May 23, 2013
MARK W. POINDEXTER, Plaintiff,
JACKIE MUSTO CARROLL, et al., Defendants.
SUSAN E. SCHWAB, Magistrate Judge.
THE BACKGROUND OF THIS ORDER IS AS FOLLOWS:
This matter is before the Court on the Report and Recommendation ("R&R") of Magistrate Judge Susan E. Schwab (Doc. 108), filed on March 12, 2013, which recommends that Defendants' Motions for Summary Judgment (Docs. 57 and 81) be granted and that pro se Plaintiff Mark W. Poindexter's ("Plaintiff' or "Poindexter") Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. 95) be denied. Objections to the R&R were originally due by March 29, 2013, however Plaintiff was granted two extensions of time to file objections thereto. The May 6, 2013 extended deadline for the filing of Plaintiff's objections has now passed without a filing by Plaintiff. Accordingly, this matter is ripe for disposition. For the reasons set forth below, the Court will adopt the Magistrate Judge's R&R in its entirety and close this case.
I. STANDARD OF REVIEW
When, as here, no objections are made to a magistrate judge's report and recommendation, the district court is not statutorily required to review the report before accepting it. Thomas v. Arn, 474 U.S. 140, 149 (1985). According to the Third Circuit, however, "the better practice is to afford some level of review to dispositive legal issues raised by the report." Henderson v. Carlson, 812 F.2d 874, 878 (3d Cir. 1987). "[T]he court need only satisfy itself that there is no clear error on the face of the record in order to accept the recommendation." Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b), advisory committee notes; see also Henderson, 812 F.2d at 878-79 (stating "the failure of a party to object to a magistrate's legal conclusions may result in the loss of the right to de novo review in the district court"); Tice v. Wilson, 425 F.Supp.2d 676, 680 (W.D. Pa. 2006); Cruz v. Chater, 990 F.Supp. 375-78 (M.D. Pa. 1998); Oldrati v. Apfel, 33 F.Supp.2d 397, 399 (E.D. Pa. 1998). The Court's examination of this case confirms the Magistrate Judge's determinations.
As noted above, within her thorough and well-reasoned 45-page R&R, Magistrate Judge Schwab recommends that Defendants' Motions for Summary Judgment be granted and that Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment be denied. Specifically, the Magistrate Judge concludes that the Defendant parole and police officers are protected by the doctrine of qualified immunity as a matter of law. We agree entirely with the Magistrate Judge's analysis and conclusions, thus we shall only endeavor to briefly summarize the contents of the R&R herein.
The doctrine of qualified immunity protects government officials from liability for their participation in constitutionally impermissible conduct if the officials' actions did not violate clearly established constitutional rights of which a reasonable person would have known." Harlow v. Fitzgerald, 457 U.S. 800, 818 (1982); see also Hope v. Pelzer, 536 U.S. 730, 739 (2002). The Magistrate Judge determined here that, although the state trial judge suppressed drugs and drug paraphernalia as fruit of the poisonous tree resulting from a search conducted in violation of the Fourth Amendment, the Defendants are entitled to qualified immunity because they did not violate Plaintiff's clearly established rights. We agree with the Magistrate Judge that despite the suppression order, the Defendants conduct relative to Plaintiff at the time the search took place was objectively reasonable. Specifically, the parole officer Defendants detained the Plaintiff and other occupants of the home of a parolee for a short period of time while they secured the premises. Then, in response to a sudden movement that suggested that one of the occupants might be trying to hide something, the parole officers executed patdown searches on Poindexter and the other occupants. Before all of the occupants in the premises were secured, the parole officers found a bag of drugs and called the police. After the police officer Defendants arrived, they conducted a consent search of the home and found additional drugs. When questioned, Poindexter gave the police a name that was later determined to be false. The police officer Defendants arrested the Plaintiff and charged him with crimes. Applying the benchmarks of qualified immunity to these facts, we agree with the Magistrate Judge that it would not have been clear to a reasonable officer that the Defendants' actions under the circumstances violated Poindexter's clearly established rights.
As we have already mentioned, neither Defendants nor the Plaintiff have filed objections to this R&R. Because we agree with the sound reasoning that led the Magistrate Judge to the conclusions in the R&R, we will adopt the R&R in its entirety. With a mind towards conserving judicial resources, we will not rehash the reasoning of the Magistrate Judge; rather, we will attach a copy of the R&R to this document, as it accurately reflects our consideration and resolution of the case sub judice. An appropriate Order shall issue.
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
The defendants found the plaintiff, Mark W. Poindexter, in possession of drugs, and they arrested him and charged him with a number of crimes. After the state court suppressed the drugs on the basis that they were seized as a result of an unlawful search, the criminal charges were dismissed. Poindexter then filed this action alleging that the defendants violated his constitutional rights. The remaining five defendants are county police officers and state parole agents. The defendants have moved for summary judgment as has Poindexter. Because the defendants did not violate clearly established law, they are entitled to qualified immunity from Poindexter's constitutional claims for damages. Thus, we recommend that the defendants' motions for summary judgment be granted and that Poindexter's motion for summary judgment be denied.
II. Background and Procedural History.
On April 11, 2011, Poindexter, proceeding pro se, commenced this action by filing a complaint naming the following as defendants: Jackie Musto Carroll, the District Attorney of Luzerne County; M. Collins, an assistant district attorney; the Wilkes-Barre Township Police Department; Sergeant Elick and Patrolmen Reh and Amditis; and state parole agents Ruzicki and Dwyer.
Poindexter's claims stem from an incident on November 5, 2008, during which defendants Ruzicki and Dwyer entered a home where Poindexter was present, detained Poindexter while they searched the home, found drugs on the couch where Poindexter had been sitting, and called defendants Elick, Reh, and Amditis who subsequently arrested Poindexter. Poindexter was charged with several crimes. In June of 2009, Judge Toole of the Court of Common Pleas of Luzerne County conducted a suppression hearing and granted Poindexter's motion to suppress the evidence that had been seized. All charges against Poindexter were then dismissed, but that was after Poindexter had already spent 210 days in prison.
Poindexter claims that the defendants conducted an unconstitutional search and seizure, unlawfully arrested him, filed false charges against him, and falsely incarcerated him for 210 days. He also claims that the defendants maliciously and selectively prosecuted him, denied him equal protection of the law and due process, and conspired to deprive him of his constitutional rights. He further claims that the defendants failed to supervise and monitor each other's actions to ensure that his rights were not violated. He claims that the defendants violated his First, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendment rights as well as his rights under the Pennsylvania Constitution. He also presents state law claims of false arrest, false imprisonment, malicious prosecution, abuse of process, wrongful use of proceedings, common law conspiracy, and intentional, reckless, and negligent infliction of emotional distress. He seeks declaratory relief as well as compensatory and punitive damages.
