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McCoy v. Edwards

June 23, 2009

JEFFREY MCCOY, SR., ET AL., PLAINTIFFS,
v.
JOHN EDWARDS, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge Caputo

MEMORANDUM

Presently before the Court are the Motion for Summary Judgment of Defendant Michael Tribendis (Doc. 86) and the cross-Motion for Summary Judgment of Plaintiff Margarita McCoy (Doc. 90). Plaintiffs, including Margarita McCoy, bring a number of claims against Defendant Tribendis pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, a claim pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1985(3), as well as numerous state common law claims. Also before the Court is a motion by all Plaintiffs to strike Defendant Tribendis' Statement of Facts to which he contends there is no dispute, submitted in support of his motion for summary judgment pursuant to Local Rule 56.1. (Doc. 100.) For the reasons stated below, the Court will grant Plaintiffs' Motion to Strike Defendant Tribendis' Statement of Facts. Consequently, the Court will also strike Defendant Tribendis' Motion for Summary Judgment for failure to comply with Local Rule 56.1. Finally, the Court will deny Plaintiff Margarita McCoy's Motion for Summary Judgment. This Court has jurisdiction over Plaintiffs' federal claims pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331 ("federal question jurisdiction") and over their state law claims pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1367(a) ("supplemental jurisdiction").

BACKGROUND

The present suit arises out of several related incidents which occurred on June 16, 2004, between members of the plaintiff McCoy family (as well as a son's fiancé and her sister) and several municipal police officers. That day, Officers Michael Tribendis ("Tribendis") and Michael Stevenson ("Stevenson") responded to a radio dispatch regarding an altercation at an auto parts salvage yard between the yard owners and Plaintiff Jeffrey McCoy, Sr. ("Mr. McCoy, Sr."). The officers ultimately advised Mr. McCoy, Sr. to leave the premises of the salvage yard. (Am. Compl. ¶¶ 21-26, Doc. 58; Def. Tribendis Answer ¶¶ 21-26, Doc. 61 (hereinafter "Answer").) Mr. McCoy, Sr. began to walk away along the road and was soon picked up by a vehicle*fn1 driven by Mr. McCoy, Sr.'s son, Plaintiff Jeffrey McCoy, Jr. ("Mr. McCoy, Jr."). Mr. McCoy, Jr.'s fiancé, Plaintiff Stephanie Rose Henry ("Ms. Henry"), and her sister, Plaintiff Gylaine Simone Threatt ("Ms. Threatt") were passengers in the car. (Am. Compl. ¶¶ 27, 30; Answer ¶¶ 27, 30.)

Shortly thereafter, Tribendis and Stevenson, as well as Officers John Edwards ("Edwards") and Jason Height ("Height") were involved in a traffic stop of Plaintiffs' vehicle. During the course of the stop, Mr. McCoy, Sr., Mr. McCoy, Jr., Ms. Henry, and Ms. Threatt were arrested. (Am. Compl. ¶¶ 33, 39, 45-48; Answer ¶¶ 33, 39, 45-48.)

Later that day, Mr. McCoy, Sr.'s wife and Mr. McCoy, Jr.'s mother, Margarita McCoy ("Mrs. McCoy"), went to the police station where her son was in custody to inquire about his arrest. There, she was involved in an argument with Edwards and was ultimately arrested by Edwards and Tribendis. (Am. Compl. ¶¶ 53, 56-58; Answer ¶¶ 53, 56-58.)

Plaintiffs filed a complaint against Officers Edwards, Stevenson, Height, and Tribendis on June 6, 2006. (Doc. 1.) Deadlines for dispositive motions and the suit's trial schedule were temporarily stayed by the Court pending the release of Edwards from military service. (Doc. 45.) During that time, Plaintiffs sought and received leave of the Court to file an amended complaint against the four officers, which was filed on June 22, 2007. (Doc. 58.) In their amended complaint, Plaintiffs raise numerous claims pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, a claim pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1985(3), as well as numerous state common law claims, based on their arrests and surrounding events. Officer Tribendis filed an answer to the amended complaint. (Doc. 61.)

