United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
E. Jones III United States District Judge
pending before this Court is a Motion to Dismiss
Plaintiff's Second Amended Complaint filed by Defendant
Martin Wade (“the Motion”). (Doc. 56). For the
reasons that follow, we shall grant the Motion.
the following from the Plaintiff's Complaint and assume
it to be true, as we must.
instant case alleges a variety of constitutional and state
law claims against several Williamsport police officers, the
City of Williamsport, Pennsylvania, and a Lycoming County
Assistant District Attorney. These claims arise from an
alleged altercation which took place in Williamsport on
November 20, 2016 between private individuals, during which
the Plaintiff was shot with a taser gun by a Williamsport
Police Officer (“the November 20 incident”).
Plaintiff was later charged with several criminal counts
stemming from this encounter. He alleges violations of his
civil rights connected with the incident. (Doc. 48).
instant Motion concerns claims Plaintiff brings against
Defendant Martin Wade, an Assistant District Attorney for
Lycoming County. Plaintiff alleges prosecutorial misconduct
by Defendant Wade for decisions he made in prosecuting
Plaintiff for the events of November 20. His claims include:
violation of 42 U.S.C. §1983 for malicious prosecution
(Count VIII); violation of state law for malicious
prosecution (Count XI); and state law abuse of process (Count
XII). The instant claims do not involve the facts of the
November 20 incident. Therefore, and because Defendant
Wade's involvement in the case began nearly two years
after the Plaintiff's initial encounter with the
Williamsport police, we need not go into further detail
concerning the events of November 20. We will, however,
recite Plaintiff's allegations regarding his criminal
prosecution by Defendant Wade.
was charged in a two-count criminal complaint with Disorderly
Conduct in violation of 18 Pa. C.S. §5503(a)(1), as both
a Misdemeanor of the Third Degree and as a Summary Offense.
(Doc. 48 at ¶ 25). The third-degree misdemeanor carried
a penalty of imprisonment of up to one year and a fine of $2,
500.00. Id. Plaintiff pleaded guilty to the Summary
Offense and was ordered to pay a $25.00 fine and costs of
$164.50. Id. at ¶ 26.
Plaintiff pleaded guilty, discovery revealed that one of the
other individuals involved in the November 20 incident,
Christopher Reed, was the cousin of Plaintiff's charging
police officer, Officer Brague. Id. at ¶ 27.
Officer Brague apparently concealed this fact during the
criminal proceedings. Id. Reed was not criminally
charged in relation to the November 20 incident. Id.
at ¶ 23.
proceeded to withdraw his guilty plea based upon this
information. Id. at ¶ 27. On or about March 5,
2018, Plaintiff filed a Request for Permission to File an
Appeal Nunc Pro Tunc for the Purpose of Filing a Petition to
Withdraw his Guilty Plea in the Lycoming County Court of
Common Pleas. Id. at ¶ 28. The Court granted
that request on April 19, 2018, without prejudice to the
right to re-file charges. Id. at ¶ 29. This
Order was the result of an agreement between the Plaintiff
and the Commonwealth. Id. Thereafter Defendant Wade
became the prosecuting attorney on Plaintiff's criminal
case. Id. at ¶ 83.
alleges that Defendant Wade was hesitant to re-file the
criminal charges based upon text messages he had learned of
between Officer Brague and the alleged victim, his cousin
Christopher Reed. Id. at ¶ 84. Nevertheless,
Plaintiff claims, the Williamsport Police Department
“applied pressure on Defendant Martin Wade to pursue
the refiling of charges against Plaintiff. . .for the purpose
of assisting the Williamsport Police Department to obtain
leverage against Plaintiff Dana Sealander because of
Sealander's pending civil rights lawsuit” against
the City and Police Department. Id. at ¶ 85;
101. Defendant Wade eventually agreed to re-file the charges,
but informed the Williamsport Police Department that Officer
Brague would not be allowed to act as the prosecuting
officer. Id. at ¶ 86. Officer Kitko was then
approved to act in that capacity. Id. at ¶ 87.
2, 2018, Officer Kitko re-filed a criminal complaint against
Plaintiff, charging him with Disorderly Conduct in violation
of 18 Pa. C.S. §5503(a)(1) as Misdemeanor of the Third
Degree; Disorderly Conduct in violation of 18 Pa. C.S.
§5503(a)(1) as a Summary Offense; and Harassment in
violation of 18 Pa. C.S. §2709(a)(1) as a Summary
Offense. Id. at ¶ 30.
claims that Defendant Wade had access to depositions taken in
the instant civil action which Defendant Wade used in
deciding to refile charges against Plaintiff, including the
addition of a new Harassment charge. Id. at ¶
88; 95. Those depositions were “purportedly. . . very
clear in [Christopher] Reed's assertion that Plaintiff
Dana Sealander did not shove Reed and that it was Reed who
shoved Plaintiff Dana Sealander to the ground twice.”
Id. at ¶ 95. Defendant Wade allegedly continued
to pursue Plaintiff's conviction despite knowing that the
depositions “were more than sufficient to apprise
Defendant Wade of the fact that Plaintiff Dana Sealander did
not commit a criminal act, but rather was the victim of an
assault and battery at the hands of Christopher Reed, cousin
to Defendant Ryan Brague.” Id. at ¶
further alleges that Defendant Wade “did not share the
transcript of depositions with [Officer] Kitko despite her
status as the prosecuting officer.” Id. at
¶ 90. Instead, Defendant Wade allegedly instructed
Officer Kitko as to what facts she should include in her
Affidavit of Probable Cause, without giving her the
opportunity to review the evidence herself. Id. at
September 18, 2019 the Lycoming County Court of Common Pleas,
upon motion by the Commonwealth, dismissed the charges of
Disorderly Conduct in violation of 18 Pa. C.S.
§5503(a)(1) as Misdemeanor of the Third Degree and
Disorderly Conduct in violation of 18 Pa. C.S.
§5503(a)(1) as a Summary Offense. Id. at ¶
31. The Court also directed that a non-jury trial be
scheduled for the remaining Harassment charge. Id.
Plaintiff was found Not Guilty on the Harassment charge on
November 1, 2018. Id. at ¶ 32.
now brings the instant claims in his Second Amended
Complaint, which newly named Defendant Wade as a party.
Defendant Wade filed the instant Motion to Dismiss the claims
against him for failure to state a claim for which relief can
be granted on August 20, 2019. (Doc. 56). Defendant Wade
filed a Brief in Support on September 3, 2019. (Doc. 57). On
September 27, 2019, Plaintiff filed a Brief in Opposition.
(Doc. 63). Defendant Wade failed to file a Reply by October
11, 2019, as is required by Local Rule 7.7. The Motion is
therefore ripe for disposition.
STANDARD OF ...