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Teeple v. Carabba

December 22, 2009

MARK TEEPLE, PLAINTIFF,
v.
JOSEPH CARABBA, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Eduardo C. Robreno, J.

MEMORANDUM

TABLE OF CONTENTS

I. BACKGROUND................................................2

A. Facts................................................2

B. Procedural History...................................23

II. DISCUSSION................................................24

A. Summary Judgment Standard............................25

B. 42 U.S.C. § 1983.....................................27

1. False arrest....................................28

2. Malicious prosecution...........................31

3. Qualified immunity..............................32

4. Probable cause..................................36

C. Pennsylvania State Law Claims........................37

1. False arrest and false imprisonment.............37

2. Malicious prosecution...........................38

3. Abuse of process................................39

4. Civil conspiracy................................41

III. KELLY'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT.......................42

IV. DYKES AND CAHILL'S MOTIONS FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

A. Probable Cause Analysis..............................46

1. Search warrant affidavit........................47

2. Criminal complaint affidavit....................49

3. Alleged misstatements in the Affidavits.........54

4. Alleged omissions from the Affidavits...........59

B. Qualified Immunity...................................70

C. False Arrest/Imprisonment and Malicious Prosecution..71

D. Abuse of Process.....................................71

E. Civil Conspiracy.....................................72

V. CARABBA'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT....................73

VI. MOTIONS TO FILE REPLY BRIEFS..............................74

VII. CONCLUSION................................................74

Before the Court are summary judgment motions filed by each of the defendants in the above-captioned case; Defendant Deputy District Attorney Stephen Kelly, Defendant Detective Kevin D. Dykes, Defendant Detective William Cahill, and Defendant Detective Joseph Carabba. In addition, Defendant Cahill and Defendant Dykes have filed motions to file a reply regarding their respective motions for summary judgment. For the reasons set forth below, each of the Defendants motions for summary judgment will be granted and the motions to file reply briefs will be denied.

I. BACKGROUND

A. Facts

On May 8, 2006, Plaintiff Mark Teeple ("Plaintiff") was arrested and charged with solicitation to commit robbery. Plaintiff was tried in the Court of Common Pleas of Chester County. On March 8, 2007, upon the close of the prosecution's case-in-chief, Judge Phyllis R. Streitel granted Plaintiff's motion for judgment of acquittal on the charge of solicitation to commit robbery. Shortly thereafter, Plaintiff commenced the instant suit against the investigating detectives, Kevin Dykes, William Cahill, and Joseph Carabba, and the deputy district attorney involved with the investigation, Stephen Kelly (collectively "Defendants"), asserting civil rights violations under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and the Pennsylvania Constitution, and for various torts, including malicious prosecution and false arrest.

The underlying facts which form the foundation of Plaintiff's claims are as follows. On April 11, 2006, Defendant Detective Kevin Dykes ("Dykes") received a phone call from Kevin Christie ("Christie"), a retired state police sergeant. (Dykes Dep. 40:5-41:9, June 10, 2008.) Christie informed Dykes that he received information about a potential bank robbery from an individual named Mary Jane Lofland ("Lofland"). (Id. at 41:1-43:9) Dykes was aware of an open investigation into a rash of bank robberies, in which over a half-dozen banks were robbed during an approximately six-month period. (Id. at 33:14-34:25.) Upon receiving Lofland's contact information from Christie, Dykes placed a call to Lofland and acquired information regarding an upcoming bank robbery of Commerce Bank in Westtown Township, Pennsylvania ("Commerce Bank") within the next week. (Id. at 59:24-60:19, 57:20-58:6.)*fn1

Upon receiving this information on the upcoming bank robbery, Dykes contacted Defendant Detective William Cahill ("Cahill"), who is a sergeant in the Westtown-East Goshen police force. Dykes contacted Cahill because the targeted bank was located within Cahill's jurisdiction. Dykes and Cahill set up a meeting with Lofland at her residence on April 12, 2006, to inquire further about the upcoming bank robbery. Prior to this initial meeting, Dykes completed a criminal history background check of Lofland and discovered that Lofland had a prior conviction for retail theft.*fn2

At this April 2006 interview, Lofland informed Dykes and Cahill that she and Plaintiff became acquainted as neighbors in their apartment complex, the Golf Club Apartments. She revealed that she had discussed potentially robbing a bank as far back as February 2006, but that recently the potential robbery was the only thing that Plaintiff talked about. (Dykes Dep. 106:19-25.) Lofland further told Dykes and Cahill that Plaintiff made comments to her indicating that he had knowledge of a robbery and shooting incident that occurred at a location known as the House of Lights in West Chester, Pennsylvania (the "House of Lights Incident"). Dykes relayed this information concerning Plaintiff's potential knowledge of the House of Lights Incident to the investigating detectives, who later informed Dykes that Plaintiff was not a suspect in that investigation.

