United States District Court, D. New Jersey
KEVIN MCNULTY, J.
constitutional tort action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 arises
from an allegedly unconstitutional detention of the
plaintiffs, Stanley Summerville and Fombah Sirleaf, by
several New Jersey State Troopers. Plaintiffs allege that the
officers confronted and detained them without reasonable
suspicion, in violation of their Fourth Amendment rights, and
on the basis of racial profiling. As a result of apt
concessions by the plaintiffs, I focus here on the claims
against Detective Michael Gregory, the officer in command of
the operation, and to some extent Det. Sgt. P.
police have a difficult job. When they make on-the-spot
decisions they do not, like a judge reviewing the matter,
have the benefit of leisure, legal research, and hindsight.
The reasonable-suspicion standard and qualified immunity thus
give the police a certain amount of leeway to investigate
facts, falling short of probable cause to arrest, that may
(as here) turn out to be wholly innocuous. Anyone who has
ever surfed the internet can understand how a simple search
for information, initially intended to be brief, can stretch
into 30, 60, or 90 minutes. Still, I must conclude that the
detention here, even assuming it was based on reasonable
suspicion (which remains a contested factual issue), was too
long and severe an intrusion on the privacy and dignity of
these two innocent persons.
before the Court are the defendants' motion for summary
judgment (DE 114) and plaintiffs' cross motion for
summary judgment (DE 117). For the reasons described below, I
will grant in part and deny in part both sides'
filed their initial complaint on December 9, 2014, naming the
New Jersey State Police, New Jersey State Trooper John Does
1-10, Universal Protection Service, and JG Elizabeth LLC. (DE
1). On February 18, 2015, plaintiffs filed their first
amended complaint, adding the (now former) Superintendent of
the New Jersey State Police, Col. Joseph R. Fuentes, and
removing as defendants the New Jersey State Police, Universal
Protection Service, and JG Elizabeth LLC. (DE 11). After
exchange of certain discovery, plaintiffs filed their second
amended complaint on May 14, 2015, which replaced the John
Doe State Troopers with Lieutenant J. Harrison and Detectives
M. Gregory, J. Gauthier, P. Ciano, E. Bobal, T. Kelshaw, R.
Joaquin, and P. Chariamonte. (DE 17).
August 10, 2015, plaintiffs filed their third amended
complaint (for purposes of this Opinion, the
"Complaint," cited as "Comp. ¶ ").
(DE 33). The current Complaint asserts two § 1983 causes
of action: (1) false imprisonment and false arrest (Comp.
¶¶ 84-97); and (2) racial profiling and selective
enforcement. (Id. ¶¶ 130-135). Both are
asserted against the individual defendant police officers
January 4, 2019, all remaining defendants filed a motion for
summary judgment. (DE 114). On March 1, 2019, plaintiffs
filed an opposition and cross motion for summary judgment.
Michael Gregory is a detective sergeant of the New Jersey
State Police Organized Crime and Gangs Unit. Gregory oversaw
the investigation of Richard Parker ("Parker"), a
black male (race is relevant to the allegations), who was
suspected of trafficking heroin. (DE 117-2 ¶ 6; DE 120-2
¶ 6; DE 117-5 at 32, 37). Det. Gregory is a white male.
(DE 117-2 ¶ 8; DE 120-2 ¶ 8). Det. Gregory
supervised the October 8, 2014 surveillance operation of
Parker and made all the pertinent decisions, including the
decision to detain the plaintiffs. (DE 117-2 ¶ 12; DE
120-2 ¶ 12; DE 114-2 ¶ 31; DE 117-1 ¶ 31). The
following officers assisted Det. Gregory in his surveillance
of Parker: J. Harrison, P. Ciano, E. Bobal, T. Kelshaw, J.
Gauthier, R. Joaquin, and P. Chariamonte. (DE 117-2 ¶
7; DE 120-2 ¶ 7; DE 117-5 at 32).
September 2014, Det. Gregory received information from a
confidential source ("CS") that Parker was a black
male in his mid-thirties who lived in Newark and was engaged
in the distribution of heroin in New Jersey. (DE 117-5 at
3-9; DE 117-2 ¶ 5; DE 120-2 ¶ 5; DE 117-5 at 37).
