United States District Court, D. Connecticut
RULING AND ORDER ON MOTION FOR PARTIAL SUMMARY
A. Bolden, United States District Judge.
February 15, 2019, the Town of East Hartford (“East
Hartford”), Kathryn Weaver, John and Jane Doe, and
Scott Sansom (collectively, “Defendants”) moved
for partial summary judgment as to a number of the claims
brought by Harry Ravalese (“Plaintiff”) in this
civil rights action. Defendants' Partial Motion for
Summary Judgment, dated Feb. 15, 2019 (“Defs.'
Mot.”), ECF No. 80; Memorandum of Law in Support of
Defs.' Mot., dated Feb. 15, 2019 (“Defs.'
Mem.”), ECF No. 80-1; Local Rule 56(a)(1) Statement of
Material Facts, dated Feb. 15, 2019 (“Defs.'
SMF”), ECF No. 80-2.
April 22, 2019, Mr. Ravalese opposed the motion.
Plaintiff's Opposition to Defs.' Mot., dated Apr. 22,
2019 (“Pl.'s Opp.”), ECF No. 87; Local Rule
56(a)(2) Statement, dated Apr. 22, 2019 (“Pl.'s
SMF”), ECF No. 87-1.
reasons explained below, the Court GRANTS IN PART AND
DENIES IN PART Defendants' motion for partial
Court grants summary judgment to Defendants as to the
following of Plaintiff's claims: (1) all claims against
Jane Doe; (2) the claim for malicious prosecution under 42
U.S.C. § 1983; (3) the claim of false arrest under 42
U.S.C. § 1983; (4) the Monell claim against
East Hartford and Chief Sansom; (5) the official capacity
claims against Officer Weaver, John Doe, and Chief Sansom,
which are duplicative of the Monell claim; (6) the
claims of negligence arising from the officers'
investigation and arrest of Plaintiff only; (7) the claim of
intentional infliction of emotional distress arising from the
officers' investigation and arrest only; (8) the claim of
negligent infliction of emotional distress arising from the
officers' investigation and arrest only; (9) the claim of
recklessness arising from the officers' investigation and
arrest only; (10) the claims under Article I, §§ 8
and 20 of the Connecticut Constitution; and (11) the claims
of municipal liability under Conn. Gen. Stat. § 52-557n
that are based on the claims of negligence arising from the
officers' investigation and arrest only.
Court denies Defendants' motion with respect to the
following claims: (1) the claim of municipal liability under
Conn. Gen. Stat. § 52-557n, based on the claim of
negligence arising from the officers' use of excessive
force; and (2) the claim of indemnification under Conn. Gen.
Stat. § 7-465, based on the claim of negligence arising
from the officers' use of excessive force.
Court reserves decision as to summary judgment on all
remaining claims against John Doe, following a properly-filed
motion to amend the Complaint and any subsequent briefing.
FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
October 4, 2014, at or about 11:30 p.m. at night, an
unidentified person called 911 and reported an elderly woman
in distress at the House of Flowers, located at 456 Main
Street in East Hartford, Connecticut. Defs.' SMF ¶
3; Pl.'s SMF ¶ 3.
Ravalese and his brother, Michael Ravalese, own the House of
Flowers (also referred to as the “Flower Shop”),
which sits on a large parcel owned by several members of
their family. Defs.' SMF ¶ 2; Pl.'s SMF ¶
2. At the time, Mr. Ravalese and his mother, Carmelina
Ravalese (93 years old at the time), lived together in a
single-family residence, also located on the parcel at 456
½ Main Street. Id. There is also another
finished structure on the parcel known as “the barn,
” which is used for recreational activities.
caller reported “that she observed an elderly woman
sitting by herself in an armchair within the Flower Shop
screaming and crying.” Defs.' SMF ¶ 3;
Pl.'s SMF ¶ 3.
after the call, East Hartford Police Officer Kathryn Weaver
arrived at the property. Defs.' SMF ¶ 4; Pl.'s
SMF ¶ 4. Sometime after that, East Hartford Police
Officer Richard Hill arrived on the scene. Defs.' SMF
¶ 5; Pl.'s SMF ¶ 5.
happened next is in dispute.
