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Georgiadis v. Cumberland County

United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania

March 30, 2015

TRACI M. GEORGIADIS, et al., Plaintiffs,


WILLIAM W. CALDWELL, District Judge.

I. Introduction

We are considering Defendants' motion for summary judgment. Plaintiff, Traci Georgiadis, filed this civil-rights action claiming that Defendants violated several of her federal and state constitutional rights in arresting and prosecuting her on a state sexual offense.[1] Defendants are Jamie M. Keating, the first assistant district attorney in Cumberland County, Pennsylvania, and Les Freehling, the County's chief detective. Plaintiff essentially alleges the investigation leading to her prosecution was improper because Defendants failed to take into account the complaining witness's history of making false charges, including false charges of sexual conduct. She seeks only damages.

II. Standard of Review

Fed. R. Civ. P. 56 governs the grant of summary judgment. The moving party is entitled to summary judgment if he "shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Rule 56(a). "Material facts are those that could affect the outcome of the proceeding, and a dispute about a material fact is genuine if the evidence is sufficient to permit a reasonable jury to return a verdict for the nonmoving party.'" Roth v. Norfalco LLC, 651 F.3d 367, 373 (3d Cir. 2011)(quoting Lamont v. New Jersey, 637 F.3d 177, 181 (3d Cir. 2011)(internal quotation marks omitted).

In pertinent part, parties moving for, or opposing, summary judgment must support their position by "citing to particular parts of materials in the record, including depositions, documents, electronically stored information, affidavits or declarations, stipulations (including those made for the purposes of the motion only), admissions, interrogatory answers, or other materials." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(1)(A). "The non-moving party cannot rest on mere pleadings or allegations, " El v. Southeastern Pennsylvania Transp. Auth., 479 F.3d 232, 238 (3d Cir. 2007), but "must set forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial." Saldana v. Kmart Corp., 260 F.3d 228, 231-32 (3d Cir. 2001). We "must view all evidence and draw all inferences in the light most favorable to the non-moving party" and we will only grant the motion "if no reasonable juror could find for the non-movant." Lawrence v. City of Phila., 527 F.3d 299, 310 (3d Cir. 2008).

When a non-moving party fails to file a separate statement of material facts controverting the statements filed by the moving party, under Local Rule 56.1, we will deem admitted all material facts set forth in the moving party's statement of material facts. See Smith v. Addy, 343 F.Appx. 806, 808 (3d Cir. 2009)(nonprecedential)(citing M.D. Pa. Local Rule 56.1).

III. Background

The following is the background to this case, based on the summary judgment record. Defendant Freehling investigated the charges against Plaintiff. (Doc. 32-2, ECF p. 2). He interviewed the complaining witness. ( Id., ECF p. 3). The complaining witness, a minor, stated that, on multiple occasions, she was forced to perform sexual acts on Plaintiff. ( Id., ECF p. 7). Also, Plaintiff supposedly offered to sell marijuana and cocaine to the witness. ( Id., ECF p. 8).

Defendant Freehling provided an affidavit of probable cause in order to obtain arrest and search warrants for Plaintiff, and other persons the witness charged with crimes against her. (Doc. 32-3, ECF p. Ex. C). These affidavits were approved by Defendant Keating, in accordance with policy. (Doc. 28, Defendants' Statement of Undisputed Material Facts (DSMF) ¶¶ 7-10). "ADA Keating and Det. Freehling discussed all of the relevant information uncovered to date, which included the [complaining witness's] credibility given she had admittedly previously used drugs, ran away from home and endured various emotional issues." ( Id. ¶ 8). "Prior to concluding that there was ample probable cause to charge the three accused, ADA Keating considered and took the totality of facts and information into consideration including, but not limited to, [the complaining witness's] background." ( Id. ¶ 9).

Based on the criminal complaint and affidavit of probable cause, a Pennsylvania magisterial district judge issued an arrest warrant for Plaintiff. (Doc. 32-6, ECF p. 2). The magisterial district judge also approved a search warrant for Plaintiff's house. (Doc. 32-7, ECF p. 12).

In July 2006, a preliminary hearing was held. Plaintiff (and her co-defendants) were represented by counsel. The court held that probable cause existed, and the charges were bound over for trial in the Court of Common Pleas of Cumberland County. (Doc. 28, DSMF ¶ 16).

Trial began in May 2009. ( Id. ¶ 17). The complaining witness took the stand, but "broke down into tears and was emotionally distraught when asked to describe" the sexual acts that were forced on her. ( Id. ¶ 18). She could not be calmed down enough to testify, and therefore the decision was made that the case "would be ...

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