The CS also told Det. Gregory that Parker had served several
years in state prison for a homicide, was on parole,
frequently drove a white Lexus with a specific registration
number during narcotics transactions, and often carried a
handgun during those transactions. (DE 117-5 at 3, 4).
corroborate the CS's information, Det. Gregory searched
Parker's name and registration number in law enforcement
databases. (DE 117-5 at 4). These corroborated that the Lexus
was registered in Parker's name, that he lived in Newark,
that he was in his mid-thirties, and that he was on parole
from a murder sentence. (Id.). Det. Gregory showed
the CS a photograph of Parker from the New Jersey Department
of Motor Vehicles, which the CS identified as the person the
CS had been referring to. (Id.).
in October 2014, Det. Gregory met with the CS to monitor a
telephone conversation between the CS and Parker. During the
call, the CS held the phone so that Det. Gregory could listen
to the conversation. (DE 117-5 at 4). Det. Gregory heard the
CS and Parker discuss the sale of heroin. (Id.).
Det. Gregory certified in an affidavit that he learned from
the CS that on October 8, 2014, Parker would be transporting
200 bricks of heroin to a location in Ocean County, New
Jersey, for sale. (DE 114-6 at 60).
Gregory then used a law enforcement database to find
Parker's place of employment in Elizabeth, New Jersey.
(DE 117-5 at 4). On October 7, 2014, Det. Gregory and Det.
Joaquin established surveillance of Parker's vehicle at
that location. (Id.; DE 117-2 ¶ 17; DE 120-2
¶ 17). Parker eventually got in his car and drove off,
but the detectives were unable to follow him on the highway
because of the traffic conditions and Parker's high rate
of speed. (Id.).
next day, October 8, 2014, Det. Gregory continued his
surveillance of Parker with a team of seven other officers,
as well as members of the Ocean County Prosecutor's
Office, starting at Parker's place of employment. (DE
117-5 at 4-5, 33; DE 122-1 ¶ 5). As part of their
tactical plan to follow Parker, the officers continued their
surveillance of him when he left his place of employment
around 3:00 P.M. and drove to his Newark apartment. (Id.,
). Around a half hour later, Parker left his apartment
and drove to the Jersey Gardens shopping mall in Elizabeth, New
Jersey, while under constant surveillance. (Id.).
Det. Gregory did not know in advance that Parker was heading
to Jersey Gardens but followed him there with the
surveillance team. (Id. at 33, 39).
Sirleaf is related to Liberia's then-president, Ellen
Johnson Sirleaf. Fombah Sirleaf was the head of Liberia's
national law enforcement organization. (Id. at 39;
DE 117-2 ¶ 3; DE 120-2 ¶ 3). Around 2010, Sirleaf
worked undercover for the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency as
part of a successful law enforcement initiative to dismantle
an international drug trafficking organization that sought to
route drugs through, among other countries, Liberia and the
United States. (See DE 117-8 at 49-54). There is no
indication, however, that the officers who detained him knew
these background facts, which do not figure in the Fourth
Stanley Summerville and Fombah Sirleaf, both adult males, are
lawful green-card residents of the United States. (DE 117-8
at 38, 44, 45). In October 2014, Sirleaf came to the United
States from Liberia to purchase military equipment in his
official capacity as a member of the Liberian government. (DE
117-8 at 39; DE 117-2 ¶ 3; DE 120-2 ¶ 3). On
October 8, 2014, Sirleaf and Summerville, who are friends,
were shopping together at the Jersey Gardens shopping mall.
(DE 117-2 ¶¶ 2, 40-41; DE 120-2 ¶¶ 2,
40-41; DE 117-8 at 39, 44, 45). Prior to visiting the mall,
Sirleaf purchased around $1, 000 worth of various
over-the-counter pharmaceutical items that he intended to
bring back to Liberia to assist with the Ebola epidemic.
(Id.; DE 114-6 at 62, 77).
about 3:31 p.m., Sirleaf and Summerville purchased two
suitcases from Marshalls, a store inside the mall. They then
exited from the mall and walked to their car, a black
Mercedes SUV, in the mall parking lot. (DE 117-8 at 39, 40,
44; DE 117-2 ¶¶ 1-4; DE 120-2 ¶¶ 1-4).
