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.

Christopher Washington v. Detective Leo Hanshaw

December 12, 2012

CHRISTOPHER WASHINGTON
v.
DETECTIVE LEO HANSHAW, ET AL.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Elizabeth T. Hey, U.S.M.J.*fn1

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

In this civil rights action, Plaintiff alleges that Upper Darby Township and three of its police officers -- Detective Leo Hanshaw, Detective William Kane, and Officer Steven O'Connor -- violated his constitutional rights on February 23, 2005, when they took him into custody without probable cause and then provided false information about the arrest during criminal proceedings. Presently before the court is Defendants' motion for judgment on the pleadings and renewed motion for summary judgment. See Doc. 37. For the reasons that follow, I will grant Defendants' motions and enter judgment in favor of Defendants and against Plaintiff.

I. RELEVANT FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

The relevant facts are set forth in Judge McLaughlin's May 11, 2012, memorandum opinion on Defendants' prior summary judgment motion. See Doc. 30. For present purposes, suffice it to say that on the evening of February 23, 2005, as part of their search for a robbery suspect, Defendant police officers stopped Plaintiff as he walked along North Keystone Street in Upper Darby, ordered him to the ground, handcuffed him and conducted a pat-down search, and transported him to police headquarters after failing to confirm his identity. They subsequently charged him with drug-related offenses related to a quantity of drugs that he took out of his coat and left in the back of the police car, as well as giving a false name to law enforcement officers. The parties dispute whether the officers knew that Plaintiff was not the robbery suspect when they transported him to police headquarters.

Plaintiff went to trial on May 3, 2006, and on the following day was convicted on all charges except possession with intent to deliver, a charge upon which the jury could not reach a verdict. Plaintiff's second trial ran from July 26, 2006, to July 27, 2006, at which time he was convicted of the remaining charge and sentenced to 3 to 6 years' imprisonment. The state trial court denied Plaintiff's motion to suppress the drug evidence, finding that there was probable cause to arrest Plaintiff as part of the robbery investigation based on Officer Hanshaw's testimony at a suppression hearing that the officers were unable to rule out Plaintiff as the robbery suspect.

On October 2, 2008, the Pennsylvania Superior Court reversed the lower court and vacated Plaintiff's sentence. The Superior Court held that the officers lacked probable cause to arrest Plaintiff, based on Officer Hanshaw's testimony at trial that he knew Plaintiff was not the robbery suspect before he was taken into custody, and further held that probable cause was not created when the officers suspected Plaintiff may have lied about his identity.*fn2 As a result, the Superior Court held that the arrest was unlawful, suppressed the drugs found in the police car, and ordered Plaintiff to be discharged. The Commonwealth did not seek review of the Superior Court's ruling.

Plaintiff initiated this case by filing a writ of summons on October 1, 2010, in the Delaware County Court of Common Pleas, asserting a section 1983 claim for violation of constitutional rights against the officers individually, and also against the Township under Monell. *fn3 See Doc. 1 (Complaint). Plaintiff conceded in the Complaint that he was "not innocent" of the drug charges. See Doc. 1 at ¶ 30. Defendants removed the matter to federal court and on February 22, 2011, filed an Answer and Affirmative Defenses, including the affirmative defense of time-bar. See Doc. 6.

On November 30, 2011, Defendants filed a motion for summary judgment, arguing qualified immunity barred the claim against the officers individually, and that there was no basis in the record for municipal liability under Monell. See Doc. 17. Plaintiff moved to withdraw his claim of malicious prosecution, acknowledging that it could not survive because he was not innocent of the drug offenses, and Judge McLaughlin granted the motion. See Docs. 27 & 28. On May 11, 2012, Judge McLaughin denied the motion for summary judgment as to the claim of false arrest against the officers, finding a question of material fact as to whether the officers had probable cause to arrest Defendant. Judge McLaughlin denied the motion without prejudice as to the Monell claim, stating the Defendants could renew their Monell argument "later in the case." See Doc. 30.

On October 23, 2012, Defendants filed the present motion for judgment on the pleadings and renewed motion for summary judgment, arguing that the claim against the officers should be dismissed as untimely, and renewing the argument that there is no basis in the record for Monell liability. See Doc. 37. Plaintiff filed a response to the motion, Defendants filed a reply, and Plaintiff filed a sur-reply. See Docs. 43-45. On December 7, 2012, I held oral argument on the motion.

II. LEGAL STANDARDS

Motions for judgment on the pleadings are governed by Rule 12(c) of the Federal

Rules of Civil Procedure, which provides that such a motion may be filed once the pleadings are closed and "within such time as to not delay the trial." The standard of review is identical to that of a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), which concerns a failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. Turbe v. Gov't of Virgin Islands, 938 F.2d 427, 428 (3d Cir. 1991). The only difference is that in a motion for judgment on the pleadings, the court may review not only the complaint, but also the answer and any written instruments and exhibits attached to the pleadings. See Phillips v. Transunion, No. 12-cv-1058, 2012 WL 1439088, at *3 (E.D. Pa. Apr. 25, 2012) (Surrick, J.) (citing Sprague v. Neil, No. 05-cv-1605, 2007 WL 3085604, at *2 (M.D. Pa. Oct. 19, 2007)).

A moving party is entitled to summary judgment "if the movant shows that there is no genuine issue of material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(a). An issue is "genuine" if the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the non-moving party. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). A factual dispute is "material" if it might affect the outcome of the case under governing law. Id.

"A party asserting that a fact cannot be or is genuinely disputed must support the assertion by . . . citing to particular parts of materials in the record . . . or showing that the materials cited do not establish the absence or presence of a genuine dispute. . . ." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c)(1). "Speculation, conclusory allegations, and mere denials are insufficient to raise genuine issues of material fact." Boykins v. Lucent Techs., Inc., 78 F.Supp.2d 402, 408 (E.D. Pa. 2000). The evidence presented must be viewed in the ...


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.