Ravalese alleges that he was inside his residence with his
nephew and a friend when he heard a knock on the door. Compl.
¶¶ 15-16. When he opened the door, Officer Weaver
allegedly “without meaningful investigation of the
facts and circumstances surrounding her accusations, falsely
accused [him] of abusing his 93 year old mother, who was
visiting his sister next door.” Id. ¶ 17.
Mr. Ravalese “denied the allegations” and
“asked Officer Weaver what she was talking about,
” telling her “that she was making a terrible
mistake, that she was on private property, and to
leave.” Defs.' SMF ¶ 26; Pl.'s SMF ¶
Weaver allegedly told Mr. Ravalese that she was going to
arrest him. Pl.'s SMF at 11, ¶ 12 (“ . . . she
accused him of ‘abusing an elderly woman and . . .
lock[ing] her in a flower shop' and then said twice,
‘I'm taking you down.'”) (citing
deposition transcripts). Officer Weaver then allegedly
instructed him “to turn around, and then grabbed him
and proceed[ed] to forcibl[y] bring him to the ground by
tripping and pushing him.” Id. at 12, ¶
17. At that point, she allegedly said “something to the
effect of, ‘[w]ell, mistakes happen.'”
Id. (citing Plaintiff's deposition). Even though
he allegedly complied with her order to turn around, Officer
Weaver nevertheless “forcibly threw [him] to the
ground, jumped on his back with her knees and twisted his
arms forcefully behind him to apply handcuffs.” Compl.
Weaver then allegedly charged Mr. Ravalese with “Breach
of Peace” and took him to the East Hartford Police
Station. Id. ¶ 22. When he was “later
released on bond, ” he allegedly “was told not to
speak with his mother, despite his caretaking role with her
and his continued concern for her wellbeing.”
Id. ¶ 23.
allege that Officer Weaver had additional conversations
before speaking with Mr. Ravalese. Specifically, Defendants
allege that when Officer Weaver arrived at the property she
did not observe an elderly woman, but did see “lights
on inside the Flower Shop, despite the late hour.”
Defs.' SMF ¶ 6. She then allegedly knocked on the
door of the House of Flowers and spoke with Mr.
Ravalese's brother, Michael Ravalese. Id.
¶¶ 7-9. Mr. Ravalese does not dispute that Officer
Weaver spoke with his brother. Pl.'s SMF ¶¶
Ravalese allegedly reported that his mother “was crying
because she was upset with plaintiff, ” because
Plaintiff had arrived two hours late to pick her up.
Id. ¶¶ 9-10. Because of his late arrival,
Ms. Ravalese allegedly refused to leave with Harry Ravalese.
Id. ¶ 11. Michael Ravalese allegedly reported
that Harry Ravalese had called him and “banged on the
door of the establishment numerous times, ” and was
“hootin' and hollerin'” outside.
Id. ¶ 12.
Weaver allegedly attempted to corroborate this report by
speaking with Ms. Ravalese, but found that she spoke only
limited English. Nevertheless, Ms. Ravalese allegedly
repeated the words “No, Harry” stated “I
stay here.” Id. ¶¶ 15-16. She also
allegedly “began speaking quickly in Italian” and
made “a ‘shooing' motion by pushing her hands
and/or arms away from her body with great force and
repetition.” Id. ¶ 17. Michael Ravalese
allegedly translated these words and actions for Officer
Weaver, telling her that Ms. Ravalese “wanted to stay
with Michael at the Flower Shop and did not want plaintiff
around.” Id. ¶ 18. Michael Ravalese then
allegedly informed Officer Weaver that Harry Ravalese
“was in a detached structure located behind the Flower
Shop, the barn, and asked that the officer request that
plaintiff not return to the Flower Shop for the remainder of
the evening.” Id. ¶ 20.
undisputed that the East Hartford police arrested Harry
Ravalese and charged him with Breach of Peace in the Second
Degree. Defs.' SMF ¶ 28; Pl.'s SMF ¶ 28.
