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Bryant v. Collins

United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania

April 13, 2017

HAKIM BRYANT, Plaintiff,
MICHAEL COLLINS, et al., Defendants


          GERALD J. PAPPERT, J.

         Acting on information provided to them by fellow Philadelphia Police Officer Christopher Hulmes, Officers Michael Collins and Miguel Santiago arrested Hakim Bryant in a neighborhood known to police as a high drug crime area. Bryant was charged with possession and possession with intent to deliver a controlled substance. After spending forty-two days in jail, the charges were dismissed. Bryant then sued Collins, Santiago and others, alleging that they violated the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (“RICO”). Bryant also brings federal law claims for false arrest, false imprisonment and malicious prosecution as well as state law assault and battery claims. Collins and Santiago, the only remaining defendants in the case, filed a motion for summary judgment, which the Court grants.


         On June 11, 2014, Officers Christopher Hulmes and McCauley[1] were investigating drug sales in the area of Rosehill and Somerset Streets in Philadelphia. (Defendants' Statement of Material Facts (“DSMF”) ¶ 1, ECF No. 63-1; Plaintiff's Statement of Material Facts (“PSMF”) ¶¶ 1-2, 5, ECF No. 64-1; Philadelphia Police Department Investigation Report (“Investigation Report”), Ex. A at 2, ECF No. 63.) Officers Collins and Santiago were also in the area, assisting Hulmes and McCauley as “backup.” (DSMF ¶ 2; PSMF ¶¶ 1, 4; Collins Dep. 10:2-6, Ex. B, ECF No. 63; Santiago Dep. 6:22-7:9, Ex. C, ECF No. 63.) The neighborhood where the investigation took place is known to police as a high crime area, particularly with regard to the buying and selling of illegal drugs. (DSMF ¶ 3; Collins Dep. 10:11-21; Santiago Dep. 33:1-5.)


         Hulmes and McCauley witnessed an Hispanic female later identified as Genesis Then (“Genesis”) remove a white bundle from her chest area. (DSMF ¶ 5; Investigation Report 2-3.) They then watched as a white male later identified as Michael Luscuskie and a white female later identified as Jordan Toff handed money to Genesis. (DSMF ¶ 6; Investigation Report at 2-3.) In return, Genesis handed Luscuskie and Toff the white object. (DSMF ¶ 7; Investigation Report at 2-3.) Hulmes and McCauley believed that they had witnessed a drug transaction. (DSMF ¶ 8; Investigation Report at 2-3.)

         Bryant arrived at the scene in a grey Ford Fusion, which he had rented from AVIS. (DSMF ¶¶ 9-10; Bryant Dep. 19:6-8, ECF No. 45-5.) Hulmes observed Bryant speak with Genesis and say “that's a [sic] unmarked police car, ” in reference to Hulmes and McCauley's car. (DSMF ¶ 11; PSMF ¶ 6; Investigation Report at 2-3.) Bryant disputes that he spoke with Genesis. (Bryant Dep. 44:2-12, 79:4-10, 91:5-20, 100:11- 101:5) Genesis looked at the officers' car and fled. (DSMF ¶ 12; Investigation Report at 2-3.) Hulmes radioed the descriptions of Genesis, Luscuskie, Toff and Bryant to the backup officers, including Collins and Santiago. (DSMF ¶ 13; Collins Dep. 15:5-10; Santiago Dep. 10:5-13.) Hulmes specifically noted that Bryant was a known seller of narcotics. (DSMF ¶ 13; Collins Dep. 15:5-10; Santiago Dep. 10:5-13.)

         Genesis threw her purse on a nearby garage roof while running from the officers. (DSMF ¶ 14; Investigation Report at 2-3.) She was caught with $63 on her. (DSMF ¶ 16; Investigation Report at 2-3.) Her purse, containing two bundles of heroin, was later recovered. (DSMF ¶ 15; Investigation Report at 2-3; Property Receipt No. 3158686, Ex. E, ECF No. 63.) Luscuskie and Toff, among others, were also captured with heroin in their possession. (DSMF ¶¶ 17-18, 20; Investigation Report 2-3; Property Receipt No. 3158684, Ex. F, ECF No. 63; Property Receipt No. 3158683, Ex. G, ECF No. 63.) Santiago arrested Toff. (DSMF ¶ 19, Investigation Report at 2-3.)

