United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania
EDUARDO C. ROBRENO, J.
civil rights action arises out of Plaintiff Nasir
Finnemen's arrest at a Southeastern Pennsylvania
Transportation Authority (“SEPTA”) station, and
subsequent prosecution. The named defendants - who are
employed by SEPTA or the City of Philadelphia - have moved
for summary judgment. For the reasons that follow, the Court
will grant in part and deny in part the motions for summary
FACTUAL BACKGROUND AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
April 4, 2013, Plaintiff Nasir Finnemen entered the SEPTA
station at Kensington and Allegheny Avenue. Finnemen Dep.
97:9-17, Sept. 24, 2016, ECF No. 67-3 [hereinafter Finnemen
Dep. I]. As he was going up the station's escalator, he
looked back and saw a man that he thought was
“suspicious, ” due to the man's dark clothes,
hood, and hat, as well as the fact that it was roughly 11:15
or 11:20 p.m. Id. at 99:11-17. After Plaintiff went
through the turnstile and entered the platform, he looked
back again, and the man was “right behind”
Plaintiff, on the platform. Id. at 99:17-19. He was
giving Plaintiff “strange faces” and holding his
right hand under his hoodie; Plaintiff thought he was
“acting like he was going to, you know, pull out
something.” Id. at 99:23-100:15. Plaintiff,
who felt like he was in “a dangerous situation, ”
looked to the side and “[saw] the SEPTA door cracked
open.” Id. at 100:18-20. Plaintiff chose to
enter the SEPTA booth, where he squatted behind the door,
telling the SEPTA operator in the booth - Defendant Melody
Campbell - “that there's a guy out there.”
Id. at 100:20-24. Campbell told Plaintiff,
“[C]ome on, he's not worrying about you, ” so
Plaintiff got up and returned to the platform. Id.
who maintains - contrary to Plaintiff's story - that
Plaintiff attempted to rob and assault her when he entered
the booth, then called SEPTA's Control Center to report
that she had just been assaulted. Campbell Dep. 75:16-76:11;
80:19-81:1, Oct. 17, 2016, ECF No. 62-1. The Control Center
responded that they were sending help, and Defendants SEPTA
Police Officers Caban and Boyd responded to the radio call.
Id. at 81:2-21.
Plaintiff was standing on the platform, continuing to wait
for the train, Officer Caban arrived and spoke to Campbell,
who identified Plaintiff as the alleged assailant.
Id. at 82:15-23. Officer Caban then approached
Plaintiff and told him to turn around and put his hands on
the wall. Finnemen Dep. I at 101:6-9. Officer Caban
handcuffed Plaintiff and began “pushing [Plaintiff]
down” to the station's entrance - walking at the
officer's normal pace, even though Plaintiff was injured
and walking with a cane. Id. at 101:7-11. Officer
Caban then searched Plaintiff, took him out of the station,
put him in a patrol car, and took him to a police station,
where Plaintiff remained for 24 hours. Id. at
101:12-17. Plaintiff was then taken to the Curran-Fromhold
Correctional Facility (“CFCF”), where he remained
for approximately six days, until his father posted bail for
him. Finnemen Dep. 67:8-12; 69:10-20, Oct. 10, 2016, ECF No.
67-4 [hereinafter Finnemen Dep. II].
was then charged with robbery, attempted theft by unlawful
taking, receiving stolen property, simple assault, and
recklessly endangering another person. SEPTA Defs.' Mot.
Summ. J. Ex. F, ECF No. 62-1. Plaintiff attended a
preliminary hearing on these charges, where Campbell
testified as a witness for the Commonwealth. Finnemen Dep. I
32:25-33:14. Ultimately, the Philadelphia District
Attorney's Office dropped the charges. Id. at
filed a pro se complaint on April 7, 2015. ECF No. 3.