September 30, 2016, Harry Ravalese sued the Town of East
Hartford, East Hartford Police Chief Scott Sansom (in both
his individual and official capacity), East Hartford Police
Officer Kate Weaver (in both her individual and official
capacity), East Hartford Police Sergeant Joseph Ficacelli (in
both his individual and official capacity), and John Doe and
Jane Doe, two unidentified East Hartford Police Officers (in
both their individual and official capacity), alleging causes
of action for violations of his constitutional rights under
both the United States and Connecticut Constitutions.
Complaint, dated Sept. 30, 2016 (“Compl.”), ECF
No. 1. Mr. Ravalese also sued all of the named Defendants for
violations under Connecticut law. Id.
November 22, 2016, all named Defendants answered, denying all
substantive allegations of liability and asserting multiple
affirmative defenses. Answer, dated Nov. 22, 2016, ECF No.
December 13, 2016, the Court held a telephonic discovery
conference and, shortly thereafter, issued an initial
scheduling order setting pre-trial deadlines, with discovery
to close by April 6, 2018. Scheduling Order, dated Dec. 13,
2016, ECF No. 35.
August 16, 2017, Mr. Ravalese moved to dismiss Sergeant
Ficacelli from the action. Motion to Withdraw Plaintiff's
Complaint as to Defendant Sergeant Joseph Ficacelli, dated
Aug. 16, 2017, ECF No. 42. On August 17, 2017, the Court
granted that motion, dismissing all claims against Sergeant
Ficacelli. Order, dated Aug. 17, 2017, ECF No. 43.
September 27, 2017, the Town of East Hartford, Chief Scott
Sansom, Officer Kate Weaver, John Doe, and Jane Doe
(hereafter, “Defendants”) moved for leave to file
an amended Answer and affirmative defenses. Motion for Leave
to File Answer and Amended Affirmative Defenses, dated Sept.
27, 2017, ECF No. 51.
October 3, 2017, the Court granted that motion. See
Minute Entry, dated Oct. 3, 2017, ECF No. 54.
November 29, 2018-after the case had been delayed at the
request of the parties- the Court held a telephonic
scheduling conference and entered a schedule for briefing
dispositive motions, Minute Entry, dated Nov. 29, 2018, ECF
No. 73; Amended Scheduling Order, dated Nov. 29, 2018, ECF
February 15, 2019, Defendants moved for partial summary
judgment. See Defs.' Mot. Specifically,
Defendants moved for summary judgment as to: (1) all claims
against John Doe and Jane Doe; (2) all official capacity
claims against Ms. Weaver, John Doe, Jane Doe, and Scott
Sansom; (3) all claims under § 1983 for false arrest and
malicious prosecution; (4) all state law claims to the extent
that they are predicated upon plaintiff's arrest and the
underlying investigation; (5) the Monell claim
against the Town of East Hartford; and (6) the state law
actions under Connecticut General Statutes §§
52-557 and 7-465. See Defs.' Mem. at 34.
to Defendants, the only claims that would remain if their
motion were granted in full would be: (1) claims for
excessive force against Ms. Weaver under § 1983 and the
Connecticut Constitution; (2) common law assault and battery
claims against Ms. Weaver; (3) a negligence claim against Ms.
Weaver arising from her alleged use of excessive force; (4) a
recklessness claim against Ms. Weaver; (5) intentional and
negligent infliction of emotional distress claims against Ms.
Weaver arising from her alleged use of excessive force; and
(6) a claim under Connecticut General Statute § 52-557n
against the Town of East Hartford arising from Ms.
Weaver's alleged use of excessive force. Id.
April 22, 2019, Mr. Ravalese opposed the motion. See
10, 2019, Defendants filed a reply to Mr. Ravalese's
opposition. Reply in Support of Defs.' Mot., dated May
10, 2019 (“Reply”), ECF No. 88.
