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Beattie v. Mason

April 7, 2010


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge Rambo


Plaintiff Antonio S. Beattie ("Beattie") initiated this action with a civil rights complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 on March 31, 2008, as amended on March 23, 2009. (Doc. 54.) Beattie asserts claims for false arrest and false imprisonment, as well as a construed claim of malicious prosecution. Pending before the court is motion for summary judgment, filed on behalf of Defendants Bernadette Mason*fn1 and Pennsylvania State Trooper Shawn Kofluk. (Doc. 62.) For the reasons set forth below, the motion for summary judgment will be granted.

I. Background

A. Facts

In support of their motion for summary judgment, Defendants have submitted a statement of material facts. (Doc. 64.) In response, Beattie has filed a counter statement of material facts in which he generally objects to Defendants' statement. (See Doc. 66) ("Plaintiff denies all the statements of the defendants in their Statement of Material Facts as distortions and complete lies contradictory to his material facts . . . .") After reviewing the record on summary judgment, the court finds that the record belies Beattie's allegations of "distortions and complete lies," as Beattie has failed to support such allegations with any evidence. As a result, the court will not reject Defendants' statement of material facts; rather, the court will simply note any factual disputes between the parties. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(e)(2) ("an opposing party may not rely merely on allegations or denials in its own pleading; rather, its response must . . . set out specific facts showing a genuine issue for trial.")

Beattie, a convicted sex offender, was incarcerated at the State Correctional Institution at Mahanoy ("SCI-Mahanoy") in Frackville, Pennsylvania, with a maximum sentence date of May 21, 2007. (Doc. 64 ¶¶ 2-3.) As an inmate maxing out on his sentence, Beattie had the responsibility to have appropriate housing upon his release from prison. (Id. ¶ 3.) Defendant Mason, who served as his counselor at SCI-Mahanoy from 2002 to his release date, informed him of this responsibility several times before his release date. (Id. ¶ 3.) Specifically, Beattie filed an inmate request to staff member on February 11, 2007, making the following request: "My maximum release is May 21, 2007 and I need a resident because I am a sex offender. I was hoping you could put me in a halfway house and a sex offender program." (Doc. 64-3, Ex. A, Inmate Request to Staff Member, 7.) In response, Defendant Mason informed Beattie that "[t]he DOC [Department of Corrections] does not provide halfway house placement for inmates that are maxing out their sentences." (Id.) In his counter statement of material facts, Beattie asserts that "[i]t was also the DOC's responsibility to aid him in seeking reasonable housing or temporary shelter until he could fully establish a more certain foundation due to Megan's Law." (Doc. 66 ¶ 1.)

Notwithstanding Beattie's responsibility to find housing upon his maxout release date, Defendant Mason agreed to assist Beattie with placement in a shelter. (Doc. 64 ¶ 4.) She contacted several shelters in Philadelphia; however, because of Beattie's status as a sex offender, these shelters would not agree to house Beattie upon his release. (Id. ¶ 5.) In his counter statement of material facts, Beattie asserts that Defendant Mason did not contact the Ridge Avenue Shelter in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, despite knowing of its willingness to place former inmates there. (Doc. 66 ¶ 2.) As further evidence of Defendant Mason's knowledge of the Ridge Avenue Shelter, Beattie asserts that she knew of a 2003 letter he received from Philadelphia's Office of Emergency Shelter and Services ("OESS"), which notified Beattie of the eligibility requirements for placement in the Ridge Avenue Shelter. (Id.) Beattie asserts that Defendant Mason used this letter to place another inmate, Donald Coles, in that shelter upon his release from prison in 2005. (Id.) This letter from OESS to Beattie, dated May 15, 2003, approximately four years before the date of Beattie's release, states the following:

This letter is to acknowledge receipt of your letter expressing interest in relocating to the Philadelphia Shelter System through the Office of Emergency Shelter and Services (O.E.S.S.), upon release from prison. Due to federal funding guidelines, anyone on state probation or parole is not eligible for services within the Philadelphia Shelter System. You or your counselor should contact your probation/parole officer for a housing plan.

If you are not, or do not expect to be on state probation/parole, you may be considered for services if you meet the following criteria:

Resident of Philadelphia for at least 30 days prior to your incarceration.

Homeless and with no housing resources (money, family, friends, etc.) available upon release.

OESS does not reserve or identify beds in shelter as part of a "home plan." If you meet the criteria above, you may present yourself to one of the following reception sites after release:

Single men to 1360 Ridge Ave. (24-hours a day, 7 days a week)

Single women/families to 141 North Juniper Street (7am to 4pm Monday through Friday) or to 1320 Arch Street, Eliza Shirley House (evenings and weekends). (Doc. 65-2, Ex. M4, OESS 2003 Letter, 17.)

