United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania
J. PAPPERT, J.
March 3, 2012 Devin Williams was a passenger in Michael
Jacobs's car in Philadelphia. (Amended Compl., ¶ 8,
ECF No. 8.) Jacobs was driving Williams to meet
Williams's girlfriend and the pair stopped at
Williams's house so he could pick up a change of clothes.
(Id. ¶ 9.) While Williams was inside,
Philadelphia Police Officer John O'Connor and a fellow
officer saw Jacobs sitting in his car counting money; they
then saw Williams return to the car with a shopping bag.
(Id. ¶¶ 10-12.) When Jacobs and Williams
resumed driving, the officers followed the car briefly before
pulling it over. (Id. ¶ 13.)
contends that the officers immediately ordered him out of the
car and frisked him, though they did not do either to Jacobs.
(Id. ¶¶ 14-16.) Williams is
African-American and Jacobs is white. (Id. ¶
8.) During their search, the police found several small bags
of marijuana in Williams's pants pocket. The officers put
Williams in their police car until another car could arrive
to transport him. (Id. ¶ 17.) While waiting in
the police car, Williams hid his gun- somehow not detected
during the frisk-under the seat. (Id. ¶ 17.)
Williams was arrested and subsequently charged with various
crimes. He spent approximately thirteen months in prison
awaiting trial. (Id. ¶¶ 20 & 21.) A
state court judge eventually suppressed the evidence gathered
during the traffic stop, and Williams was not convicted of
any crimes. (Id. ¶ 22.)
sued O'Connor, other officers and the City of
Philadelphia, though due to amendment of Williams's
original complaint and his subsequent voluntary dismissal of
other defendants, Officer O'Connor is the only remaining
named defendant. See (ECF Nos. 8 & 25). Williams
contends that O'Connor violated his Fourth and Fourteenth
Amendment rights by illegally searching and seizing him and
selectively enforcing the laws against him. Trial begins on
February 8, 2017 and O'Connor has filed two motions
in limine. The first seeks to preclude evidence of
Williams's incarceration and alleged lost wages resulting
from the traffic stop and arrest. (ECF No. 39.) The second
motion asks the Court to bar Williams from introducing into
evidence the judge's suppression decision. (ECF No. 40.)
For the reasons given below, the first motion is granted in
part and the second motion is granted in its entirety.
No. 39, O'Connor contends that Williams may “only
recover damages based on the three minutes separating his
stop from . . . his arrest, ” and evidence of
subsequent incarceration or lost wages is therefore
irrelevant and inadmissible. See (id.)
O'Connor relies on Hector v. Watt, 235 F.3d 154,
157 (3d Cir. 2001), for the proposition that a plaintiff
“cannot be compensated for injuries that result from
the discovery of incriminating evidence and consequent
criminal prosecution.” (ECF No. 39, at 4.) In
Hector, the Third Circuit Court of Appeals
determined that a § 1983 plaintiff alleging Fourth
Amendment violations cannot recover damages for injuries that
arise from the discovery of incriminating evidence during an
unlawful search. Hector, 235 F.3d at 157. The Third
Circuit reasoned that the damages resulting from the later
prosecution are “too unrelated” to the privacy
interests the Fourth Amendment seeks to protect.
Hector, 235 F.3d at 157 (citing Carey v.
Piphus, 435 U.S. 247, 264-65 (1978)), see also
Id. (“[T]he damages available under § 1983
depend on the type of constitutional right asserted.”
(citing Carey, 435 U.S. at 265); Carey, 435
U.S. at 265 ([T]he elements and prerequisites for recovery of
damages appropriate to compensate injuries caused by the
deprivation of one constitutional right are not necessarily
appropriate to compensate injuries caused by the deprivation
of another. . . . [T]hese issues must be considered with
reference to the nature of the interests protected by the
particular constitutional right in question.”)).
Williams therefore cannot recover, under his illegal search
and seizure claim, damages for his incarceration or lost
wages. See Hector, 235 F.3d at 157 (“The evil
of an unreasonable search or seizure is that it invades
privacy, not that it uncovers crime, which is no evil at
alleged Fourth Amendment injury occurred during the search
and seizure, not his subsequent detention. See Alvin v.
Calabrese, 455 F. App'x 171, 178 (3d Cir. 2011)
(“The alleged damages [the plaintiff] claims to have
suffered after his arrest were not the direct result of an
invasion of his privacy in violation of the Fourth
Amendment.”). Any evidence of Williams's
incarceration or wages allegedly lost while he was
incarcerated is therefore irrelevant and inadmissible in the
context of his Fourth Amendment claim.
contends that Hector's reasoning extends beyond
the Fourth Amendment and applies to claims under the
Fourteenth Amendment as well. He cites an unpublished and
non-precedential Third Circuit Court of Appeals case,
Washington v. Hanshaw, 552 F. App'x 169 (3d Cir.