         Based on the information received from Hulmes, Santiago identified Bryant's car and pulled it over. (DSMF ¶ 21; Santiago Dep. 9:23-10:13.) Santiago believed Bryant was involved in the drug transaction given the information Hulmes radioed to him and his discovery of heroin on Toff during her arrest. (DSMF ¶ 22; Santiago Dep. 39:1-17.) Santiago radioed to other officers that he pulled over Bryant's car. (DSMF ¶ 23; Collins Dep. 16:14-18.) Collins heard the transmission and arrived at the scene to assist Santiago. (DSMF ¶ 24; Collins Dep. 17:3-18.) Collins searched Bryant and recovered $100, but no drugs were discovered on his person or in his car. (DSMF ¶ 25; PSMF ¶¶ 8, 12; Collins Dep. 28:12-24; Property Receipt No. 3158685, Ex. H, ECF No. 63.)

         Collins handcuffed Bryant, placed him in the back of his police car and took him to the Episcopal Hospital parking lot, a secure area where officers searched the suspects and shared information. (DSMF ¶¶ 27-28; PSMF ¶ 7; Collins Dep. 19:7-12, 28:5-11; Santiago Dep. 13:8-18; Bryant Dep. 37:12-15.) Bryant alleges that Collins slammed him against his police car before putting him inside, something which Collins denies. (Bryant Dep. 13:12-22, 21:15-24; Collins Dep. 33:22-34:14, 36:8-18.) Bryant also claims that following his arrest, the police hid his car, causing him to incur late fees from AVIS. (Bryant Dep. 45:1-8, 71:23-72:2, 80:15-24.) Collins and Santiago testified that they do not know what happened to the car. (Collins Dep. 29:24-31:1, Santiago Dep. 14:22-15:7.)

         Hulmes later identified all suspects transported to the secure area. (DSMF ¶ 29; PSMF ¶ 9-11; Investigation Report at 2-3.) An officer brought Bryant to the Police Detention Unit at 8th and Race Streets and he was later charged with possession of a controlled substance and possession with intent to deliver a controlled substance. (DSMF ¶ 30; PSMF ¶ 13; Collins Dep. 39:5-11; Bryant Docket Sheet at 2, ECF No. 45-2.) Bryant complained to the officers about a pre-existing back injury, and the officers took him to the hospital. (Bryant Dep. 52:21-557:5.) Bryant claims that while at the hospital Santiago slammed him around. (Bryant Dep. 30:21-31:5.) Santiago denies doing so. (Santiago Dep. 27:5-28:5; 30:1-31:20.) Bryant complained to a nurse that the officers injured him. (PSMF ¶ 14; Collins Dep. 40:6-10.)

         On or about June 12, 2014, Bryant was preliminarily arraigned in Philadelphia Municipal Court. (PSMF ¶ 15; Bryant Docket Sheet at 2, 4.) The court dismissed all charges against Bryant for lack of evidence on July 23, 2014. (PSMF ¶¶ 23-24; Bryant Docket Sheet at 5.) Bryant spent forty-two days in jail before he was released. (Bryant Dep. 74:18-21.)


         Bryant filed his initial complaint pro se against Collins, Santiago and Officer Derrick Jones (“Jones”) on February 5, 2015. (ECF No. 4.) On April 30, 2015, Bryant filed an amended complaint adding Hulmes as a defendant. (ECF No. 5.) After Bryant obtained counsel on August 5, 2015, the Court gave him leave to file a second amended complaint. He did so on November 2, 2015, adding as defendants the City of Philadelphia (“the City”), Sergeant Guilian, Sergeant DiDonato, Patrick Banning, James Reilly, Joseph McCloskey, Robert Otto and John and Jane Does 1-15. (ECF Nos. 15, 23, 26.)