There, they spent about 10 minutes rearranging their things,
including the pharmaceutical items, and placing them in the
two new suitcases that they had just purchased. (DE 117-8 at
40, 44). They placed the suitcases in the trunk of the car
and walked back and forth between the seating areas of the
car and the trunk as they rearranged the items. (See Video).
plaintiffs were reorganizing the items in their luggage,
Parker pulled his car into a parking spot. Parker's spot
was located across a driving lane and about 30 feet down from
the plaintiffs' spot. (DE 117-2 ¶¶ 46, 92; DE
120-2 ¶¶ 46, 92; Video).
parked his car next to another car, a grey Mountaineer, that
was already parked. (DE 117-5 at 44-45). The occupant of the
Mountaineer got out and got inside Parker's car.
(Id. at 45). That person did not communicate or make
any contact with the plaintiffs. (Id. at 45). After
entering Parker's car and remaining there for around 20
seconds, that person got out of Parker's car, got back
into the Mountaineer, and drove out of the parking lot, never
to be seen again. The Mountaineer driver was not detained or
arrested, and the officers did not even record the license
plate number of the Mountaineer. (Id. at 45, 49, 52;
Video at 1:45-2:45; DE 117-2 ¶ 73; DE 120-2 ¶ 73).
About a minute later, Parker was arrested in the Jersey
Gardens parking lot by Det. Kelshaw. (DE 117-5 at 45, 47).
The officers searched Parker's vehicle and uncovered a
duffel bag that contained 200 bricks of heroin and $1, 400 in
cash. (DE 114-2 ¶ 31; DE 117-1 ¶ 31).
Gregory pulled into an adjacent area of the parking lot about
15 seconds after Parker pulled into the parking lot. (DE
117-5 at 33, 45; Video at 1:20-40). Gregory's car was
located approximately 300 feet from the plaintiffs' car
and 330 feet from Parker's car. (DE 117-2 ¶¶
53, 54; DE 120-2 ¶¶ 53, 54). As Det. Gregory was
surveilling Parker, Gregory could see the plaintiffs at the
rear of their Mercedes SUV moving between the sides of the
car and the trunk. (DE 117-5 at 40, 41). When Gregory first
saw the plaintiffs standing behind their vehicle, he thought
that Parker might have been going to meet them. (DE 117-2
¶ 97; DE 120-2 ¶ 97). Gregory saw plaintiffs taking
items out and putting items into their suitcases, but he did
not see what the items were. (Id. at 44). Det.
Gregory did not observe Parker communicating with the
plaintiffs at all; he did not see them approach Parker or
vice versa. (Id. at 44). Det. Gregory did not see
plaintiffs using their cell phone and never saw them move
away from the immediate area of their parked car. (DE 117-2
¶¶ 60, 61; DE 120-2 ¶¶ 60, 61).
approximately the same time that the officers detained
Parker, they also stopped plaintiffs. (DE 117-5 at 47). It
was Det. Gregory who made the decision to stop the
plaintiffs; he ordered the other officers to do it.
(Id. at 47). Det. Gregory drove toward the
plaintiffs in his car, then got out of his car and jogged
toward them with his gun drawn as he told them to show their
hands. (Id. at 48, 54). Det. Guathier (also with his
gun drawn) and Det. Chariamonte similarly approached the
plaintiffs. (Id. at 54; DE 117-2 ¶ 110; DE
120-2 ¶ 110). The officers ordered the plaintiffs to lie
down on the ground. (DE 117-5 at 48; DE 114-6 at 53-54, 106;
Video). Det. Gregory frisked Sirleaf and Det. Gauthier
frisked Mr. Summerville; no weapon was found. [Id.
at 48). Det. Gregory handcuffed Mr. Sirleaf and Det. Gauthier
handcuffed Mr. Summerville. (DE 117-2 ¶ 111; DE 120-2
¶ 111; DE 114-6 at 53-54, 106; Video). At this point, at
the latest, plaintiffs obviously were not free to leave.
