United States District Court, D. Connecticut
JAMES M. WARNER, Plaintiff,
WILLIAM T. FREEMAN, et al., Defendants.
RULING ON DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY
F. MARTINEZ UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
plaintiff, James Warner, commenced this action pursuant to 42
U.S.C. § 1983 against various police officers alleging
false arrest and malicious prosecution. At this juncture, the
sole remaining claims are federal and state law malicious
prosecution claims against Connecticut State Trooper William
Freeman ("Freeman"). Pending before the court is
defendant Freeman's supplemental motion for summary
judgment. (Doc. #52.) The court heard oral argument on
September 14, 2017. For the reasons that follow, the court
grants the motion with respect to the § 1983 malicious
prosecution claim and declines to exercise supplemental
jurisdiction over the state law claim.
court assumes the parties' familiarity with the
underlying facts and allegations and summarizes them only
briefly here. The following facts are undisputed.
plaintiff is a landscaper. A customer of his, John Fox
("Fox") lived at 11 Tattoon Road in Woodstock,
Connecticut. Fox asked the plaintiff to clean up the property
across the street at 16 Tattoon Road. At that address, there
was a dilapidated house on an overgrown lot with lots of
debris in the yard. The plaintiff knew that Fox did not own
the 16 Tattoon Road property.
December 9, 2013, the plaintiff parked his pickup truck in
the driveway of 16 Tattoon Road. He and two other men took
items from the property including an aluminum rowboat, a
cement mixer, a heater, and aluminum gutters. They loaded the
items into the bed of the plaintiff's truck. The
plaintiff did not know who owned the items. Meanwhile,
another neighbor called the police. The caller reported that
there were men on the property at 16 Tattoon Road, that the
house was vacant, and that the men were taking things from
the property and loading them into a truck.
the police arrived, the plaintiff provided identification and
said that he was cleaning up the property. The police asked
the men who had given them permission to be there. The men
did not respond. The plaintiff said that he had knocked at
the door but nobody answered. He explained that he then began
to collect things to bring to the dump. An officer knocked on
the front door of the residence but there was no response.
Freeman charged the plaintiff with larceny in violation of
Conn. Gen. Stat. § 53a-119, criminal trespass in the
third degree in violation of Conn. Gen. Stat. § 53a-109
and criminal mischief in the third degree in violation of
Conn. Gen. Stat. § 53a-117. The plaintiff was
transported to the Danielson State Police Barracks,
processed, and released the same day on a $6000 surety bond.
On April 25, 2014, the plaintiff appeared at court and the
charges were dismissed.
plaintiff brought suit alleging that the defendants deprived
him of his right to be free from false arrest and malicious
prosecution. In September 2016, the court granted in part and
denied in part the defendants' motion for summary
judgment. (Doc. #49.) The court held that arguable probable
cause existed and that accordingly, the defendants were
entitled to qualified immunity as to the false arrest and
malicious prosecution claims with the exception of the
criminal trespass charge. That charge requires that the property
be posted or fenced. It is undisputed that the property at
issue was neither posted nor fenced and as a result, the
defendants conceded that probable cause did not exist. (Doc.
#45 at 20.) The court permitted the defendants to file a
supplemental summary judgment motion on the malicious
prosecution claim as to the criminal trespass charge. This
Standard for Summary Judgment
judgment may be granted only 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). 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." PepsiCo,
Inc. v. Coca-Cola Co., 315 F.3d 101, 105 (2d Cir. 2002);
see also Goenaga v. March of Dimes Birth Defects
Found., 51 F.3d 14, 18 (2d Cir. 1995) ("In moving
for summary judgment against a party who will bear the
ultimate burden of proof at trial, the movant's burden
will be satisfied if he can point to an absence of evidence
to support an essential element of the nonmoving party's
claim."). A genuine dispute of material fact
"exists for summary judgment purposes where the
evidence, viewed in the light most favorable to the nonmoving
party, is such that a reasonable jury could decide in that
party's favor." Zann Kwan v. Andalex Gr.,
LLC, 737 F.3d 834, 843 (2d Cir. 2013). The evidence
adduced at the summary judgment stage must be viewed in the
light most favorable to the non-moving party and with all
ambiguities and reasonable inferences drawn against the
moving party. See, e.g., Caronia v. Philip
Morris USA, Inc., 715 F.3d 417, 427 (2d Cir. 2013).
defendant moves for summary judgment as to the
plaintiff's § 1983 claim of malicious prosecution on
the charge of criminal trespass in the third degree.
the absence of federal common law, the merits of a claim for
malicious prosecution under Section 1983 are governed by
state law." Spak v. ...