         The Court granted Bryant leave to file a third amended complaint on March 25, 2016 in which he removed Otto and John and Jane Does 1-15 as defendants. (ECF Nos. 36, 37.) The complaint alleged the following claims: (1) RICO violations against Collins, Santiago, Hulmes, Guilian, DiDonato, Banning, Reilly, McCloskey; (2) assault and battery under state law against Collins, Santiago and the City; (3) false arrest under 42 U.S.C. Section 1983 against Collins, Santiago, Hulmes, Banning, Reilly and the City; (4) false imprisonment under Section 1983 against Collins, Santiago, Hulmes, Guilian, DiDonato, Banning and the City; (5) malicious prosecution under Section 1983 against Collins, Santiago, Hulmes, Guilian, DiDonato, Banning, Reilly and the City;[2]and (6) intentional infliction of emotional distress (“IIED”) against Collins, Santiago, Hulmes, Guilian, DiDonato, Banning, Reilly and McCloskey.[3] (Pl.'s Third Am. Compl. ¶¶ 52, 68, 75, 83, 91, 101, ECF No. 37.)

         On April 8, 2016, the parties stipulated to the dismissal of Jones, Guilian and McCloskey. (ECF No. 41.) Also that day, the City filed a motion to dismiss on behalf of the City, Collins, Santiago, Hulmes, DiDonato, Banning and Reilly. (ECF No. 40.) Bryant responded on May 8, 2016. (ECF No. 42.) Before the Court ruled on the motion to dismiss, the City filed a motion for summary judgment on behalf of the same defendants. (ECF No. 43.) Bryant responded on May 31, 2016. (ECF No. 45.) On June 15, 2016, the Court held oral argument on both the motion to dismiss and the motion for summary judgment. (ECF No. 47.)[4] The Court granted the motion to dismiss as to the City, DiDonato, Banning and Reilly and denied the remainder of the motion as moot. (ECF No. 46; Oral Arg. 7:11-13.) This left Collins, Santiago and Hulmes as the remaining defendants in the case.

         Around this time, it became apparent that Hulmes had never been properly served pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 4(m). (ECF No. 53.) The Court held a hearing on June 29, 2016 to discuss the proper course of action and, the same day, directed Bryant's counsel to serve Hulmes by September 27, 2016. (ECF Nos. 52 & 53.) Counsel was unable to do so and, in a telephone conference on October 3, 2016, detailed his extensive but unsuccessful efforts to locate and serve Hulmes. (ECF No. 55.) Counsel requested and received more time to serve Hulmes by publication. (Id.) In a telephone conference on November 30, 2016, Bryant's attorney stated that he not only remained unable to find Hulmes, he was now having trouble locating his own client, who had been convicted of a felony in an unrelated matter and become a fugutive. (ECF No. 59.) Counsel requested 30 more days to try to contact his client and obtain the requisite funds to effectuate service by publication. The Court again granted his request. In a January 10, 2017 telephone conference, counsel reported that both Hulmes and Bryant remained elusive, though he had managed to speak with Bryant through social media, who told counsel that he would not pay for any efforts to serve Hulmes. (ECF No. 60.)

         On January 23, 2017, the Court directed the City to refile its motion for summary judgment on behalf of Collins and Santiago, (ECF No. 62), and the City did so on January 31, 2017. (ECF No. 63.)[5] Bryant responded on February 6, 2017. (ECF No. 64.) The City moves for summary judgment on all remaining counts against Collins and Santiago: RICO, false arrest, false imprisonment, malicious prosecution and assault and battery. (Defs.' Mot. for Summ. J. at 1, ECF No. 63.)


         Summary judgment is appropriate “if the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a); see also Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986). A dispute is genuine if the evidence is such that a reasonable factfinder could return a verdict for the nonmoving party. See Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 254 (1986). Summary judgment is granted where there is insufficient record evidence for a reasonable factfinder to find for the plaintiff. Id. at 252. “The mere existence of a scintilla of evidence in support of the plaintiff's position will be insufficient; there must be evidence on which the jury could reasonably find for the plaintiff.” Id.

         When ruling on a motion for summary judgment, the Court may only rely on admissible evidence. See, e.g., Blackburn v. United Parcel Serv., Inc., 179 F.3d 81, 95 (3d Cir. 1999). A Court must view the facts and draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the nonmoving party. See In re Flat Glass Antitrust Litig., 385 F.3d 350, 357 (3d Cir. 2004). However, “an inference based upon a speculation or conjecture does not create a material factual dispute ...

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