(Id. at 50).
officers then began to question the plaintiffs. (DE 117-5 at
49). According to his deposition testimony, Det. Gregory
explained to Sirleaf that a drug deal had occurred directly
across from them. He asked the plaintiffs whether they knew
Parker, or the occupants of the other vehicles.
(Id.; DE 114-6 at 55; DE 114-6 at 61).). The
plaintiffs said that they did not. (DE 117-5 at 50).
According to Mr. Sirleaf's deposition testimony, the
officers repeatedly accused him of lying about whether he
knew Parker and of lying to the Transportation Security
Administration ("TSA") officials concerning whether
he may be infected with the Ebola virus. (DE 117-8 at 41).
Summerville is a U.S. resident who was born in Liberia but
had resided in the U.S. for 29 years. (DE 114-2 at 9). Mr.
Summerville provided the officers with a New Jersey
driver's license. (DE 114-2 at 10). Mr. Sirleaf is a U.S.
resident. He told the detective that he had traveled to the
United States from Liberia the day before. (DE 114-2 at 10).
Mr. Sirleaf provided the officers with a Pennsylvania
driver's license but did not display his passport or
green card because he had left them in his hotel room. (DE
114-2 at 10; DE 114-6 at 102).
officers and plaintiffs spoke for around 10 minutes before
Det. Gregory presented Mr. Summerville with a consent to
search form for his vehicle. (DE 114-6 at 62). Mr.
Summerville freely consented to the search of his vehicle.
(DE 114-6 at 112; DE 114-6 at 62; DE 117-8 at 41). The search
took around 30 minutes. (DE 114-6 at 62). It did not yield
weapons, drugs, or incriminating evidence. (DE 117-5 at 49;
DE 117-2 ¶ 114; DE 120-2 ¶ 114). The vehicle search
did yield the suitcases and approximately $1, 000 worth of
over-the-counter medications. (DE 114-6 at 62). The
plaintiffs provided Det. Gregory with the receipts for these
items. (Id.). The police continued to question the
plaintiffs, who remained in handcuffs. (DE 117-8 at 41).
the vehicle search, Detectives Gregory and Joaquin went to
the mall's security office to review the surveillance
video. It took about 10 minutes to get to the office from the
parking area. (DE 114-2 at 11). The detectives were in the
security office for approximately 10 to 15 minutes. The
surveillance video confirmed that the plaintiffs were not
involved in Parker's narcotics transaction.
(Id.). The officers then removed the plaintiffs'
handcuffs but did not release them. (DE 114-2 at 11). At this
point, they had been in custody for about 60 minutes.
point, Mr. Sirleaf had stated in response to questioning that
he had arrived from Liberia the day before, was director of
the national law enforcement organization in Liberia, was
travelling to the U.S. to look at military equipment, and had
assisted U.S. law enforcement in the past. (DE 114-6 at 102).
Det. Friedenberger contacted an investigator with the Joint
Terrorism Task Force ("JTTF") of the Federal Bureau
of Investigation "to verify [Mr. Sirleafs] travels and
what was going on" due to "Mr. Sirleaf not having
any of his documents and the things that he stated to
me." (Id.). The JTTF was able to verify Mr.
Sirleafs travels and alleviate concerns regarding possible
terrorist activity, which took the JTTF investigator
approximately 30 minutes to do. (Id.).
detention that lasted a total of about 90 minutes, the
officers released the plaintiffs. The officers told them that
a surveillance video showed that they did not have contact
with Parker. (DE 117-8 at 41; DE 114-2 at 13; DE 117-2 at
reviewed the surveillance video (there is no audio). It shows
plaintiffs in the mall parking lot maneuvering items in the
trunk and walking between the doors of their black Mercedes
SUV and the back of the car. (See Video). The
surveillance video (or at least the usable, excerpted
portion) is approximately 4 minutes long. When it begins, the
plaintiffs are already next to their SUV rearranging the
items in their suitcases. (Id. at 0:01; DE 122-1
¶ 26). The Mountaineer can already be seen parked in the
parallel row of spots across from the plaintiffs. Five people
walk in a group through the parking lot and get into a car
that is a few spots away from where the plaintiffs are
standing. (Video at 0:46-1:50). Around a minute and a half
into the surveillance video, Parker's white Lexus can be
seen entering the parking lot and pulling into the spot
directly next to the Mountaineer. (Id. at 1:20-33).