After screening the case in accordance with 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, the court dismissed defendants Musto Carroll, Collins, and the Wilkes-Barre Township Police Department. The court also dismissed all claims against defendants Elick, Reh, Amditis, Ruzicki, and Dwyer in their official capacities. Thus, the only remaining claims are the claims against defendants Elick, Reh, Amditis, Ruzicki, and Dwyer in their individual capacities.
In August of 2011, defendants Dwyer and Ruzicki filed an answer to the complaint. After the court denied their motion to dismiss the complaint, defendants Elick, Reh, and Amditis filed an answer to the complaint in March of 2012. The discovery period ended on September 4, 2012. There are three motions for summary judgment pending: a motion filed by defendants Elick, Reh, and Amditis, a motion filed by defendants Dwyer and Ruzicki, and a motion filed by Poindexter. For the reasons that follow, we recommend that the court grant the defendants' motions and deny Poindexter's motion.
III. Summary Judgment Standard.
The parties have moved for summary judgment pursuant to Rule 56(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, which provides that "[t]he court shall grant summary judgment if the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). "Through summary adjudication the court may dispose of those claims that do not present a genuine dispute as to any material fact' and for which a jury trial would be an empty and unnecessary formality." Goudy-Bachman v. U.S. Dept. of Health & Human Services, 811 F.Supp.2d 1086, 1091 (M.D. Pa. 2011)(quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a)).
The moving party bears the initial responsibility of informing the court of the basis for its motion and identifying those portions of the record which demonstrate the absence of a genuine dispute of material fact. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986). With respect to an issue on which the nonmoving party bears the burden of proof, the moving party may discharge that burden by "showing'-that is, pointing out to the district court-that there is an absence of evidence to support the nonmoving party's case." Id. at 325.
Once the moving party has met its burden, the nonmoving party may not rest upon the mere allegations or denials of its pleading; rather, the nonmoving party must show a genuine dispute by "citing to particular parts of materials in the record, including depositions, documents, electronically stored information, affidavits or declarations, stipulations (including those made for purposes of the motion only), admissions, interrogatory answers, or other materials" or "showing that the materials cited do not establish the absence... of a genuine dispute." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c). If the nonmoving party "fails to make a showing sufficient to establish the existence of an element essential to that party's case, and on which that party will bear the burden at trial, " summary judgment is appropriate. Celotex, supra, 477 U.S. at 322. Summary judgment is also appropriate if the non-moving party provides merely colorable, conclusory, or speculative evidence. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 249 (1986). There must be more than a scintilla of evidence supporting the nonmoving party and more than some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts. Id. at 252. "Where the record taken as a whole could not lead a rational trier of fact to find for the non-moving party, there is no genuine issue for trial.'" Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986).
The substantive law identifies which facts are material, and "[o]nly disputes over facts that might affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law will properly preclude the entry of summary judgment." Anderson, supra, 477 U.S. at 248. A dispute about a material fact is genuine only if there is a sufficient evidentiary basis that would allow a reasonable fact finder to return a verdict for the non-moving party. Id. at 248-49. When "faced with a summary judgment motion, the court must view the facts in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party.'" N.A.A.C.P. v. N. Hudson Reg'l Fire & Rescue, 665 F.3d 464, 475 (3d Cir. 2011)(quoting Scott v. Harris, 550 U.S. 372, 380 (2007)).
At the summary judgment stage, the judge's function is not to weigh the evidence or to determine the truth of the matter; rather it is to determine whether there is a genuine issue for trial. Anderson, supra, 477 U.S. at 249. The proper inquiry of the court "is the threshold inquiry of determining whether there is the need for a trial-whether, in other words, there are any genuine factual issues that properly can be resolved only by a finder of fact because they may reasonably be resolved in favor of either party." Id. at 250.
Summary judgment is warranted, after adequate time for discovery, against a party who fails to make a showing sufficient to establish the existence of an element essential to that party's case and on which that party will bear the burden of proof at trial. Celotex, supra, 477 U.S. at 322. "Under such circumstances, there can be no genuine issue as to any material fact, since a complete failure of proof concerning an essential element of the nonmoving party's case necessarily renders all other facts immaterial.'" Anderson v. CONRAIL, 297 F.3d 242, 247 (3d Cir. 2002)(quoting Celotex, supra, 477 U.S. at 323). "[S]ummary judgment is essentially put up or shut up' time for the non-moving party: the non-moving party must rebut the motion with facts in the record and cannot rest solely on assertions made in the pleadings, legal memoranda, or oral argument." Berckeley Inv. Group, Ltd. v. Colkitt, 455 F.3d 195, 201 (3d Cir. 2006).
The court may resolve cross-motions for summary judgment concurrently, but when doing so, it "is bound to view the evidence in the light most favorable to the non-moving party with respect to each motion." Goudy-Bachman, supra, 811 F.Supp.2d at 1091-92.
IV. The Material Facts.
Although the parties dispute the legal import of and the inferences to be drawn from them, the underlying facts are largely undisputed. The following statement of the material facts is derived from the defendants' statements of material facts and Poindexter's responses thereto, Poindexter's statement of material facts and the defendants' responses thereto, and the underlying documents.
Defendant Ruzicki has been employed by the Pennsylvania Board of Probation and Parole since March of 2000. In November of 2008, he was a Parole Agent II supervising clients in the city of Wilkes-Barre and in the Wilkes-Barre Township area, and he had been supervising Patrick Herbert for more than two years. On November 5, 2008, at 12:30 p.m., defendant Ruzicki, accompanied by defendant Dwyer, went to Herbert's residence in Wilkes-Barre Township. After knocking on the door and receiving no answer, he tried the door knob and finding the door unlocked, he opened the door. Defendant Ruzicki stepped into the doorway, and he saw two men-Poindexter and Gaddis-seated on a sofa a few feet away in the living room. After Ruzicki identified himself as a parole agent, one of the men made a sudden movement reaching to the side of the sofa, apparently trying to conceal something between the cushions of the sofa. Defendant Ruzicki pulled his weapon, as did defendant Dwyer, who was standing behind Ruzicki. Ruzicki then ordered the men off of the sofa, and he and Dwyer handcuffed them and conducted a pat-down search of them. No contraband or weapons were found on Poindexter's person.