2014). In that case, the plaintiff brought “a virtual
cornuocopia of constitutional tort[ ]” claims, each
purportedly grounded in the Fourteenth Amendment. 552 F.
App'x at 172. The Third Circuit held that a plaintiff
guilty of the underlying offense could not recover damages
for later incarceration. The Court stated: “We believe
our reasoning in Hector compels the result here,
notwithstanding [the plaintiff's] reliance on the
Fourteenth rather than the Fourth Amendment.”
Id. at 173.
holding is not, however, as broad as O'Connor contends.
In that case, the plaintiff purported to bring Fourteenth
Amendment claims that were, in reality, allegations of Fourth
Amendment violations couched in the language of the
Fourteenth Amendment. See Id. at 173 (“The
conduct and harm Washington alleges are the same types as
those asserted in Hector: the police discovered
incriminating evidence in the course of a search later
determined to be unconstitutional.”). The court in
Washington therefore noted that the plaintiff's
claim was “akin to a claim asserting ‘a
substantive right under the . . . Fourteenth Amendment to be
free from criminal prosecution except upon probable
cause.” Id. at 172. Faced with this attempt to
expand Hector, the Third Circuit noted that the
Fourth Amendment “provides an explicit textual source
of such constitutional protection, ” and refused to
permit the plaintiff to collect damages for events occurring
after the search. Id. (citing Graham v.
Connor, 490 U.S. 386, 395 (1989)).
situation is different. While the Plaintiff in
Washington alleged “the same types [of claims]
asserted in Hector, ” Washington, 552
F. App'x at 173-that is, claims that ultimately sound in
Fourth Amendment violations-Williams's Fourteenth
Amendment selective enforcement claim is distinct from his
Fourth Amendment claim. He contends that he not only was
subjected to an unlawful search, but also that he was treated
differently from a similarly situated individual, and that
different treatment was based on the impermissible factor of
race, a distinct constitutional interest. See Dique v.
N.J. State Police, 603 F.3d 181, 184 n.5 (3d Cir. 2010)
(detailing requirements of a Fourteenth Amendment selective
Fourteenth Amendment selective enforcement claim raises
issues distinct from his Fourth Amendment unlawful search and
seizure claim. Because he has an equal protection interest
protected by the Fourteenth Amendment, Williams may recover
damages for lost wages and the time he spent incarcerated.
Cf., e.g., Hector, 235 F.3d at 157
(“[T]he damages available under § 1983 depend on
the type of constitutional right asserted.” (citing
Carey, 435 U.S. at 265)). Evidence of lost wages and
time incarcerated is both relevant and highly probative of
Williams's damages. Williams may therefore introduce this
evidence to show damages for his Fourteenth Amendment
selective enforcement claim only.
also contends that evidence of the state court's
suppression decision is inadmissible. He argues that the
decision is irrelevant under Federal Rule of Evidence 401 and
that even if relevant, the probative value of the suppression
decision is substantially outweighed by the risk of unfair
prejudice such that the evidence is inadmissible under Rule
403. Williams contends that the evidence is relevant and
highly probative, because O'Connor's motivations and
credibility are a jury question, and would potentially
demonstrate that the search and seizure at issue here was
of the state court's suppression decision is inadmissible
under Rule 403. Whatever the decision's probative value
may be, it will be substantially outweighed by unfair
prejudice and risk of confusing the jury. Jurors may give
undue weight to the judge's decision. Whether there was
reasonable suspicion for O'Connor to stop Jacobs and
Williams is an ultimate, if not dispositive, fact at issue in
this case. O'Connor will be highly prejudiced if evidence
of the state court's decision regarding the ultimate
question is admitted. Cf. Thomas v. O'Brien, 539
F. App'x 21, 22 (2d Cir. 2013) (upholding
magistrate's decision to preclude evidence of state court
suppression decision where doing so risked jury confusion);
cf. also Jackson v. City of Philadelphia, No.
11-4294, 2013 WL 101779, at *1 (E.D. Pa. Jan. 8, 2013)
(addressing question of issue preclusion and noting that
“[c]ase law in this Circuit has established that a
state court finding of no probable cause is not ordinarily
binding in a subsequent § 1983 action” because the
parties are different in the state court proceeding).
Williams's § 1983 claim is ...