Two seconds after Parker's car enters the parking lot,
Det. Gregory's undercover vehicle and another
officer's vehicle (a van and a pickup truck) can be seen
entering the area, i.e., driving outside the
periphery of the parking lot and making a left turn onto a
lane that is part of the parking area and adjacent to the
area where plaintiffs and Parker were located. (Id.
at 1:20-40). From then on, Det. Gregory's vehicle cannot
be seen in the video until the plaintiffs are detained.
video shows that a few seconds after Parker pulls into his
spot, a person exits the Mountaineer and enters the passenger
seat of Parker's white Lexus, remains there for
approximately 20 seconds, gets back into the Mountaineer, and
drives out of the mall parking lot. (Id. at
1:38-2:45; DE 117-2 ¶ 72; DE 120-2 ¶ 72).
Throughout this time, plaintiffs continue arranging items in
their trunk and walking between the passenger doors and trunk
of their Mercedes SUV.
15 seconds after the Mountaineer exits from the parking lot,
Parker begins to pull his car out of his parking spot. (Video
at 2:57). At this point, the surveillance camera turns away
from the parking lot for about 10 seconds; all that can be
seen is a tree which obstructs the view. (Id. at
2:59-3:12). When the camera turns back to the parking lot,
Parker's white Lexus is out of its spot and waiting
behind another vehicle. (Id. at 3:13). The
plaintiffs are still consolidating the items in the trunk of
their car. The camera again turns away from the parking lot,
this time for approximately 25 seconds. (Id. at
the camera turns back to the relevant area, Summerville can
be seen with his hands in the air as an officer points a gun
at him. (Video at 3:45-50). Two undercover police cars pull
up to the plaintiffs' vehicle and three officers can be
seen detaining Summerville. Sirleaf is out of view of the
camera because he is on the far side of the Mercedes SUV, but
Summerville can be seen getting down on the ground as the
officers detain him. Parker can also be seen being detained
near his white Lexus. (Id. at 3:51-55).
the officers detained the plaintiffs for approximately 90
minutes, and they were handcuffed for about 60 minutes of
that period. (DE 117-2 ¶ 117; DE 120-2 ¶ 117).
Sirleaf at least concededly was not free to leave during the
entire period. (Id.). The plaintiffs assert that
they suffered physical and emotional discomfort during this
time. Neither plaintiff was treated by any kind of medical
professional as a result of the detention. (DE 117-2
¶¶ 118-20; DE 120-2 ¶¶ 118-20; DE 114-2
¶¶ 67, 68; DE 117-1 ¶ 67, 68). The officers
did not stop any other person besides the plaintiffs and
Parker during the October 8, 2014 incident. (DE 117-5 at 51).
claim that there were white shoppers in the mall parking lot.
(DE 117-2 ¶ 121; DE 120-2 ¶ 121). Specifically,
Sirleaf certifies that during the 10-minute period in which
the plaintiffs were loading items into their suitcases, there
was a white shopper parked next to their vehicle loading
purchases into his vehicle. This, he says, occurred minutes
before the officers detained the plaintiffs. (DE 117-8 at 40
¶ 17). In the surveillance video, however, no white
shoppers can be seen. From the time that Parker pulled into
the parking lot, the video shows no white shopper loading
items into a car near the plaintiffs. (See Video).
Sirleaf states that he also saw white shoppers at the time he
was handcuffed. (DE 114-6 at 92, 94). The plaintiffs do not
report hearing the officers utter any racial slurs.
(Id. at 95).
Gregory stated during his deposition that he suspected there
might have been countersurveillance or lookouts in the area
of what he believed to be a drug transaction. In addition, he
said, he suspected there could be someone else in the area to
whom additional drugs or money would be delivered. (DE 117-5
at 49). According to Det. Gregory, those suspicions were
based on the totality of information that he had acquired
about Parker, such as the large quantity of narcotics and sum
of money that could have been in play, as well as his
background knowledge about these types of operations.
(Id. at 49). Det. Gregory "wanted to detain Mr.