Ruzicki then found Patrick Herbert and Foxie Peterson in a bedroom, and he ordered them to get dressed and join the others in the living room. Upon returning to the living room, Ruzicki noticed a plastic baggy sticking out of the sofa cushions. He retrieved the baggy, which appeared to contain a white rocky substance, and placed it on the coffee table. Defendant Dwyer then contacted the Wilkes-Barre Township Police Department, and defendants Elick, Reh, and Amditis responded to the scene. Defendant Ruzicki turned the baggy over to them.
The police defendants advised Poindexter that he was the subject of an official investigation and that providing false identifying information is a violation of law. Although Poindexter falsely identified himself as Markeen Woodson, the police defendants subsequently determined his true identity and that he had an active capias against him. Herbert consented to a search of his house, and the police officers contacted a K-9 unit, which arrived and searched the residence. Including the baggy that had been found in the couch, the following items were seized: one plastic bag that contained 16 packets of an off-white colored, powdery substance that weighed approximately 6.7 grams and that field tested positive for heroine and 16 individually packaged pieces from baggies that contained an off-white colored, rocky substance that weighed approximately 5.3 grams and field tested positive for cocaine.
As a result of the drugs found, Poindexter was taken into custody. He was charged with manufacture, delivery, or possession with intent to deliver a controlled substance; use of, or possession with intent to use, drug paraphernalia; and false identification to law enforcement authorities.
Poindexter filed a motion to suppress the evidence that had been seized, and in June of 2009, after a hearing, Judge Toole granted that motion. In doing so, Judge Toole made the following findings of fact:
On November 5th, 2008, Defendant Poindexter and Defendant Gaddis were legally visiting the residence of Patrick Herbert. Patrick Herbert was on state parole supervision at the time of this visit on November 5th, 2008.
At approximately 12:30 p.m. that day State Parole Agents Jeff Ruzicki and James Dwyer came to the residence for the purpose of making contact with Mr. Herbert and if upon making that [contact] discovered that he had been in any way using any illegal drugs for the purpose of arresting him.
Agents Ruzicki and Dwyer do not in any way supervise either of the two defendants, Mr. Poindexter or Mr. Gaddis.
At the time of the agents' arrival, Agent Ruzicki entered the residence, after knocking and receiving no response determined that the door was not locked. He entered first followed closely by Agent James Dwyer. When he observed both defendants seated on a couch, he saw Mr. Poindexter make a movement, a movement which he could not clearly describe or define in terms of seeing, witnessing, or testifying concerning any object that may or may not have at that point been in the possession or proximity of Mr. Poindexter including any illegal contraband, drugs, or weapons.
Agent Ruzicki immediately drew his weapon. Upon seeing Agent Ruzicki draw his weapon, Agent Dwyer drew his weapon.
Both of the defendants were, in the words of the agents, taken into custody. At that point at gunpoint they were ordered from the couch, they were handcuffed, they were frisked. Mr. Gaddis was cuffed laying facedown on the floor. Mr. Poindexter, according to the credible testimony, was cuffed and was facing a wall. It's not clear whether he was kneeling or standing, but it's of no import.
Both men remained in those positions while the premise was secured. The address, for the record, was 38 K-e-t-c-h-u-m, Street in Wilkes-Barre Township. Agent Ruzicki secured the premise by locating Mr. Herbert and Foxie Peterson in a bedroom in the premise[s]. Both individuals were naked, posed no immediate threat of any weapons or harm to the investigating agents. Because the agents indicated they each had one set of handcuffs, the only people who were handcuffed were Mr. Poindexter and Mr. Gaddis, not Ms. Peterson or Mr. Herbert.
After ascertaining the no one else was in the premises, the agents kept both Mr. Gaddis and Mr. Poindexter cuffed and in custody, inquired as to their identities, and then summoned the Wilkes-Barre Township police by way of Agent Dwyer calling 911 requesting assistance.
Upon their arrival, the investigating officers admittedly did not Mirandize either of the defendants. They brought drug sniff dogs or a K-9 dog onto the premises; and the contraband, which is the subject of the motion, was discovered in a hat on the coffee table. Various statements were made.
Doc. 79-3 at 29-30 (state court transcript at 106-109). Based on those findings of fact, Judge Toole then made the following conclusions of law:
We believe the constitutionally protected rights of the defendants to be free from any illegal search and seizure were violated. We do not believe that Agent Ruzicki and Agent Dwyer had a right to continue to keep the defendants in custody after their patdown of the person did not disclose any dangerous weapons, any drugs, or any contraband. As soon as the premise was secured, meaning Ms. Peterson and Mr. Herbert were located and brought to the front room, the simple movement made by Mr. Poindexter is not sufficient probable cause of any criminal activity being afoot. It was not specific enough in terms of the testimony. It certainly had nothing to do at that point with Mr. Gaddis.
On the authority cited to the Court, specifically the case of Commonwealth versus Scott, Superior Court decision 916 A.2d 695 2007 Pa. Superior Court decision,  we also believe the agents in question were without appropriate legal authority to do what they did.
As a result of our decision and conclusion from a legal standpoint that the search and seizure was illegal, all evidence that was the fruit of that illegal search and seizure is suppressed. The motion is granted also with respect to any and all statements secured after the defendants were taken into custody by the agents and not Mirandized at any point by the investigating officers.
Doc. 79-3 at 30-31 (state court transcript at 109-111). Judge Toole then addressed Poindexter and Gaddis, stating the following:
Gentlemen, let me tell you, you may have heard the saying it's better to let ten guilty men go free than to let one innocent man be convicted. I unfortunately today think I'm letting two guilty men go free. I can't, however, allow law enforcement or the [C]ommonwealth to violate the constitutional rights of anyone because the minute the constitutional privileges and rights of anyone are violated all of our rights are violated. I don't know that the [C]ommonwealth has any case that it can now pursue without the evidence.
Is there any motion that the [C]ommonwealth makes?
Doc. 79-3 at 31 (state court transcript at 111-12). The Commonwealth then moved to nol pros the charges, which motion Judge Toole granted. Doc. 79-3 at 31 (state court transcript at 112). Poindexter's incarceration after the discovery of his true identity was the result of the active capias against him.
A. Collateral Estoppel.
Poindexter relies heavily on Judge Toole's decision, and he suggests that Judge Toole's decision precludes the defendants from arguing that they did not violate his constitutional rights. Although he does not invoke the doctrine by name, he is suggesting that this court is bound by collateral estoppel to accept the findings and conclusions of Judge Toole. Thus, before we address the merits of Poindexter's claims, we address whether the defendants are collaterally estopped from relitigating the issues decided by Judge Toole in connection with the suppression of evidence in the criminal case.
