United States District Court, D. Connecticut
MEMORANDUM OF DECISION GRANTING DEFENDANTS'
MOTIONS FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT [DKTS. 112, 127]
VANESSA L. BRYANT UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Rene Chalco (“Plaintiff”) brought this action
against City of Danbury police officers Christopher Belair,
Robert Madore, Ryan Howley, and Andrew Katkocin
(collectively, “Defendants”). Before the Court
are Defendants' renewed Motions for Summary Judgment as
to Plaintiff's claims that Defendants deprived him of his
rights under the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States
Constitution in violation of Section 1983 by (1) creating a
risk of harm to him under a state-created danger theory and
(2) acting with deliberate indifference to his medical needs.
For the following reasons, the Court GRANTS Defendants'
Motions for Summary Judgment. [Dkts. 112, 127].
brought this action on March 6, 2015. [Dkt. 1 (Compl.)].
Defendants moved for summary judgment in November 2016. [Dkt.
63 (Defs. Madore, Howley and Katkocin's Mot. for Summ.
J.); Dkt. 65 (Def. Christopher Belair's Mot. for Summ.
J.)]. On June 1, 2017, the Court denied Defendants'
Motions for Summary Judgment. [Dkt. 94 (Mem. of Decision Den.
Defs.'s Mots. for Summ. J.)]. Defendants appealed on June
12, 2017 claiming that the Court should have concluded that
they were entitled to qualified immunity. [Dkt. Nos. 100-101
(Notices of Appeal)].
Second Circuit dismissed Defendants Madore, Howley, and
Katkocin's appeal because they failed to plead qualified
immunity as an affirmative defense or move for summary
judgment on qualified immunity grounds. [Dkt. 125 (Summ.
Order) at 4]. The Second Circuit affirmed in part the
Court's decision as to Defendant Belair. Id. at
5-6. It found that Defendant Belair failed to show
entitlement to qualified immunity as to Plaintiff's
excessive force claim. Id. at 5. The Second Circuit
remanded for further proceedings and instructed the Court to
rule on qualified immunity as it relates to Plaintiff's
claims for deliberate indifference and state-created danger,
if properly raised before the Court. Id. at 6.
16, 2018, Defendant Belair filed his renewed Motion for
Summary Judgment. [Dkt. 112 (Def. Christopher Belair's
Renewed Mot. for Summ. J.)]. On July 17, 2018, Defendants
Madore, Howley, and Katkocin filed their answer to the
amended complaint in which they asserted the special defense
of qualified immunity. [Dkt. 113 (Answer to First Am. Compl.
and Special Defenses)]. On August 8, 2018, Defendants Madore,
Howley, and Katkocin filed their renewed Motion for Summary
Judgment. [Dkt. 127 (Defs. Madore, Howley and Katkocin's
Renewed Mot. for Summ. J.)].
March 7, 2013, at approximately 11:00 p.m., Plaintiff went to
a bar in Danbury and stayed until it closed at 1:00 a.m.
[Dkt. 112-3 (Pl.'s Dep.) at 22:8-22]. Plaintiff proceeded
to drive home although he did not have a license and had
never been licensed to drive. Id. at 23:17-23. There
was a snowstorm that evening and snow had accumulated on the
ground. [Dkt. 126-3 (Pl.'s Dep.) at 29:20-30:2; Dkt.
137-3 (Pl.'s Dep.) at 29:30-30:2]. The snow made the road
slippery. [Dkt. 112-3 at 30:6-24; Dkt. 126-3 at 30:6-24; Dkt.
137-3 at 30:6-24]. On his way home, Plaintiff attempted to
stop at a stop sign before White Street, but due to the
slippery conditions caused by the snow he skidded through it.
patrolling the area of White Street, Defendant Madore
observed Plaintiff's vehicle roll through the stop sign.
[Dkt. 127-6 (Madore Aff.) at ¶¶ 4, 6]. Defendants
Katkocin and Howley were following behind Defendant Madore in
Defendant Katkocin's cruiser. Id. at ¶ 5.
Defendant Madore stopped Plaintiff and Defendant Katkocin
also pulled over. [Dkt. 127-5 (Katkocin Aff.) at ¶ 6].