Summerville and Sirleaf temporarily to ascertain if they were
involved or not" in Parker's drug dealing.
[Id. at 49). He initially thought that Parker was
going to meet the plaintiffs when Parker pulled into the
parking lot. (DE 117-5 at 44).
Gregory did not know who the plaintiffs were, but his
suspicions became aroused when Parker "happened to pull
[his car] directly across" from the plaintiffs.
(Id. at 56). At the time he ordered the plaintiffs
to be stopped, he had not ruled out the possibility that they
had communicated with Parker through a cellphone or with hand
signals. (Id. at 59). He had not seen this, however.
According to Det. Gregory's deposition, race did not play
any part in his suspicions, and he would have stopped white
persons parked across from Parker whose actions were similar
to those of plaintiffs. (Id. at 56).
Gregory wrote a New Jersey Police Investigative Report dated
November 24, 2014 (the "Report") to memorialize
this incident. (DE 117-5 at 3-9). That Report largely tracks
the facts outlined above. One potential inaccuracy within the
Report that plaintiffs highlight is whether Det. Gregory was
accurate when writing in the Report that it was
"after observing the hand to hand
transaction" between Parker and the person in the
Mountaineer that he "requested that surveillance units
initiate an investigative stop of Parker's vehicle and
[the plaintiffs] to determine their involvement." (DE
117-5 at 5) (emphasis added). Plaintiffs assert that the
officers did not view the "hand to hand
transaction" in person but instead only learned of it
afterward, when reviewing the surveillance video. Det.
Gregory's deposition testimony on this point is
equivocal. (See DE 117-5 at 45 ("Q: Is it fair to say
that you saw what you described or what you thought was hand
to hand? A: Yes. Q: Or later learned to be a hand to hand? A:
Yes."); but see DE 117-5 at 49 (111:7-14)).
Sgt. Ciano, contradicting Det. Gregory, testified that the
officers first learned that there was a hand to hand
transaction between Parker and the person in the Mountaineer
when they reviewed the surveillance video, i.e., after the
officers had already detained the plaintiffs. (DE 117-2
¶ 77; DE 120-2 ¶ 77; DE 117-6 at 11). Specifically,
Det. Sgt. Ciano testified that the officers "didn't
know [that Parker engaged in any transaction with the person
in the Mountaineer] until after reviewing the surveillance
video." It was when reviewing the video, he said, that
"they noticed the hand to hand [between the person in
the Mountaineer and Parker] and that [the plaintiffs]
weren't involved." (DE 117-6 at 11 (34:15-35:14
("Nobody knew whether your Plaintiffs were involved or
not. That's why I said go see, go view [the surveillance
video to] see what happened."))). This, said Ciano, was
why there was no communication among the officers regarding
the person in the Mountaineer: they did not realize
Parker's interaction with the Mountaineer driver had
occurred. (Id. ("Q: Is there any communications
[between the officers] regarding the person that Parker was
alleged to have conducted a hand to hand narcotics
transaction? A: No, because we didn't know that until
after reviewing the surveillance video.").
Sgt. Ciano's testimony, then, is to some degree
inconsistent with Det. Gregory's testimony and Report.
(DE 120-2 ¶ 79).
Ciano, Harrison, Friedenberger, and Kelshaw did not see any
conduct related to the plaintiffs prior to the
plaintiffs' detention. (DE 117-2 ¶¶ 68, 69; DE
120-2 ¶¶ 68, 69). When Detectives Joaquin and Bobal
arrived at the mall, the other officers had already detained
the plaintiffs. (DE 117-2 ¶ 70; DE 120-2 ¶ 70).
Det. Gauthier did not see the plaintiffs engage in any
criminal behavior or do anything suspicious. (DE 117-7 at 30,
33; DE 117-2 ¶ 63; DE 120-2 ¶ 63). State Police
Col. Fuentes, who was not present, had no knowledge or
involvement with the events that transpired between the
officers, the plaintiffs, and Parker on October 8, 2014. (DE
114-2 ¶ 77; DE 117-1 ¶ 77).
Rule of Civil Procedure 56(a) provides that summary judgment
should be granted "if the movant shows that there is no
genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is
entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed.R.Civ.P.
