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Lawrence v. Mattern

February 12, 2010


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



Pending before this Court is a Motion for Summary Judgment filed by Defendant, Officer Mark Mattern ("Mattern") on September 1, 2009. (Doc. 26).For the reasons that follow, the Motion shall be granted.


Plaintiff Eric Lawrence (Mr. Lawrence) initiated the instant action by lodging a Complaint against Officer Mark Mattern ("Mattern" or "Defendant") and Lauren Carney ("Carney") (collectively, the "Defendants") on November 13, 2008 alleging deprivations of their First and Fourth Amendment rights in violation of 28 U.S.C. § 1983. On September 1, 2009, Mattern filed a Motion for Summary Judgment along with a Statement of Undisputed Material Facts. On or about September 4, 2009, the Plaintiff's claims against Carney were discontinued and ended. (Doc. 23). On September 16, 2009, Mattern filed a Brief in Support of the September 1, 2009 Motion. (Doc. 25). On September 17, 2009, Mattern amended the September 1, 2009 Motion by filing the instant Motion. (Doc. 26). Subsequently, Mr. Lawrence filed a Counterstatement of Material Facts and a Brief in Opposition to the Motion. (Docs. 35, 36). Having been fully briefed, the Motion is ready for disposition.


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.


On November 8, 2006, Judge Kleinfelter of the Court of Common Pleas of Dauphin County entered a Temporary Protection from Abuse Order (The "PFA") naming as Plaintiff Mrs. Lawrence on behalf of her minor children, Genesis Bordner and Joshua Bordner. (Doc. 21-2 p. 7). The PFA provided that the said minors were shielded from any abuse or harassment by Mr. Lawrence. (Id.). On November 17, 2006, a hearing on the merits took place. Although Mr. Lawrence was not present, he was represented by Attorney Erb. (Doc. 1 ¶ 14). An order of the Court was entered on November 17, 2006 memorializing certain agreements reached at the hearing. (Doc. 21-2) (the "Order").

According to the Order, Mrs. Lawrence was granted exclusive possession of the marital residence as of November 20, 2006. (Id. ¶ 2). In addition, the Order provided that if Mr. Lawrence desired any article of personal property from the home, "he must make that request through his attorney," who shall in turn communicate with Mrs. Lawrence's attorney. (Id. ¶ 3).

On November 17, 2006, subsequent to the Hearing, Mr. Lawrence returned to the marital residence and discovered that Mrs. Lawrence had taken a number of things that did not belong to her. (Doc. 1 ¶ 16). He then called Attorney Erb, who made a list of these items. (Doc. 1 ¶ 16). Later that day, Mr. Lawrence received a call from Attorney Erb who, per the instructions of Mrs. Lawrence's attorney, told him to contact Mrs. Lawrence at Carney's house, the place she was residing. (Id. ¶ 17). Consequently, Mr. Lawrence phoned the residence of Carney looking to speak with Mrs. Lawrence. (Id. ¶ 19). Carney answered the phone and told Plaintiff that he was not allowed to call the residence per the PFA. Mr. Lawrence explained that he was under the impression that the PFA had been dropped and that he had permission to call Mrs. Lawrence.*fn1 (Id. ¶ 20).

Carney phoned the police to inform them of her belief that Mr. Lawrence had violated the PFA. Mattern responded to the call and investigated the scene at the scene of the Carney residence. (Doc. 21-2 p. 84). At that time, Carney and Mrs. Lawrence told Mattern that they believed the PFA had been violated. Carney asked Mattern to look at her home telephone to confirm that Mr. Lawrence's number was present on the caller ID system. (Doc. 21-2 p. 111). Mattern looked at the PFA, both physically and through the Commonwealth Law Enforcement System Assistance Network (CLEAN), and confirmed that it was still in effect. Accordingly, Mattern filed a complaint and incident report requesting a warrant for the PFA violation. After the warrant was signed, Mattern arrested Mr. Lawrence at his residence. Following this incident, it was determined that there was no basis for arresting Mr. Lawrence and ...

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