30, 2019, the Court held oral argument and reserved decision.
Minute Entry, dated May 30, 2019, ECF No. 89.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
will grant a motion for summary judgment if the record shows
no genuine issue 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 initial burden of establishing the
absence of a genuine dispute of material fact. Celotex
Corp. v. Cartrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986). The
non-moving party may defeat the motion by producing
sufficient specific facts to establish that there is a
genuine issue of material fact for trial. Anderson v.
Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 249 (1986).
“[T]he mere existence of some alleged factual
dispute between the parties will not defeat an otherwise
properly supported motion for summary judgment; the
requirement is that there be no genuine issue of
material fact.” Id. at 247-48.
substantive law will identify which facts are
material.” Id. at 248. “Only disputes
over facts that might affect the outcome of the suit under
the governing law will properly preclude the entry of summary
judgment.” Id.; see Graham v.
Henderson, 89 F.3d 75, 79 (2d Cir. 1996)
(“[M]ateriality runs to whether the dispute matters,
i.e., whether it concerns facts that can affect the outcome
under the applicable substantive law.”) (citing
Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248).
inquiry performed is the threshold inquiry of determining
whether there is the need for a trial-whether, in other
words, there are any genuine factual issues that properly can
be resolved only by a finder of fact because they may
reasonably be resolved in favor of either party.”
Id. at 250. When a motion for summary judgment is
supported by documentary evidence and sworn affidavits and
“demonstrates the absence of a genuine issue of
material fact, ” the nonmoving party must do more than
vaguely assert the existence of some unspecified disputed
material facts or “rely on conclusory allegations or
unsubstantiated speculation.” Robinson v. Concentra
Health Servs., Inc., 781 F.3d 42, 44 (2d Cir. 2015)
(citation omitted). The party opposing the motion for summary
judgment “must come forward with specific evidence
demonstrating the existence of a genuine dispute of material
fact.” Id. “If the evidence is merely
colorable, or is not significantly probative, summary
judgment may be granted.” Anderson, 477 U.S.
at 250 (citing Dombrowski v. Eastland, 387 U.S. 82,
87 (1967); First Nat'l Bank of Ariz. v. Cities Serv.
Co., 391 U.S. 253, 290 (1968)).
must view any inferences drawn from the facts in the light
most favorable to the party opposing the summary judgment
motion. Dufort v. City of N.Y., 874 F.3d 338, 343
(2d Cir. 2017). A court will not draw an inference of a
genuine dispute of material fact from conclusory allegations
or denials, Brown v. Eli Lilly & Co., 654 F.3d
347, 358 (2d Cir. 2011), and will grant summary judgment only
“if, under the governing law, there can be but one
reasonable conclusion as to the verdict, ”
Anderson, 477 U.S. at 250.
Claims Against John Doe and Jane Doe
move for summary judgment on all claims that were brought
against John Doe and Jane Doe, as Mr. Ravalese never sought
to identify either of these defendants or serve them with
process as required by Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 4(m).
“On this basis alone, ” Defendants argue,
“the Doe defendants should be dismissed from the
case.” Defs.' Mem. at 8 (citing Minney v.
Kradas, No. 3:01-cv-1543 (EBB), 2004 WL 725330, at *3
(D. Conn. Mar. 31, 2004); Cammick v. City of N.Y.,
No. 96 Civ. 4374 (RPP), 1998 WL 796452, at *1 (S.D.N.Y. Nov.
Ravalese claims that John Doe has been identified as Officer
Richard Hill, “as he was one of the officers at the
scene during the time of the incident.” Pl.'s Opp.
at 8. Accordingly, “plaintiff seeks this Honorable
Court's leave, pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 15, to substitute
him as a party-defendant for his failure to intervene to
prevent the constitutional violations.” Id.
