Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Latrice Milbourne, Plaintiff v. Ronald Baker

May 23, 2012

LATRICE MILBOURNE, PLAINTIFF,
v.
RONALD BAKER, BADGE # 6446; JUSTIN MONTGOMERY, BADGE # 9236; CITY OF PHILADELPHIA POLICE DEPARTMENT; CITY OF PHILADELPHIA; ALBERT G. HITE, DEFENDANTS.



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

MEMORANDUM TABLE OF CONTENTS

I. INTRODUCTION ..................................................................................................................... 3

II. BACKGROUND ...................................................................................................................... 3

A. The Altercation at the Sunoco Store .................................................................................. 3

B. The Investigation of the Alleged Assault ............................................................................ 4

C. The Surveillance Video ........................................................................................................ 5

D. Arrest and Prosecution of Plaintiff..................................................................................... 5

III. LEGAL STANDARD ............................................................................................................. 7

IV. DISCUSSION .......................................................................................................................... 7

A. Claims Against the City of Philadelphia Police Department ........................................... 9

B. "Official Capacity" Claims .................................................................................................. 9

C. Count I-State Law Claim for Unlawful Arrest ............................................................... 9

1. Claim Against the City of Philadelphia .......................................................................... 9

2. Individual-Capacity Claim Against Detective Montgomery....................................... 10

a. Political Subdivision Tort Claims Act ....................................................................... 11

b. Warrantless Arrest of Plaintiff .................................................................................. 12

3. Conclusion ....................................................................................................................... 16

D. Count II-Section 1983 Claim for Illegal Seizure........................................................... 17

1. Fourth Amendment Reasonableness Standard ............................................................ 17

2. Qualified Immunity ........................................................................................................ 19

3. Conclusion ....................................................................................................................... 21

E. Count IV-Malicious Prosecution .................................................................................... 22

1. Malicious Prosecution Under the United States Constitution .................................... 22

a. Initiation of a Criminal Proceeding........................................................................... 23

2. Malicious Prosecution Under Pennsylvania Law ........................................................ 24

a. First Element-Initiation of a Criminal Proceeding ............................................... 25

b. Second Element-Criminal Proceedings Ended in Plaintiff's Favor .................... 26

c. Third Element-Probable Cause............................................................................... 27

d. Fourth Element-Malice............................................................................................ 28

e. Conclusion .................................................................................................................... 29

F. Count III-Civil Conspiracy ............................................................................................. 29

G. Count V-Claims Against the City of Philadelphia ....................................................... 31

V. CONCLUSION....................................................................................................................... 31

I. INTRODUCTION

This is a civil rights case. Plaintiff Latrice Milbourne filed an Amended Complaint against Officer Ronald Baker, Officer Albert Hite, and Detective Justin Montgomery of the Philadelphia Police Department; the City of Philadelphia Police Department; and the City of Philadelphia arising out of her arrest and prosecution for simple assault, recklessly endangering another person, and harassment. In the Amended Complaint, plaintiff asserts claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for violations of her Fourth Amendment rights and state-law claims for false arrest and malicious prosecution.

Plaintiff and defendants have both filed motions for summary judgment. For the reasons that follow, the Court grants in part and denies in part Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment*fn1 and denies Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment.

II. BACKGROUND

A. The Altercation at the Sunoco Store

The facts of this case center on a physical altercation that took place some time between 3:30 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. on March 20, 2009, between plaintiff, a black female, and Nichole Lundell, a white female who is not a party to this case. According to plaintiff, Ms. Lundell shouted a racial slur at her as plaintiff was filling her car with gasoline at the gasoline pump outside the Sunoco A-Plus convenience store ("Sunoco Store" or "Store") at 2360 Penrose Avenue in Philadelphia. (Am. Compl. 4.) Plaintiff alleges that when she entered the Store, Ms. Lundell confronted her with more racial slurs, "and when [p]laintiff tried to respond, [Ms. Lundell] started punching and hitting her, continuing to [use racial slurs]." (Id. 4--5.)

Ms. Lundell told the police a different story. She stated that she and plaintiff had a verbal altercation at the gasoline pump area outside the Sunoco Store involving a traffic dispute. (Arrest Report, Defs.' Mot. Summ. J. Ex. C, at 15.) According to Ms. Lundell, plaintiff followed her into the Store, continued the verbal altercation, and began punching and kicking her. (Id.)

B. The Investigation of the Alleged Assault

Ms. Lundell reported the altercation to Officers Hite and Baker soon after it took place. (Defs.' Statement Undisputed Facts, Defs.' Mot. Summ. J. Ex. A ("Defs.' SOF"), ¶ 1; Incident Report, Defs.' Mot. Summ. J. Ex. C, at 12.) Detective Montgomery*fn2 interviewed Ms. Lundell shortly thereafter. (Detective Justin Montgomery's Answers Objections Pl.'s Interrogs., Defs.' Mot. Summ J. Ex. B, ("Montgomery Answers") at ¶ 5.) During that interview, Ms. Lundell described plaintiff as a black female in her late twenties, approximately five feet, four inches tall, with a thin build, wearing blue jeans, tan boots, and a light-colored jacket. (Defs.' SOF ¶ 2; Investigation Interview Record, Defs.' Mot. Summ. J. Ex. C, at 20--21.)

After interviewing Ms. Lundell, Detective Montgomery went to the Sunoco Store to continue the investigation. (Defs.' SOF ¶ 6) At the same time, plaintiff returned to the Store to find witnesses who would support her account of the altercation. (Id. ¶ 8; Am. Compl. 5.) At the store, Detective Montgomery viewed a surveillance video of the altercation, see infra Section II.C, and verified that plaintiff, whom he saw at the Store, was involved. (Defs.' SOF ¶ 7.) He then approached plaintiff, told her that Ms. Lundell had accused plaintiff of assaulting her, and asked plaintiff to go to the police station. (Id. ¶ 9) Plaintiff acknowledged that she was involived in the altercation and agreed to go to the police station to provide her account. (Id. ¶ 10.) Detective Montgomery summoned Officers Hite and Baker to accompany plaintiff to the station. (Id. ¶¶ 11--12.) Detective Montgomery returned to the station after directing another officer to make a copy of the surveillance video. (Id. ¶¶ 13--14)

C. The Surveillance Video

Defendants attached a copy of the surveillance video to their Motion for Summary Judgment. The video shows Ms. Lundell waiting in line at the Sunoco Store. As Ms. Lundell makes a purchase at the checkout counter, plaintiff enters the store and begins talking to Ms. Lundell. Plaintiff turns to leave, but as she reaches the door, Ms. Lundell turns to her and says something. Plaintiff walks back to Ms. Lundell and a fight starts. It is unclear from the video who struck the first blow and which party, if any, was acting in self-defense. However, the video supports part of Ms. Lundell's ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.