Defendant Madore conversed briefly with Plaintiff and then
returned to his cruiser to write Plaintiff a ticket for
failing to obey a stop sign and driving without a license.
[Dkt. 127-6 at ¶ 8]. Defendants Howley and Katkocin
informed Plaintiff that his car was going to be towed because
he did not have a license. [Dkt. 126-14 (Internal Affairs
Report) at 4]. By this time, Defendant Belair had also
arrived on the scene. [Dkt. 127-6 at ¶ 9]. Defendant
Belair exited his cruiser and approached Plaintiff.
Id. While Defendant Madore was writing
Plaintiff's ticket, Defendant Belair stayed with
Plaintiff. Id. Plaintiff appears to have asked how
he would get home and Defendant Belair responded:
“You got here somehow. Then walk back home. Take a
fucking bus. Take that car once you get it out. I don't
care. But stop being in this country and almost fucking
killing people because you're too fucking stupid to call
a ride. Honestly if there wasn't four other cops here . .
. if there wasn't four other cops I'd beat the shit
out of you right now . . . . It's an asshole like you
that killed my uncle because he was fucking drunk driving,
right? Some douchebag like you that decided to drink too much
and go out in the middle of a fucking snowstorm when you
shouldn't even have been driving anyway. But that's
alright. You don't even give a shit about other
people's families do you? . . . . You're a piece of
shit.” [Dkt. 72-2 (Audio CD Labeled A-1); Dkt. 126-3 at
49:14-50:10; Dkt. 137-3 at 49:14-50:10].
Belair then punched Plaintiff in the mouth and nose. [Dkt.
126-3 at 50:9-14, 52:2-13; Dkt. 126-14 at 14; Dkt. 137-3 at
50:9-14, 52:2-13]. Plaintiff immediately held his hand to his
face. [Dkt. 112-3 at 57:20-24; Dkt. 126-14 at 14; Dkt. 126-3
at 52:10-18; Dkt. 127-7 (Pl.'s Dep.) at 57:20-24; Dkt.
137-3 at 52:10-18]. Afterwards, Defendant Belair stated to
Plaintiff, “Now you want to cry? Now you want to
cry?” [Dkt. 112-3 at 57:1-6; Dkt. 126-3 at 52:10-21;
Dkt. 127-7 at 57:1-6; Dkt. 137-3 at 52:10-21]. During this
exchange, Plaintiff repeatedly apologized to Defendant
Belair. [Dkt. 72-2; Dkt. 126-3 at 49:23-50:10; Dkt. 137-3 at
49:23-50:10]. Plaintiff testified that after Defendant Belair
punched him the inside of his mouth began bleeding and he
swallowed the blood while he was speaking with the Defendants
and continued doing so until he was alone walking to his home
which was one mile away from the scene. [Dkt. 112-3 at
57:20-24, 59:2-6; Dkt. 126-3 at 57:20-24, 59:2-6; Dkt. 126-14
at 13-14; Dkt. 127-7 at 107:7-108:25; Dkt. 137-3 at 57:20-24,
59:2-6]. Plaintiff does not claim that he requested medical
assistance or a ride home from Defendants. [Dkt. 112-3 at
60:18-61:19; Dkt. 126-3 at 128:2-8; Dkt. 127- 7 at
60:18-61:19; Dkt. 137-3 at 128:2-8]. On his one mile walk
home, Plaintiff could no longer swallow the blood and it
dripped out of his mouth onto his clothing. [Dkt. 112-3 at
59:2-5; Dkt. 126-3 at 59:2-6; Dkt. 127-7 at 59:2-6; Dkt.
137-3 at 59:2-6]. Plaintiff does not allege any Defendant saw
that he was bleeding. He testified that he swallowed the
blood until he was walking home after the Defendants had left
the scene. Id.
Belair denies he punched Plaintiff. [Dkt. 112-4 (Belair Aff.)
at ¶ 13]. Defendants Howley, Katkocin and Madore
submitted affidavits swearing that they did not observe
Defendant Belair punch Plaintiff and that they noticed no
injury to Plaintiff's lip. [Dkt. 127-4 (Howley Aff.) at
¶¶ 11-13; Dkt. 127-5 at ¶¶ 11-13; Dkt.
