The opinion of the court was delivered by: J. Curtis Joyner, J.
This civil rights action has been brought before the Court upon motion
of all of the defendants, Eric D. Ruggeri, West Caln Township, John Doe,
and West Brandywine Township for summary judgment. For the reasons which
follow, the motion shall be granted.
This lawsuit arose at approximately 1:15 a.m. on October 27, 1998 when
Officer Eric Ruggeri of the West Caln Township Police Department received
a call through the 911 emergency dispatcher that there was a possible
domestic dispute in the 100 block of Sugarmans Road in West Caln
Township, Chester County, Pennsylvania. At that time, Officer Ruggeri was
the only officer on duty and as he approached 115 Sugarmans Road he saw
several articles of what appeared to be clothing in the roadway in front
of that address. Officer Ruggeri's patrol car was then approached by a
woman who identified herself as Sharon Glenn and who said that she had
just been involved in an argument with her ex-boyfriend, Plaintiff Bryan
Walker, that Mr. Walker had assaulted her, injured her right arm and that
she was in a lot of pain. Officer Ruggeri noted that her hand was bent
back from her right forearm and was obviously disfigured. Ms. Glenn also
told the defendant officer that Mr. Walker was still inside the house,
that he was intoxicated and that as she was fleeing, she heard him
ransacking the home and breaking glass. Finally, Ms. Glenn informed the
officer that Mr. Walker had firearms in the house and that due to a
previous incident which he had had with the Pennsylvania State Police, it
was not likely that Mr. Walker would be cooperative with him.
Mr. Walker was subsequently charged with simple and aggravated
assault, harassment and stalking, disorderly conduct and resisting
arrest. Although he was bound over for trial on all charges following his
preliminary hearing, he was eventually acquitted of everything following a
jury trial on July 14, 1999.
He brought this lawsuit on October 26, 2000 pursuant to
42 U.S.C. § 1983 alleging that by arresting and prosecuting him for
the events of October 27, 1998, the defendants violated his
constitutional rights under the Fourth, Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments
and under the state law theories of false arrest, malicious prosecution
and assault and battery.
Summary Judgment Standards
It is recognized that the underlying purpose of summary judgment is to
avoid a pointless trial in cases where it is unnecessary and would only
cause delay and expense. Goodman v. Mead Johnson & Co., 534 F.2d 566, 573
(3d Cir. 1976), cert. denied, 429 U.S. 1038, 97 S.Ct. 732, 50 L.Ed.2d 748
(1977). Under Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c), summary judgment is properly rendered:
". . . 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 a judgment as a matter of law. A
summary judgment, interlocutory in character, may be
rendered on the issue of liability alone although
there is a genuine issue as to the amount of damages.
Stated more succinctly, summary judgment is appropriate only when it is
demonstrated that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and
the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Celotex
Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322-32, 91 L.Ed.2d 265, 106 S.Ct. 2548
In deciding a motion for summary judgment, all facts must be viewed and
all reasonable inferences must be drawn in favor of the non-moving
party. Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574,
587, 89 L.Ed.2d 538, 106 S.Ct. 1348 (1986); Troy Chemical Corp. v.
Teamsters Union Local No. 408, 37 F.3d 123, 125-126 (3d Cir. 1994);
Oritani Savings & Loan Association v. Fidelity & Deposit Company of
Maryland, 989 F.2d 635, 638 (3d Cir. 1993); Arnold Pontiac-GMC, Inc. v.
General Motors Corp., 700 F. Supp. 838, 840 (W.D.Pa. 1988). An issue of
material fact is said to be genuine "if the evidence is such that a
reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party." Anderson
v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248, 91 L.Ed.2d 202, 106 S.Ct. 2505
Thus, Rule 56(e) permits a proper summary judgment motion to be opposed
by any of the kinds of evidentiary materials listed in Rule 56(c), except
the mere pleadings themselves, and it is from this list that one would
normally expect the nonmoving party to make the required showing that a
genuine issue of material fact exists. Id. See Also, Morgan v. Havir
Manufacturing Co., 887 F. ...