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Baack v. Rodgers

United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania

September 17, 2014

ALFRED BAACK, Plaintiff,
v.
MARIA RODGERS, et al., Defendants.

MEMORANDUM

PAUL S. DIAMOND, District Judge.

In late 2011, Abington Township authorities charged Plaintiff, Alfred Baack-a recent patient at Holy Redeemer Hospital-with impersonating a public servant to Hospital staff. 18 Pa. Cons. Stat. Ann. § 4912. After the charge was dismissed, Plaintiff brought the instant civil rights suit, alleging that Hospital and Township employees had fabricated the charge as part of a "vendetta" against him for seeking to expose "human sex trafficking" in Abington. Because the record supports none of Plaintiff's fanciful allegations, I will grant summary judgment in Defendants' favor.

I. PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

Plaintiff originally brought civil rights and state law claims against the Hospital, its receptionist Maria Rodgers, its Security Director Anthony Heiser, Abington Township, Detective Sergeant Gregory Urban, and Police Chief William Kelly for false arrest, selective enforcement, malicious prosecution, and municipal liability. 42 U.S.C. § 1983; Monell v. Dept. of Soc. Servs. of New York , 436 U.S. 658 (1978); (Compl. ¶¶ 26-42.) He brought a negligence claim against the Hospital Defendants only. (Compl. ¶¶ 43-44.) Defendants have moved for summary judgment on all claims. (Doc. Nos. 25, 27.) In response, Plaintiff has withdrawn his selective enforcement and Monell claims, but otherwise opposes summary judgment. (Doc. No. 33.)

II. FACTUAL BACKGROUND

In considering Defendants' Motions, I have resolved all disputed facts and made all reasonable inferences in Plaintiff's favor.

On November 7, 2011, Plaintiff was admitted to the Hospital for emergency gallbladder surgery. (Baack Dep. 11.) After being released two days later, he returned to the Hospital for outpatient treatment throughout the following week. (Id. at 12-14) During his visits, Plaintiff spoke with Security Director Heiser about employment opportunities at the Hospital. (Id. at 14, 17; Compl. ¶¶ 13-15.)

On November 14, Rogers questioned Plaintiff about why he was in the Hospital. (Baack Dep. at 15.) Plaintiff testified that he identified himself as a patient and showed Rodgers a Hospital-issued wristband. (Id.) Rodgers testified, however, that Plaintiff said he was a police officer and flashed a Department of Defense Police patch. (Dep. Rogers at 11.) Rodgers was skeptical of Plaintiff's claim because the patch-unlike a police badge-was plastic, not metal. (Id. at 11-12.)

Rodgers reported this incident to Heiser, who then investigated Plaintiff's visits to the Hospital. (Heiser Dep. 27.) Heiser discovered that Plaintiff had represented himself as a police officer to Hospital security guard Alfred Drechsel and as a doctor to security guard Brian McQuillan. (Id. at 13-16, 27-29.) Because Plaintiff's behavior made Heiser "uncomfortable, " he filed a report with the Abington Township Police Department. (Id. at 32-43.)

Township Detective Sergeant Urban interviewed Heiser and Rodgers as part of his investigation. (Urban Dep. at 7-10.) He also visited Plaintiff's home, asking to see the patch that Rogers said Plaintiff had displayed. (Baack Dep. 30-35.) Plaintiff showed him the DOD Police patch, but denied representing himself as a police officer. (Id. at 69-70.)

When Sergeant Urban completed his investigation, he received approval from the Montgomery County District Attorney's Office to charge Plaintiff with one count of impersonating a public servant. (Urban Dep. at 16.)

The Sergeant prepared an arrest warrant, including a supporting affidavit that provided:

On November 14th at approximately 1600 hours, Alfred Baack entered the Holy Redeemer Hospital, located at 1648 Huntingdon [Pike] in the Meadowbrook section of Abington Township Montgomery County, Baack spoke to the security person at the front desk and asked the security person if the Director of Security was available. During the conversation, Baack stated to the security person that he was a Police Officer. Baack was then asked if he would show his identification. Baack then produced a wallet that opened up and had a Department of Defense Police patch inside. The security person then asked where his badge was, Baack replied he forgot it. As the conversation continued Baack again identified himself as a Police Investigator. After Baack was unable to meet the Security Director, he then left the lobby area of the [H]ospital.
On November 17th, 2011, I went to Alfred Baack's home in an attempt to speak with him about the incident. In my conversation with Baack he stated that he was not a Police Officer and worked for the DOD Police many years ago. Baack also showed me his wallet and it did contain a Department of Defense Police patch.
Believing the above is correct and true, I request that Alfred Baack be charged with violating the PA ...

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