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Perkins v. Teele

United States District Court, D. Connecticut

July 3, 2018

EARNEST PERKINS, JR., Plaintiff,
v.
TYRONE K. TEELE, ET AL., Defendants.

          RULING RE: SECOND MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT (DOC. NO. 105)

          JANET C. HALL UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         I. INTRODUCTION

         The plaintiff, Earnest Perkins, Jr. (“Perkins”), brings this action pursuant to section 1983 of title 42 of the United States Code against the defendants, Officer Tyrone K. Teele (“Teele”) and Officer Pasquale A. Speranza (“Speranza”) of the Bridgeport Police Department, alleging violation of his Fourth Amendment right to be free of excessive force. See Second Amended Complaint (“Second Am. Compl.”) (Doc. No. 97). Before the court is Officers Teele and Speranza's Second Motion for Summary Judgment (“Second Mot. for Summ. J.”) (Doc. No. 105). For the following reasons, their Motion is DENIED.

         II. LOCAL RULE 56

         Officers Teele and Speranza committed at least three procedural errors in violation of Rule 56(a)1 of the Local Rules of Civil Procedure of the United States District Court for the District of Connecticut, which provides in relevant part:

A party moving for summary judgment shall file and serve with the motion and supporting memorandum a document entitled “Local Rule 56(a)1 Statement of Undisputed Material Facts, ” which sets forth, in separately numbered paragraphs meeting the requirements of Local Rule 56(a)3, a concise statement of each material fact as to which the moving party contends there is no genuine issue to be tried. The Local Rule 56(a)1 Statement should include only those facts that are material to the decision of the motion.

         First, Officers Teele and Speranza did not file and serve a Rule 56(a)1 Statement with their Second Motion for Summary Judgment. Instead, they informed the court that their Second Motion for Summary Judgment “incorporate[s] and rel[ies] on” a Rule 56(a)1 Statement that was filed as part of an earlier First Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. 68), hereinafter referred to as “the Old Rule 56(a)1 Statement.” Memorandum of Law in Support of Second Motion for Summary Judgment (“Defs.' Mem. L.”) (Doc No. 105-1) at 1. This decision to rely on the Old Rule 56(a)1 Statement is perplexing because Officers Teele and Speranza were not defendants in the case when the First Motion for Summary Judgment was filed.[1] Thus, they seek to rely on a Rule 56(a)1 Statement that was filed by and for officers who are no longer defendants in this suit. More importantly, however, incorporating the Old Rule 56(a)1 Statement by reference does not satisfy Local Rule 56(a)1's clear directive to “file and serve with the motion and supporting memorandum a document entitled ‘Local Rule 56(a)1 Statement of Undisputed Material Facts.'”

         Second, even assuming that Officers Teele and Speranza properly filed and served the Old Rule 56(a)1 Statement, they blatantly disregarded the Local Rules' directions to “include [in their Rule 56(a)1 Statement] only those facts that are material to the decision of the motion.” L.R. 56(a)1 (emphasis added). Because the Old Rule 56(a)1 Statement was produced by and for different defendants, many of its statements of fact are immaterial. See, e.g., Defendants' Local Rule 56(a)1 Statement of Undisputed Material Facts (“Old Rule 56(a)1 Statement”) (Doc No. 68-2) at ¶ 11 (“Officer Cretella never assaulted or observed any other person assault Mr. Perkins.”); id. at ¶ 56 (“Sergeant Schneider did not arrest or assault Mr. Perkin's [sic] on February 13, 2015.”).