127-6 at ¶¶ 10-13]. However, Plaintiff's
brother, two co-workers, and an acquaintance testified that
they observed Plaintiff's swollen lip in March 2013.
[Dkt. 126-6 (J. Chalco Dep.) at 63:10-19; Dkt. 126-7
(Gallagher Dep.) at 98:12-14, 100:25-27; Dkt. 126-8
(Rizkallah Dep.) at 75:13-23, 78:9-27; Dkt. 126-9
(Guillcatanda Dep.) at 56:7-12]. Plaintiff also offers
photographs of the inside of his mouth which he contends
depict an injury to the inside of his mouth and a
blood-stained jacket. [Dkt. 137-10 (Photographs of
Plaintiff); Dkt. 137-5 (Photographs of Jacket)]. These are
poor photographs and it is questionable whether they depict
what Plaintiff offers them to show, but the Court assumes
they depict what Plaintiff claims.
the incident, a complaint was made to the Danbury Police
Department, and the resulting investigation determined that
Defendants violated several department policies. Madore,
Katkocin and Belair were found to have violated department
policy by failing to activate, or disabling before the
traffic stop ended, video and audio recording systems in
their vehicles. [Dkt. 126-14 at 10-11, 13-14]. Defendants
Madore and Belair were found to have violated their duty of
care by instructing Plaintiff to “walk home a distance
of approximately one mile at approximately 0130 hrs during an
intense snow storm” after Plaintiff had “already
been seen stumbling in the roadway.” Id. at
9-10, 13. The investigation also determined that Defendants
Katkocin and Howley violated department policy by failing to
intervene or report the incident to a supervisor when they
observed Defendant Belair yelling at Plaintiff. Id.
at 11-12. Defendants Katkocin and Howley also both reportedly
told internal affairs that they saw, or knew that Plaintiff
was allowed to, walk away from the scene. Id. at 11,
13. Plaintiff testified at his deposition that he walked home
without incident and went to bed without seeking medical
treatment. [Dkt. 112-3 at 61:6-64:7; Dkt. 127-7 at
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). The moving party bears the burden of
proving that no genuine factual disputes exist. See
Vivenzio v. City of Syracuse, 611 F.3d 98, 106 (2d Cir.
2010). “In determining whether that burden has been
met, the court is required to resolve all ambiguities and
credit all factual inferences that could be drawn in favor of
the party against whom summary judgment is sought.”
Id. (citing Anderson v. Liberty Lobby,
Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 255 (1986); Matsushita Electric
Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587
(1986)). This means that “although the court should
review the record as a whole, it must disregard all evidence
favorable to the moving party that the jury is not required
to believe.” Reeves v. Sanderson Plumbing Prods.,
Inc., 530 U.S. 133, 151 (2000); see Welch-Rubin v.
Sandals Corp., No. 3:03-cv-00481, 2004 WL 2472280, at *1
(D. Conn. Oct. 20, 2004) (“At the summary judgment
stage of the proceeding, [the moving party is] required to
present admissible evidence in support of their allegations;
allegations alone, without evidence to back them up, are not
sufficient.”) (citing Gottlieb v. Cty. of
Orange, 84 F.3d 511, 518 (2d Cir. 1996)); Martinez
v. Conn. State Library, 817 F.Supp.2d 28, 37 (D. Conn.
2011). Put another way, “[i]f there is any evidence in
the record that could reasonably support a jury's verdict
for the nonmoving party, summary judgment must be
denied.” Am. Home Assurance Co. v. Hapag Lloyd
Container Linie, GmbH, 446 F.3d 313, 315-16 (2d Cir.
2006) (internal citation and quotation omitted).
who opposes summary judgment “cannot defeat the motion
by relying on the allegations in his pleading, or on
conclusory statements, or on mere assertions that affidavits
supporting the motion are not credible.”
Gottlieb, 84 F.3d at 518. Where there is no evidence
upon which a jury could properly proceed to find a verdict
for the party producing it and upon whom the onus of proof is
imposed, such as where the evidence offered consists of
conclusory assertions without further ...