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Adranih Ernay, Adrian Ernay, Wendell Wesley, Otis Ragland, and Linda Faust v. Chris Swatski and John Does #1 Through #6

July 22, 2011

ADRANIH ERNAY, ADRIAN ERNAY, WENDELL WESLEY, OTIS RAGLAND, AND LINDA FAUST,
PLAINTIFFS,
v.
CHRIS SWATSKI AND JOHN DOES #1 THROUGH #6, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: DuBOIS, J.

MEMORANDUM

I. INTRODUCTION

This case arises out of the March 18, 2008 search of plaintiffs‟ apartments by defendant Chris Swatski and six agents of the Pennsylvania Board of Probation and Parole ("PBPP"), identified in the Complaint as John Does #1 through #6. Plaintiffs assert claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging violations of their Fourth Amendment rights based on: (1) defendants‟ entry into and search of their apartments, and (2) defendants Swatski, John Doe #1, and John Doe #2‟s alleged use of excessive force against plaintiffs Adrian Ernay, Wendell Wesley, and Otis Ragland.

Presently before the Court is Defendant Swatski‟s Motion for Summary Judgment. Swatski argues that the John Doe defendants should be dismissed and that the motion for summary judgment should be granted as to all claims. For the reasons that follow, the Court grants Swatski‟s motion in part and denies it in part.

II. BACKGROUND*fn1

A.Investigation and Preparation for Search for Keene

In March 2008, PBPP agent Todd H. Childs performed a fugitive investigation for Jesse James Keene, a parolee who had absconded from a halfway house in Chester, Pennsylvania. (Def.‟s Stmt. of Facts ¶¶ 3-4; Pl.‟s Stmt. of Facts ¶¶ 3-4.) Childs prepared a briefing packet, which states that Keene absconded from the halfway house in Chester and that he had a history of "assault" and "escape." (Def.‟s Stmt. of Facts ¶ 6; Pl.‟s Stmt. of Facts ¶ 6; Def.‟s Mot. for Summ. J., Ex. 1.) The packet lists Stephanie Leland as Keene‟s spouse; lists 1004 Wagontown Road, Coatesville, Pennsylvania as Leland‟s place of residence; and notes that it is a possible address with which Keene was associated from June 2006 to March 2008. (Id.; Def.‟s Mot. for Summ. J., Ex. 4.)

During a briefing at the PBPP Chester District Office on the morning of March 18, 2008, PBPP agent Patrick R. Oldring distributed copies of the briefing packet to a group of agents, including defendant Swatski, a PBPP supervisor. (Def.‟s Stmt. of Facts ¶¶ 1, 8; Pl.‟s Stmt. of Facts ¶¶ 1, 8.) Swatski gave the packet a "cursory review." (Swatski Dep. at 111.)

B.The Search for Keene at 1004 Wagontown Road

A team of PBPP agents arrived at 1004 Wagontown Road shortly before day break on March 18, 2008. (Def.‟s Stmt. of Facts ¶ 10; Pl.‟s Stmt. of Facts ¶ 10.) The building is a duplex with two apartments-Unit A and Unit B. (Def.‟s Stmt. of Facts ¶ 11; Pl.‟s Stmt. of Facts ¶ 11.)

Plaintiff Linda Faust resided in Unit A, while plaintiff Adranih Ernay resided in Unit B with her two sons, plaintiffs Wendell Wesley, age 22, and Adrian Ernay, age 18. (Def.‟s Stmt. of Facts ¶¶ 12-13; Pl.‟s Stmt. of Facts ¶¶ 12-13.) Plaintiff Otis Ragland, age 17, was staying in Unit B as an overnight guest when agents arrived at the property. (Id.)

Viewed facing the front of the house, Unit A is on the left and Unit B is on the right. (Def.‟s Stmt. of Facts ¶ 11; Pl.‟s Stmt. of Facts ¶ 11.) Each unit has a front door facing a shared front porch and the road. (Id.) Steps along each side of the house lead to a rear side door that leads to a shared laundry room. (Id.) The laundry room itself has two interior doors, each of which opens into the kitchen of each unit. (Id.)

Swatski supervised the search for Keene at 1004 Wagontown Road. (Swatski Dep. at 61-63.) Swatski did not know whether Keene was suspected to be in Unit A or B. (Def.‟s Stmt. of Facts ¶ 14; Pl.‟s Stmt. of Facts ¶ 14.) Upon arrival at the property, several agents covered the sides and rear of the house, while other agents were stationed on the porch-one group in front of Unit A, and another in front of Unit B. (Id.) Swatski knocked and announced on the door of Unit B, while Oldring and another agent knocked and announced on the door of Unit A. (Def.‟s Stmt. of Facts ¶ 15; Pl.‟s Stmt. of Facts ¶ 15.)

C.Agents' First Entry Into Unit A

Upon hearing the agents‟ knocks, Faust opened the door to Unit A. (Def.‟s Stmt. of Facts

¶ 16; Pl.‟s Stmt. of Facts ¶ 16.) Agents asked Faust whether she was Leland. (Faust Dep. at 84.) Faust asserts that, without asking for permission to enter her apartment, two or three agents then walked through the doorway, forcing her to step backwards into her apartment. (Id. at 60-62, 84.) The agents showed her a photo of Keene and asked whether she knew him. (Id. at 60-61, 63.) One of the agents also asked who lived in Unit B. (Faust Dep. at 66.) Faust replied that her cousin, Adranih Ernay, lived in Unit B. (Id.)

D.Agents' Second Entry Into Unit A

Agents then proceeded to knock on the door of Unit B. (Id. at 67-69.) Faust stepped outside onto the porch, warning agents not to knock on the door because doing so might frighten Adranih Ernay. (Id.) Faust stated that she would try to wake Adranih Ernay by knocking on the interior door connecting the shared laundry room to Unit B. (Id. at 69-70.) Three or four agents followed Faust through her apartment to the laundry room. (Def.‟s Stmt. of Facts ¶ 19; Pl.‟s Stmt. of Facts ¶ 19.) Faust contends that she never consented to the agents‟ second entry into her home. (Faust Dep. at 129-30.)

During the agents‟ first and second entries into Unit A, Swatski remained on the porch in front of Unit B. (Def.‟s Stmt. of Facts ¶ 20; Pl.‟s Stmt. of Facts ¶ 20.) Swatski observed the agents‟ entries into Unit A, although he asserts that he could not hear ...


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