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Swope v. City of Pittsburgh

United States District Court, W.D. Pennsylvania

February 5, 2015

ROBERT SWOPE, Plaintiff,
v.
CITY OF PITTSBURGH; DETECTIVE JOHN JOHNSON in his individual and Official capacity, DETECTIVE LEONARD DUNCAN in his individual and official Capacity, Defendants

Order Filed: December 1, 2014

Page 401

ROBERT SWOPE, Plaintiff, Pro se, Pittsburgh, PA.

For CITY OF PITTSBURGH, Defendant: Michael E. Kennedy, LEAD ATTORNEY, Lourdes Sanchez Ridge, Matthew S. McHale, City of Pittsburgh Department of Law, Pittsburgh, PA.

For DETECTIVE JOHN JOHNSON, in his individual and official capacity, DETECTIVE LEONARD DUNCAN, in his individual and official capacity, Defendants: Bryan Campbell, LEAD ATTORNEY, Pittsburgh, PA; Allison N. Genard, Law Office of Bryan Campbell, Esq., Pittsburgh, PA.

David Stewart Cercone, United States District Judge. Chief Magistrate Judge Maureen P. Kelly.

Page 402

MEMORANDUM ORDER Re: ECF No. 7.

David Stewart Cercone, United States District Judge.

AND NOW, this 4th day of January, 2015, after Plaintiff Robert Swope, filed an action in the above-captioned case, and after a Motion to Dismiss was submitted on behalf of Defendants, and after a Report and Recommendation was filed by the United States Magistrate Judge and Plaintiff was given until January 14, 2015, to file written objections thereto, and upon consideration of the objections filed by Plaintiff, ECF No. 18, and the response to those objections filed by Defendants, ECF No. 21, and upon independent review of the record, and upon consideration of the Magistrate Judge's Report and Recommendation, ECF No. 17, which is adopted as the opinion of this Court,

IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that the Defendants' Motion to Dismiss, ECF No. 7, is GRANTED.

Page 403

IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that, pursuant to Rule 4(a)(1) of the Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure, if any party wishes to appeal from this Order a notice of appeal, as provided in Fed. R. App. P. 3, must be filed with the Clerk of Court, United States District Court, at 700 Grant Street, Room 3110, Pittsburgh, PA 15219, within thirty (30) days.

REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION Re: ECF No. 7

MAUREEN P. KELLY, CHIEF UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE. Judge David Stewart Cercone.

I. RECOMMENDATION

Plaintiff Robert Swope, a pro se litigant, was the subject of what appears to have been a rather dramatic and frightening arrest for crimes that he did not commit. Justifiably upset, Mr. Swope has brought this civil rights action against Defendants Detective John Johnson (" Johnson" ), Detective Leonard Duncan (" Duncan" ) and the City of Pittsburgh (collectively, " Defendants" ), alleging that Defendants violated his rights provided by the Fourth and Eighth Amendment to the United States Constitution relative to his arrest and subsequent search of his residence.

Presently before the Court is a Motion to Dismiss (" the Motion" ) submitted on behalf of Defendants. ECF No. 7. Although the Court is sympathetic to Mr. Swope's complaints, for the following reasons, it is nevertheless respectfully recommended that the Motion be granted.

II. REPORT

A. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

According to the Complaint, Mr. Swope was arrested at his home in the early morning hours on July 19, 2012, by a team of armed United States Marshals. Mr. Swope claims that the Marshals dragged him out of his house, handcuffed and shackled him without any explanation of why he was being arrested, and transported him to Police Headquarters on Allegheny Avenue. ECF No. 1, ¶ ¶ 7-10. Mr. Swope was then placed in an interrogation room and informed by unnamed detectives that he was being arrested for armed robbery. Mr. Swope alleges that, in order to force him to confess to various armed robberies in the Pittsburgh area, these detectives subjected him to a variety of interrogation tactics including being offered a " package deal" if he confessed and being threatened with consecutive charges of robbery so that " he would 'never get out' of jail." Mr. Swope also alleges that the detectives threatened to inform the judge that Mr. Swope was uncooperative so as to get an extra high bond set and to seize his rescue dogs and have them euthanized. Id. at ¶ ¶ 10-14. Despite Mr. Swope's protestations that he was a responsible business man in the area, a property owner, a licensed real estate agent, and that he could verify his whereabouts through receipts, phone records and e-mails, he was transported to the Allegheny County Jail where he remained for over twelve hours before being arraigned. Id. at ¶ 15.

Mr. Swope further alleges that when he was able to make a telephone call later that night he was informed by his fiancé that his house had been searched and that all of his money and personal belongings had been confiscated. Id. Mr. Swope alleges that on the morning of July 20, 2012, after his future father-in-law purchased a bail bond from Liberty Bail Bond for $2500, he was freed but was immediately escorted back to " holding" and charged with a second count of armed robbery.[1]

Page 404

Id. at ¶ 16. Mr. Swope's fiancé 's family posted a second bond at the cost of $1250 that night. The first bond, however, had to be reposted and Mr. Swope was not released from the Allegheny County Jail until the morning of July 21, 2012. Id. at ¶ ¶ 16-17.

Mr. Swope also claims that when he appeared for the preliminary hearing on July 26, 2012, he was informed by Defendant Johnson that a witness was on vacation and that the preliminary hearing would be rescheduled for August 16, 2012. Id. at ¶ 20. Mr. Swope apparently told Johnson at that time that he had irrefutable evidence proving that he was not in the state at the time of the alleged robberies and, over the course of the next two weeks, Mr. Swope met with his attorney and Defendants and provided that evidence. Id. at ¶ ¶ 21-22. Mr. Swope complains that, this notwithstanding, he still had to wait until the August 16th preliminary hearing for the charges to be withdrawn and that during those three weeks he was unable to travel and/or conduct business as usual. Id. at ¶ 23.

Mr. Swope claims that as a result of his arrest he lost $3250 in bond fees that he reimbursed to his fiancé 's family; $1000 in legal fees to retain a lawyer; $1100 in missing cash; and actual and potential business as a licensed real estate agent. Id. at ¶ ¶ 16, 18-19; pp. 12-13, ¶ ¶ 2-8. Mr. Swope also claims that he has suffered emotional damages, including embarrassment, humiliation, nightmares and anxiety. Id. at p. 13, ¶ 9.

Mr. Swope filed the instant Complaint on July 14, 2014, bringing claims pursuant to the Fourth and Eighth Amendments to the United States Constitution for false arrest and false imprisonment (Count I); unreasonable search and seizure (Count II); excessive bail (Count III); malicious prosecution (Count IV); and municipal liability (Count V). ECF No. 1. Defendants filed a Motion to Dismiss on August 6, 2014, to which Mr. Swope filed a Brief in Opposition on September 8, 2014. ECF Nos. 7, 13. Defendants filed a Reply Brief to Plaintiff's Opposition on September 22, 2014, and ...


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