge that neither your nor I ‘know’ how the call came in”.

    Read the article. No call was made. The Nationwide agent sent the photos to the police. Given that digital cameras are routinely used in claims adjusting, he emailed the photos to the police.

    Pot growing in a residential back yard isn’t exactly a four-alarm fire, you know. There was no need to break out the assault rifles and rush over to the Cramers with the lights and sirens blazing, and I expect that didn’t happen. After all, didn’t you write that police “evaluate and prepare for the potential risks BEFORE they happen”?

    If the cops were doing their job correctly, they contacted the insurance agent, and in doing so they learned that the Cramers had contacted THEIR insurance agent for THEIR insurance company about a neighbor’s tree that had fallen into their back yard, damaging their house.

    Your “part of a bigger drug operation” argument is laughable enough, but if the Cramers were part of a criminal enterprise why would they invite scrutiny of their back yard?

    re: “Until you know what it is like to be a cop and put your life on the line everyday, I suggest you keep your opinions to yourself about how they ‘should work'”.

    Why should I? Neither do you and you obviously don’t. And besides, we’re talking about a public service, and I’m a member of the public. You know, the customer? Does the industry in which you work give any regard to the customer?

    Finally, the word is “naivete”. Speaking of which, what do you expect will be the outcome of this lawsuit?

    • December 5, 2017 at 2:45 pm
      integrity matters says:
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      FPF,

      First, I have done “ride alongs”, have a family member (and friends that are cops) in which they have shared some of their experiences AND I do not live in a bubble (which apparently you do, because your too ill-informed to know what actually happens in the world.

      Second, the article said the photos were mailed to the police. Are you that foolish to think that there was no cover email explaining what the adjuster thought he/she saw? How did they get the address?

      Third, well it’s obvious that you are clueless when it comes to risk management, especially when it involves law enforcement since you continue to think the cops should automatically be able to distinguish people who might simply be growing pot for their personal use and other people who grow it because they are actually hard core drug dealers. Stupid is as stupid does.

      Regarding the Cramers calling in the insurance company for damage they incurred (and you assuming they wouldn’t have if they were running a criminal enterprise), this also shows your naivety (this is an acceptable spelling, too, Webster). Criminals are not the smartest bunch and have been known to cause themselves to get caught. Just recently, a crack head called the cops on a buddy because the buddy stole his crack!

    • December 5, 2017 at 2:47 pm
      integrity matters says:
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      Regarding the outcome of the suit, I think both will settle for a nominal amount of money to make the claim go away, because that will be cheaper than trying to defend.

  • December 6, 2017 at 9:50 am
    Fair Playing Field says:
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    All you can do is toss insults. I understand, though. You have nothing else.

    YOU’RE NOT A COP. Period. For all of your posing, posturing and admonishments to others, you really don’t know what it’s like to be a cop either. You’re a wanna-be Barney Fife, which explains your blind defense of actions which are clearly indefensible. Why you presume to speak for actual law enforcement officers who put their lives on the line every day – when you clearly do not – is beyond me.

    The police will settle – not to “make it go away”, but because this was a clown show from start to finish. A dozen cops deployed for over four hours in order to determine whether hibiscus grown out in the open by a sexagenarian couple with likely no criminal history is marijuana? Despite the fact that the couple’s hibiscus was flowering at the time? Despite the fact that both of the Cramers offered to show police pictures of flowering hibiscus on the internet (I guess police don’t carry smartphones)? Yep. Complete clown show.

    Nationwide will settle because this is an absolute public relations nightmare for them. Sure, the police exacerbated the situation (wildly), but it was their agent that set the wheels in motion.

    Are you familiar with the term “reasonable suspicion”? Make all of the posturing arguments you want about rear-view mirrors and hypothetical situations involving desperate drug dealers and larger criminal enterprises, this was poor police work and Buffalo Township knows it. Don’t try to tell me the police are walking around town with their heads held high while grateful citizens pat them on the back for protecting them from the scourge of hibiscus growing senior citizens, because that isn’t happening.

    Now why don’t you do something more constructive like go outside and tell those damned neighborhood kids to get off your lawn?



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