(citing Fed.R.Civ.P. 15).
object that this request has not been properly filed as a
motion and therefore should not be granted. Defs.' Reply
at 5 n.1. Defendants further argue that substantively this
amendment is improper because the statute of limitations on a
claim against Mr. Hill may have run. Id.
a proper motion setting forth Mr. Ravalese's basis for
amending the Complaint and explaining why leave to amend
should be granted under the governing legal standard-
particularly in light of the fact that discovery ended months
ago without any amendment having been filed-the Court will
not grant this amendment. See Hogan v. Fischer, 738
F.3d 509, 517 (2d Cir. 2013) (“Generally,
‘“John Doe” pleadings cannot be used to
circumvent statutes of limitations because replacing a
“John Doe” with a named party in effect
constitutes a change in the party sued.' John Doe
substitutions, then, ‘may only be accomplished when all
of the specifications of Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(c) are
met.'”) (quoting Aslanidis v. U.S. Lines,
Inc., 7 F.3d 1067, 1075 (2d Cir. 1993)); see also
Krupski v. Costa Crociere S. p. A., 560 U.S. 538, 541
(2010) (“Where an amended pleading changes a party or a
party's name, [Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 15(c)]
requires, among other things, that ‘the party to be
brought in by amendment . . . knew or should have known that
the action would have been brought against it, but for a
mistake concerning the proper party's
identity.'”) (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(c)(1)(C)).
Court thus will reserve decision as to summary judgment on
all remaining claims against John Doe, until after it has
considered a properly filed motion to amend, which must be
filed no later than June 28, 2019. That motion should address
the applicable legal standards under Federal Rules of Civil
Procedure 15(a) and 15(c), and comply with the requirements
of this Court's Local Rules. See D. Conn. L.
Civ. R. 7(f) (stating requirements for filing motion to amend
pleadings in this District).
to timely file such a motion may be grounds for denying such
an amendment in the future, and may result in the Court
granting summary judgment and dismissing the claims against
John Doe for failure to identify and serve John Doe with
process as required by Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 4(m).
See Burch v. Pioneer Credit Recovery, Inc., 551 F.3d
122, 126 (2d Cir. 2008) (per curiam) (“While Federal
Rule of Civil Procedure 15(a) states that leave to amend
should be granted “when justice so requires, ”
motions to amend should generally be denied in instances of
futility, undue delay, bad faith or dilatory motive, repeated
failure to cure deficiencies by amendments previously
allowed, or undue prejudice to the non-moving party.”)
(quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a); citing Foman v. Davis,
371 U.S. 178, 182 (1962)); Minney, 2004 WL 725330,
at *3 (“John Doe 1 and Jane Doe 1 have not yet been
identified nor have they been served with process.
Accordingly, summary judgment is granted as to any claims
against those defendants under Fed.R.Civ.P. 4(m).”)
(citation omitted); see also Dietz v. Bouldin, 136
S.Ct. 1885, 1892 (2016) (“[D]istrict courts have the
inherent authority to manage their dockets and courtrooms
with a view toward the efficient and expedient resolution of
Mr. Ravalese does not object to dismissing Jane Doe, however,
the Court grants summary judgment to Defendants as to all
claims against her, and will dismiss her as a defendant in
plaintiff seeking to maintain a claim for malicious
prosecution under § 1983 must show: (1) a seizure or
other perversion of proper legal procedures implicating
plaintiff's personal liberty and privacy interests under
the Fourth Amendment; and (2) that criminal proceedings were
initiated or continued against plaintiff, with malice and
without probable cause, and were terminated in his or her
favor. Lanning v. City of Glen Falls, 908 F.3d 19,
24 (2d Cir. 2018). There must be an “affirmative
indication of innocence” demonstrating that the
proceedings were terminated in his or her favor. Id.
at 28 (“When a person has been arrested and indicted,
absent an affirmative indication that the person is innocent
of the offense charged, the government's failure to
proceed does not necessarily ‘impl[y] a lack of
reasonable grounds for the prosecution.'”) (quoting
Conway v. Vill. of Mount Kisco, 750 F.2d 205, 215
(2d Cir. 1984).
argue that Mr. Ravalese cannot point to an “affirmative
indication of innocence” and that his claim for
malicious prosecution ...