United States District Court, D. Connecticut
AMENDED  RULING ON DEFENDANTS’
MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT
A. BOLDEN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Karen Lombardi, sued Sergeant Brian McCarthy of the
Woodbridge Police Department and Karen Myers, a former work
colleague. Notice of Removal at Compl., ECF No.
Ms. Lombardi’s claims arise out of an incident in which
Ms. Myers accused Ms. Lombardi of physically abusing a
twenty-one pound dog named Timone. Ms. Lombardi alleges that
both Defendants are liable for malicious prosecution under 42
U.S.C. § 1983 and that Ms. Myers is liable for
Myers and McCarthy have moved for summary judgment on the
malicious prosecution claims only. Mot. for Summ. J., ECF No.
16. For the reasons that follow, the motion is GRANTED in its
entirety, and the Court declines to exercise supplemental
jurisdiction over the remaining defamation claim.
STATEMENT OF FACTS
Lombardi works as an Animal Control Officer in Woodbridge,
Connecticut. Ms. Myers worked in “Kennel Care” at
the same shelter in Woodbridge. At the time relevant to this
lawsuit, the Woodbridge Police Department oversaw the
shelter’s operations. Defs.’ Ex. B, McCarthy Dep.
14:23-24, ECF No. 16-3. Ms. Lombardi and Ms. Myers also have
known each other for many years, because Ms. Myers is friends
with Ms. Lombardi’s cousin and attends family events.
Defs.’ Ex. A, Myers Dep. 5:22-6:6, ECF No. 16-3.
working together at the Woodbridge Animal Control Shelter,
Ms. Myers claims that she witnessed Ms. Lombardi physically
abuse a dog named Timone. After Ms. Myers resigned from her
position at the shelter, she discussed the incident with her
cousin, Mr. McCarthy, who worked as a police officer for the
Town of Woodbridge. Id. at 22:19-23:2; Pl.’s
Ex. 1, Myers Dep. 12:14-18, ECF No. 17-2. Officer McCarthy
reported the conversation to his supervisors. Defs.’
Ex. B, McCarthy Dep. 19:14-19, ECF No. 16-3.
his supervisors, Lieutenant Lieby, sent Officer McCarthy and
another officer to take a formal statement from Ms. Myers
about the incident. Id. at 19:23-20:1. She
ultimately made a written statement, which she signed.
Defs.’ Ex. C, Myers’s Statement, ECF No. 16-3.
The statement indicates that Ms. Myers resigned from her
position with Animal Control, because she felt that Ms.
Lombardi created a hostile work environment by yelling at her
and failing to control her anger. See Id. During one
incident, she claims that Ms. Lombardi kicked a series of
kennel doors “as hard as she could” because she
was angry. Id. at 2. She also mentioned the incident
with Timone in the statement. Ms. Myers claims that Ms.
Lombardi threw the dog against a wall and yelled obscenities
at him. Id. at 2-3. Ms. Myers explained that just
before the altercation occurred, she was having trouble
putting a coat on Timone because he would not hold still, and
Ms. Lombardi came to assist her. Id. at 2. Ms. Myers
claimed that another Animal Control Officer, Paul Niedmann,
had also witnessed the incident. Id. at 2.
McCarthy filed Ms. Myers’s statement and a police
report. Defs.’ Ex B, McCarthy Dep. 21:24-22:2, ECF No.
16-3. To further investigate her claims, Officer McCarthy
then sought a statement from Mr. Niedmann. Id. at
22:15-16. Mr. Niedmann came into the police station and gave
a formal written statement, which he signed, indicating that
he had seen Ms. Lombardi shaking Timone and yelling
obscenities at him. Defs.’ Ex. D, Niedmann Statement at
2-4, ECF No. 16-4. He did not indicate that he had seen Ms.
Lombardi throw Timone against a wall. But he did opine in his
statement that the way that Ms. Lombardi shook Timone
constituted animal cruelty. Id. at 4. McCarthy again
submitted Mr. Niedmann’s statement to his supervisor.
Defs.’ Ex B, McCarthy Dep. 25:9-11, ECF No. 16-3.
final part of his investigation of the incident, Officer
McCarthy testified that he asked Ms. Lombardi whether she
would speak to him about it, and that she refused.
Id. at 25:12-16. Ms. Lombardi testified that no one
ever asked her for a statement about the incident.
Pl.’s Ex. 3, Lombardi Dep. 64:22-24, ECF No. 17-2.
on the information gathered by Officer McCarthy, Lieutenant
Lieby decided to apply for an arrest warrant for Ms. Lombardi
on a charge of animal cruelty. Defs.’ Ex B, McCarthy
Dep. 27:6-14, ECF No. 16-3. When the warrant was approved,
Ms. Lombardi was arrested. She was required to pay a $1, 000
bond to be released. Pl.’s Ex. 3, Lombardi Dep.
26:22-24, ECF No. 17-2. Ultimately the criminal charge was
context of this lawsuit, Ms. Lombardi claims that she did not
yell at, shake, or otherwise physically harm Timone. She
testified that she tried to “restrain him while trying
to put a sweater on him” and had done so to assist Ms.
Myers, who had also been trying to put a sweater on him.
Id. at 63:17-20, 68:23-25. She testified that it was
difficult putting the sweater on him, as “[h]e was
pretty wiggly, ” and that in doing so, she recalls
verbally telling Timone “no” firmly and possibly
cursing. Id. at 72:17-73:9. She denies shaking
Timone or throwing him into a wall. Id. at 79:10-15.
After this alleged incident, Ms. Lombardi adopted Timone.
Id. at 8:9-12.
who moves for summary judgment bears the burden of
establishing that there are no genuine issues of material
fact in dispute and that he is entitled to judgment as a
matter of law. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(a);
Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 256
(1986). When ruling on a motion for summary judgment, the
Court must construe all facts in the light most favorable to
the non-moving party and must resolve all ambiguities and
draw all reasonable inferences against the moving party.
See Anderson, 477 U.S. at 255; Matsushita Elec.
Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587
(1986); Adickes v. S.H. Kress & Co., 398 U.S.
144, 158-59 (1970). An issue of fact is
“material” if it “might affect the outcome
of the suit under the governing law” and is
“genuine” if it could cause a reasonable jury to
return a verdict for the non-moving party. Anderson,
477 U.S. at 248. “Only when reasonable minds could not
differ as to the import of the evidence is summary judgment
proper.” Bryant v. Maffucci, 923 F.2d 979, 982
(2d Cir. 1991).