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Cox v. Pate

February 27, 2007

WINDAL COX, ET AL., PLAINTIFFS,
v.
RONALD PATE, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Magistrate Judge Caiazza

OPINION AND ORDER

I. OPINION

For the reasons that follow, the Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. 31) will be granted.

BACKGROUND

The Plaintiffs Windal Cox and Tamika McAfee bring this civil rights action claiming damages based on their alleged subjection to an unreasonable search at the hands of the Defendants.

See generally Compl. (Doc. 1) at ¶¶ 1-2 (citing 42 U.S.C. §§ 1983, 1888, 4th and 14th Amendments). They seek to recover for both the unlawful search (see Counts III-IV) and their resulting alleged false arrest and imprisonment (Counts I-II). Id.

In December 2003, and based on information provided by a confidential informant, Defendant Robert Pate ("Officer Pate") obtained a warrant to search a local hotel room believed to be used for drug trafficking. See generally id. at ¶ 8.

The warrant was issued by a presiding district justice, and the search resulted in the seizure of crack cocaine, firearms, and U.S. currency. See id. at ¶ 13. The Plaintiffs were arrested, detained, and later prosecuted in the United States District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania. Id. at ¶ 14.

In the criminal proceedings, Mr. Cox's counsel filed a motion to suppress the seized evidence, arguing the warrant lacked the support of probable cause. Id. at ¶ 17. District Judge Gary L. Lancaster granted the motion, the evidence was suppressed, and the criminal charges against the Plaintiffs subsequently were dismissed. See id. at ¶¶ 18-20.

The Plaintiffs now seek money damages for violations of their right to be free from unreasonable searches, their loss of liberty, resulting mental anguish, embarrassment and humiliation. See id. at ¶¶ 21(a)-(c).

ANALYSIS

In moving for summary judgment, the Defendants make various arguments regarding the existence of probable cause, the Plaintiffs' inability to state claims against the City of Butler, and the protections of the Eleventh Amendment and sovereign immunity. See generally Defs.' Br. (Doc. 32).

The parties also cite the Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit's decision in Hector v. Watt, 235 F.3d 154 (3d Cir. 2000). See Defs.' Br. at 5; Pls.' Opp'n Br. (Doc. 38) at 2.

The analyses in this binding Third Circuit opinion are germane to the disputes at bar, so the court will focus ...


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