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MASTROMATTEO v. SIMOCK

October 31, 1994

BARRY C. MASTROMATTEO, Plaintiff,
v.
OFFICER WAYNE SIMOCK, Defendant.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: J. CURTIS JOYNER

 Joyner, J.

 I. HISTORY OF THE CASE

 The plaintiff in this case is Barry C. Mastromatteo, an inmate at the Rockview State Correctional Institute in Bellefonte, Pennsylvania, who has brought this action under 42 U.S.C. ยง 1983 against Officer Wayne Simock, the defendant, a police officer in Allentown, Pennsylvania. In his complaint, Mr. Mastromatteo alleges that he was deprived of a constitutional right by a police officer acting under color of state law. Further, Mr. Mastromatteo has raised pendent claims under Pennsylvania law for malicious prosecution, false imprisonment and intentional infliction of emotional distress.

 The facts supporting Mr. Mastromatteo's complaint, over which there is some dispute, are as follows. On December 19, 1991, Mr. Mastromatteo was arrested by Detective Michael Pummer of the Allentown Police Department after forging and cashing two checks at a supermarket. After receiving his Miranda warnings, Mr. Mastromatteo waived his right to remain silent and confessed to the forgery. Prior to Mr. Mastromatteo's confession, Officer Simock conducted a search of Mr. Mastromatteo incident to the arrest. According to Officer Simock, the search uncovered, among other items, a hypodermic needle with a cap on it. Officer Simock further contends that he noticed needle marks on Mr. Mastromatteo's arm, and that Mr. Mastromatteo voluntarily mentioned that he used the needle to inject cocaine. For his part, Mr. Mastromatteo states that the search revealed a syringe, a broken needle, and an empty bottle of insulin. Further, Mr. Mastromatteo contends Officer Simock could not have noticed needle marks on his arm since he was wearing a long-sleeve shirt at the time of the search.

 Officer Simock disposed of the needle in a hazardous waste can. He then completed several police reports describing the incident, as well as a criminal complaint and an affidavit of probable cause for the charge of possession of drug paraphernalia, *fn1" a misdemeanor. Mr. Mastromatteo was later arraigned on the forgery charge and thereafter was committed to Lehigh County prison in lieu of bail. On December 26, 1991, the criminal complaint and affidavit of probable cause on the drug paraphernalia charge were filed. Based upon the complaint and affidavit of probable cause, a Lehigh County District Justice issued a warrant for Mr. Mastromatteo's arrest. On that same day, Officer Simock issued a detainer against Mr. Mastromatteo. Meanwhile, a detainer had been lodged against Mr. Mastromatteo on December 24, 1991 for parole violations in Lancaster County.

 On January 15, 1992, Mr. Mastromatteo posted bail on the forgery charge, but he was not released. Mr. Mastromatteo claims he was not released because of the detainer lodged against him by Officer Simock concerning the drug paraphernalia charge. Officer Simock contends that Mr. Mastromatteo was not released because of the detainer lodged against him by Lancaster County for the parole violation. On January 22, 1992, Mr. Mastromatteo was arrested for the drug paraphernalia charge and brought before a Lehigh Count District Justice. Mr. Mastromatteo paid bail, but was returned to a Lehigh County prison because of the detainer lodged against him by Lancaster County for a parole violation. On the morning of January 23, 1992, Mr. Mastromatteo was transferred to Lancaster County prison. Finally, on February 14, 1994, the drug paraphernalia charge was dismissed when Officer Simock failed to appear at a preliminary hearing.

 II. DISCUSSION

 A. The Summary Judgment Standard

 This Court is authorized to award summary judgment "if the pleadings, depositions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c). Thus, the Court's responsibility is not to resolve disputed issues of fact, but to determine whether there exist any factual issues to be tried. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, 477 U.S. 242, 247-49, 91 L. Ed. 2d 202, 106 S. Ct. 2505 (1986). The non-moving party must raise "more than a mere scintilla of evidence in its favor" in order to overcome a summary judgment motion. Williams v. Borough of W. Chester, 891 F.2d 458, 460 (3d Cir. 1989) (citing Liberty Lobby, 477 U.S. at 249). Further, the non-moving party cannot rely on unsupported assertions, conclusory allegations, or mere suspicions in attempting to survive a summary judgment motion. Id. (citing Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 325, 91 L. Ed. 2d 265, 106 S. Ct. 2548 (1986)). Boiled to its essence, the summary judgment standard requires the non-moving party to create a "sufficient disagreement to require submission [of the evidence] to a jury." Liberty Lobby, 477 U.S. at 251-52.

 In cases where the parties have filed cross motions for summary judgment, as the parties have in the present action, each side contends that no issues of material fact exist. Yet the standard under which the Court weighs the merits of the motions does not change simply because cross-motions have been filed. United States v. Hall, 730 F. Supp. 646, 648 (M.D. Pa. 1990). Each party must establish that no issues of fact exist and that it is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. As a result, a case will not necessarily be decided at the summary judgment stage merely because cross-motions have been filed. Id. (citing Rains v. Cascade Indus., 402 F.2d 241, 245 (3d Cir. ...


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