After Edwards' release from military duty, the parties agreed to a new case management plan, which was approved by the Court. (Doc. 70.) Plaintiffs then moved to voluntarily dismiss certain claims. (Doc. 76.) The Court issued an Order granting the motion. (Doc. 77.) In addition, Plaintiffs voluntarily dismissed their claims against Officers Edwards, Stevenson, and Height. (Docs. 106, 108.) Tribendis is the only remaining defendant.

Tribendis filed a Motion for Summary Judgment on November 3, 2008. (Doc. 86.) He moves for summary judgment against Plaintiffs as to all claims remaining against him. He also filed a supporting brief (Doc. 89) and Statement of Facts as to which he contends there is no dispute (Doc. 87), submitted pursuant to Local Rule 56.1. Plaintiffs filed a brief in opposition to Tribendis' motion (Doc. 102) and a Counter-Statement of Facts (Doc. 101), submitted pursuant to Local Rule 56.1.

Also on November 3, 2008, Margarita McCoy filed a cross-Motion for Summary Judgment as to her § 1983 claims for violation of the Fourth Amendment and retaliation in violation of the First Amendment. (Doc. 90.) Her motion was initially filed against both Tribendis and Edwards, but was voluntarily withdrawn as to Edwards. (Doc. 98.) She filed a supporting brief (Doc. 91) and Statement of Facts (Doc. 92). Tribendis filed a brief in opposition to Mrs. McCoy's motion (Doc. 99), but did not file a Counter-Statement of Facts.

On December 12, 2008, Plaintiffs also filed a Motion to Strike from the record the Statement of Facts submitted by Tribendis in support of his Motion for Summary Judgment pursuant to Local Rule 56.1. (Doc. 100.) Plaintiffs argue that Tribendis' Statement of Facts should be struck for non-compliance with the Local Rule. Tribendis failed to file a brief in opposition to this motion.

LEGAL STANDARD

I. Local Rule 56.1

Local Rule 56.1 of the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania provides:

A motion for summary judgment filed pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P.56, shall be accompanied by a separate, short and concise statement of the material facts, in numbered paragraphs, as to which the moving party contends there is no genuine issue to be tried. The papers opposing a motion for summary judgment shall include a separate, short and concise statement of the material facts, responding to the numbered paragraphs set forth in the statement required in the foregoing paragraph, as to which it is contended that there exists a genuine issue to be tried. Statements of material facts in support of, or in opposition to, a motion shall include references to the parts of the record that support the statements. All material facts set forth in the statement required to be served by the moving party will be deemed to be admitted unless controverted by the statement required to be served by the opposing party.

M.D. Pa. Local R. 56.1.

II. Summary Judgment

Summary judgment is appropriate 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." FED. R. CIV. P. 56(c). A fact is material if proof of its existence or nonexistence might affect the outcome of the suit under the applicable substantive law. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986).

Where there is no material fact in dispute, the moving party need only establish that it is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Where, however, there is a disputed issue of material fact, summary judgment is appropriate only if the factual dispute is not a genuine one. Id. An issue of material fact is genuine if "a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party." Id.

Where there is a material fact in dispute, the moving party has the initial burden of proving that: (1) there is no genuine issue of material fact; and (2) the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. See CHARLES ALAN WRIGHT & ARTHURR. MILLER, FEDERAL PRACTICE AND PROCEDURE: CIVIL 2D § 2727 (2d ed. 1983). The moving party may present its own evidence or, where the nonmoving party has the burden of proof, simply point out to the Court that "the nonmoving party has failed to make a sufficient showing of an essential element of her case." Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986).

All doubts as to the existence of a genuine issue of material fact must be resolved against the moving party, and the entire record must be examined in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party. White v. Westinghouse Elec. Co., 862 F.2d 56, 59 (3d Cir. 1988). Once the moving party has satisfied its initial burden, the burden shifts to the nonmoving party to either present affirmative evidence supporting its version of the material facts or to refute the moving party's contention that the facts entitle it to judgment as a matter of law. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 256-57.

The Court need not accept mere conclusory allegations, whether they are made in the complaint or a sworn statement. Lujan v. Nat'l Wildlife Fed'n, 497 U.S. 871, 888 (1990). In deciding a motion for summary judgment, "the judge's function is not himself to weigh the evidence and determine the truth of the matter but to ...


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