Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

DIRKES v. BOROUGH OF RUNNEMEDE

August 12, 1996

Chester Dirkes and Marie Dirkes, Plaintiffs,
v.
Borough of Runnemede, Borough of Runnemede Police Department and Lieutenant Emil P. Busko, Defendants.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: BROTMAN

 BROTMAN, Senior District Judge.

 Presently before this Court is a motion for summary judgment brought by the Borough of Runnemede ("Borough"), the Borough of Runnemede Police Department ("Department"), and Lieutenant Emil Busko ("Lt. Busko") (collectively, the "Defendants"). For the reasons set forth below, the Court will deny this motion.

 I. Facts and Procedural Background

 The present action arises from the investigation of and disciplinary action taken against Plaintiff Chester Dirkes ("Plaintiff Dirkes"), formerly an officer with the Department. On May 24, 1990, in the course of an investigation into a citizen's death, Plaintiff Dirkes allegedly removed pornographic magazines and videotapes from the decedent's apartment. Based on this allegation, the Camden County Grand Jury returned a one count indictment for misconduct in office against him on May 29, 1991. As a result of the indictment, on May 30, 1991, the Department issued a disciplinary notice to Plaintiff Dirkes and suspended him without pay and benefits. Plaintiff Dirkes' trial commenced on April 20, 1992 and on May 5, 1992, he was acquitted of the sole charge against him.

 Following the acquittal, the Borough retained special counsel and resumed its internal affairs investigation against Plaintiff Dirkes. The Department assigned Lt. Busko to investigate the matter. On or about May 7, 1992, Lt. Busko obtained the names and rental dates of certain pornographic videotapes previously rented by Plaintiff Dirkes and his wife, co-plaintiff Marie Dirkes (collectively, "Plaintiffs"). Lt. Busko received this information from an employee of Videos To Go, the store from which Plaintiffs apparently regularly rent or buy video tapes for their private use. In seeking to obtain this information, Lt. Busko failed to secure a warrant, a subpoena or a court order. He simply requested and received the information from an employee of Videos To Go without question.

 The internal affairs memorandum listing the video tape rental information was distributed to the Borough's special counsel, who in turn distributed it in connection with Plaintiff Dirkes' disciplinary hearing and in a proceeding before the Superior Court of New Jersey, Camden County. *fn1"

 As mentioned above, Plaintiffs' original complaint proffered three counts: (1) violation of the terms of the Videotape Privacy Protection Act, 18 U.S.C. § 2710; (2) a common law claim for intentional and unjustified intrusion by the Defendants into the private affairs and solitude of Plaintiffs and (3) a common law claim based on Defendants' public disclosure of private facts. All three claims request that the video information in question be prohibited from distribution in any legal proceeding by way of permanent injunction and that the information be destroyed. In addition, Plaintiffs seek compensatory and punitive damages as well as attorneys' fees. The Defendants move this Court for summary judgment on Count I of the Complaint, which alleges a violation of the Videotape Privacy Protection Act. 18 U.S.C. § 2710. Accordingly, the Court will not address the second or third counts of Plaintiffs' complaint.

 II. Discussion

 A. Summary Judgment Standard

 The standard for granting summary judgment pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56 is a stringent one. Summary judgment is appropriate only if all the probative materials of record "show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c); Hersh v. Allen Prods. Co., 789 F.2d 230, 232 (3d Cir. 1986); Lang v. New York Life Ins. Co., 721 F.2d 118, 119 (3d Cir. 1983). In determining whether there remain any genuine issues of material fact, the court must resolve all reasonable doubts in favor of the nonmoving party. Meyer v. Riegel Prods. Corp., 720 F.2d 303, 307 n. 2 (3d Cir.1983); Smith v. Pittsburgh Gage & Supply Co., 464 F.2d 870, 874 (3d Cir. 1972); Matsushita Elec. Industrial Co., Ltd. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586, 89 L. Ed. 2d 538, 106 S. Ct. 1348 (1987). Significantly, "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 v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 249 (1986).

 Under the standards announced by the Supreme Court's trilogy in Celotex Corp v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 91 L. Ed. 2d 265, 106 S. Ct. 2548 (1986), Anderson, 477 U.S. 242, 91 L. Ed. 2d 202, 106 S. Ct. 2505 (1986) and Matsushita, 475 U.S. 574, 89 L. Ed. 2d 538, 106 S. Ct. 1348 (1986), "the mere existence of some alleged factual dispute between the parties will not defeat an otherwise properly supported motion for summary judgment." Anderson, 477 U.S. at 247-48 (emphasis in original). Indeed, where the moving party has made a properly supported motion for summary judgment, it is incumbent upon the nonmoving party to come forward with specific facts to show that there is a genuine issue of material fact for trial. Id. at 248. Thus, once the moving party has carried its burden of establishing the absence of genuine issues of material fact, the nonmoving party "may not rest upon mere allegations or denials" of its pleadings, Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e), but must produce sufficient evidence that will reasonably support a jury verdict in its favor, id. at 249; J.E. Mamiye & Sons, Inc. v. Fidelity Bank, 813 F.2d 610, 618 (3d Cir. 1987) (Becker, J., concurring), and not just "some metaphysical doubt as to material facts." Matsushita, 475 U.S. at 586; see also, Quiroga v. Hasbro, Inc., 934 F.2d 497, 500 (3d Cir.), cert. denied, 502 U.S. 940, 112 S. Ct. 376, 116 ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.