         Third, the defendants' Second Motion for Summary Judgment improperly directs the court to consider two new affidavits filed by Officers Teele and Speranza, neither of which are referenced by, or otherwise included in, the Old Rule 56(a)1 Statement. See Second Mot. for Summ. J. at 1; see also Exhibit T (“Speranza Aff.”) (Doc. No. 105-2); Exhibit U (“Teele Aff.”) (Doc. No. 105-2). It is understandable that Officers Teele and Speranza would want the court to consider these new Affidavits. As noted above, the Old Rule 56(a)1 Statement was produced for different defendants and therefore provides little support for a summary judgment in favor of Officers Teele and Speranza. In fact, if the court were to only consider the facts contained in the Old Rule 56(a)1 Statement, it would conclude that Officers Teele and Speranza have not met their “initial burden of demonstrating, through affidavits or otherwise, the absence of genuine factual issues.” Capital Imaging Assocs., P.C. v. Mohawk Valley Med. Assocs., Inc., 996 F.2d 537, 542 (2d Cir. 1993). “Although the movant need not support its motion [for summary judgment] with ‘affidavits or other similar materials negating the opponent's claim, '” the movant does bear “the initial burden of ‘informing the district court of the basis for his motion.'” Tops Markets, Inc. v. Quality Markets, Inc., 142 F.3d 90, 102 (2d Cir. 1998) (quoting Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986)) (emphasis in original and alterations omitted). By itself, the Old Rule 56(a)1 Statement does not inform the court of the basis for Officers Teele and Speranza's Second Motion for Summary Judgment. Indeed, it is not even evident from reading the Old Rule 56(a)1 Statement that Officers Teele and Speranza are defendants in Perkins's lawsuit.

         Presumably, Officers Teele and Speranza seek to overcome these deficiencies in the Old Rule 56(a)1 Statement by submitting their personal Affidavits for the court's consideration. In doing so, they apparently believe that their affidavits contain facts that are undisputed and material to the case. Otherwise, these Affidavits would not be helpful to Officers Teele and Speranza's Motion for Summary Judgment, which will only be granted if the court concludes that “there is no genuine issue of material fact and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” O'Hara v. Nat'l Union Fire Ins. Co. of Pittsburgh, PA, 642 F.3d 110, 116 (2d Cir. 2011). However, if Officers Teele and Speranza wanted the court to consider their personal Affidavits in its summary judgment analysis, they should have included them in their Rule 56(a)1 Statement, as mandated by the Local Rules. See L.R. 56(a)1 (requiring movants to set forth in their Rule 56(a)1 Statement a “concise statement of each material fact as to which the moving party contends there is no genuine issue to be tried”) (emphasis added).

         On the basis of these procedural defects alone, the court denies Officers Teele and Speranza's Second Motion for Summary Judgment.

         III. ADDITIONAL CONSIDERATIONS

         The court considered giving Officers Teele and Speranza the opportunity to file a proper Rule 56(a)1 Statement. The fact that Perkins's attorney also did not comply with the Local Rules weighs in favor of refiling. Not only was Perkins's Opposition to the Second Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. No. 106) filed late, but it did not contain a Rule 56(a)2 Statement of Facts in Opposition to Summary Judgment, as required by Local Rule 56(a)2. However, despite the procedural mistakes made by Perkins's attorney, the court decides against allowing the defendants to refile because the record already reveals genuine issues of material fact.[2] In arriving at this conclusion, the court reviewed all of the parties' submissions, including the exhibits referenced in the Old Rule 56(a)1 Statement and the personal Affidavits filed by Officers Teele and Speranza.[3]

         The key factual dispute in this case is whether Officers Teele and Speranza used excessive force when moving Perkins from St. Vincent's Hospital to a police car on February 13, 2015. Both parties agree that Perkins was in police custody at the time of the alleged incident, having been arrested earlier in the day. See Deposition of Earnest Perkins, Jr. (“Perkins Dep.”) (Doc. No. 68-4) at 106:15-19; Old Rule 56(a)1 Statement at ¶ 18. Officers Teele and Speranza also concede that they escorted Perkins from the hospital to the police car. Old Rule 56(a)1 Statement at ¶¶ 31, 33. However, the parties disagree about whether Officers Teele and Speranza grabbed Perkins aggressively; whether they shoved him into the police car; and whether they slammed the car door on his body. Compare Perkins Dep. at 133:13-25 with Speranza Aff. at ¶¶ 7, 8. Based on Perkins's deposition, a reasonable fact finder could conclude that Officers Teele and Speranza's conduct was “objectively unreasonable” and therefore met the Fourth Amendment's standard for excessive force.[4]Barcomb v. Kraeger, No. 3:14CV1159 (JBA), 2016 WL 2644885, at *3 (D. Conn. May 5, 2016) (quoting Amnesty America v. Town of West Hartford, 361 F.3d 113, 123 (2d Cir. 2004)). The defendants have not identified any competing governmental interests that might justify this infringement upon ...


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