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Means v. City of McKeesport

United States District Court, W.D. Pennsylvania

August 18, 2014

TAMMY MEANS, Plaintiff,


MAUREEN P. KELLY, Magistrate Judge.


Pending before the Court is a Motion for Summary Judgment (the "Motion") (ECF No. 50) filed by Defendant, the City of McKeesport ("City of McKeesport") seeking the entry of judgment in its favor as to all claims asserted against it by the plaintiff, Tammy Means ("Means" or "Plaintiff"). The parties have filed briefs in support and in opposition to the Motion (ECF Nos. 51, 55), and the City of McKeesport has filed its reply to Plaintiff's response (ECF No. 56). In addition, the parties have separately filed concise statements of material facts, as well as exhibits which have been reviewed in detail by the Court. (ECF Nos. 52, 53, 54 and XX-X-XX-X).

After consideration of the parties' submissions and the applicable legal principles, the Court concludes that in light of the summary judgment standard of review and based upon the evidence of record, Plaintiff has failed to present sufficient facts and evidence to establish that the City of McKeesport has violated her constitutional rights or has any liability for the unauthorized illegal conduct of one of its former police officers, Defendant Vernon Andrews ("Andrews"). Accordingly, for the following reasons, it is recommended that the Motion for Summary Judgment filed by the City of McKeesport be GRANTED.



Plaintiff has filed this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging, inter alia, the violation of her rights under the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution. (ECF No. 11).[1]

Plaintiff alleges that Defendant Andrews, a police officer employed by the City of McKeesport Police Department (the "Police Department"), used his authority and position to gain access to her home without permission or a warrant. (ECF No. 11, p. 5). Specifically, Defendant Andrews is alleged to have used his Police Department patrol vehicle to perform surveillance on Plaintiff's home and, while watching her coming and going, discovered where Plaintiff hid a spare key. Id . After locating the key, Defendant Andrews made a copy and on September 23, 2010, while in uniform, entered Plaintiff's home after she had left for work. Id . Plaintiff alleges that upon discovering that her home had been unlawfully entered, she immediately notified the Police Department. Plaintiff further alleges that the City of McKeesport solicitor and the Chief of Police responded to her complaint by conspiring to deter her, through intimidation, from pursuing charges against Defendant Andrews. Id . Defendant Andrews subsequently admitted entering Plaintiff's home without her permission and pled guilty to Defiant Trespass (18 Pa. C.S.A. § 3504), Possessing Instruments of a Crime (18 Pa. C.S.A. § 907), and Official Oppression (18 Pa. C.S.A. § 3501). Id . Plaintiff alleges that as a result of Defendants' actions, she was forced to move from her home, has lost sleep, fears rape and burglary, and generally suffers from anxiety. (ECF No. 11, p. 7).

In addition to pursuing her claims against Defendant Andrews individually, Plaintiff alleges that the City of McKeesport is independently liable to her as a result of Police Department policies and customs, which resulted in the deprivation of her constitutional rights. (ECF No. 11, p. 8). Central to these claims are allegations that despite a background which included a history of "violence, mischievous, illegal and/or unlawful conduct, " the Police Department hired Defendant Andrews and permitted him to patrol unsupervised in uniform and with a Police Department vehicle. Plaintiff asserts that the Police Department failed to employ adequate policies, practices, and procedures with regard to hiring, supervision and training, and that this failure led to the violation of Plaintiff's constitutional rights.

At the close of pleadings, Plaintiff filed a Motion for Default Judgment as to Defendant Andrews. (ECF No. 15). While Andrews was properly served in this action, he failed to file an Answer or otherwise respond to Plaintiff's Complaint. Plaintiff's Motion for Default Judgment was unopposed and default judgment was entered solely against Defendant Andrews. (ECF No. 18). Upon the entry of default, and pursuant to Rule 55(b) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, this Court held a hearing. Defendant Andrews failed to appear at the hearing as scheduled and, after consideration of the evidence presented, the Court entered an Order granting default judgment as to Defendant Andrews. The Court deferred a determination of damages until the time of trial. (ECF No. 28).

Defendants City of McKeesport and the Police Department filed a Motion to Dismiss for Failure to State a Claim, pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (ECF No. 12). Following this Court's partial grant of the Motion to Dismiss (ECF No. 30), Plaintiff's remaining claims consist of her causes of action against the City of McKeesport arising under the Fourth Amendment (Count II) and the Fourteenth Amendment (Count III), as derivatively pursued through Count I, (asserting a claim pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983)[2] and Count VI (asserting liability on the part of the City of McKeesport arising from its failure to train, discipline and supervise Defendant Andrews).

The parties engaged in extensive discovery. This Court granted Plaintiff's request for additional time to complete discovery. Discovery in this action has concluded.

At this point, it must be noted that substantial evidence identified by the City of McKeesport in support of the instant Motion has not been specifically refuted by Plaintiff. Plaintiff has failed to respond to Defendant's Concise Statement of Facts (ECF No. 53), or, alternatively, provide citations to the record in support of any of her allegations. (ECF No. 55). Plaintiff has attached well over 450 pages of exhibits to her brief in opposition to Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment, comprising in their entirety, the Police Department's Manual of Policies and Procedures (ECF No. 55-1, pp. 1-104; 55-2 pp. 1-106; 55-3 pp. 1-99; ECF No. 55-4, pp. 1-86; 55-5, pp. 1-70). However, Plaintiff fails to cite to any particular policy or provision that she may assert as relevant to opposing Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment. In addition, while Plaintiff has filed a "Joint Stipulation of Facts" (ECF No. 54), it is limited to four items, each item setting forth the home or business address of a party to this litigation.

Given the state of the record, the uncontroverted evidence cited by Defendant City of McKeesport, including the Plaintiff's deposition and the deposition of the Chief of Police, indicates that upon receiving Plaintiff's report of the break-in and Defendant Andrews' involvement, he was placed on administrative leave. The Allegheny County District Attorney was notified of the incident for purposes of assigning the investigation to an outside law enforcement agency. In addition, Plaintiff's home was assigned a protective security detail for several days. (ECF No. 52-2, pp. 9-10; ECF No. 52-3, p. 43). Within days of the ...

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