"The preclusive effect of a judgment is defined by claim preclusion and issue preclusion, which are collectively referred to as res judicata.'" Taylor v. Sturgell, 553 U.S. 880, 892 (2008). Claim preclusion and issue preclusion "relieve parties of the cost and vexation of multiple lawsuits, conserve judicial resources, and, by preventing inconsistent decisions, encourage reliance on adjudication." Allen v. McCurry, 449 U.S. 90, 94 (1980). When applied by a federal court to give preclusive effect to a state court judgment, claim preclusion and issue preclusion also promote "the comity between state and federal courts that has been recognized as a bulwark of the federal system." Id. at 96.
"Collateral estoppel, or, in modern usage, issue preclusion, means simply that when an issue of ultimate fact has once been determined by a valid and final judgment, that issue cannot again be litigated between the same parties in any future lawsuit.'" Schiro v. Farley, 510 U.S. 222, 232 (1994)(quoting Ashe v. Swenson, 397 U.S. 436, 443 (1970)). Principles of collateral estoppel apply to § 1983 claims, Allen, supra, 449 U.S. at 105, and "[a] finding in a prior criminal proceeding may estop an individual from litigating the same issue in a subsequent civil proceeding." James v. Heritage Valley Fed. Credit Union, 197 F.Appx. 102, 105 (3d Cir. 2006).
When determining the collateral estoppel effect of a state court criminal proceeding, a federal court applies the law of the state where the criminal proceeding took place. Anela v. City of Wildwood, 790 F.2d 1063, 1068 (3d Cir. 1986). "Under Pennsylvania law, the doctrine of collateral estoppel requires that: (a) the issue in question be identical to an issue actually litigated in the prior litigation; (b) the prior litigation resulted in a final judgment on the merits; and (c) the party against whom the estoppel is asserted was a party or in privity with a party to the prior adjudication." Ingram v. Lupas, 353 F.Appx. 674, 676 (3d Cir. 2009).
A plaintiff in a federal civil rights action may not use collateral estoppel offensively against a defendant law enforcement officer because a defendant in a § 1983 action, sued in his individual capacity, is not considered to be in privity with the government in a prior criminal prosecution. See Smith v. Holtz, 210 F.3d 186, 199 n. 18 (3d Cir.2000); Padilla v. Miller, 143 F.Supp.2d 453, 465-466 (citing cases). Furthermore, it would be unfair to a law enforcement officer to apply offensive collateral estoppel where the officer did not control the decisions in the state court prosecution. Padilla, supra, 143 F.Supp.2d at 466.
As in Padilla, there is no basis to find that the defendants in this case were either a party to the state criminal prosecution of or in privity with the Commonwealth in that prosecution, and so collateral estoppel does not apply. Thus, contrary to Poindexter's suggestion, the defendants are not precluded by Judge Toole's decision from arguing that they did not violate his constitutional rights, and this court is not bound by Judge Toole's ruling.
Although not bound by Judge Toole's ruling, we note that the issue that was before Judge Toole, i.e., whether evidence should be suppressed, is not the same issue that the court faces in this case, which is whether the defendants should be held personally liable for damages in a civil case for violating Poindexter's constitutional rights. The defendants argue that they are entitled to qualified immunity from Poindexter's damages claims, which is an issue that Judge Toole never had to address. It is to that issue which we now turn.
B. Qualified Immunity.
The defendants contend that they are entitled to qualified immunity. Because the defendants did not violate clearly established rights, we agree that they are entitled to qualified immunity.
Despite their participation in constitutionally impermissible conduct, government officials "may nevertheless be shielded from liability for civil damages if their actions did not violate clearly established statutory or constitutional rights of which a reasonable person would have known.'" Hope v. Pelzer, 536 U.S. 730, 739 (2002)(quoting Harlow v. Fitzgerald, 457 U.S. 800, 818 (1982)). Qualified immunity operates to ensure that, before they are subjected to suit, officers are on notice that their conduct is unlawful. Id. "Qualified immunity balances two important interests-the need to hold public officials accountable when they exercise power irresponsibly and the need to shield officials from harassment, distraction, and liability when they perform their duties reasonably." Pearson v. Callahan, 555 U.S. 223, 231 (2009). "If the law was clearly established, the immunity defense ordinarily should fail, since a reasonably competent public official should know the law governing his conduct." Harlow, supra, 457 U.S. at 818-19.
The qualified immunity analysis has two prongs. Pearson, supra, 555 U.S. at 232. One prong of the analysis is whether the facts that the plaintiff has alleged or shown make out a violation of a constitutional right. Id. The other prong of the qualified immunity analysis is whether the right was clearly established. Saucier v. Katz, 533 U.S. 194, 201 (2001). The court is permitted to exercise its discretion in deciding which of the two prongs of the qualified immunity analysis should be addressed first in light of the circumstances of the particular case. Pearson, supra, 555 U.S. at 236. So it may forego difficult constitutional issues and award qualified immunity to a defendant if it is apparent that the defendant did not violate rights that were clearly established at the time the defendant acted. Id.
"The relevant, dispositive inquiry in determining whether a right is clearly established is whether it would be clear to a reasonable officer that his conduct was unlawful in the situation he confronted." Saucier, supra, 533 U.S. at 202. "This is an objective inquiry, to be decided by the court as a matter of law." Doe v. Groody, 361 F.3d 232, 238 (3d Cir. 2004). "Because this inquiry focuses on the official's actual situation, the analysis "must be undertaken in light of the specific context of the case, not as a broad general proposition...." Montanez v. Thompson, 603 F.3d 243, 251 (3d Cir. 2010) (quoting Saucier, supra, 533 U.S. at 201). "This inquiry turns on the objective legal reasonableness of the action, assessed in light of the legal rules that were clearly established at the time it was taken.'" Pearson, supra, 555 U.S. at 244 (quoting Wilson v. Layne, 526 U.S. 603, 614 (1999)). "If the law did not put the officer on notice that his conduct would be clearly unlawful, summary judgment based on qualified immunity is appropriate.'" Bayer v. Monroe County Children & Youth Services, 577 F.3d 186, 193 (3d Cir. 2009)(quoting Saucier, supra, 533 U.S. at 202).
