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Crock v. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania

March 8, 2010


The opinion of the court was delivered by: David Stewart Cercone United States District Judge

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Plaintiff, Thomas D. Crock ("Plaintiff" or "Crock") filed a 5 count complaint, pro se, against Commonwealth of Pennsylvania (the "Commonwealth"), the Pennsylvania State Police ("PSP"), and Troopers James Burger ("Burger"), Timothy Morando ("Morando"), Bernard Novak (Novak"), and Gary Thompson (Thompson")(collectively "Defendants"), alleging (1) excessive force, (2) malicious prosecution; (3) false arrest or imprisonment; (4) assault; and (5) intentional infliction of emotional distress. The Defendants have filed a motion for summary judgment, Crock has responded and the matter is now before the Court.

In support of their motion for summary judgment, Defendants filed a Statement of Undisputed Facts. The Local Rules of the United States District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania require that Plaintiff file a responsive "concise statement which responds to each numbered paragraph in the moving party's [statement of facts] by . . . admitting or denying whether each fact contained [in the movant's statement of facts] . . . is undisputed and/or material . . . setting forth the basis for the denial if any fact . . . is not admitted in its entirety, with appropriate reference to the record . . ." See L.R. 56.1(C)(1)(a) & (b). Plaintiff's response in this instance consists of a word for word replica of Defendants' statement, with the either "Dispt'.", "??", or "I/R" placed next to selected numbered paragraphs, and several references to Document 49 of the docket. Plaintiff sets forth no basis for any of denial of a fact, and also fails to reference the record for each such denial.

Under our Local Rules. material facts set forth in a moving party's statement of facts will be deemed admitted for the purpose of deciding the motion for summary judgment "unless specifically denied or otherwise controverted by a separate concise statement of the opposing party." See L.R. 56.1(E). Though this Court must give certain latitude to a pro se litigant, it is not for the Court to sort through the entire record to determine the basis of an alleged disputed fact.


On September 1, 2005, Trooper Morando was dispatched to a house in response to a burglar alarm. Defendants' Statement of Undisputed Facts ("Def. SUF") ¶ 1. At the house, Morando saw a basement window on the north side of the residence that appeared to have been pried open. Def. SUF ¶ 2. The trooper saw that the front door of the residence was open and that several items were sitting on the porch. Def. SUF ¶ 5. Morando walked into the residence and observed a white male, who identified himself as Thomas Duff Crock, going through a desk. Def. SUF ¶¶ 7 & 8. Crock was the only person in the house and he was not the owner of the house. Def. SUF ¶¶ 10 & 11. Crock did not have the code to turn off the alarm system at the residence. Def. SUF ¶ 12.

Morando asked Crock to exit the residence, and once outside, Crock became confrontational. Def. SUF ¶¶ 13 & 15. Morando requested back-up, and Corporal Burger arrived on the scene. Def. SUF ¶¶ 17 & 18. Crock was then placed in handcuffs. Def. SUF ¶ 18. The PSP Incident Report indicates that, while in handcuffs, Crock attempted to either strike or head butt Burger several times. Def. SUF ¶ 19. Crock was physically restrained, placed inside a marked state police car and transported to the PSP barracks in Butler. Def. SUF ¶ 21. Crock was charged with disorderly conduct, a violation of 18 Pa. Cons. Stat. Ann. § 5503*fn1 . Def. SUF ¶ 27.

On September 2, 2005, Crock went to the PSP barracks at Butler; he drove a green Pontiac sedan and was the only occupant of the vehicle. Def. SUF ¶¶ 29 & 31. Sergeant Thompson was the patrol shift supervisor, and he observed Crock's vehicle outside of the barracks. Def. SUF ¶¶ 31 & 37. Two days later, Thompson ran Crock's license, learned his driving privileges had been suspended, and issued him a citation for driving under suspension. Def. SUF ¶ 33..


Pursuant to FED. R. CIV. P 56(c), summary judgment shall be granted when there are no genuine issues of material fact in dispute and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. To support denial of summary judgment, an issue of fact in dispute must be both genuine and material, i.e., one upon which a reasonable fact finder could base a verdict for the non-moving party and one which is essential to establishing the claim. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). When considering a motion for summary judgment, the court is not permitted to weigh the evidence or to make credibility determinations, but is limited to deciding whether there are any disputed issues and, if there are, whether they are both genuine and material. Id. The court's consideration of the facts must be in the light most favorable to the party opposing summary judgment and all reasonable inferences from the facts must be drawn in favor of that party as well. Whiteland Woods, L.P. v. Township of West Whiteland, 193 F.3d 177, 180 (3d Cir. 1999), Tigg Corp. v. Dow Corning Corp., 822 F.2d 358, 361 (3d Cir. 1987).

When the moving party has carried its burden under Rule 56(c), its opponent must do more than simply show that there is some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts. See Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986). In the language of the Rule, the nonmoving party must come forward with "specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial." FED. R. CIV. P 56(e). Further, the nonmoving party cannot rely on unsupported assertions, conclusory allegations, or mere suspicions in attempting to survive a summary judgment motion. Williams v. Borough of W. Chester, 891 F.2d 458, 460 (3d Cir.1989) (citing Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 325 (1986)). The non-moving party must respond "by pointing to sufficient cognizable evidence to create material issues of fact concerning every element as to which the non-moving party will bear the burden of proof at trial." Simpson v. Kay Jewelers, Div. Of Sterling, Inc., 142 F. 3d 639, 643 n. 3 (3d Cir. 1998), quoting Fuentes v. Perskie, 32 F.3d 759, ...

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