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Williams v. Baker

United States District Court, W.D. Pennsylvania

April 12, 2017

DAVID WILLIAMS, Plaintiff,
v.
OFFICER ERIC BAKER, OFFICER BRENDAN NEE, OFFICER NATHAN AUVIL, and STEPHEN MATAKOVICH, Defendants.

          MEMORANUM ORDER OF COURT

          Arthur J. Schwab United States District Judge

         AND NOW, this 12th day of April, 2017, the Court will grant in part and deny in part Defendant Matakovich's Supplemental Objections to the Court's Final Jury Instructions.[1] Doc. no. 246. Plaintiff filed a Response in Opposition to Defendant's Supplemental Objections. Doc. no. 250. This matter is now ripe for adjudication.

         First, the Court previously deferred ruling on an objection made on behalf of Defendant Matakovich and all other Defendants when he was represented by Attorney Krepps. The Court's prior Order (doc. no. 215) reads in relevant part:

. . . [T]he Court will DEFER RULING Defendants' singular Objection to the Court's Proposed Final Jury Instructions (doc. no. 210) with respect to Plaintiff's malicious prosecution claim.
The Parties agree that all of the criminal charges Defendants filed against Plaintiff were withdrawn; however, the Exhibit List does not reference an exhibit indicating same.
The Court's Proposed Final Jury Instructions currently list the five elements necessary for Plaintiff to prove his malicious prosecution claim. The third element in the Proposed Jury Instruction reads, “[t]he criminal proceeding ended in the Plaintiff's favor.” Doc. no. 202, p. 16. The Court's Proposed Final Jury Instructions also instructs that jury, “that the criminal proceeding ended in the Plaintiff's favor[, ]” thus, removing the third element from the jury's consideration. Id. at p. 17.
Defendants' Objection contends that merely withdrawing charges does not equate to a Court instruction directing the jury to find that the criminal proceeding ended in the Plaintiff's favor. Defendants further argue that this Court cannot instruct the jury as a matter of law on this point because they have “evidence” to support their belief that the criminal proceeding ended either because of a “compromise” or “mercy.”
This Court recognizes the United Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit has concluded that “while a grant of nolle prosequi can be sufficient to satisfy the favorable termination requirement for malicious prosecution, not all cases where the prosecutor abandons criminal charges are considered to have terminated favorably.” DiFronzo v. Chiovero, 406 F. App'x 605, 609 (3d Cir. 2011). More specifically the Court of Appeals has held that, “. . . a malicious prosecution claim cannot be predicated on an underlying criminal proceeding which terminated in a manner not indicative of the innocence of the accused.” Kossler v. Crisanti, 564 F.3d 181, 187 (3d Cir. 2009). As the Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit in Kossler further explained:
A plaintiff may attempt to indicate his innocence by demonstrating that his prior criminal proceeding terminated in one of the following ways:
(a) a discharge by a magistrate at a preliminary hearing, or
(b) the refusal of a grand jury to indict, or
(c) the formal abandonment of the proceedings by the public prosecutor, or
(d) the quashing of an indictment or ...

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