Searching over 5,500,000 cases.

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Arnold v. City of Philadelphia

United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania

May 31, 2017

CITY OF PHILADELPHIA, et al., Defendants.



         Defendant 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.

         Factual Background

         Arnold 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.

         Arnold 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.

         During 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.

         Arnold 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.

         Finally, 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.

         Legal Standard

         When 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).

         The 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 ¶ 35.
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 ...

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.