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Avitable v. Raywood

United States District Court, D. Connecticut

August 29, 2019

RENA AVITABLE AND CLAIRE FEIN Plaintiffs,
v.
DANIEL RAYWOOD, Defendant.

          RULING ON DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

          MICHAEL P. SHEA, U.S.D.J.

         Plaintiffs Rena Avitable and Claire Fein filed suit against defendant Detective Daniel Raywood of the West Hartford Police Department. They allege that the defendant subjected them to malicious prosecution in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1983 when he filed criminal charges against them for a dispute with their plumbing contractor that was, in their view, civil in nature. They seek compensatory damages, punitive damages, as well as attorneys' fees and costs. Defendant filed a motion for summary judgment arguing that he is entitled to judgment on plaintiffs' Section 1983 claim as a matter of law. For the reasons set forth below, defendant's motion for summary judgment is GRANTED.

         I. Factual Background

         The following facts, which are taken from the parties' Local Rule 56(a) statements and supporting exhibits, are undisputed unless otherwise indicated.

         A. Cravo's Allegations to Officer Urso

         On November 30, 2015, Fernando Cravo went to the West Hartford Police Department (“WHPD”) and lodged a complaint against plaintiffs with Officer Danielle Urso, who is not a party. ECF No. 28-2 at ¶ 6; ECF No. 29-1 at ¶ 6. He reported to Officer Urso that he was a self- contracting plumber and had been doing renovation work for plaintiffs at 49 Kingswood Road (“49 Kingswood”) for approximately one month. ECF No. 28-2 at ¶ 7; ECF No. 29-1 at ¶ 7. Plaintiffs had established a limited liability company that owned 49 Kingswood, ECF No. 28-2 at ¶ 3; ECF No. 29-1 at ¶ 3, and had hired Cravo in October 2015 to install new water lines at the building. ECF No. 28-2 at ¶¶ 4-5; ECF No. 29-1 at ¶¶ 4-5. Cravo reported to Officer Urso that plaintiffs agreed to pay him $850 to install the new water lines, ECF No. 28-2 at ¶ 8; ECF No. 29-1 at ¶ 8, and that he was not paid despite completing the work, ECF No. 28-2 at ¶¶ 9-10; ECF No. 29-1 at ¶¶ 9-10. Cravo provided Officer Urso with a copy of a hand-written invoice for the plumbing work he had completed. ECF No. 28-2 at ¶ 9; ECF No. 29-1 at ¶ 9.

         Cravo also reported to Officer Urso that, on November 15, 2015, plaintiffs asked him to perform a second job at 49 Kingswood. ECF No. 28-2 at ¶ 11; ECF No. 29-1 at ¶ 11. The second job included, among other things, replacing radiators on the first and second floors of the residence. ECF No. 28-2 at ¶ 11; ECF No. 29-1 at ¶ 11. Cravo showed Officer Urso text messages he exchanged with Avitable in which they agreed on $6, 200 for this work. ECF No. 28-2 at ¶ 12; ECF No. 29-1 at ¶ 12.[1]

         Cravo told Officer Urso that, based on the agreement regarding the second job, he purchased more than $1, 000 worth of plumbing supplies from Bender Plumbing Supplies (“Bender”). ECF No. 28-2 at ¶ 13; ECF No. 29-1 at ¶ 13. He also reported that Bender delivered the supplies to 49 Kingswood on November 24, 2015 and provided Officer Urso with a copy of the Shipment Confirmation. ECF No. 28-2 at ¶ 14; ECF No. 29-1 at ¶ 14. Cravo reported to Officer Urso that he was present outside 49 Kingswood when the plumbing supplies were delivered. ECF No. 28-2 at ¶ 15. Plaintiffs deny this statement and point to Fein's testimony that she did not know how the supplies got to the residence. ECF No. 29-1 at ¶ 15. This is not a proper denial as plaintiffs cite only a lack of personal knowledge about the fact, rather than any evidence that Cravo was not present when the supplies were delivered. Moreover, Fein testified that Cravo was outside the home with the supplies when she arrived that evening. ECF No. 29-1 at ¶ 15. The fact is therefore deemed admitted. Cravo further reported to Officer Urso that when plaintiffs arrived at 49 Kingswood that day, they claimed that they forgot to bring a check for the $850 they owed him for the first job. ECF No. 28-2 at ¶ 16; ECF No. 29-1 at ¶ 16. Cravo told Officer Urso that, because he still expected plaintiffs to pay him for the first job, he placed the supplies inside the home and planned to return on November 28, 2015, to work on the second job. ECF No. 28-2 at ¶ 17; ECF No. 29-1 at ¶ 17.

         Cravo reported to Officer Urso that he returned to 49 Kingswood on November 28, 2015 to begin working on the second job and that neither plaintiff was there to let him into the residence. ECF No. 28-2 at ¶ 18; ECF No. 29-1 at ¶ 18. He said that Avitable ceased all communication with him that day regarding the outstanding bill for $850 and the materials he had purchased from Bender, which remained locked inside 49 Kingswood. ECF No. 28-2 at ¶ 19; ECF No. 29-1 at ¶ 19. He also showed Officer Urso the text messages that he sent to Avitable while he was waiting outside the residence that day. ECF No. 28-2 at ¶ 18; ECF No. 29-1 at ¶ 18. These messages are as follows:

[Cravo, 8:01am]: Rena I am going to to the house can you open the door
[Cravo, 8:10am]: I am at the house call me
[Cravo, 10:17am]: I am waiting for you call if you don't want to do the job then let me go and get the material
[Cravo, 2:45pm]: Rena can you have clairese call me

ECF No. 28-2 at ¶¶ 18, 40-42; ECF No. 29-1 at ¶¶ 18, 40-42; ECF No. 28-16 at 3. Defendant asserts that the plumbing supplies from Bender are still inside 49 Kingswood. ECF No. 28-2 at ¶ 48. Plaintiffs do not deny that plumbing supplies are still inside the property, but cite Fein's testimony that the Bender supply list did not ...


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