United States District Court, D. Connecticut
RULING ON MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT
Bond Arterton, U.S.D J.
Daniel Demers and Edith Mandujano-Demers were arrested for
loitering on middle school grounds in Enfield, Connecticut,
after driving around school grounds, stopping to take
photographs at the school, knocking on a door that was not
the main entrance, and then leaving. Plaintiffs contend that
they were arrested in violation of their Fourth Amendment
right to be free from unreasonable seizures in violation of
state statutory and common law. Defendants move [Doc. # 32]
for summary judgment on all counts. For the reasons set forth
below, the Court GRANTS IN PART and DENIES IN PART
Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment.
Daniel Demers and Edith Mandujano-Demers brought this action
on August 10, 2016, alleging violations of their rights under
the Fourth, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S.
Constitution, and related violations of their rights under
Connecticut law (including under the Connecticut
Constitution, Connecticut common law, and state statutory
rights). (Compl. [Doc. # 1].) Plaintiffs filed an Amended
Complaint on January 3, 2017 with the following counts:
• Count One: Unreasonable Seizure in Violation of the
Fourth Amendment, brought under 42 U.S.C. § 1983
• Count Two: Failure to Intervene, brought under 42
U.S.C. § 1983
• Count Three: False Arrest-Connecticut common law
• Count Four: Recklessness-Connecticut common law
• Count Five: Negligence-Connecticut common law
• Count Six: Negligent Infliction of Emotional
Distress-Connecticut common law
• Count Seven: Monell claim against the Town of Enfield,
brought under 42 U.S.C. § 1983
• Count Eight: Indemnification pursuant to Conn. Gen.
Stat. § 7-465
• Count Nine: Indemnification pursuant to Conn. Gen.
Stat. § 52-557n
(Am. Compl. [Doc. # 14].) The Amended Complaint names as
Defendants the Town of Enfield, Chief Carl Sferrazza, Officer
Kevin Ragion, Sergeant James Laurino, Officer Vanessa
Magagnoli, Office John Doe, and Officer Jane
October 18, 2017, Defendants moved to bifurcate the action
against the individual Defendants from the Monell
claim against the Town of Enfield, requesting that discovery
on the municipal liability claim be stayed until resolution
of the claim against the individual Defendants. (Defs'
Mot. Bifurcate [Doc. # 28].) On December 21, 2017, the Court
granted Defendants' Motion to Bifurcate, absent any
objection from Plaintiffs. ([Doc. # 29].)
moved for summary judgment on all claims on January 15, 2018.
(Mot. Summ. J.) Four days before Plaintiffs' extended
deadline to oppose the Motion for Summary Judgment,
Plaintiffs moved [Doc. # 36] for leave to file a second
amended complaint. Defendants objected [Doc. # 38], and the
Court denied Plaintiffs leave to amend. ([Doc. #41].)
Background and Summary Judgment Record
Wednesday, March 23, 2016, Plaintiffs, who were residents of
Summerville, South Carolina, were visiting the town of
Enfield, which is the hometown of Plaintiff Daniel Demers.
(Defs.' L.R. Stmt ¶ 1 [Doc. # 32-2]; Pls.' L.R.
Stmt ¶ 1 [Doc. # 37-1] (hereinafter collectively,
"Parties' L.R. Stmts").) During this visit,
Plaintiffs drove to JFK Middle School, which Plaintiff Daniel
Demers had attended in his youth. (Parties' L.R. Stmts
¶ 2.) Plaintiffs did not make any contact with anyone at
JFK Middle School prior to arriving and did not know anyone
at the school. (Id. ¶ 3.) The Plaintiffs did
not have any relationship involving the custody of or
responsibility for any pupil at the school, or any related
reason to be there. (Id. ¶ 4.) The Plaintiffs,
with Daniel Demers driving, drove into the middle school
property while school was in session, and drove around the
entire school. (Id. ¶ 5.) During this time,
Mrs. Demers was taking photographs of the school out of the
passenger seat window. (Id.)
vehicle exited but then re-entered the middle school
property. (Id. ¶ 6.) This time, the vehicle
stopped in front of the school, Mrs. Demers got out, Mr.
Demers parked, and Mrs. Demers walked to the entrance of the
Red House wing of the middle school and attempted to open the
doors, but they were locked. (Id. ¶¶ 7-8.)
