United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania
TIMOTHY R. RICE U.S. MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Police Officer Jimmy Gist moves for judgment on the pleadings
(doc. 46), contending that Plaintiff Stewart Arnold's
Amended Complaint (doc. 44) fails to adequately state claims
of unlawful search and seizure, false arrest, false
imprisonment, and malicious prosecution. See Am.
Cplt. at 17, 20, 22, 24, 26; Resp. (doc. 54). I agree.
Although he was permitted to amend his complaint following
discovery, Arnold fails to plead plausible claims against
Gist. In the alternative, Gist is entitled to qualified
immunity. I dismiss all counts against Gist.
alleges Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment violations against
the City of Philadelphia and several individual police
officers based on his 2014 arrest and incarceration until
February 2016, when charges against him were dropped.
Assuming that all facts Arnold alleges are true, on July 10,
2014, Arnold was arrested by Officers Mouzon and Towman after
being observed inside the rear portion of a residence located
at 2607 North Hollywood Street during the execution of a
search warrant at the residence. Am. Cplt. at ¶ 39. Gist
participated in the execution of the search warrant but not
the arrest. Id. at ¶ 35.
was charged with possessing illegal drugs and firearms found
inside 2607 North Hollywood Street. MC-51-CR-23192-2104
(“Crim. Dkt.”) at 2. No illegal drugs,
contraband, or pre-recorded bills were found on Arnold, and
the residence listed on Arnold's driver's license was
not 2607 North Hollywood Street. Id. at ¶¶
40, 42. Arnold told the officers, at the time of his arrest,
that he had never resided at 2607 North Hollywood Street.
Id. at ¶ 42.
the arrest, Officers McKnight and Towman threw Arnold to the
ground without provocation, lacerating his right hand.
Id. at ¶¶ 132-33. McKnight then falsely
stated in his arrest report that Arnold had been found in
possession of a key to 2607 North Hollywood Street, and
Mouzon falsely stated on another police document that Arnold
was known to reside there. Id. at ¶¶
44-45. Arnold alleges Gist knew, or should have known, about
those material misrepresentations. Id. at ¶ 46.
He alleges no facts to support that claim.
contends Gist is liable for his injuries because the search
warrant Gist helped execute was “defective on its
face” and Gist “reviewed or should have
reviewed” it, id. at ¶¶ 36-37,
though Gist was not the affiant and was not mentioned in the
warrant. McKnight secured the search warrant, which bears the
seal of a Philadelphia magistrate and includes an
Investigation Report that attaches McKnight's sworn
statement of probable cause. Id. at ¶ 28;
Search Warrant 181310, attached as Exhibit C to Gist's
Motion (doc. 46-1) at 53-55. The Investigation Report
describes two controlled illegal drug purchases made at 2607
North Hollywood Street by a confidential informant in
coordination with McKnight, Mouzon, and Officer Eleazer the
day before the search. Id. at 55. There is no
allegation that Gist participated in the controlled buys.
Arnold claims that a state and federal investigation
initiated in 2009 concluded that members of the Philadelphia
Police Department Narcotics Field Unit
“routinely” falsified search warrant affidavits.
Am. Cplt. at ¶ 70. Gist and McKnight retired in October
2015, and Arnold alleges Gist retired because he faced
disciplinary proceedings following an internal affairs
investigation of the Narcotics Field Unit. Id. at
¶¶ 59-60. Arnold further alleges the Philadelphia
District Attorney's Office began dismissing cases
involving Gist after reports of the internal investigation
and Gist's and McKnight's retirements became public.
Id. at ¶ 62.
reviewing a motion for judgment on the pleadings, “only
the complaint, exhibits attached to the complaint, matters of
public record, as well as undisputedly authentic
documents” that serve as the basis of a claim can be
considered. Mayer v. Belichick, 605 F.3d 223, 230
(3d Cir. 2010); see also Turbe v. Government of Virgin
Islands, 938 F.2d 427, 428 (3d Cir. 1991) (Fed. R. Civ.
Pro. 12(c) motions are reviewed like Fed. R. Civ. Pro.
12(b)(6) motions). The first step is to separate the factual
and legal averments. Fowler v. UPMC Shadyside, 578
F.3d 203, 210-11 (3d Cir. 2009) (citing Ashcroft v.
Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009)). The legal averments
are then set aside and the factual averments are analyzed to
determine whether they constitute a “plausibl[e],
” not merely possible, claim. Robinson v. Family
Dollar, Inc., No. 15-3736, 2017 WL 532243, at *3 (3d
Cir. Feb. 9, 2017).
factual averments against Gist are:
1) Gist was present when a search warrant was executed at
2607 North Hollywood Street on July 10, 2014. Am. Cplt. at
2) Gist reviewed the search warrant before executing it.
Id. at ¶ 36.
3) Had Gist reviewed the search warrant before executing it,
he would have known it was defective on its ...