United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania
the Court is Defendant Officer Todd Rose's
(“Defendant” or “Defendant Rose”)
Motion for Summary Judgement (Doc. 16), Plaintiff Bong
Lee's (“Plaintiff”) response thereto (Doc.
19), and Defendant's Reply (Doc. 20). Upon consideration
of the Parties' submissions and exhibits and for the
reasons set forth below, Defendant's Motion for Summary
Judgment is GRANTED.
15, 2017, Plaintiff commenced this action in the Eastern
District of Pennsylvania against Defendants City of Chester,
Officer Todd Rose, and Unknown City of Chester Police
Officers. See Compl., Doc. 1. Plaintiff pled state
law and constitutional claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983.
Plaintiff's claims against Defendant Rose include: false
arrest and false imprisonment, malicious prosecution,
excessive force, defamation, and false light invasion of
privacy. Plaintiff's claims against the Unknown Officers
include: malicious prosecution and intentional infliction of
emotional distress. Plaintiff's claims against the City
of Chester include: failure to properly train and supervise
the Defendant officers.
13, 2018, Defendants filed a Motion to Dismiss or in the
alternative for a More Definite Statement. Doc. 5. On May 10,
2018, the Court granted in part and denied in part
Defendants' Motion to Dismiss. Mot. to Dismiss Order,
Doc. 11. Specifically, the Court denied Defendants'
motion as to Plaintiff's claims of false arrest, false
imprisonment, malicious prosecution, and excessive force. The
Court granted Defendants' motion as to Plaintiff's
failure to train claim, removing the City of Chester as a
defendant. In addition, the Court granted Defendants'
motion as to Plaintiff's claims of defamation and false
light invasion of privacy, removing Defendant as to these
claims. Mot. to Dismiss Order, Doc. 11. The Court denied
Defendants' Motion for a More Definite Statement. Mot. to
Dismiss Order, Doc. 11.
7, 2018, Defendant Rose filed an Answer to Plaintiff's
Complaint with Affirmative Defenses. Def. Answer, Doc. 12.
Discovery was completed on November 5, 2018. See
Scheduling Order, Doc. 15. This matter is now ripe for
disposition. For the reasons set forth below, summary
judgment is granted.
STATEMENT OF FACTS
September 21, 2016, Plaintiff was working as the manager of
Angel Cleaner II (“Angel Cleaner”) in Chester,
Pennsylvania. Pl. Dep. 12:2-15; 13:10-11; Def.'s Br.
Supp. Mot. Summ. J. 1, Doc. 16. That same afternoon,
Defendant entered Angel Cleaner to retrieve a garment he had
left for cleaning. Pl. Dep. 51:3-6; 54:4-6; Def.'s Br.
Supp. Mot. Summ. J. 1. Plaintiff explained to Defendant that
the spot on his shirt could not be removed without damaging
the garment. Pl. Dep. 55:13-19; Def. Dep. 18:19-24; 19:6.
Defendant then refused to pay for the shirt and walked out of
the store while cursing at Plaintiff. Pl. Dep. 54:9-12;
Def.'s Br. Supp. Mot. Summ. J. 1.
Simpkins (“Ms. Simpkins”) and Kathleen Clarke
(“Ms. Clarke”) entered the store approximately
five to ten minutes after Defendant left. Pl. Dep. 61:21-24;
Def.'s Br. Supp. Mot. Summ. J. 1. Ms. Simpkins alerted
Plaintiff that Angel Cleaner damaged the buttons on a pair of
pants that she previously had cleaned. Pl. Dep. 62:10-24;
Def.'s Br. Supp. Mot. Summ. J. 1. Plaintiff agreed to
re-attach the buttons at no charge, but declined to reimburse
Ms. Simpkins for the pants. Pl. Dep. 63:4-12; Def.'s Br.
Supp. Mot. Summ. J. 1. Plaintiff asserts that Ms. Simpkins
stated that she was going to call the police, at which time
Ms. Clarke went outside to phone the police. Pl. Dep.
63:15-17; Def.'s Br. Supp. Mot. Summ. J. 1. In the interim,
Plaintiff opines that she was in the process of locating the
clothing listed on the receipt that Ms. Simpkins presented to
her for pickup. Pl. Dep. 64:12-16; Def.'s Br. Supp. Mot.
Summ. J. 1.
Delaware County 911 dispatcher radioed the police supervisor
in response to Ms. Simpkin's report of the dispute at
Angel Cleaner. Def.'s Br. Supp. Mot. Summ. J. 2. The
police supervisor advised the dispatcher that the
“first available” officer would respond.
Def.'s Br. Supp. Mot. Summ. J. 2. Defendant responded to
the radio call and was advised by the dispatcher that
“the caller is a customer and the clerk [was] refusing
to give the clothes to the complainant and also [that] they
appear[ed] to be damaged.” Def.'s Br. Supp. Mot.
Summ. J. 2. Thereafter, the Parties largely dispute the
version of events. Plaintiff asserts that Defendant walked in
while she was looking for Ms. Simpkin's clothing. Pl.
Dep. 66:16-18; Def.'s Br. Supp. Mot. Summ. J. 3.
Plaintiff further contends that she tried to talk to
Defendant when he walked in, at which point he told her to
shut up. Pl. Dep. 68:22-24; Pl's Br. Opp'n Supp. Mot.
