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Luck v. Mount Airy 1, LLC

United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania

August 19, 2014

PETER C. LUCK, and KENNETH N. WYNDER, JR. Plaintiffs.
v.
MOUNT AIRY #1, LLC, LIANNE R. ASBURY, TREVOR TASETANO, JOSEPH J. KULICK, JR. and MARK A. KAYE Defendants.

MEMORANDUM

JAMES M. MUNLEY, District Judge.

Before the court for disposition are Defendants Mount Airy #1, LLC, Lianne R. Asbury and Trevor Tasetano (hereinafter "Casino Defendants") and State Troopers Joseph J. Kulick, Jr. and Mark A. Kaye's (hereinafter "Commonwealth Defendants") motions for summary judgment. (Docs. 88 & 89). The motions are fully briefed and ripe for disposition.

Background

The instant civil rights action arose from Plaintiffs Peter C. Luck and Kenneth N. Wynder, Jr.'s (collectively "plaintiffs") interactions with the Casino and Commonwealth Defendants. On May 2, 2011, plaintiffs entered Mount Airy Casino (hereinafter "Mt. Airy" or "the casino") and spoke with casino security guards concerning possible unionization. (Doc. 90, Commw. Defs.' Statement of Material and Undisputed Facts (hereinafter "Commw. Defs.' SMF") ¶¶ 18-19). Defendant Trevor Tasetano (hereinafter "Tasetano"), a Mount Airy security supervisor, approached plaintiffs and asked for identification. (Id. ¶¶ 21-23). After plaintiffs refused to furnish identification, Tasetano directed plaintiffs to leave. (Id.) The parties dispute whether Tasetano also advised plaintiffs that they could never return to the casino. (Commw. Defs.' SMF ¶ 23; Doc. 95-1, Pls.' Resp. Statement. to Com. Defs.' SMF (hereinafter "Pls.' Resp. Stat.") ¶ 23).

On May 14, 2011, plaintiffs returned to Mount Airy. (Commw. Defs.' SMF ¶ 25). Defendant Tasetano and other security guards surrounded plaintiffs on the gaming floor. (Id. ¶ 26; Doc. 88-2, Ex. N., Dep. of Wynder (hereinafter "Wynder Dep.") at 97-98). Tasetano reminded plaintiffs that he told them on May 2, 2011 never to return to the casino. (Commw. Defs.' SMF ¶ 26).

Tasetano then contacted the Commonwealth Defendants. (Commw. Defs.' SMF ¶ 27). The Commonwealth Defendants met plaintiffs and Tasetano on the gaming floor. (Id. ¶ 28). Commonwealth Defendants then escorted plaintiffs to an upstairs office and issued plaintiffs citations for criminal trespass. (Id. ¶ 46). On June 7, 2011, following a criminal summary trial on the trespass charges, plaintiffs were found not guilty. (Id. ¶ 68).

In response, plaintiffs filed an eight-count complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and §1988 against the Commonwealth and Casino Defendants. After several motions and court orders, plaintiffs filed a seven-count amended complaint on August 15, 2013. (Doc. 81). Count I alleges false arrest and false imprisonment claims under 42 U.S.C. §§ 1983 and 1988 against the individual Casino Defendants-Asbury and Tasetano (hereinafter "individual Casino Defendants"). Count II alleges sections 1983 and 1988 false arrest and false imprisonment claims against the Commonwealth Defendants. In count III, plaintiffs assert a civil conspiracy claim under sections 1983 and 1988 against the Commonwealth Defendants and individual Casino Defendants. Counts IV through VII aver several state law claims against the Casino Defendants: Count IV, civil conspiracy; Count V, false arrest and false imprisonment; Count VI, malicious prosecution and Count VII, intentional infliction of emotional distress.

At the conclusion of discovery the Casino and Commonwealth Defendants filed motions for summary judgment. (Docs. 88 & 89). The parties then briefed the issues bringing the case to its present posture.

Jurisdiction

Plaintiffs bring this case under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 ("Section 1983") and 42 U.S.C. § 1988 ("Section 1988") for violation of plaintiffs' constitutional rights. Thus, the court has federal question jurisdiction. See U.S.C. § 1331. ("The district courts shall have original jurisdiction of all civil actions arising under the Constitution, laws, or treaties of the United States."); 28 U.S.C. §§ 1343(a)(3), (4) (granting district courts jurisdiction over civil actions brought to redress deprivations of constitutional or statutory rights by way of damages or equitable relief). The court has supplemental jurisdiction over plaintiffs' state law claims pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1367(a).

Legal Standard

Granting summary judgment is proper "if the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.'" See Knabe v. Boury , 114 F.3d 407, 410 n.4 (3d Cir. 1997) (quoting FED. R. CIV. P. 56(c)). "[T]his standard provides that the mere existence of some alleged factual dispute between the parties will not defeat an otherwise properly supported motion for summary judgment; the requirement is that there be no genuine issue of material fact." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc. , 477 U.S. 242, 247-48 (1986) (emphasis in original).

In considering a motion for summary judgment, the court must examine the facts in the light most favorable to the party opposing the motion. Int'l Raw Materials, Ltd. v. Stauffer Chem. Co. , 898 F.2d 946, 949 (3d Cir. 1990). The burden is on the moving party to demonstrate that the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could not return a verdict for the non-moving party. Anderson , 477 U.S. at 248. A fact is material if it might affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law. Id . Where the non-moving party will bear the burden of proof at trial, the party moving for summary judgment may meet its burden by establishing that the evidentiary materials of record, if reduced to admissible evidence, would be insufficient to carry the non-movant's burden of proof at trial. Celotex v. Catrett , 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986). Once the moving party satisfies its burden, the burden shifts to the non-moving party, who must go beyond its pleadings, and designate specific facts with affidavits, depositions, admissions, or answers to interrogatories demonstrating that there is a genuine issue for trial. Id . at 324.

Discussion

In the present case, the defendants are separated into two groups: (1) the Commonwealth Defendants-Pennsylvania State Troopers Mark A. Kaye and Joseph J. Kulick, Jr.; and (2) Mt. Airy and the individual Casino Defendants (collectively the "Casino Defendants"). Both the Commonwealth Defendants and Casino Defendants have filed motions for summary judgment. (Docs. 88 & 89). Collectively, they seek summary judgment on all counts within plaintiffs' amended complaint. The court will address each motion separately.

Initially, the court notes that plaintiffs bring their federal law claims against Commonwealth and Casino Defendants pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 ("Section 1983"). Section 1983 does not, by its own terms, create substantive rights. Rather, it provides remedies for deprivations of rights established elsewhere in the Constitution or federal law. ...


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