Thereafter, she pressed her face to the glass doors and
looked inside. (Id.) She also placed her camera to
the glass and took photos of the interior of the building.
approximately 12:55 p.m., Pamela Estes, an employee of the
middle school, was in the Red House hallway and observed Mrs.
Demers' actions, including her camera pressed to the
glass.(Id. ¶ 9.) Ms. Estes
approached the Demers at the door and inquired, "can I
help you, what are you doing here?" with a look of
terror on her face. (Id. ¶ 10.) She appeared
"very afraid" and "paranoid."
Demers informed Ms. Estes that Mr. Demers had attended the
middle school and that he was showing his wife around.
(Id. ¶ 11.) Estes told them that they could not
be on school grounds milling around and that if they had
business at the school they would have to check in with the
main office. (Id.) The Demers then left,
getting back into their blue Cadillac sedan, which had an
out-of-state license plate. (Id. ¶ 12.) As they
drove away, they circled the entire school one more
time. (Id. ¶ 13.)
sworn statement of Pamela Estes, ([Doc. # 32-3] at 72),
states that she "felt very uneasy about their presence
at the school as their behavior was odd[, ]" and the
principal "happened to be behind me as they drove off
and he "then said he'd report the incident."
(Id.) Next, Defendants represent that "[a]s a
result of the incidents and concerns it brought, the school
was placed in lockdown[, ] other Enfield schools were
notified to keep a lookout for the blue [Cadillac], and the
police were called." (Defs.' L.R. Stmt ¶ 15.)
approximately 1:15 p.m., Officer Kevin Ragion of the Enfield
Police Department was dispatched to JFK Middle School for a
suspicious motor vehicle complaint. (Parties' L.R. Stmts
¶ 16.) Upon arrival, school staff told him that the
occupants of a blue Cadillac with out-of-state plates from
South Carolina or Georgia were taking pictures of the school,
and that they were knocking on the windows of the Red Wing of
the school. (Id. ¶ 17.) They informed Officer
Ragion that the vehicle left prior to the police arriving and
had last been seen traveling southbound on Raffia Road.
administrators, including Gary Harrison, the School Security
Consultant for the Town of Enfield, were concerned over what
they observed on video surveillance footage. (Id.
¶ 18.) They informed Officer Ragion that the camera that
the Demers used had a zoom lens and that they were taking
photos both of the outside of the school and of the inside,
through the glass. (Id.)
Ragion viewed the school surveillance video with school
personnel. (Id. ¶19.) It appeared from the
zoomed-in but pixelated video surveillance that the passenger
was wearing a mask, and the passenger's hands were held
in a manner that appeared to be holding
binoculars.(Id.) Additionally, the video
showed that from the time the vehicle arrived to the time it
left, the vehicle drove around the building twice.
surveillance still images showed at 12:57:43 p.m. a blue
Cadillac with the passenger's side window down and a
white female with cupped hands around her face, in a position
commonly used when holding binoculars. (Id.
¶ 20.) Another image from 20 seconds earlier showed
"what [unspecified] individuals (at the time) felt was
the passenger wearing a mask." (Id.)
approximately 1:30 p.m., Officer Ragion, via radio, requested
that his supervisor, Sergeant James Laurino, meet him at JFK
Middle School so that he could brief him on the details of a
suspicious vehicle that had been on the school grounds.
(Id. ¶ 21) When Sgt. Laurino arrived, he was
briefed on the incident and the concerns of the school
administrators. (Id. ¶ 22.) After hearing of
the circumstances and viewing the still images from the
surveillance video, he became more concerned about the safety
of school occupants. (Id.)
this time, the Demers continued to travel throughout Enfield.
(Id. ¶ 23.) Approximately one hour later, they
drove onto the premises of Enfield High School and parked in
front of the school, got out of the car, and began to take
photographs of the school. (Id. ¶¶ 23-24).
officials at the high school, who were alerted to be on the
lookout for the Demers' vehicle, approached them and
called the police. (Id. 5 25.) At approximately 2:10
p.m., the police received a report that a car fitting this
description had been seen at Enfield High School.
(Id. ¶ 26.) Sgt. Laurino was aware that there
was no School Resource Officer on duty at the school at that
time, so several officers were dispatched to the high school.
(Id.) Sgt. Laurino then went to the high ...