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Anderson v. Mesure

October 16, 2009

GLENDA ANDERSON AND VICKI ANDERSON, PLAINTIFFS,
v.
RYAN MESURE, RICHARD LECADRE, AND WARREN CORNELIOUS, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Hon. John E. Jones III

MEMORANDUM

THE BACKGROUND OF THIS ORDER IS AS FOLLOWS:

Pending before this Court are two Motions for Summary Judgment (collectively, the "Motions"), one filed by Defendants Ryan Mesure ("Mesure") and Richard LeCadre ("LeCadre") on March 12, 2009, (Doc. 54) (the "Measure Motion"), and one filed by Defendant Warren Cornelious ("Cornelious") on that very same day, (Doc. 57) (the "Cornelious Motion"). For the reasons that follow, the Motions shall be granted.

I. PROCEDURAL HISTORY

Plaintiffs Glenda and Vicki Anderson (the "Defendants" or the "Andersons") initiated the instant action by lodging a Complaint against Defendants Mesure, LeCadre, and Cornelious (collectively, the "Defendants") on January 18, 2008 alleging deprivations of their First and Fourth Amendment rights in violation of 28 U.S.C. § 1983 and violations of the rights secured under the Pennsylvania Constitution. (Doc. 1). On November 25, 2008 we denied in part and granted in part two motions to dismiss the Plaintiffs' complaint such that the only viable claims proceeding to the discovery phase of litigation were Plaintiffs' federal and state malicious prosecution claims. (Doc. 42). After discovery concluded, the Defendants filed the instant Motions seeking summary judgment on those claims. (Docs. 54, 57).*fn1 Having been fully briefed, the Motions are ripe for disposition.

II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

Summary judgment is appropriate if the record establishes "that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c). Initially, the moving party bears the burden of demonstrating the absence of a genuine issue of material fact. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986). The movant meets this burden by pointing to an absence of evidence supporting an essential element as to which the non-moving party will bear the burden of proof at trial. Id. at 325. Once the moving party meets its burden, the burden then shifts to the non-moving party to show that there is a genuine issue for trial. Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(e)(2). An issue is "genuine" only if there is a sufficient evidentiary basis for a reasonable jury to find for the non-moving party, and a factual dispute is "material" only if it might affect the outcome of the action under the governing law. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc, 477 U.S. 242, 248-49 (1986).

In opposing summary judgment, the non-moving party "may not rely merely on allegations of denials in its own pleadings; rather, its response must ... set out specific facts showing a genuine issue for trial." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(e)(2). The non-moving party "cannot rely on unsupported allegations, but must go beyond pleadings and provide some evidence that would show that there exists a genuine issue for trial." Jones v. United Parcel Serv., 214 F.3d 402, 407 (3d Cir. 2000). Arguments made in briefs "are not evidence and cannot by themselves create a factual dispute sufficient to defeat a summary judgment motion." Jersey Cent. Power & Light Co. v. Twp. of Lacey, 772 F.2d 1103, 1109-10 (3d Cir. 1985). However, the facts and all reasonable inferences drawn therefrom must be viewed in the light most favorable to the non- moving party. P.N. v. Clementon Bd. of Educ., 442 F.3d 848, 852 (3d Cir. 2006).

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. Peterson v. Lehigh Valley Dist. Council, 676 F.2d 81, 84 (3d Cir. 1982). Still, "the mere existence of some alleged factual dispute between the parties will not defeat an otherwise properly supported motion for summary judgment; there must be a genuine issue of material fact to preclude summary judgment." Anderson, 477 U.S. at 247-48.

III. STATEMENT OF MATERIAL FACTS

On July 4, 2006, Plaintiffs visited the Boscov's Department store at the Camp Hill shopping mall. (Docs. 58, 65 ¶¶ 1). At the time, Defendant Mesure and former-Defendant LeCadre were working as Loss Prevention Detectives at Boscov's and conducted surveillance of the Plaintiffs as they shopped. (Id. ¶¶ 2). Defendant Mesure focused on the Plaintiffs because he believed he had witnessed them stealing jewelry on a previous visit to the store in June 2006. (Id. ¶¶ 4).*fn2 On July 19, 2006, Defendant Mesure reported to Defendant Cornelious, a police officer with the Camp Hill Police Department ("Camp Hill PD"), that he had witnessed Plaintiffs stealing a bracelet from Boscov's on July 4, 2006. (Docs. 58, 65¶¶ 3).

Defendant Cornelious informed Defendant Mesure that he would investigate the case and asked Mesure for any surveillance video and written statements associated with the aforementioned incident. (Id. ¶¶ 6).*fn3 These items were ultimately provided to Defendant Cornelious by Defendant Mesure and former-Defendant LeCadre. (Id. ¶¶ 8, 9).*fn4 As part of his investigation into the incident, Defendant Cornelious unsuccessfully attempted to contact the Plaintiffs so that he could obtain their version of the events in question. (Id. ¶¶ 11).*fn5 Defendant Cornelious ultimately located a valid mailing address to which he sent a citation charging Plaintiffs with retail theft and conspiracy to commit retail theft. (Id. ¶¶ 12).

Plaintiffs appeared before a magisterial district judge in Cumberland County, Pennsylvania who reviewed the evidence and bound the aforementioned charges over for trial. (Id. ¶¶ 13). Plaintiffs admit that they were never handcuffed, were not required to post bond or maintain contact with pretrial services, and were not limited in their ability to travel. (Id. ¶¶ 14).*fn6 A non-jury trial was held before the Honorable M.L. Ebert of the Cumberland County Court of Common Pleas on August 20, 2007. (Id. ¶¶ 16). Ultimately, Plaintiffs were acquitted of the charges lodged against them.*fn7

After their acquittal, Plaintiffs lodged the instant action seeking, inter alia, recovery for malicious prosecution under both federal and state law. Those claims are the only ...


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