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Shakur D. Gannaway v. Nicholas Karetas

March 30, 2011


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



Pro Se Plaintiff Shakur D. Gannaway ("Plaintiff" or "Gannaway") initiated the instant action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the Borough City of Reading, the Borough of City of West Reading and individual law enforcement Officers Nicholas Karetas, Matthew Beighley, Joseph M. Brown, and Christopher Dinger. Plaintiff filed an amended complaint purporting to add additional Defendants, including two civilians, as well as additional law enforcement. After filing the amended complaint, the Court issued upon Plaintiff a rule to show cause as to why these extra Defendants were added without leave of the Court. The Rule was granted, and the additional parties were dismissed.

Plaintiff alleges that his Fourth Amendment Right to be free from unreasonable seizures was violated when officers tackled him upon effectuating an arrest. For the reasons set forth below, the Court will grant Defendants' motion for summary judgment.


Plaintiff's excessive force claim stems from officers' arrest of Plaintiff on May 25, 2009. (Pl.'s Dep. at 37:19-21.) On that date, officers received a radio call reporting an armed robbery at a Lukoil. Officer Chris Dinger chased the car suspected to be carrying the perpetrators of the armed robbery, and Plaintiff was a passenger in this vehicle. (Id. at 39:3-21.) This vehicle led officers on a chase, but it eventually stopped upon hitting two parked cars. (Id. at 40:9-22.) After the accident, Plaintiff jumped out the window of the car because he was unable to open the door. (Id. at 42:13-14.) Plaintiff ran from police until a minivan, driven by civilians, cut him off and made him lose his balance. (Id. at 42:17-20.) At this point, Plaintiff began falling and a police officer tackled Plaintiff.*fn1 (Id. at 43:6-9.)

Plaintiff states that when he was tackled, he fell on his face and knees. (Id. at 61:10-14.) Plaintiff recalls scraping his face and cracking his tooth. (Id. at 64:18-23.) Also, when falling, he hit his shoulder on nearby steps. (Id. at 79:2-6.) Once Plaintiff was down, he explained that "three or four of them" were "holding [his] arms down on the ground." (Id. at 47:19-24.) Plaintiff goes on to state that he "know[s] for a fact it was three or four people . . . on top of [him] even when he was in handcuffs." (Id. at 49:8-15.) Plaintiff claims that when the officers were holding him down, one officer had his knee on Plaintiff's back thus causing back pains and re-injuring his back from a previous accident. (Id. at 73:3-9.) Additionally, later in his deposition, Plaintiff states that there were fifteen or sixteen officers around him holding tasers. (Id. at 56:9-12.)

Once officers had Plaintiff under control they took him to West Reading Hospital. (Id. at 80:7-10.) Plaintiff was then detained and, on May 26, 2010, a jury found Defendant guilty of charges related to the robbery to which the officers were responding on the day of the arrest.

On June 1, 2010, Defendants were instructed to depose Plaintiff. Shortly after Defendants deposed Plaintiff, they filed their motion for summary judgment, and the Court held a telephone conference to determine if Plaintiff needed additional discovery. On January 11, 2011, Plaintiff filed a response to Defendants' motion for summary judgment. Defendants' motion is now ripe for review.


Defendants bring a Motion for Summary Judgment, arguing that Plaintiff's claim fails as a matter of law. Defendants argue that, pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c), Plaintiff's claim cannot survive summary judgment because he was not deprived of a constitutional right. The Court will address the relevant legal standards. Next, taking the facts in the light most favorable to the Plaintiff, the Court will address Plaintiff's claim.

A. Summary Judgment Standard

Summary judgment is appropriate if there are no genuine issues of material fact and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(a). "A motion for summary judgment will not be defeated by 'the mere existence' of some disputed facts, but will be denied when there is a genuine issue of material fact." Am. Eagle Outfitters v. Lyle & Scott Ltd., 584 F.3d 575, 581 (3d Cir. 2009) (quoting Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 247-48 (1986)). A fact is "material" if proof of its existence or non-existence might affect the outcome of the litigation, and a dispute is "genuine" if "the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party." Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248.

In undertaking this analysis, the court views the facts in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party. "After making all reasonable inferences in the nonmoving party's favor, there is a genuine issue of material fact if a reasonable jury could find for the nonmoving party." Pignataro v. Port Auth. of N.Y. & N.J., 593 F.3d 265, 268 ...

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