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Kopczak v. Borough of Scottdale

January 31, 2008


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Terrence F. McVerry United States District Court Judge


Presently before the Court is the MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT, with brief in support, filed by Defendants (Document Nos. 12 and 13) and the RESPONSE and BRIEF IN OPPOSITION filed by Plaintiff (Document Nos. 18 and 19, respectively).

The issues have been fully briefed and the matter is ripe for disposition. After a careful consideration of the motion, the filings in support and opposition thereto, the memoranda of the parties, the relevant case law, and the record as a whole, the Court finds that there is not sufficient record evidence upon which a reasonable jury could return a verdict for Plaintiff, John Kopczak on his federal claims of alleged violations of due process, false arrest, Monell claims, and failure to train and supervise. The Court will also dismiss without prejudice the additional pendent state claims of alleged violations of due process, intentional infliction of emotional distress, negligent infliction of emotional distress, and negligence.

Procedural Background

Plaintiff, John Kopczak ("Plaintiff") brought this lawsuit on June 9, 2006, by the filing of a eight-count Complaint against the Borough of Scottdale, the Scottdale Police Department, Police Officer Dennis Elcock, individually and in his capacity as Police Officer for the Scottdale Police Department, and Chief of Police Barry Pritts. The Complaint sets forth the following claims:

Count I - "Due Process Claims Against Defendants for Failure to Investigate." The Complaint sets forth a claim that Plaintiff's due process rights under the Fourteenth Amendment were violated by Defendants failure to investigate adequately. Count I also sets forth a claim for false arrest.

Count II - "Supervisory Liability Claims against the Chief of the Defendant's Police Department." Plaintiff alleges that the "Defendant Chief, . . ., with deliberate indifference to the rights of criminal suspects, failed to train and supervise adequately. In so doing, Defendant Chief encouraged, condoned or tacitly acquiesced in unconstitutional misconduct, including without limitation, the suppression of exculpatory material evidence and the egregious failure to investigate."

Count III - "Model (sic) Claims against the Borough of Scottdale." Plaintiff alleges that the Borough of Scottdale "by and through its policymakers, created and maintained a policy, custom or practice of failing to properly supervise, train and discipline it's (sic) police officers including Defendant Elcock."

Count IV - "Due Process Claims against Defendants for Suppression of Evidence and Failure to Investigate." Plaintiff alleges, inter alia, that "[a]cting with deliverabte (sic) indifference by withholding evidence, Defendants violated Plaintiff's clearly established Fourteenth Amendment right to due process of law as interpreted by he (sic) United States Supreme Court in Brady v. Maryland and its progeny."

Count V - "Supervisory Liability Claims Against Defendant Borough and Chief." The claims alleged in Count V appear to mirror the claims alleged in Counts II and III.

Count VI - "State Constitution Claims against Defendants for Violation of Due Process." In Count VI, Plaintiff alleges claims under Pennsylvania's Constitution for alleged due process violations, incorporating the allegations in previous counts of the Complaint.

The Complaint contains two "Count VIIs." In Paragraphs 76-78, Plaintiff alleges a state law tort claim against all defendants for intentional infliction of emotional distress and in Paragraphs 79 - 81, he alleges a state law tort claim against all Defendants for negligent infliction of emotional distress.

Count VIII - "State Tort Law Claims against Defendant for Negligence." Plaintiff alleges that "Defendant's (sic) owed Plaintiff a duty of care and breached that duty - through their own misconduct or the misconduct of persons under their supervision and control, by failing to properly investigate the minor girls claims."

The Defendants jointly seek summary judgment on all of Plaintiff's federal and state law claims.


Pursuant to the Order of Court filed February 2, 2007, Defendants filed a Concise Statement of Material Facts. Although instructed to do so, Plaintiff failed to file his Response Concise Statement. Accordingly, in accordance with Local Rule 56.1(E), for the purpose of deciding the instant motion, the statements contained in Defendants' Concise Statement of Material Facts will be deemed admitted.

On or about Saturday, July 31, 2004, a 9-1-1 call was placed to Scottdale Police Department by Jennifer Palmiscno, mother of Kayla Palmiscno, an eight year old minor, to report an incident which involved her daughter. Ms. Palmiscno reported that an older white male, with a mustache and wearing a black leather cap stopped near her eight year old daughter and two other friends while they were playing in the park on South Chestnut Street. The man allegedly asked the children if they wanted a ride. Ms. Palmiscno reported that the man was driving a light blue minivan with rust along the bottom and a ladder on top of it.

The next day, Sunday, August 1, 2004, Daniel Berry stopped at the Scottdale Police Station and requested that Officer Dennis Elcock talk with the Chelsea Stewart, the minor daughter of his girlfriend, about an encounter similar to the incident reported on July 31, 2004.

On August 1, 2004, Officer Elcock spoke with Chelsea Stewart. She reported that on Thursday, July 29, 2004, between noon and 2:00 PM, she and Rebecca Blackburn, who at the time was 12 years old, were asked by the driver of a light blue van if they needed a ride. Chelsea Stewart described the driver of the van as being bald on the top of his head and the remaining hair was grey, wearing large round eyeglasses, and having a mustache. Ms. Stewart specifically identified Plaintiff as the suspect.

Officer Elcock also spoke with Rebecca Blackburn, who described the driver of the light blue van as a white older male with a full head of brown hair.

On Saturday, August 7, 2004, Officer Elcock spoke with Plaintiff at the Scottdale

Police Station. Plaintiff informed Officer Elcock that he was working on Thursday, July 29, 2004 and that at all times during the day he had been accompanied by two other co-employees. Plaintiff also told Officer ...

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