In this case, defendants Ruzicki and Dwyer detained the occupants of the home of a parolee for a short time while they secured the premises, and in response to a sudden movement that suggested that one of the occupants may be hiding something, they conducted a patdown search for weapons. Before all of the other occupants were secured, they found a bag containing drugs and called the police. After defendants Elick, Reh, and Amditis arrived, they were given the drugs, and they found additional drugs after a further search of the home was conducted with the consent of the homeowner. When questioned, Poindexter gave a name which the defendants later determined to be false. The police defendants arrested Poindexter and charged him with crimes. Applying the benchmarks applicable to qualified immunity, because it would not have been clear to a reasonable officer that the defendants' actions under the circumstances violated Poindexter's clearly established rights, as discussed more fully below, we find that the defendants are entitled to qualified immunity in this case.
1. Fourth Amendment Claims.
Poindexter claims that the defendants violated the Fourth Amendment in connection with the search of the house, the search of him, his arrest, and his prosecution. The Fourth Amendment protects "[t]he right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures." U.S. Const. amend. IV. "The essential purpose of the proscriptions in the Fourth Amendment is to impose a standard of "reasonableness" upon the exercise of discretion by government officials, including law enforcement agents, in order to safeguard the privacy and security of individuals against arbitrary invasions.'" Delaware v. Prouse, 440 U.S. 648, 653-54 (1979)(footnote omitted)(quoting Marshall v. Barlow's Inc., 436 U.S. 307 (1978)). "Thus, the permissibility of a particular law enforcement practice is judged by balancing its intrusion on the individual's Fourth Amendment interests against its promotion of legitimate governmental interests." Id. at 654.
Although Poindexter's briefs are not entirely clear, he appears to be pressing numerous Fourth Amendment claims based on the incident of November 5, 2008. So, to aid our analysis, we break the incident on November 5, 2008 into the following stages: (1) Ruzicki and Dwyer's entry into Hebert's home; (2) their initial detention and pat down of Poindexter; (3) their detention of Poindexter after the baggy in the sofa is found; (4) the detention and arrest of Poindexter by defendants Elick, Reh, and Amditis after their arrival at Herbert's home; (5) the K-9 search of the home; and (6) the filing of charges against Poindexter.
a. Entry into Herbert's Home.
Poindexter does not explicitly argue that defendants Ruzicki and Dwyer's initial entry into Herbert's home violated his rights. Thus, we will only briefly discuss this stage of the incident.
The Fourth Amendment normally requires government officials to have both probable cause and a warrant to conduct a search. United States v. Baker, 221 F.3d 438, 443 (3d Cir. 2000). "In the case of parolees, however, the requisite level of suspicion is reduced and a warrant is not required." Id. Given a parolee's diminished expectation of privacy and the state's substantial interest in reducing recidivism, a warrant is not required and no more than reasonable suspicion is required to search a parolee and his property. See United States v. Knights, 534 U.S. 112, 121 (2001)(holding that search, supported only by reasonable suspicion, of a probationer's residence did not violate the Fourth Amendment given that the probationer had agreed as a condition of his probation that he would submit to a search at anytime with or without a warrant); United States v. Williams, 417 F.3d 373, 376 n.1 (3d Cir. 2005)(applying Knights to search of a parolee's residence); Samson v. California, 547 U.S. 843, 846 (2006)(upholding a suspicionless search by a police officer of a parolee who had agreed as a condition of his parole to be subject to search at any time with or without a search warrant and without or without cause).
In this case, the homeowner, Herbert, was on parole. Thus, defendants Ruzicki and Dwyer did not need a warrant to enter his home, and Poindexter does not argue or present evidence that they lacked reasonable suspicion to enter the home.
Moreover, because he was not the owner of the house or an overnight guest in the house, it was not clearly established that Poindexter had a reasonable expectation of privacy in the home, and, therefore, it was not clearly established that Ruzicki and Dwyer's entry into the house violated his rights.
"The touchstone of Fourth Amendment analysis is whether a person has a constitutionally protected reasonable expectation of privacy.'" California v. Ciraolo, 476 U.S. 207, 211 (1986)(quoting Katz v. United States, 389 U.S. 347, 360 (1967)(Harlan, J., concurring)). This entails "a two part inquiry: first, has the individual manifested a subjective expectation of privacy in the object of the challenged search? Second, is society willing to recognize that expectation as reasonable?" Id.
"[T]he physical entry of the home is the chief evil against which the wording of the Fourth Amendment is directed.'" Payton v. New York, 445 U.S. 573, (1980)(quoting United States v. United States District Court, 407 U.S. 297, 313 (1972)). "Private residences are places in which the individual normally expects privacy free of government intrusion not authorized by a warrant, and that expectation is plainly one that society is prepared to recognize as justifiable." United States v. Karo, 468 U.S. 705, 714 (1984). Of course, "a person can have a legally sufficient interest in a place other than his own home so that the Fourth Amendment protects him from unreasonable governmental intrusion into that place." Rakas v. Illinois, 439 U.S. 128, 142 (1978). For example, guests in a hotel room possess a reasonable expectation of privacy in the room during their stay, and so they are entitled to constitutional protection against unreasonable searches and seizures. Stoner v. California, 376 U.S. 483, 490 (1964). Also, an overnight guest in the home of another has a reasonable expectation of privacy:
From the overnight guest's perspective, he seeks shelter in another's home precisely because it provides him with privacy, a place where he and his possessions will not be disturbed by anyone but his host and those his host allows inside. We are at our most vulnerable when we are asleep because we cannot monitor our own safety or the security of our belongings. Is it for this reason that, although we may spend all day in public places, when we cannot sleep in our own home we seek out another private place to sleep, whether it be a hotel room, or the home of a friend.
Minnesota v. Olson, 495 U.S. 91, 99 (1990). While an overnight guest may claim the protection of the Fourth Amendment, "one who is merely present with the consent of the householder may not." Minnesota v. Carter, 525 U.S. 83, 90 (1998). See also United States v. Mosley, 454 F.3d 249, 259 (3d Cir. 2006)(noting that an owner or tenant of a house as well as a long-term guest in a house may suppress evidence found during an illegal search of the house, but because short-term guests have no expectation of privacy in the house, they cannot suppress fruits of an illegal search).
In this case, Poindexter was not an overnight guest and he had no prior relationship with Herbert, the homeowner. He presented no evidence that he had either a subjective expectation of privacy in Herbert's home or an expectation that society is prepared to recognize as reasonable. Thus, Ruzicki and Dwyer did not violate Poindexter's clearly established Fourth Amendment rights by entering the home.
b. Initial Detention and Patdown.
