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COLBERT v. ANGSTADT

April 24, 2001

HOMER LEE COLBERT
v.
PAUL J. ANGSTADT, ET AL.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Louis C. Bechtle, J.

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

Presently before the court are: (1) defendants the City of Reading's, Joel D. Avram's, William M. Heim's, and Paul J. Angstadt's (collectively, the "Municipal Defendants") Motion for Summary Judgment (Document No. 47); (2) plaintiff Homer Lee Colbert's ("Plaintiff" or "Colbert") Rule 37 Motion to Compel Discovery from the Municipal Defendants (Document No. 40); (3) Plaintiff's Rule 56(f) Motion (Document No. 48); (4) Plaintiff's Motion to File of Record the Table of Citations (Document No. 51); (5) Plaintiff's Motion to File Amended Certificate of Service (Document No. 55); (6) Plaintiff's Motion to Compel Defendant Rite Aid and Atlantic Security to Pay for the Deposition of the Plaintiff's Expert (Document No. 59); and the responses thereto. For the reasons set forth below, the court will: grant the motion for summary judgment; deny the motion to compel discovery as moot; deny the Rule 56(f) motion; grant the motion to file a table of citations; grant the motion to file an amended certificate of service; and deny the motion to compel payment as moot.

I. BACKGROUND

In February 1999, Colbert, an African-American male, purchased a prescription from a Rite Aid store in Reading, Pennsylvania. (Am. Compl. ¶¶ 5 & 17.) As he left the store, the security alarm was triggered. Id. ¶¶ 14-16 & 23-25. Sam Cardy, a security guard employed by Atlantic Security Guards, Inc., ("Atlantic"), approached Colbert and asked him to return to the store. Id. ¶ 25; Colbert Dep. at 90-91 & 93. An altercation ensued between Cardy and Colbert where it is alleged that Colbert threw Cardy to the ground and left. (Colbert Dep. at 97.) Store employees contacted the police and defendant Officer Joel D. Avram responded. (Dep. of Officer Joel Avram ("Avram Dep.") at 53-55 & 68; Dep. of Theresa Hanson ("Hanson Dep.") at 19.) Officer Avram took information from the eye witnesses, returned to his office and prepared a warrant that ultimately resulted in Colbert's prosecution for assault and battery, disorderly conduct, and related offenses. Colbert was convicted before a District Justice and on appeal, the Common Pleas Court dismissed the case because of the failure of the District Attorney to produce certain witnesses. (Am. Compl. ¶ 45; Colbert Dep. at 50-51.)

On March 21, 2000, Colbert filed this civil rights action against Officer Avram, two City of Reading officials, Rite Aid Corporation ("Rite Aid") and Atlantic. He filed an Amended Complaint on August 11, 2000. On January 19, 2001, the Municipal Defendants filed the instant motion for summary judgment.

II. LEGAL STANDARD

Summary judgment shall be granted "if the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions 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). A factual dispute is material only if it might affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). Whether a genuine issue of material fact is presented will be determined by asking if "a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the non-moving party." Id. In considering a motion for summary judgment, "[i]nferences should be drawn in the light most favorable to the non-moving party, and where the non-moving party's evidence contradicts the movant's, then the non-movant's must be taken as true." Big Apple BMW, Inc. v. BMW of N. Am., Inc., 974 F.2d 1358, 1363 (3d Cir. 1992) (citation omitted).

III. DISCUSSION

In his Amended Complaint, Plaintiff alleges that the Municipal Defendants: violated 42 U.S.C. § 1983 by filing criminal charges for assault, battery and disorderly conduct against him ("Third Legal Claim"); violated § 1985(3) by conspiring to do so ("Fourth Legal Claim"); and also violated § 1983 by failing to have adequate training and policies ("Second Legal Claim"). (Am. Compl. ¶¶ 62-70.) Colbert further alleges that Officer Avram violated state law by arresting and detaining him without probable cause ("Fifth Legal Claim"). (Am. Compl. ¶ 71.) The Municipal Defendants assert that Colbert has not established any Constitutional violation or any evidence of a conspiracy. The Municipal Defendants further assert that Colbert was not arrested and that the Municipal Defendants acted properly at all times.

The court will first address Plaintiff's federal claims, and then his state claims.*fn1

A. Plaintiff's Federal Claims

1. The Filing of Criminal Charges Against Colbert

Plaintiff alleges that the Municipal Defendants violated 42 U.S.C. § 1983 "by the filing of criminal charges" for which "there was no legally adequate basis." (Am. Compl. ¶ 65.)

Section 1983 reads, in pertinent part:

Every person who, under color of any statute, ordinance, regulation, custom, or usage, of any State . . . subjects, or causes to be subjected, any citizen of the United States . . . to the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution and laws, shall be liable to the party injured ...

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