56(a); see also Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477
U.S. 242, 248 (1986); Kreschollek v. S. Stevedoring
Co., 223 F.3d 202, 204 (3d Cir. 2000). In deciding a
motion for summary judgment, a court must construe all facts
and inferences in the light most favorable to the nonmoving
party. See Boyle v. Cty. of Allegheny Pa., 139 F.3d
386, 393 (3d Cir. 1998). The moving party bears the burden of
establishing that no genuine issue of material fact remains.
See Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322-23
(1986). "[W]ith respect to an issue on which the
nonmoving party bears the burden of proof . . . the burden on
the moving party may be discharged by 'showing'-that
is, pointing out to the district court-that there is an
absence of evidence to support the nonmoving party's
case." Id. at 325.
the moving party has met that threshold burden, the
non-moving party "must do more than simply show that
there is some metaphysical doubt as to material facts."
Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co., Ltd. v. Zenith Radio
Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986). The opposing party must
present actual evidence that creates a genuine issue as to a
material fact for trial. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248;
see also Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c) (setting forth the
types of evidence on which a nonmoving party must rely to
support its assertion that genuine issues of material fact
exist). "[Unsupported allegations . . . and pleadings
are insufficient to repel summary judgment." Schoch
v. First Fid. Bancorp., 912 F.2d 654, 657 (3d Cir.
1990); see also Gleason v. Norwest Mortg., Inc., 243
F.3d 130, 138 (3d Cir. 2001) ("A nonmoving party has
created a genuine issue of material fact if it has provided
sufficient evidence to allow a jury to find in its favor at
trial."). If the nonmoving party has failed "to
make a showing sufficient to establish the existence of an
element essential to that party's case, and on which that
party will bear the burden of proof at trial, . . . there can
be 'no genuine issue of material fact,' since a
complete failure of proof concerning an essential element of
the nonmoving party's case necessarily renders all other
facts immaterial." Katz v. Aetna Cas. & Sur.
Co., 972 F.2d 53, 55 n.5 (3d Cir. 1992) (quoting
Celotex, 477 U.S. at 322-23).
the parties file cross-motions for summary judgment, the
governing standard "does not change."
Auto-Owners Ins. Co. v. Stevens & Ricci,
Inc., 835 F.3d 388, 401 (3d Cir. 2016) (citing
Appelmans v. City of Phila., 826 F.2d 214, 216 (3d
Cir. 1987)). The court must consider the motions
independently, in accordance with the principles outlined
above. Goldwell of N.J., Inc. v. KPSS, Inc., 622
F.Supp.2d 168, 184 (D.N.J. 2009); Williams v.
Philadelphia Housing Auth., 834 F.Supp. 794, 797 (E.D.
Pa. 1993), affd, 27 F.3d 560 (3d Cir. 1994). That
one of the cross-motions is denied does not imply that the
other must be granted. For each motion, "the court
construes facts and draws inferences in favor of the party
against whom the motion under consideration is made" but
does not "weigh the evidence or make credibility
determinations" because "these tasks are left for
the fact-finder." Pichler v. UNITE, 542 F.3d
380, 386 (3d Cir. 2008) (internal quotation and citations
omitted); see also Big Apple BMW, Inc. v. BMW of N. Am.,
Inc., 974 F.2d 1358, 1363 (3d Cir. 1992).
1983 does not create a substantive right but instead provides
a remedy for the violation of rights created by federal law.
42 U.S.C. § 1983; Oklahoma City v. Tuttle, 471
U.S. 808, 816, 105 S.Ct. 2427, 2432, 85 L.Ed.2d 791 (1985). A
prima facie case under § 1983 requires a plaintiff to
demonstrate that: (1) a person deprived him or her of a
federal right; and (2) the person who deprived him or her of
that right acted under color of state law. Groman v. Twp.
of Manalapan, 47 F.3d 628, 633 (3d Cir. 1995) (citing
Gomez v. Toledo, 446 U.S. 635, 640, 100 S.Ct. 1920,
1923 (1980)). There is no question here that the defendants
were acting under color of state law; they are police
officers who were acting in the course of their official
False Arrest / False Imprisonment
The Fourth ...