Defendants Ruzicki and Dwyer also did not violate clearly established law by briefly detaining and patting down Poindexter after they entered the house.
While a proper search is conducted, law enforcement officers may detain the occupants of a home that they are searching pursuant to a warrant. See Michigan v. Summers, 452 U.S. 692, 705 (1981); Los Angeles County v. Rettele, 550 U.S. 609 (2007). "The risk of harm to both the police and the occupants is minimized if the officers routinely exercise unquestioned command of the situation." Summers, supra, 452 U.S. at 702-03. "An officer's authority to detain incident to a search is categorical; it does not depend on the quantum of proof justifying detention or the extent of the intrusion to be imposed by the seizure.'" Muehler v. Mena, 544 U.S. 93, 98 (2005)(quoting Summers, supra, 452 U.S. at 705 n.19). While there are numerous justifications for such detention including preventing flight in the event that incriminating evidence is found, minimizing the risk of harm to the officers, and facilitating the orderly completion of the search, Summers, supra, 452 U.S. at 702-703, "protecting the safety of the agents alone can justify a reasonable detention of an individual during execution of a search warrant." United States v. Allen, 618 F.3d 404, 410 (3d Cir. 2010). Just as a search pursuant to a warrant justifies a limited detention of the occupants to minimize the risk of harm to the officers, a search of a parolee's home without a warrant justifies a similar limited detention of the occupants to minimize the risk of harm to the officers. See Ulitchney v. Ruzicki, 412 F.Appx. 447, 452 (3d Cir. 2011)(holding that Agent Ruzicki acted reasonably in entering the residence of a third party and momentarily seizing the owner at gunpoint and restricting her movement as the parolee was arrested and removed from the home).
In this case, Agents Ruzicki and Dwyer were entering into a potentially dangerous situation by entering the home of a parolee who may have violated the conditions of his parole and who may have been under the influence of drugs. When they entered the home, they faced two men sitting on a couch, and when one of those men made a sudden movement reaching to the side of the sofa and apparently trying to conceal something between the cushions of the sofa, the agents had a reasonable belief that their safety might have been in danger. While it turned out that it was drugs that was being concealed, it could have been a gun. Given the circumstances, the need to secure the men and the area while the rest of the house was searched, and the state of the law, it would not have been clear to a reasonable officer in the position of defendants Ruzicki and Dwyer that the temporary detention of the occupants of the house including Poindexter during the course of the search was a violation of the Fourth Amendment.
In addition, an officer may frisk (patdown for weapons) a person temporarily detained when the officer reasonably suspects that the person is armed and dangerous. Arizona v. Johnson, 555 U.S. 323, 326-27 (2009). "The purpose of this limited search is not to discover evidence of crime, but to allow the officer to pursue his investigation without fear of violence, and thus the frisk for weapons might be equally necessary and reasonable, whether or not carrying a concealed weapon violated any applicable state law." Adams v. Williams, 407 U.S. 143, 146 (1972). In this case, given the circumstances and the sudden movement made by one of the men, defendants Ruzicki and Dwyer had reasonable suspicion to believe that they were dealing with an armed individual. Thus, given the circumstances and the law it would not have been clear to a reasonable officer in the position of defendants Ruzicki and Dwyer that the pat down of Poindexter for weapons was a violation of the Fourth Amendment.
In addition, under established Fourth Amendment jurisprudence, it would not have been clear to a reasonable officer that the fact that defendants Ruzicki and Dwyer pointed their guns at Poindexter and handcuffed him while briefly detaining him would violate the Fourth Amendment. In conducting a search, "officers may take reasonable action to secure the premises and to ensure their own safety and the efficacy of the search." Rettele, supra, 550 U.S. at 614. "The test of reasonableness under the Fourth Amendment is an objective one." Id. Although using excessive force, restraints that cause unnecessary pain, or restraints and detention for a "prolonged and unnecessary prior of time" is unreasonable, using handcuffs for a brief period and pointing a gun at an occupant is not necessarily unreasonable. Id. at 610-615 (finding no Fourth Amendment violation where in executing a warrant the police entered the house, ordered a 17-year-old male to lay face down on the ground, entered a bedroom with guns drawn, ordered two individuals to get out of bed and show their hands, and required them to stand naked for one to two minutes before being allowed to dress); Muehler, supra, 544 U.S. at 96 (finding no Fourth Amendment violation where Mena was placed in handcuffs at gunpoint and then detained in handcuffs for two to three hours during the search of the premises that she and several others occupied); Allen, supra, 618 F.3d at 404-405 (finding no Fourth Amendment violation where SWAT team members detained a bar security guard at gunpoint by requiring him to lay face down on the sidewalk outside of the bar while officers searched the bar pursuant to a warrant to seize security videotapes).
In this case, while defendants Ruzicki and Dwyer pointed their guns at Poindexter and handcuffed him, there is no evidence that they used excessive force or that they detained him longer than necessary. Under the circumstances that the agents faced, i.e., entering the home of a parolee, who may have been using drugs, seeing a man on a couch make a movement to conceal something, and needing to secure the premises to search for and find the parolee, their handcuffing and detention of Poindexter for the brief period of time needed to secure the premises did not violate clearly established law.
c. Detention of Poindexter after the Baggy in the Sofa Is Found.
After defendant Ruzicki located Patrick Herbert and Foxie Peterson in a bedroom, he ordered them to get dressed and join the others in the living room, and upon returning to the living room, Ruzicki noticed a plastic baggy sticking out of the sofa's cushions. He retrieved the baggy, which appeared to contain a white rocky substance, and he placed it on the coffee table. Defendant Dwyer then contacted the Wilkes-Barre Township Police Department. When Ruzicki discovered the baggy in the sofa, there was probable cause to detain Poindexter.
"The probable-cause standard is incapable of precise definition or quantification into percentages because it deals with probabilities and depends on the totality of the circumstances." Maryland v. Pringle, 540 U.S. 366, 371 (2003). "Probable cause to arrest exists when the facts and circumstances within the arresting officer's knowledge are sufficient in themselves to warrant a reasonable person to believe that an offense has been or is being committed by the person to be arrested." Orsatti v. New Jersey State Police, 71 F.3d 480, 483 (3d Cir. 1995). An "officer may draw inferences based on his own experience in deciding whether probable cause exists." Ornelas v. United States, 517 U.S. 690, 700 (1996).