During this initial interview, Lofland informed the detectives that Plaintiff had selected Commerce Bank as his intended target for the robbery, which was set to occur on April 18, 2006, at approximately 2:00 p.m.; that Plaintiff concocted a plan for Lofland to report her vehicle as stolen so that it could be used in the planned robbery; and that Plaintiff requested that Lofland procure a gun for him to be used in connection with the planned robbery. (Id. at 108:7-109:10.) Lofland further revealed that Plaintiff was addicted to prescription medications and that Lofland supplied these painkillers to Plaintiff on several occasions. Lofland also provided information unrelated to the robbery scheme, such as Plaintiff forging his deceased mother's pension checks and Plaintiff owing approximately $15,000 in back taxes to the Internal Revenue Service. These unrelated incidents were not investigated by Dykes and Cahill, and Plaintiff was never charged in connection with these alleged offenses.

During the course of this April 12, 2006 interview, Lofland received a telephone call from Plaintiff, which was observed by Dykes. During this telephone conversation, Dykes overheard Plaintiff discussing the use of Lofland's vehicle with respect to a potential robbery. (Id. at 121:12-124:18.) In light of the information obtained from this initial interview, and the information overheard during Plaintiff's phone call to Lofland, Dykes and Cahill determined that it was appropriate to conduct an investigation (the "Investigation") into Plaintiff's involvement with the potential bank robbery (the "Planned Robbery"). In furtherance of the Investigation, Dykes requested that Lofland consent to wearing wire surveillance equipment in order to have her phone and personal conversations with Plaintiff recorded. Defendant Deputy District Attorney Stephen Kelly ("Kelly") obtained Lofland's official consent to the recording of her conversations with Plaintiff.

The first successful consensual intercept occurred on April 13, 2006 (the "April 13 Intercept"), in which Dykes and Cahill recorded a phone conversation between Lofland and Plaintiff. During this conversation Lofland instructed Plaintiff to refrain from mentioning the Planned Robbery to Plaintiff's girlfriend, and Plaintiff likewise told Lofland not to discuss the Planned Robbery with her sister. (Pl.'s Resp. to Defs.' Mots. for Summ. J., Ex. K.)

On April 17, 2006, Dykes supervised a consensual intercept of in-person conversations between Plaintiff and Lofland (the "April 17 Intercept"). The April 17 Intercept recorded conversations between Plaintiff and Lofland that occurred while Lofland drove Plaintiff to Shop-Rite Supermarket, Commerce Bank (aka "Lucy," the site of the Planned Robbery), and CVS Pharmacy. The April 17 Intercept documented Plaintiff and Lofland driving around the area of Commerce Bank and referencing different aspects of the Planned Robbery, in other words envisioning a "dry run" of the Planned Robbery. (Pl.'s Resp. to Defs.' Mots. for Summ. J., Ex. L.) Plaintiff and Lofland discussed such details as the escape route for the Planned Robbery, including the location where the getaway car would be parked, and the presence of security cameras at Commerce Bank. The following are relevant excerpts from the April 17 Intercept:

Plaintiff: Now park here come out and we're running we got to walk to the truck to get in.

Lofland: Are you getting in here or are you getting in the bank?

Plaintiff: Up here.

Lofland: All right. (Id. at 23.)*fn3

Plaintiff: I don't see any cameras out here there must be though.

Lofland: I don't see any either.

Plaintiff: I don't see any in the window pointing out.

Lofland: Unh-Unh

Plaintiff: It is not too crowded but then again it's 3:45 so (inaudible). (Id.)

The April 17 Intercept also recorded Plaintiff and Lofland discussing Lofland reporting her vehicle as stolen and then using that "stolen" vehicle to commit the Planned Robbery. Plaintiff and Lofland also discussed having Lofland obtain a rental car, park it in a secluded area and then transfer cars after using the "stolen" vehicle to commit the Planned Robbery.

The following are relevant excerpts from the April 17 Intercept on this point:

Plaintiff: Get in your car.

Lofland: In the rental.

Plaintiff: (Inaudible).

Plaintiff: The only thing about that is there's no trees, the cops and see it and they say it's abandoned just look for suspects (inaudible).

Lofland: It's all right I'll wait.

Plaintiff: It wasn't very closed in like kind of thing that's okay.

Lofland: I am going to make sure she's coming you know.*fn4

Plaintiff: Tomorrow's a good day. (Id. at 25.)

Plaintiff: Don't take a chance (inaudible) well once your in the rental.

Lofland: So where was it, it's tomorrow.

Plaintiff: Once you're in the rental you can drive like normal.

Lofland: All right. So we're going to do this tomorrow?

Plaintiff: I hope so.

