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Pierre v. Warrick

February 20, 2007

ROBERT PIERRE, PLAINTIFF,
v.
CHARLES WARRICK, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge Jones

MEMORANDUM

THE BACKGROUND OF THIS MEMORANDUM IS AS FOLLOWS:

Two Motions are pending before this Court. First, Defendant Charles Warrick ("Defendant" or "Warrick"), filed a Motion for Summary Judgment on December 1, 2006. (Rec. Doc. 19). Second, Plaintiff Robert Pierre ("Plaintiff" or "Pierre"), filed a Motion for Summary Judgment on December 8, 2006. (Rec. Doc. 26). For the reasons that follow, Defendant's Motion shall be granted and Plaintiff's Motion shall be denied.

PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

On September 22, 2005, Plaintiff filed his Complaint in the above-captioned action. (Rec. Doc. 1). On November 30, 2006, Defendant filed his Answer. (Rec. Doc. 16).

On December 1, 2006, Defendant filed his Motion for Summary Judgment. (Rec. Doc. 19). On December 8, 2006, Plaintiff filed his Motion for Summary Judgment. (Rec. Doc. 26). Although neither party has filed a Reply Brief, the time in which to do so has long since passed. Thus, the Motions are ripe for disposition.

STANDARD OF REVIEW

Summary judgment is appropriate if "there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and . . . the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." FED. R. CIV. P. 56(c); see also Turner v. Schering-Plough Corp., 901 F.2d 335, 340 (3d Cir. 1990). The party moving for summary judgment bears the burden of showing "there is no genuine issue for trial." Young v. Quinlan, 960 F.2d 351, 357 (3d Cir. 1992). Summary judgment should not be granted when there is a disagreement about the facts or the proper inferences that a fact finder could draw from them. See Peterson v. Lehigh Valley Dist. Council, 676 F.2d 81, 84 (3d Cir. 1982).

Initially, the moving party has a burden of demonstrating the absence of a genuine issue of material fact. See Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986). This may be met by the moving party pointing out to the court that there is an absence of evidence to support an essential element as to which the non-moving party will bear the burden of proof at trial. See id. at 325.

Rule 56 provides that, where such a motion is made and properly supported, the non-moving party must then show by affidavits, pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, that there is a genuine issue for trial. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(e). The United States Supreme Court has commented that this requirement is tantamount to the non-moving party making a sufficient showing as to the essential elements of their case that a reasonable jury could find in its favor. See Celotex, 477 U.S. at 322-23.

It is important to note that "the non-moving party cannot rely upon conclusory allegations in its pleadings or in memoranda and briefs to establish a genuine issue of material fact." Pastore v. Bell Tel. Co. of Pa., 24 F.3d 508, 511 (3d Cir. 1994) (citation omitted). However, all inferences "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 North America, Inc., 974 F.2d 1358, 1363 (3d Cir. 1992) (citations omitted).

Still, "the mere existence of some alleged factual dispute between the parties will not defeat an otherwise properly supported motion for summary judgment; the requirement is that there be no genuine issue of material fact." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 247-48 (1986). "As to materiality, the substantive law will identify which facts are material." Id. at 248. A dispute is considered to be genuine only if "the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party." Id.

STATEMENT OF RELEVANT FACTS

Although the parties disagree about a few specific circumstances that led to the instant action, they agree on the facts relevant to our inquiry here. In our disposition of the instant Motions, we will, where necessary, view the facts and all inferences to be drawn therefrom in the light most favorable to the non-moving party, which is Pierre given our disposition here.

This civil rights action was filed by Pierre against Warrick, a Pennsylvania State Constable, on September 22, 2005. (Rec. Docs. 28, ¶ 1; 37, ¶ 1). This action stems from events surrounding litigation that was instituted in the Court of Common Pleas of Lackawanna County: Marianne Kochanski ("Kochanski") filed suit against Robert Pierre, our Plaintiff, at docket number 1999-Civ-2064. (Rec. Docs. 28, ¶ 3; 37, ¶ 3). That litigation ("Kochanski litigation") arose out of the allegedly negligent construction performed by Robert Pierre and Son Construction Company at the Kochanski home. (Rec. Docs. 28, ¶ 4; 37, ¶ 4).

The relevant facts surrounding the Kochanski litigation are as follows.

On November 30, 1999, Kochanski filed Notice of Intent to Take a Default Judgment. (Rec. Docs. 28, ¶ 7; 37, ¶ 7). Accordingly, on December 13, 1999, a default judgment was entered in favor of Kochanski and against Pierre in the amount of $31,774.95. (Rec. Docs. 28, ¶ 8; 37, ¶ 8).

On January 11, 2002, following Pierre's failure to comply with an Order of Court in the Kochanski litigation, the Honorable Carmen D. Minora of the Lackawanna Court of Common Pleas entered an Order directing Pierre be remanded to the Lackawanna County Prison until he produced documents requested in an outstanding subpoena duces tecum that Pierre had failed to produce.*fn1 (Rec. Docs. 23, ¶ 3; 40, ¶ 3; 20, Exh. A). On January 18, 2002, Judge Minora entered an Order directing Pierre be released from the Lackawanna County Prison, but also that Pierre produce all documents requested in the aforementioned subpoena, or alternatively, that Pierre continue to make the agreed upon monthly payment installments in full or in a timely fashion. (Rec. Docs. 23, ¶ 4; 40, ¶ 4; 20, Exh. B).

On November 15, 2002, Pierre filed a voluntary petition under Chapter 7 of the United States Bankruptcy Code in the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania ("the Bankruptcy Court"). (Rec. Docs. 28, ¶ 23; 37, ¶ 23; 29, Exh. H).

Following Pierre's failure to attend a Willful Contempt Hearing in the Kochanski litigation on November 22, 2002, the Honorable Trish Corbett, also of the Lackawanna Common Pleas Court, entered an Order on same date that provided:

[I]t is hereby ORDERED AND DECREED that a Capias*fn2 is hereby issued for the arrest ...


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