Eventually, he obtained a lawyer, and his claims went through
several rounds of pleadings and dismissal before discovery
began. Plaintiff's remaining claims are: (1) malicious
prosecution, as to Campbell, through § 1983; (2) false
arrest, false imprisonment, excessive force, and malicious
prosecution as to Officers Caban and Boyd; (3) deliberate
indifference to the need for medical treatment, as to unknown
and unnamed Philadelphia Police Officers and employees of the
Department of Corrections; (4) malicious prosecution, as to
Campbell, through state tort law; (5) malicious prosecution,
as to Detective Michelle Yerkes, through state tort law; (6)
malicious prosecution, as to Officers Caban and Boyd, through
state tort law; and (7) assault and battery, as to Officers
Caban and Boyd. See Second Am. Compl., ECF No. 45.
November 9, 2016, Campbell, Caban, and Boyd (collectively,
the “SEPTA Defendants”), as well as Yerkes, filed
motions for summary judgment. ECF Nos. 62, 63. Plaintiff did
not respond. The Court then scheduled a hearing on the
motions for July 5, 2017, ECF No. 66, and instructed that if
Plaintiff intended to oppose the motions with written
submissions, he should file those submissions by June 2,
2017, ECF No. 65.
did not file anything by June 2. Rather, on June 20,
Plaintiff filed a response to the SEPTA Defendants'
motion. ECF No. 67.
30, Plaintiff filed a one-sentence response to the Yerkes
motion, stating that he does not oppose her motion for
summary judgment. ECF No. 68. The Court has reviewed the
motion on the merits and will grant Yerkes's motion for
summary judgment because there is no genuine dispute as to
any material fact and Yerkes is entitled to judgment as a
matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a).
SEPTA Defendants' motion for summary judgment is now ripe
judgment is appropriate if there is no genuine dispute as to
any material fact and the moving party is entitled to
judgment as a matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). “A
motion for summary judgment will not be defeated by
‘the mere existence' of some disputed facts, but
will be denied when there is a genuine issue of material
fact.” Am. Eagle Outfitters v. Lyle & Scott
Ltd., 584 F.3d 575, 581 (3d Cir. 2009) (quoting
Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242,
247-48 (1986)). A fact is “material” if proof of
its existence or nonexistence might affect the outcome of the
litigation, and a dispute is “genuine” if
“the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could
return a verdict for the nonmoving party.”
Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248.
Court will view the facts in the light most favorable to the
nonmoving party. “After making all reasonable
inferences in the nonmoving party's favor, there is a
genuine issue of material fact if a reasonable jury could
find for the nonmoving party.” Pignataro v. Port
Auth. of N.Y. & N.J., 593 F.3d 265, 268 (3d Cir.
2010). While the moving party bears the initial burden of
showing the absence of a genuine issue of material fact,
meeting this obligation shifts the burden to the nonmoving
party, who must “set forth specific facts showing that
there is a genuine issue for trial.” Anderson,
477 U.S. at 250 (quoting Fed. R. Civ. P 56(e)).
Malicious Prosecution Claims Against Campbell
brings claims of malicious prosecution against Campbell under
both § 1983 and state tort law. Specifically, he says,
Campbell “intentionally fabricated what occurred in the
SEPTA booth for the malicious purpose of having plaintiff
arrested and criminally prosecuted, upon her irrational
belief that plaintiff was a potential criminal merely because
he mistakenly entered the SEPTA booth.” Second Am.
Compl. ¶ 20.
succeed on a claim for malicious prosecution under §
1983, a plaintiff must show that: “(1) the defendants
initiated a criminal proceeding; (2) the criminal proceeding
ended in plaintiff's favor; (3) the proceeding was
initiated without probable cause; (4) the defendants acted
maliciously or for a purpose other than bringing the
plaintiff to justice; and (5) the plaintiff suffered
deprivation of liberty consistent with the concept of seizure
as a consequence of a legal proceeding.” Estate of
Smith v. Marasco, 318 F.3d 497, 521 (3d Cir. 2003). To
prove a claim for malicious prosecution under Pennsylvania
tort law, plaintiff must prove all but the fifth element
listed above. Merkle v. Upper Dublin Sch. Dist., 211
F.3d 782, 791 (3d Cir. 2000).
argues that Plaintiff's claims must fail because (1) she
did not initiate the criminal proceedings against Plaintiff,
and (2) she did not act “maliciously or for a purpose
other than to bring Plaintiff to ...