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Clarissa Quintana, and Hazel Rosario v. City of Philadelphia

July 20, 2011

CLARISSA QUINTANA, AND HAZEL ROSARIO, PLAINTIFFS,
v.
CITY OF PHILADELPHIA, ET AL. DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: L.FELIPE Restrepo Unitedstates Magistratejudge

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

On November 8, 2010, Plaintiffs Clarissa Quintana and Hazel Rosario filed a complaint against a number of individual City of Philadelphia police officers, alleging civil rights violations, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, and a number of pendent state law claims. Plaintiffs also assert a claim against the City of Philadelphia, contending that the City had a policy, practice or custom of allowing officers to violate citizen's constitutional rights. Before the Court is Defendant City of Philadelphia's Motion for Summary Judgment and Statement of Undisputed Facts (Doc. 10) (hereinafter cited as "Def.'s Memo" and "Def.'s Facts"), Plaintiffs' response thereto (Docs. 12, 13) (hereinafter cited as "Pls.' Resp."), and Defendant's reply (Doc. 14). For the reasons set forth below, Defendant's Motion will be granted.

I.BACKGROUND*fn1

Plaintiffs allege that at approximately 2:30 a.m. on February 14, 2009, they were present on the 4500 block of North Fifth Street in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, intending to pick up Chinese food that they had ordered. (Pls.' Resp. 1-2.) A crowd had gathered around a man, who appeared to Plaintiffs to be injured upon their arrival at the scene. (Id. at 2.) Two men then attempted to help the injured individual across the street, and Plaintiffs assisted by clearing a path through the crowd. (Id.) Several Philadelphia police officers, who were present at the scene, then approached Plaintiffs and began engaging them in a verbal exchange. (Id.) Plaintiffs assert that this exchange was followed immediately by a physical assault on them, which was instigated by the officers. (Id.) Police records indicate that Officer Lynch struck Ms. Quintana in the face with a closed fist and Officer Judge tasered her. Records also show that Officer Pagan struck Ms. Rosario in the arm and head with a police baton. (Def.'s Memo, Ex. A.) Defendant City of Philadelphia does not dispute that Defendant Officers Lynch and Judge used physical force upon Ms. Quintana, or that Officer Pagan used physical force upon Ms. Rosario on the night of February 14, 2009. (Def.'s Facts 1.)

Ms. Rosario received medical treatment for her injuries; specifically, she received six staples to close a wound on her head. (Pls.' Resp. 3.) Ms. Quintana refused medical treatment. (Id.) Both Plaintiffs were later charged criminally with criminal conspiracy, aggravated assault, simple assault, and reckless endangerment. (Def.'s Facts 1-2; Pls.' Resp. 3.) To date, charges against Ms. Quintana remain open, but charges against Ms. Rosario have been dismissed. (Def.'s Facts 2; Pls.' Resp. 3.)

Plaintiffs' Complaint, filed on November 8, 2010, names as individual defendants Officers William Lynch, Jason Judge, and Floiran Pagan. Plaintiff also names the City of Philadelphia as a defendant in this matter and asserts a claim of municipal liability, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. (Pls.' Compl. 2, 4.) Specifically, Plaintiffs make the following allegations against the City of Philadelphia:

(1) Defendant City of Philadelphia, as a matter of policy, practice and/or custom, has with deliberate indifference failed to adequately discipline, train and otherwise direct police officers and actually condones illegal and excessive force, including defendant police officers in this case.

(2) Defendant City of Philadelphia, as a matter of policy, practice and/or custom, has with deliberate indifference failed to properly sanction or discipline police officers, including defendant officers thereby causing police officers to engage in conduct described above.

(3) Defendant City of Philadelphia, as a matter of policy, practice and/or custom, has with deliberate indifference failed to conduct proper and balanced investigations of complaints of unreasonable use of force and excessive use of force against civilians by police officers, thereby causing and encouraging police officers, including defendant officers in this case, to engage in the unlawful conduct described above.

(4) The acts and omissions of the City of Philadelphia, by and through high ranking officials of the Police Department, constitute institutional deliberate indifference and led directly to the unlawful assaults and batteries and torts described above. (Pls.' Compl. 4 ¶¶ 16-19.) Defendant moves for summary judgment on Plaintiffs' claim for municipal liability on the grounds that Plaintiffs have produced insufficient evidence to show that the City of Philadelphia, through custom, policy, or practice, exhibited deliberate indifference to the constitutional rights of Plaintiffs. (Def.'s Memo 1.) Plaintiffs contend that they have presented sufficient factual and expert evidence to show that genuine issues of material fact remain as to the customs and practices of the Philadelphia Police Department that resulted in Plaintiffs' injuries. (Pls.' Resp. 1.)

II.LEGAL STANDARD

Summary judgment is appropriately granted only where the moving party establishes that "there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c); Levy v. Sterling Holding Co., 544 F.3d 493, 501 (3d Cir. 2008). Only a factual dispute that is both genuine and material will defeat a motion for summary judgment. See Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 247-48 (1986). A factual dispute can be considered "genuine" if the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could possibly return a verdict for the non-moving party. See id. A dispute can be considered "material" if it would affect the outcome of the matter under governing substantive law. Id.

The party moving for summary judgment bears the initial burden to demonstrate that there are no facts on record that support the non-moving party's position. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322-24 (1986). If the moving party satisfies this burden, the non-moving party must then present specific facts showing the existence of a genuine issue for trial. Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586-87 (1986). At this stage, the non-moving party "must do more than simply show that there is some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts." Scott v. Harris, 550 U.S. 372, 380 (2007) (quoting Matsushita, 475 U.S. at 586-87 (1986)). The non-moving party must put forward specific facts that show a genuine issue for trial and it cannot rest upon the mere allegations or denials contained in its pleadings. Marten v. Godwin, 499 F.3d 290, 294-95 (3d Cir. 2007). At the summary judgment stage, the ...


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