On May 11, 2007, Defendant Mason received the following email from an SCIMahanoy records specialist:

As per our phone conversation today 05-11-07, I will need a forwarding address to register the inmate for Megan's Law on or before Wednesday 05-16-07 as he will maxout on 05-21-07. PLEASE inform the inmate if we do not get an address for registration I must then contact PSP and have them pick up the inmate. (Doc. 64-3, Ex. B, Email, 11.) On May 15, 2007, Defendant Mason received another email from the records specialist, stating the following: "Please forward the inmate's registering address to me this morning so I can process his Megan's Law paperwork. Or if he has no forwarding address please let me know so the Security Office can notify the PSP [Pennsylvania State Police] to make arrangements to have the inmate picked up." (Id.)

On May 16, 2007, an SCI-Mahanoy official emailed Trooper Kofluk to inform him that Beattie was going to be released on May 21, 2007, but had not yet been able to provide DOC officials with a forwarding address, as required by Megan's Law. (Doc. 64 ¶ 6; Doc. 64-3 at 12.) Further, if Beattie could not secure housing upon his release, Trooper Kofluk would be required to arrest him at SCI-Mahanoy. (Id.) Defendant Mason was copied on this email. (Id.)

Another email was sent on May 17, 2007, noting: This inmate will maxout on Monday 05-21-07 he is serving 8Y to 16Y for Rape. I have not registered him under Megan's Law as he cannot provide a forwarding address for the registration forms. I had our Security Captain (Gavin) notify the Frackville PSP barracks to make arrangements for pick up on Monday. I'm just giving your unit {PSP Megan's Law} [sic] a notification should I get a last minute forwarding address for registration. (Id. at 10.) Defendant Mason was copied on this email. (Id.)

Shortly before Beattie's maxout date, Defendant Mason contacted Prison Society in an attempt to locate a residence for Beattie. (Doc. 64 ¶ 7.) In response, Prison Society forwarded an application for consideration of Beattie's placement in the New Person Center in Reading, Pennsylvania. (Id. ¶ 8.) Beattie would have been charged with a small monthly fee for placement in this facility. (Id. ¶ 10.) On May 19, 2007, Beattie met with John Rush, a Prison Society member and the Executive Director of Justice and Mercy, Inc., which owns the New Person Center, to determine if he was eligible for the facility. (Id. ¶ 9.) However, Beattie refused to be placed in the facility because of the monthly fee and a religious issue. (Id. ¶ 10; Doc. 64-3 at 9.) In his counter statement of material facts, Beattie states that it is irrelevant that he declined placement in the New Person Center because "he made it clear that the shelter in Philadelphia at Ridge Avenue would accept him." (Doc. 66 ¶ 2.) However, Defendant Mason asserts that at no time prior to his release did Beattie tell Defendant Mason that he had a place to stay in Philadelphia or elsewhere. (Doc. 64 ¶ 11.) Had Beattie provided Defendant Mason with a verifiable address, she would have noted it on the Megan's Law registration prior to his release. (Id.) Nevertheless, Defendant Mason continued her efforts to find housing for Beattie until his release date. (Id. ¶ 12.)

On May 21, 2007, Beattie was released from SCI-Mahanoy after serving his maximum sentence. (Id. ¶ 13.) In his counter statement of facts, Beattie asserts that he was accepted at the Ridge Avenue Shelter prior to his release. (Doc. 66 ¶ 3.) However, there is nothing in the record supporting this assertion. Rather, Defendants assert that upon Beattie's release date, he did not have a place to live. (Doc. 64 ¶ 14.)

As a result, Beattie was unable to complete the Megan's Law registration and thus was in violation of Megan's Law upon his release. (Id.)

An SCI-Mahanoy employee contacted Trooper Kofluk on May 21, 2007 to inform PSP of Beattie's release and that he was unable to complete the Megan's Law registration due to a lack of a verifiable address.*fn2 (Id. ¶¶ 14-15.) In turn, Trooper Kofluk confirmed with SCI-Mahanoy and PSP's Megan's Law section that Beattie was required to register under Megan's Law and that his failure to do so was a violation of Section 4915 of Megan's Law. (Id. ¶ 16.) Trooper Kofluk also contacted the Schuylkill County District Attorney's Office, who advised him that charges should be filed against Beattie for the violation. (Id.) Trooper Kofluk also completed a criminal history check on Beattie to verify that he was required to register under Megan's Law and that his failure to provide a verifiable address constituted a ...

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