United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania
F. LEESON, JR. United States District Judge
Motion for Summary Judgment, ECF No. 23 - Granted in
Slatington Borough, Police Officer William Borst, Sergeant
David Alercia, and Detective Timothy Wagner have filed a
motion for summary judgment against Plaintiff Larry Arndt.
For the reasons set forth below, summary judgment is awarded
in favor of Defendants on Arndt's failure to train
claims, but denied in all other respects due to genuine
disputes of material fact, which a jury will be required to
undisputed facts show that on the afternoon of March 10,
2015, after drinking at a neighborhood bar, Arndt returned to
his home and began to argue with his mother and daughter
about his drinking habit. Defs.' Mot. Ex. 1, Arndt Dep.
54:19-58:25, ECF No. 23-3. At approximately 3:00 p.m., Arndt
called 911 and asked them to send four police officers to
take him to jail because no one wanted him around and it
would make his mother and daughter happy. See
Defs.' Mot. Ex. 2, Arndt 911 call.
thereafter, Police Officer William Borst, Sergeant David
Alercia, and Detective Timothy Wagner arrived at Arndt's
residence and found Arndt sitting on the steps of his front
stoop. Arndt Dep. 69:7-9. According to Sergeant Alercia, as
the officers approached Arndt and began to question him,
Arndt exhibited signs of intoxication; in particular,
Sergeant Alercia noted Arndt's speech, demeanor,
bloodshot eyes, and the scent of alcohol on his person.
Defs.' Mot. Ex. 3, Alercia Dep. 52:9-22, ECF No. 23-5.
When the officers asked Arndt what was wrong, Arndt replied
that he was arguing with his mother and daughter and was
“not doing good.” Arndt Dep. 71:2-5. Arndt asked
the officers to “take [him] away and arrest
[him].” Arndt Dep.71:13-14. The officers replied that
they had no reason to do so. Arndt Dep. 71:22-23.
then stated that he would give the officers a reason to
arrest him, and he asked Detective Wagner if he had a
lighter. Arndt Dep. 71:25- 72:6. Detective Wagner handed his
cigarette lighter to Arndt, who then reached in his pocket,
retrieved a pipe filled with marijuana, brought the pipe to
his mouth, and began to light the marijuana. Arndt Dep.
parties dispute what happened next. According to Arndt, as he
began to light the marijuana, Detective Wagner smacked his
hand, “grabbed [his] wrist and twisted it up and pulled
it up [his] back.” Pl.'s Br. Opp'n Ex. B.,
Arndt Dep. 74:22-75:2, ECF No. 25-3. The other two officers
then grabbed Arndt's left arm and “[p]ulled it and
twisted it and shoved it up [his] back.” Arndt Dep.
78:8-10. Arndt testified that as this occurred, he did not
offer any resistance to the officers' movements, although
he “was tensed-normal reaction, tensing up. . . . My
body was tensed.” Arndt Dep. 79:20-80:1.
officers present a different account. According to Detective
Wagner, after Arndt began to light the marijuana, Detective
Wagner tried to grab the lighter from Arndt's left hand;
Arndt then pulled his left hand to the center of his chest to
prevent Detective Wagner from controlling his arm. Defs.'
Mot. Ex. 4, Wagner Dep. 27:11-16, ECF No. 23-6. Detective
Wagner then “got ahold of [Arndt's] wrist.”
Wagner Dep. 27:17. According to Sergeant Alercia, after
Detective Wagner grabbed Arndt's left arm, Sergeant
Alercia “grabbed [Arndt's] right arm by his elbow
and in front of his bicep.” Alercia Dep. 72:22-73:6. In
response, Arndt “gave the straight arm” to
Sergeant Alercia, pushing him into a retaining wall. Alercia
Dep. 73:18-22. Officer William Borst then approached Arndt
from the front and pushed Arndt's head down to shift
Arndt's center of gravity, which allowed Detective Wagner
and Sergeant Alercia to move Arndt's hands behind his
back. Alercia Dep. 76:5-9.
undisputed that after getting his hands behind his back, the
officers handcuffed Arndt, who remained seated throughout the
encounter. Alercia Dep. 79:3-80:12. After several requests
from the officers, Arndt stood up under his own power and was
escorted to the back of the police car. Alercia Dep. 81:1-3.
Once in custody, Arndt was moved from the police station to
central booking where he was charged with resisting arrest
and various drug offenses; he was released that evening.
See Defs.' Mot. 5, ECF No. 23-2. According to an
incident report prepared by Detective Wagner, he offered
medical services to Arndt at the station after he observed
that Arndt's left wrist had red marks from the handcuffs;
in response, Arndt laughed, asked if Detective Wagner was
kidding, and said he was fine. Defs.' Mot. Ex. 6, Wagner
Incident Report 3, ECF No. 23-8. In an interview with police
a few days after the incident, Arndt stated that he began to
feel pain in his arms shortly before his release from the
station. See Defs.' Mot. Ex. 5, Arndt Interview
testified that on June 14, 2016, he underwent spinal surgery
to address pinched nerves and compressed and bulging
vertebrae that, his medical staff informed him, stemmed from
the March 10, 2015 incident. Arndt Dep. 31:6-32:21. Arndt
also testified that he requires pain medication and physical
therapy for injuries to his elbows that he sustained as a
result of the incident. Arndt Dep. 38:23-40:10.
advances the following claims: (1) pursuant to 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983, a claim that the officers used excessive
force against him and failed to intervene to prevent such
force in violation of his Fourth Amendment rights, as
incorporated against the states by the Fourteenth Amendment;
(2) pursuant to § 1983, a claim that Defendant
Slatington Borough was deliberately indifferent to a need to
train and supervise their officers to avoid the
constitutional harm Arndt alleges he suffered; (3) tort
claims against the officers for assault and battery.
move for summary judgment on all of Arndt's claims,
contending that judgment is warranted in their favor because
the force used to restrain and arrest ...