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Lyons v. Salem Township

United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania

September 30, 2019

JAMES LYONS, Plaintiff
v.
SALEM TOWNSHIP and FRED WESTOVER, Defendants

          MEMORANDUM

          MALACHY E. MANNION, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Pending before the court is the defendants’ motion for summary judgment. (Doc. 40). Based upon the court’s review of the record in this action, the defendants’ motion will be GRANTED.

         I. PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         On July 22, 2016, the plaintiff, James Lyons, brought this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §1983 against defendants Fred Westover (“defendant Westover”), an officer with the Salem Township Police Department, and Salem Township (“Township”). (Doc. 1). The Township filed a motion to dismiss the plaintiff’s complaint. (Doc. 8). By memorandum and order dated July 31, 2017, the court granted the motion to dismiss, without prejudice, to allow the plaintiff an opportunity to cure the deficiencies of his complaint relating to the Township’s municipal liability claim (Doc. 16, Doc. 17). The plaintiff filed an amended complaint on August 14, 2017. (Doc. 18).

         On August 28, 2017, the Township challenged the allegations of the plaintiff’s amended complaint on the same bases raised in its original motion to dismiss. (Doc. 21). By order dated October 31, 2017, the defendant’s motion was denied. (Doc. 26).

         On December 10, 2018, the defendants filed the instant motion for summary judgment (Doc. 40) along with a statement of facts (Doc. 41) and supporting brief (Doc. 42). The plaintiff filed a brief in opposition to the defendants’ motion (Doc. 45) and responsive statement of facts (Doc. 46) on January 10, 2019. On February 25, 2019, the defendants filed a reply brief (Doc. 49) and a response to the plaintiff’s counter statement of facts (Doc. 50).

         II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

         Summary judgment is appropriate “if the pleadings, the discovery [including, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file] and disclosure materials on file, and any affidavits show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c); see also Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322-23 (1986); Turner v. Schering-Plough Corp., 901 F.2d 335, 340 (3d Cir. 1990). A factual dispute is genuine if a reasonable jury could find for the non-moving party, and is material if it will affect the outcome of the trial under governing substantive law. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986); Aetna Cas. & Sur. Co. v. Ericksen, 903 F.Supp. 836, 838 (M.D. Pa. 1995). At the summary judgment stage, “the judge’s function is not himself to weigh the evidence and determine the truth of the matter but to determine whether there is a genuine issue for trial.” Anderson, 477 U.S. at 249; see also Marino v. Indus. Crating Co., 358 F.3d 241, 247 (3d Cir. 2004) (a court may not weigh the evidence or make credibility determinations). Rather, the court must consider all evidence and inferences drawn therefrom in the light most favorable to the non-moving party. Andreoli v. Gates, 482 F.3d 641, 647 (3d Cir. 2007).

         To prevail on summary judgment, the moving party must affirmatively identify those portions of the record which demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of material fact. Celotex, 477 U.S. at 323-24. The moving party can discharge the burden by showing that “on all the essential elements of its case on which it bears the burden of proof at trial, no reasonable jury could find for the non-moving party.” In re Bressman, 327 F.3d 229, 238 (3d Cir. 2003); see also Celotex, 477 U.S. at 325. If the moving party meets this initial burden, the non-moving party “must do more than simply show that there is some metaphysical doubt as to material facts, ” but must show sufficient evidence to support a jury verdict in its favor. Boyle v. County of Allegheny, 139 F.3d 386, 393 (3d Cir. 1998) (quoting Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986)). However, if the non-moving party “fails to make a showing sufficient to establish the existence of an element essential to [the non-movant’s] case, and on which [the non-movant] will bear the burden of proof at trial, ” Rule 56 mandates the entry of summary judgment because such a failure “necessarily renders all other facts immaterial.” Celotex Corp., 477 U.S. at 322-23; Jakimas v. Hoffman-La Roche, Inc., 485 F.3d 770, 777 (3d Cir. 2007).

         III. DISCUSSION

         Upon review, the defendants’ undisputed facts of record demonstrate that, on July 22, 2014, at approximately 4:47 p.m., Karen Fenstemaker (“Ms. Fenstemaker”) called 911 to report that the plaintiff had sexually assaulted his niece, Tanya Lyons (“Tanya”). The dispatch entry reads:

20 YOF MENTALLY CHALLENGED WAS SEXUALLY ASSAULTED THERE
HAPPENED LAST NIGHT
CALLERS SISTER LIVES THERE AND FEMALE TOLD HER THAT A MALE NAMED JIMMY LYONS THAT LIVES THERE ALSO RAPED HER MALE IS THE FEMALES UNCLE
CALLER KAREN FENSTEMAKER . . .
3RD PARTY INFO
CALLERS SISTER IS AT THE HOUSE NOW HER NAME IS ...

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