The existence of probable cause in a § 1983 case is typically a question left for the jury, but the district court may conclude "that probable cause did exist as a matter of law if the evidence, viewed most favorably to Plaintiff, reasonably would not support a contrary factual finding." Sherwood v. Mulvihill, 113 F.3d 396, 401 (3d Cir.1997). In this case, once defendant Ruzicki noticed the plastic baggy containing a white rocky substance in the sofa, it would not have been clear to a reasonable officer under the circumstances and the law that detaining Poindexter until the police arrived violated the Fourth Amendment.
Poindexter argues that defendants Ruzicki and Dwyer violated the procedures of the Pennsylvania Board of Probation and Parole by detaining him. Specifically, he points to the following provision of the Board's procedures governing arrest authority of parole agents:
When effecting an arrest and/or searching the offender[']s approved residence, there are a very limited number of circumstances under which an agent would be authorized to temporarily detain individuals, other than the offender, who are present at that time. The most common examples of such circumstances would be an individual who is:
1.) attempting to destroy evidence
2.) Interfering in the arrest and/or
3.) causing harm or injury to the agent, the offender, or others present. Otherwise, an agent, like any other individual, has only minimal authority to detain a private citizen-the authority to make a citizens arrest. Other law enforcement agencies can be contacted for assistance when necessary.
Doc. 96-1 at 47.
It is not clear that defendants Ruzicki and Dwyer violated the provisions of the state procedures because they detained Poindexter for the purpose of officer safety while securing the premises. Additionally, as contemplated by the procedures, they contacted the police for assistance. In any event, whether they violated the state procedures is not determinative of whether they violated the Fourth Amendment. "[W]hile States are free to regulate... arrests however they desire, state restrictions do not alter the Fourth Amendment protections." Virginia v. Moore, 553 U.S. 164, 176 (2008)(holding that arrest based on probable cause but prohibited by state law does not violate the Fourth Amendment). As set forth above, under Fourth Amendment jurisprudence and under the circumstances presented in this case it would not have been clear to a reasonable officer that defendants Ruzicki and Dwyer's actions violated the Fourth Amendment.
Poindexter further contends that defendants Ruzicki and Dwyer did not have authority to detain him and therefore the baggy of drugs found on the couch is subject to suppression as fruit of the poisonous tree. Suppression of evidence, however, is not at issue in a civil case and the fruit of the poisonous tree doctrine is not applicable. See Padilla, supra, 143 F.Supp.2d at 471-72.
d. Detention and Arrest by Defendants Elick, Reh, and Amditis.
After defendants Elick, Reh, and Amditis responded to the scene, defendant Ruzicki turned the baggy over to them. The baggy, which was found on the sofa where Poindexter had been sitting, provided probable cause that Poindexter had committed a crime. Thus, the detention and arrest by defendants Elick, Reh, and Amditis did not violate clearly established law.
e. K-9 Search of the Home.
At the suppression hearing, defendant Reh testified that, after Herbert gave them consent to search his home, he contacted the Wilkes-Barre Police Department and requested a K-9 Unit, that the dog and his handler arrived, that the dog indicated a positive response to the coffee table in front of the couch as well as to the couch where the small packet of suspected crack cocaine had been recovered, and that drugs were found in a hat on the coffee table. Doc. 79-3 at 24 (state court transcript at 84-85).
Given that the officers had the consent of the homeowner and that, as discussed above, under clearly established law a reasonable officer could conclude that Poindexter did not have a reasonable expectation of privacy in the home, the K-9 search did not violate Poindexter's clearly established Fourth Amendment rights.
f. The Filing of Criminal Charges and Detention after the Charges.
Poindexter is seeking to hold the defendants liable for malicious prosecution based on the charges filed against him and his detention on those charges.
"To prevail on a malicious prosecution claim under section 1983, a plaintiff must show that: (1) the defendant initiated a criminal proceeding; (2) the criminal proceeding ended in the plaintiff's favor; (3) the proceeding was initiated without probable cause; (4) the defendants acted maliciously or for a purpose other than bringing the plaintiff to justice; and (5) the plaintiff suffered deprivation of liberty consistent with the concept of seizure as a consequence of a legal proceeding." McKenna v. Philadelphia, 582 F.3d 447, 461 (3d Cir. 2009).
In addition to drug possession charges, Poindexter was charged with providing false identification to law enforcement authorities. Because the drugs found on the sofa where Poindexter had been sitting provided probable cause for the drug charges and because Poindexter's provision of a false name after he was informed that he was under investigation provided probable cause for the false identification charge, the filing of charges and the prosecution of those charges against Poindexter did not violate clearly established law.
2. Fifth Amendment Claim.
In addition to raising Fourth Amendment claims, Poindexter raises a Fifth Amendment claim on the basis that defendants Elick, Reh, and Amditis questioned him without Mirandizing him.
The self-incrimination clause of the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution provides that "[n]o person... shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself." U.S. Const. amend. V. In the seminal decision of Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436 (1966), the United States Supreme Court created a prophylactic measure designed to protect against violations of the self-incrimination clause. Pursuant to Miranda, the government is required to advise an individual of his or her rights before commencing a custodial interrogation. Id. at 444. A violation of Miranda, however, does not amount to a violation of the Constitution itself. Giuffre v. Bissell, 31 F.3d 1241, 1256 (3d Cir.1994). "[I]t is the use of coerced statements during a criminal trial, and not in obtaining an indictment, that violates the Constitution." Renda v. King, 347 F.3d 550, 559 (3d Cir. 2003). Merely conducting a custodial interrogation without Miranda warnings "is not a basis for a § 1983 claim as long as the plaintiff's statements are not used against [him] at trial." Id. at 557-58 (3d Cir. 2003).
In this case, Poindexter contends that defendants Elick, Reh, and Amditis violated his rights by questioning him without Mirandizing him. Because Judge Toole suppressed the statements and the charges were nol prossed, the statements Poindexter made were not used against him in a criminal trial. Thus, defendants Elick, Reh, and Amditis are entitled to qualified immunity because they did not violate clearly established law in merely questioning Poindexter without Mirandizing him when the statements that they elicited were not used against Poindexter at a criminal trial.
3. Sixth Amendment Claim.
Poindexter mentions the Sixth Amendment in his complaint without specifically alleging how the defendants' actions implicate that amendment.