Lofland: All right so, you want me to call, call tonight to say it was stolen or first thing tomorrow morning?

Plaintiff: Morning.

Lofland: Morning?

Plaintiff: Yeah, because . . . .

Lofland: Where was it stolen at Wawa or the driveway.

Plaintiff: Somebody can steal the truck and then do a bank heist.

Lofland: Alright.

Plaintiff: Same day. They're not going to wait.

Lofland: They're not going to wait.

Plaintiff: I'm, you going to steal a car you're going to hit that bank then. You understand? Nobody going to steal a car the day before.

(Id. at 25-26.)

Dykes conducted a successful consensual intercept on April 18, 2006 (the "April 18 Intercept") which recorded in-person conversations between Plaintiff and Lofland during the time in which Lofland drove Plaintiff to an appointment with the Chester County welfare office in Thorndale, Pennsylvania. During the April 18 Intercept Plaintiff and Lofland discussed their intention to report Lofland's truck as stolen in connection with the Planned Robbery as follows:

Lofland: So when I call the police department to, to, uh call this in, how should I say, where should I say it was stolen at from Wawa or the driveway?

Plaintiff: I think Wawa would be better. (Defs. Mot. for Summ. J., Ex. 11.) During the April 18 Intercept, Plaintiff and Lofland also discussed purchasing blonde hair dye and electrical tape in connection with the Planned Robbery. (Id.)

Dykes was informed by Lofland that she had several conversations with Plaintiff between April 19, 2006, and May 1, 2006, however, none of these conversations were recorded. Lofland told Dykes that on April 23, 2006, Plaintiff informed Lofland that he did not want to participate in the Planned Robbery. (Dykes Dep. 282:21-283:1.) In response to Plaintiff's purported statement of withdrawal from the Planned Robbery, Lofland told Plaintiff that she had already reported her truck stolen. (Id. at 283:3-5.) Lofland was instructed by Dykes to tell Plaintiff that she had already reported her truck as stolen in order to expedite the investigation. (Id. 283:7-294:24.)

Lofland told Dykes that on April 27, 2006, she received a phone call from Plaintiff. Lofland said that during this phone call, Plaintiff stated that he needed to obtain money for rent no later than May 5, 2006. (Id. at 310:1-311:20.) Plaintiff denies that this April 27, 2006 conversation occurred, but did admit that his landlord had initiated a legal action for eviction against him at that time.

On May 1, 2006, a telephone conversation between Plaintiff and Lofland was intercepted ("May 1 Intercept") in which Plaintiff stated he would participate in the Planned Robbery if Lofland provided him with Percocet pills. This arrangement is evidenced by the following excerpts of the May 1 Intercept:

Plaintiff: Where you gotta go?

Lofland: The doctor.

Plaintiff: Where's this doctor?

Lofland: Uh . . . Zuransky.

Plaintiff: Oh, good ol' Zuransk?

Lofland: Yeah.

Plaintiff: You're gonna get some Perks out of him.

Lofland: You think?

Plaintiff: I know you will. Lay some over this way and I'll do the bank.

Lofland: Oh yeah?

Plaintiff: Uh huh. My vacuum and a couple of perks and you got it made. I was thinking about hitting a drug store first.

Lofland: So, if I go to Zuransky and I get the Percocet, you'll hit the bank with me tomorrow?

Plaintiff: I am gonna do it anyway. But I was thinking about hitting a drug store first. (Pl.'s Resp. to Defs.' Mots. for Summ. J., Ex. N 7.)*fn5

Plaintiff did not state the exact date when he would commit the Planned Robbery even if Lofland provided the Percocet pills. (Id.) The following exchange was recorded in the May 1 Intercept:

Lofland: So you said if I get some Percocet from Zuransky you'll hit the bank with me tomorrow?

Plaintiff: I didn't say tomorrow.

Lofland: That's what you said. Listen, I got it typed in my brain.

Plaintiff: Well, we haven't planned a thing yet, so . . . .

Lofland: I'm ready. (Id. at 10.) None of the information contained in the May 1 Intercept was included in the affidavit of probable cause later filed in support of Plaintiff's arrest.

Another conversation between Plaintiff and Lofland was recorded on May 3, 2006 (the "May 3 Intercept"). During the May 3 Intercept, Plaintiff told Lofland that "I'm scared to death. That's what's up, man. I have to . . . we have to do this. I have no fucking choice." (Pl.'s Resp. to Defs.' Mots. for Summ. J., Ex. O 2.) Plaintiff reiterated the urgency with respect to the Planned Robbery when he later stated to Lofland, "[w]e got to do this today or I'm screwed." (Id. at 5.) During the May 3 Intercept, Plaintiff showed Lofland a folder that he had prepared to use to transport the money obtained during the Planned Robbery. (Id. at ...


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