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Collins v. City of Philadelphia

United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania

April 26, 2018

RICHARD COLLINS, Plaintiff,
v.
CITY OF PHILADELPHIA, et al. Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM

          EDUARDO C. ROBRENO, J.

         This civil rights case arises from an allegedly unlawful arrest. Before the Court is the Defendants' motion for summary judgment. For the reasons set forth below, the Court will grant Defendants' motion for summary judgment as to all claims.

         I. FACTUAL BACKGROUND

         According to the Complaint, on March 23, 2013, the owner of Red Sun Food Market, located on Cottman Avenue in Philadelphia, reported that the store had been robbed. Shortly thereafter, Defendants Police Officer Michael Berkery and Police Sergeant Edward Pisarek stopped and arrested Plaintiff Richard Collins (“Collins”) even though his clothing did not precisely match the description given by the owner of Red Sun Food Market. When Collins attempted to explain what he had been doing in the area - visiting the bank - the officers refused to listen or to look at the bank receipts that would have corroborated Collins' alibi. As a result, Collins was arrested and charged with robbery and related offenses. Ultimately, the charges were nolle prossed.

         II. PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         Collins filed a Complaint on October 6, 2016, in the Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas, against the City of Philadelphia and several individual officers, containing claims under § 1983 for false arrest and false imprisonment, as well as claims under the Pennsylvania Constitution. See ECF No. 1. Defendants removed the case to this Court on October 31, 2016, on the basis of federal question jurisdiction. Id. The City of Philadelphia (but not the individual defendants) filed a motion to dismiss, ECF No. 2, which Collins did not oppose, and the Court granted. ECF No. 10. Accordingly, only the individual defendants remain in the case.

         The individual defendants then filed a motion for summary judgment as to all of Collins' claims, ECF No. 13, and Collins has filed a response in opposition. ECF No. 16. Accordingly, the motion for summary judgment is ripe for disposition. For the reasons set forth below, the Court will grant Defendants' motion for summary judgment as to all claims.

         III. LEGAL STANDARD

         Summary 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.

         The 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., 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.

         IV. DISCUSSION

         As noted, the Complaint contains claims for false arrest and false imprisonment under § 1983, as well as violations of the Pennsylvania Constitution. The Court addresses each in turn.

         A. False Arrest and False Imprisonment

         In their motion for summary judgment, Defendants argue that the statute of limitation bars Collins' claims for false arrest and false imprisonment. The parties agree that the applicable statute of limitations is two years. However, the parties dispute when the statute of limitations began to run. Specifically, Defendants argue that the statute of limitations runs from the date of Collins' arrest. Collins, on the other hand, argues that it runs from the date that the charges against him were nolle ...


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