The Sixth Amendment provides that "[i]n all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right... to have the assistance of counsel for his defense." U.S. Const. amend. VI. This right to counsel, however, does not attach until the initiation of formal judicial proceedings. James v. York County Police Dept., 160 F.Appx. 126, 132 (3d Cir. 2005). Poindexter has not presented any evidence or argument to support an inference that any of the remaining defendants' actions that he contends violated his rights took place after the initiation of formal judicial proceedings. Accordingly, since under the law it would not have been clear to a reasonable officer that the defendants' actions violated the Sixth Amendment, the defendants are entitled to qualified immunity from Poindexter's Sixth Amendment Claim.
4. Due Process.
Poindexter also mentions the Fourteenth Amendment and due process in his complaint. To the extent that he is asserting a substantive due process claim, we note that the Fourteenth Amendment's "generalized notion of substantive due process" does not apply where, as here, "a particular Amendment provides an explicit textual source of constitutional protection' against a particular sort of government behavior." Albright v. Oliver, 510 U.S. 266, 273 (1994)(quoting Graham v. Connor, 490 U.S. 386, 395 (1989). In this case, the Fourth Amendment provides an explicit source of protection, so any due process claim fails.
5. Equal Protection Claim.
Poindexter also mentions equal protection in the complaint, and he claims that he was selectively prosecuted.
The Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment directs that all similarly situated individuals be treated alike. City of Cleburne v. Cleburne Living Ctr., 473 U.S. 432, 439 (1985). Two independent legal theories exist upon which a plaintiff may predicate an equal protection claim: the traditional theory and the class-of-one theory. The traditional theory protects a plaintiff from discriminatory treatment based on membership in a protected class such as race. See, e.g., id.; McLaughlin v. Florida, 379 U.S. 184, 192 (1964). To assert a protected-class claim, the plaintiff must demonstrate that (1) he or she is a member of a protected class and (2) the government treated similarly situated individuals outside of the protected class differently. See Oliveira v. Twp. of Irvington, 41 F.Appx. 555, 559 (3d Cir. 2005)(observing that a prima facie case under the Equal Protection Clause requires plaintiffs to prove membership in "a protected class and that they received different treatment than that received by other similarly-situated individuals"). Under this theory a plaintiff "must prove the existence of purposeful discrimination" by the defendants. Keenan v. City of Phila., 983 F.2d 459, 465 (3d Cir. 1992).
In contrast, under the class-of-one theory, a plaintiff may advance an equal protection claim absent membership in a protected class if the plaintiff shows that the defendants engaged in irrational and intentional differential treatment of him when compared with similarly situated individuals. See Village of Willowbrook v. Olech, 528 U.S. 562, 564 (2000). This theory allows a plaintiff to assert an equal protection claim regardless of protected class when the government irrationally treats the plaintiff differently than similarly situated individuals. Id. at 564; Hill v. Borough of Kutztown, 455 F.3d 225, 239 (3d Cir. 2006). To prevail on a class-of-one claim, the plaintiff must demonstrate that: (1) the defendants treated him differently from others similarly situated; (2) the defendants did so intentionally; and, (3) there was no rational basis for the difference in treatment. Hill, supra, 455 F.3d at 239.
In this case, there is no evidence that the defendants treated Poindexter differently than anyone else similarly situated. Thus, they did not violate clearly established law, and so they are entitled to qualified immunity from Poindexter's equal protection claim.
6. First and Eighth Amendment Claims.
The complaint also contains First and Eighth Amendment claims, but based on the undisputed facts there is no basis for any such claims, and Poindexter does not argue or present evidence of how the defendants' conduct could conceivably implicate the First and Eighth Amendments.
7. Summary as to Qualified Immunity.
As the above discussion shows, none of the defendants' actions were inconsistent with clearly established law such that the defendants should be held personally liable for damages. It would not be clear to a reasonable officer in the position of the defendants and facing the same circumstances as faced by the defendants that the defendants' actions violated Poindexter's clearly established rights. Accordingly, we conclude that the defendants are entitled to qualified immunity from Poindexter's claims for damages on his constitutional claims.
C. State Law Claims.
Having determined that the defendants are entitled to summary judgment on Poindexter's federal claims, the remaining claims are Poindexter's state law claims over which this court has supplemental jurisdiction.
Whether to exercise supplemental jurisdiction is within the discretion of the court. 28 U.S.C. § 1367(c)(3) provides that district courts may decline to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over a state law claim if the district court has dismissed all claims over which it has original jurisdiction. When deciding whether to exercise supplemental jurisdiction, "a federal court should consider and weigh in each case, and at every stage of the litigation, the values of judicial economy, convenience, fairness, and comity." City of Chicago v. Int'l Coll. of Surgeons, 522 U.S. 156, 173 (1997)(quoting Carnegie-Mellon Univ. v. Cahill, 484 U.S. 343, 350 (1988)). The Third Circuit has held that "where the claim over which the district court has original jurisdiction is dismissed before trial, the district court must decline to decide the pendent state claims unless considerations of judicial economy, convenience, and fairness to the parties provide an affirmative justification for doing so." Hedges v. Musco, 204 F.3d 109, 123 (3d Cir. 2000)(quoting Borough of West Miflin v. Lancaster, 45 F.3d 780, 788 (3d Cir. 1995)).
There is nothing unique about this case such that considerations of judicial economy, convenience, and fairness provide an affirmative justification for exercising supplemental jurisdiction after the court disposes of the federal claims. Accordingly, we recommend that the court decline to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over the state law claims.
Accordingly, for the foregoing reasons, it is recommended that the defendants' motions (docs. 57 & 81) for summary judgment be granted as to the federal claims, that Poindexter's motion (doc. 95) for summary judgment be denied, and that the court decline to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over Poindexter's state law claims.
The Parties are further placed on notice that pursuant to Local Rule 72.3: Any party may object to a magistrate judge's proposed findings, recommendations or report addressing a motion or matter described in 28 U.S.C. § 636 (b)(1)(B) or making a recommendation for the disposition of a prisoner case or a habeas corpus petition within fourteen (14) days after being served with a copy thereof. Such party shall file with the clerk of court, and serve on the magistrate judge and all parties, written objections which shall specifically identify the portions of the proposed findings, recommendations or report to which objection is made and the basis for such objections. The briefing requirements set forth in Local Rule 72.2 shall apply. A judge shall make a de novo determination of those portions of the report or specified proposed findings or recommendations to which objection is made and may accept, reject, or modify, in whole or in part, the findings or recommendations made by the magistrate judge. The judge, however, need conduct a new hearing only in his or her discretion or where required by law, and may consider the record developed before the magistrate judge, making his or her own determination on the basis of that record. The judge may also receive further evidence, recall witnesses or recommit the matter to the magistrate judge with instructions.