United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania
DELILAH GRAHAM-SMITH and RODNEY G. SMITH, her husband, Plaintiffs
CITY OF WILKES-BARRE and ALAN GRIBBLE, in his individual capacity, Defendants
M. MUNLEY UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT JUDGE
the court for disposition is Defendants City of Wilkes-Barre
and police officer Alan Gribble's (collectively
“the city defendants”) motion for summary
judgment. (Doc. 34). For the following reasons, the court
will grant the motion.
November 12, 2012, a motorist ran a red light in downtown
Wilkes-Barre and struck Plaintiff Delilah Graham-Smith's
(hereinafter “plaintiff”) automobile. (Doc. 35,
Defs.' Statement of Material Facts (hereinafter
“SOF”) ¶¶ 17, 19). Shortly after the
accident, the Wilkes-Barre Fire Department and Defendant Alan
Gribble, a City of Wilkes-Barre police officer (hereinafter
“Officer Gribble”), arrived at the scene. (SOF
¶¶ 23-24). At some point, plaintiff walked across
the street to Luzerne Bank. (SOF ¶ 27). Officer Gribble
learned that plaintiff left the accident scene, and soon
arrived at Luzerne Bank as well. (SOF ¶¶ 29, 35).
Luzerne Bank, Officer Gribble ordered plaintiff to return to
the accident scene. (SOF ¶ 37). Plaintiff, however,
wrapped her legs around a chair and refused to leave. (SOF
¶¶ 49-50). To remove plaintiff from the chair,
Officer Gribble grabbed plaintiff's thumb and pulled it
back in accordance with the Wilkes-Barre Police
Department's Use of Force Policy. (SOF ¶ 51). At
that point, plaintiff removed her fingers and her hand from
the arm of the chair. (SOF ¶ 53). Plaintiff, however,
remained non-compliant and refused to stand up. (SOF ¶
54). Officer Gribble, therefore, lifted plaintiff from the
chair. (SOF ¶ 54). He then placed plaintiff's hands
behind her back and handcuffed her. (SOF ¶¶ 55-56).
handcuffing plaintiff, Officer Gribble led plaintiff from the
bank to the accident scene. (SOF ¶ 64). He placed
plaintiff in the backseat of a police cruiser and, shortly
thereafter, drove her to the Wilkes-Barre General Hospital
for a mental health evaluation. (SOF ¶¶ 65, 69). At
the hospital, Officer Gribble involuntarily committed
plaintiff to hospital personnel pursuant to section 302 of
Pennsylvania's Mental Health Procedures Act, 50 Pa. Stat.
Ann. § 7302 (“section 302”). (SOF ¶
upon the November 2012 incident, plaintiff filed a nine-count
complaint on November 10, 2014, against the city defendants,
the Wilkes-Barre Police Department, and Wilkes-Barre police
chief Gerard E. Dessoye. (Doc. 1, Compl.). On May 19, 2015,
the court dismissed Defendants Wilkes-Barre Police Department
and Dessoye, as well as Officer Gribble in his official
capacity. (Doc. 16). Additionally, plaintiff has conceded to
withdraw her state law claims. (Doc. 42, Pl.'s Br. in
Opp. at 11-12). Thus, remaining in this case are the
following 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (hereinafter “section
1983”) claims: Count II, unlawful seizure, false
imprisonment, and excessive force claims against Officer
Gribble in his individual capacity; and Count III, a
municipal liability claim against the City of Wilkes-Barre.
November 15, 2016, the city defendants moved for summary
judgment on all claims. (Doc. 34). The parties briefed their
respective positions and the matter is ripe for disposition.
case is brought pursuant to section 1983 for a violation of
plaintiff's constitutional rights, we have jurisdiction
under 28 U.S.C. § 1331 (“The district courts shall
have original jurisdiction of all civil actions arising under
the Constitution, laws, or treaties of the United
States.”). We have supplemental jurisdiction over
plaintiff's state law claims pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §
summary judgment is proper if the pleadings, depositions,
answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together
with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine
issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is
entitled to judgment as a matter of law. See Knabe v.
Boury, 114 F.3d 407, 410 n.4 (3d Cir. 1997) (citing
Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)). “[T]his standard provides that the
mere existence of some alleged factual dispute
between the parties will not defeat an otherwise properly
supported motion for summary judgment; the requirement is
that there be no genuine issue of material
fact.” Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477
U.S. 242, 248 (1986).
considering a motion for summary judgment, the court must
examine the facts in the light most favorable to the party
opposing the motion. Int'l Raw Materials, Ltd. v.
Stauffer Chem. Co., 898 F.2d 946, 949 (3d Cir. 1990).
The burden is on the moving party to demonstrate that the
evidence is such that a reasonable jury could not return a
verdict for the nonmoving party. Anderson, 477 U.S.
at 248. A fact is material when it might affect the outcome
of the suit under the governing law. Id. Where the
nonmoving party will bear the burden of proof at trial, the
party moving for summary judgment may meet its burden by
establishing that the evidentiary materials of record, if
reduced to admissible evidence, would be insufficient to
carry the nonmovant's burden of proof at trial.
Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986).
Once the moving party satisfies its burden, the burden shifts
to the nonmoving party, who must go beyond its pleadings, and
designate specific facts by the use of affidavits,
depositions, admissions, or answers to interrogatories
demonstrating that there is a genuine issue for trial.
Id. at 324.
city defendants move for summary judgment on plaintiff's
remaining section 1983 claims. Section 1983 does not, by its
own terms, create substantive rights; rather, it provides
remedies for deprivations of rights established elsewhere in
the Constitution or federal law. Kneipp v. Tedder,
95 F.3d 1199, 1204 (3d Cir. 1996). Section 1983 states, in
Every person who, under the color of any statute, ordinance,
regulation, custom, or usage, of any State or territory or
the District of Columbia, subjects, or causes to be
subjected, any citizens of the United States or other person
within the jurisdiction thereof to the deprivation of any
rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution
and laws, shall be liable to the party injured in an action
at law, suit in equity or other proper proceeding for redress
. . . .
42 U.S.C. § 1983. Thus, to establish a claim under
section 1983, two criteria must be met. First, the conduct
complained of must have been committed by a person acting
under color of state law. Kaucher v. Cty. ofBucks, 455 F.3d 418 (3d Cir. 2006) (citing Am.
Mfrs. Mut. Ins. Co. v. Sullivan, 526 U.S. 40, 49-50
(1999)). Second, the conduct must deprive the plaintiff of
rights secured under the Constitution or federal law.
Id. (citing Am. Mfrs., 526 U.S. at 49-50).
The city defendants challenge only the second criterion,
first with respect ...