October 25, 2016
Appeal from the United States District Court for the Western
District of Pennsylvania, District Court Civil No.
2-13-cv-01657 District Judge: Honorable Cathy Bissoon
Timothy P. O'Brien, Esq. [Argued] Counsel for Appellant
A. VanderWoude, Esq. [Argued] Marshall Dennehey Warner
Coleman & Goggin Counsel for Appellee
BEFORE: VANASKIE, KRAUSE, and NYGAARD, Circuit Judges
NYGAARD, Circuit Judge.
Andrews was found not guilty of the crimes for which he was
charged. He brought suit against Officer Robert Sciulli for
false arrest and malicious prosecution. On appeal he
contends that the District Court erred by granting summary
judgment, on the basis of qualified immunity, in favor of
Sciulli. We agree. We will reverse the District Court's
judgment and remand the cause for trial.
November 25, 2012 in Stowe Township, Pa, Brooke Wagner was
walking on a sidewalk from a friend's house to her home.
She was fifteen years old. A man in a car approached her and
asked if she wanted a ride. She told him "no." He
demanded that she get in the car. Wagner again refused and
told him that she would report him to the police. He sped
away. She used her mobile phone to call her mother, who told
her to go home. The mother then called the police.
Officer Sciulli and Officer Antonio Reymundo Ruiz of the
Stowe Township Police Department arrived at Wagner's home
within minutes of the mother's report. Upon questioning
by Ruiz, Wagner described the vehicle as a red, four-door
sedan. She said that the car had a Pennsylvania license plate
bearing the letters ACG. She described the driver as a white
male with dark hair, around 35 years old. Ruiz gave this
information to Sciulli, who then went to the location of the
incident. Sciulli prepared an Incident Investigation Report
that same day, recording the details Wagner had provided.
next day, the mother was driving Wagner home from a grocery
store when Wagner saw a red car. She told her mother that it
was the car that had stopped next to her the day before. She
noted that the license number was JDG4817. They followed the
car until it stopped in a parking lot. Her mother drove into
the lot and parked. Wagner observed the driver get out and
walk into a building. She believed he was the man that tried
to lure her into the car on the day before.
mother then drove her directly to the police station. They
met with Sciulli and Officer Gruber. Wagner reported what she
observed: the red car, the full license number, and the
driver. She also stated her conclusion that this was the car
and man she encountered the previous day. The officers
checked the license number, JDG4817, in the JNET database and
identified the car as belonging to David Andrews. They
obtained Andrews' license photo and created a photo array
with images of Andrews and seven other men.Sciulli presented
the lineup to Wagner and instructed her to circle the picture
of anyone she recognized. Wagner circled the image of
Wagner and her mother left the station, Sciulli went to the
parking lot they said was the location of Andrews' car
and he looked at the vehicle. Andrews' automobile was not a
four-door sedan, but a red, three-door coupe.
drafted an affidavit of probable cause to arrest Andrews. The
affidavit, dated November 28, 2012, stated:
Officers were notified on 11/25/12 at approximately 1112
hours, of a possible child luring incident. I, officer
Sciulli, and officer Ruiz were dispatched to 1309 Island
Avenue to meet the victim. At this time, officers spoke with
the victim. The female juvenile's information was
obtained and is on record and said juvenile and parent will
be present at all court hearings.
The victim (female juvenile age 15) stated that while walking
home from a friend's house, a red vehicle pulled up next
to her while walking on the sidewalk and asked her (juvenile
age 15) if she wanted a ride. The victim stated
"NO". The defendant then said "COME ON, JUST
GET IN". The victim then said "NO, I'M FINE.
Now I am going to report you". The victim then stated
that the vehicle sped away.
The victim then described this male as a middle aged white
male with dark hair with streaks of gray. Victim described
the vehicle as a red 4 door sedan.
On 11/26/12, the victim spotted this same vehicle described
above, driving on Island Avenue, while riding with her
mother. She identified the plate as JDG4817, PA tag. They
followed the vehicle to Axion, and victim again positively
identified the male driver as the suspect she encountered the
The victim and her mother came to the station to give
officers this information. Officers ran the PA plate,
JDG4817, and found it to be registered to David Gene Andrews,
out of Beaver Falls, PA. Based on this information, officers
created a line up using similar identifiers as Andrews.
The victim was shown a line up, created by myself and officer
Gruber, generated by descriptors through J-NET[sic]. The
victim was asked to look at the pictures and to see if there
was anyone of the pictures that she recognized as the driver
of the car. She was advised that he might or might not be in
the pictures. The victim looked at the pictures and almost
immediately picked out the picture of defendant. The
defendant was identified through JNET Pa. drivers [sic]
license as David Gene Andrews, DOB [REDACTED].
Your affiant respectfully requests that a warrant be issued
for David Gene Andrews based on the facts enumerated above.
magisterial district judge reviewed the affidavit and issued
the arrest warrant on November 28, 2012. That same day,
police arrested Andrews and charged him with luring a child
into a motor vehicle, stalking, corruption of a minor, and
harassment. In a bench trial, he was acquitted of all charges
in June 2013. Andrews filed this lawsuit on November 20,
2013. The District Court granted Sciulli's motion for
summary judgment on September 30, 2015. This appeal followed.
review de novo the District Court's grant of summary
judgment. Estate of Smith v. Marasco, 318 F.3d 497,
505 (3d Cir. 2003). Summary judgment is appropriate when there
is no genuine issue of material fact and the moving party is
entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed R. Civ. P.
56(a). When we review the District Court's grant of
summary judgment, we will reverse only in those instances
when we conclude that material facts are in dispute, or when
we determine that the undisputed facts-viewed in a light most
favorable to the non-moving party-could objectively support a
jury's verdict in favor of the non-moving party.
Orsatti v. New Jersey State Police, 71 F.3d 480, 482
(3d Cir. 1995).
raises claims of false arrest and malicious prosecution
against Sciulli. To assess claims of false arrest, the court
must determine whether "the arresting officers had
probable cause to believe the person arrested had committed
the offense." Dowling v. City of Philadelphia,
855 F.2d 136, 141 (3d Cir. 1988). Malicious prosecution
requires evidence that:
(1) the defendant initiated a criminal proceeding; (2) the
criminal proceeding ended in the plaintiff's favor; (3)
the proceeding was initiated without probable cause; (4) the
defendant acted maliciously or for a purpose other than
bringing the plaintiff to justice; and (5) the plaintiff
suffered a deprivation of liberty consistent with the concept
of seizure as a consequence of a legal proceeding.
DiBella v. Borough of Beachwood, 407 F.3d 599, 601
Sciulli contended at summary judgment that he has qualified
immunity from this lawsuit because probable cause grounded
the arrest and prosecution. "'[G]overnment officials
performing discretionary functions, generally are shielded
from liability for civil damages insofar as their conduct
does not violate clearly established statutory or
constitutional rights of which a reasonable person would have
known."' Orsatti, 71 F.3d at 483 (quoting
Harlow v. Fitzgerald,457 U.S. ...