Summ. J. 2, Doc 19-2. Thereafter, Plaintiff placed Ms.
Simpkin's clothing on the hanger and told her the price
she owed for the cleaning, to which Defendant responded,
“no pay” and proceeded to arrest her. Pl. Dep.
69:12-14; Def.'s Br. Supp. Mot. Summ. J. 3-4. Next,
Plaintiff describes Defendant grabbing her left arm first and
then the right arm, putting them behind her back, and placing
them in handcuffs. Pl. Dep. 72:18-20; Def.'s Br. Supp.
Mot. Summ. J. 4. Afterwards, Defendant dragged her to the
police car and pushed her into the car with her hands
handcuffed behind her back. Pl. Dep. 74:1-2; 75:10-11.
the police station, Defendant took Plaintiff into a building
and handcuffed her to a wooden chair with her hands behind
her back. Pl. Dep. 79:17-24. Defendant left and Plaintiff
began to complain that the handcuffs were hurting her. Pl.
Dep. 80:14-15; Def.'s Br. Supp. Mot. Summ. J. 5. Thirty
minutes later an unnamed police officer repositioned the
handcuffs from behind her back and fastened them to the
chair. Pl. Dep. 80:14-18.
was released from custody that day and charged with theft by
unlawful taking and theft by deception. Pl's Br. Opp'
Supp. Mot. Summ. J., Ex. G; Def.'s Br. Supp. Mot. Summ.
J. 7. On January 23, 2017 Plaintiff attended a preliminary
hearing before Magisterial Disrict Judge Wilden Davis.
Def.'s Br. Supp. Mot. Summ. J. 7. At this hearing, Judge
Wilkins entered an order that notified Plaintiff that
“[she was] convicted of or pled guilty to violating the
above charge(s) and [he] sentenced [her] to the following:
[f]ines, [c]osts, and [r]estitution”, which totaled
$161.00. Def.'s Br. Supp. Mot. Summ. J. 8. The order
further outlined that Plaintiff could “change [her]
guilty plea to a not guilty plea by notifying the Magisterial
District Judge in writing within 30 days after [her] sentence
[was] imposed” and that if she “changed [her]
plea, the Magisterial District Judge [would] vacate this
sentence” and forward her case to “the Court of
Common pleas for further proceedings.” Def.'s Br.
Supp. Mot. Summ. J., Ex. N. Plaintiff received the order and
paid the fines, costs, and restitution, at which time the
charges against her were dismissed. Pl. Dep. 93:7-18;
Def.'s Br. Supp. Mot. Summ. J. 8.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
judgment is awarded only when “there is no genuine
issue as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to
judgment as a matter of law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a);
Liberty Mut. Ins. Co. v. Sweeney, 689 F.3d 288, 292
(3d Cir. 2012). To defeat a motion for summary judgment,
there must be a factual dispute that is both genuine and
material. See Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477
U.S. 242, 247-49, (1986); Dee v. Borough of Dunmore,
549 F.3d 225, 229 (3d Cir. 2008). A “material”
fact is one “that might affect the outcome of the suit
under the governing law[.]” Anderson, 477 U.S.
at 248. A dispute over a material fact is
“genuine” if “the evidence is such that a
reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving
movant bears the initial burden of demonstrating the absence
of a genuine dispute of a material fact. Goldenstein v.
Repossessors, Inc., 815 F.3d 142, 146 (3d Cir. 2016).
“Where the defendant is the moving party, the burden is
on the defendant to show that the plaintiff has failed to
establish one or more essential elements of her case.”
Burton v. Teleflex Inc., 707 F.3d 417, 425 (3d Cir.
2013). If the movant sustains its initial burden, “the
burden shifts to the nonmoving party to go beyond the
pleadings and come forward with specific facts showing that
there is a genuine issue for trial.”
Santini v. Fuentes, 795 F.3d 410, 416 (3d Cir. 2015)
(internal quotation marks omitted) (quoting Matsushita
Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574,
summary judgment stage, the court's function is not to
weigh the evidence and determine the truth of the matter, but
rather to determine whether there is a genuine issue for
trial. See Anderson, 477 U.S. at 249 (citations
omitted); Jiminez v. All American Rathskeller, Inc.,
503 F.3d 247, 253 (3d Cir. 2007). In doing so, the court must
construe the facts and inferences in the light most favorable
to the non-moving party. See Horsehead Indus., Inc. v.
Paramount Communications, Inc., 258 F.3d 132, 140 (3d
Cir. 2001). Nonetheless, the court must be mindful that
“[t]he mere existence of a scintilla of evidence in
support of the plaintiff's position will be insufficient;
there must be evidence on which the jury could reasonably
find for the plaintiff.” Anderson, 477 U.S. at
42 U.S.C. § 1983
is suing under Section 1983, a civil rights law passed by
Congress that provides a remedy to persons who have been
deprived of their federal constitutional or statutory rights.
42 U.S.C. § 1983. Section 1983 provides in pertinent
part as follows:
Every person who, under color of any statute, ordinance,
regulation, custom, or usage, of any State or Territory or
the District of Columbia, subjects, or causes to be
subjected, any citizen of the United States or other person
within the jurisdiction thereof to the deprivation of any
rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution
and laws, shall be liable to the ...