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Miller v. Netto

United States District Court, D. Connecticut

September 24, 2019

DAVON MILLER, Plaintiff,
v.
DETECTIVE JOHN NETTO, ET AL., Defendants.

          RULING ON DEFENDANTS’ MOTIONS FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT [ECF #66, ECF #67]

          Kari A. Dooley, United States District Judge.

         Preliminary Statement

         The plaintiff, Davon Miller (“Miller”), brings this civil rights action against several officers with the Derby Police Department, Detectives John Netto and Edward Sullivan, and Patrol Officer Madura (the Derby Defendants”), as well as several officers with the Ansonia Police Department, Detective Steve Adcox and Officers McMahon and Guillet (the Ansonia Defendants”). He claims that the defendants used excessive force during his arrest and subjected him to unconstitutional conditions of confinement while he was detained at the Derby police station in September 2015. On April 6, 2018, Miller filed an amended complaint, which is the operative complaint. See ECF No. 38.[1] The Derby Defendants and the Ansonia Defendants filed separate motions for summary judgment. Because the motions raise overlapping issues, the Court issues a single memorandum of decision. For the reasons set forth below, the Derby Defendants’ Motion for Summary Judgment is GRANTED. The Ansonia Defendants’ Motion for Summary Judgment is GRANTED.

         Standard of Review

         The party seeking summary judgment bears the burden of demonstrating “that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and [that it] is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). A fact is “material” if it “might affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law, ” and is “genuine” if “a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party” based on it. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). The moving party may satisfy its burden “by showing – that is pointing out to the district court – that there is an absence of evidence to support the nonmoving party’s case.” PepsiCo, Inc. v. Coca-Cola Co., 315 F.3d 101, 105 (2d Cir. 2002) (per curium) (internal quotations and citations omitted).

         If 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.

         In reviewing the record, the court must “construe the evidence in the light most favorable to the non-moving party and to draw all reasonable inferences in its favor.” Gary Friedrich Enters., L.L.C. v. Marvel Characters, Inc., 716 F.3d 302, 312 (2d Cir. 2013) (citation omitted). The court may not, however, “make credibility determinations or weigh the evidence. . . . [because] [c]redibility determinations, the weighing of the evidence, and the drawing of legitimate inferences from the facts are jury functions, not those of a judge.” Proctor v. LeClaire, 846 F.3d 597, 607–08 (2d Cir. 2017) (internal quotation marks and citations omitted). If there is any evidence in the record from which a reasonable factual inference could be drawn in favor of the opposing party on the issue on which summary judgment is sought, however, summary judgment is improper. See Security Ins. Co. of Hartford v. Old Dominion Freight Line Inc., 391 F.3d 77, 83 (2d Cir. 2004).

         The court reads a pro se party’s papers liberally and interprets them “to raise the strongest arguments that they suggest.” Willey v. Kirkpatrick, 801 F.3d 51, 62 (2d Cir. 2015) (internal quotation marks and citation omitted). Despite this liberal interpretation, however, allegations unsupported by admissible evidence “do not create a material issue of fact” and cannot overcome a properly supported motion for summary judgment. Weinstock v. Columbia Univ., 224 F.3d 33, 41 (2d Cir. 2000).

         Plaintiff’s Verified Allegations

         The court begins by summarizing the allegations of the verified amended complaint. Miller asserts that on September 2, 2015, defendants Sullivan, Netto, Guillet, McMahon and Madura “slammed me in a big puddle of water tearing my clothes off and my shoes without my permission.” While at the Derby Police station, he claims he was “placed in a holding cell at approx. 7:10 a.m.” with no shoes or shirt and that his socks were wet. He claims officers turned the air conditioning up until such time as they brought him to be interviewed at approximately 11:32 a.m. Following this interview, Miller asserts that defendants Sullivan and Adcox “sent me back to a holding cell with no clothes, soak[ing] wet … treating me like a[n] animal. I got sick and proceeded to vomit on myself.” Finally, Miller assets that “Detectives left me in my own vomit and refused me a phone call and medical attention until 11:30 p.m. I couldn’t take it no more and cooperated with detectives.”[2]

         Facts[3]

         As of September 2, 2015, Stephen Adcox was employed as a detective in the Ansonia Police Department and Barry McMahon and Michael Guillet were employed as police officers in the Ansonia Police Department. Ansonia Defs’ L.R. 56(a)1 ¶ 1. In the early morning hours of September 2, 2015, in the area of Sunset Drive in Derby, Miller fled from members of the Ansonia, Derby and Milford Police Departments. Id. ¶ 5. Ansonia Police Officers Guillet and McMahon assisted these officers in pursuing Miller because Miller was a suspect in multiple residential burglaries in Derby, one of which had occurred earlier that morning in Derby and others which had occurred in Ansonia and Derby during the month of August 2015. Id. ¶ 9; McMahon Aff. ¶ 4, Ex. B; Guillet Aff. ¶ 4, Ex. C.

         Officer Guillet caught up to Miller on Sunset Drive, ordered him to get down on the ground, grabbed his arm and physically moved him to the ground. Guillet Aff. ¶ 5. Once Miller was on the ground, Officer Guillet secured his arms/hands behind his back in handcuffs, with the assistance of another Ansonia police officer. Id. ¶ 6. Miller was wearing a sweater at some point before Officer Guillet apprehended him but lost the sweater as he was being pursued. Ansonia Defs’ L.R. 56(a)1 ¶ 7. Thus, at the time of his arrest, Miller did not have a shirt on. Id. ¶ 6.

         Officer McMahon did not apprehend, handcuff or make physical contact with Miller. McMahaon Aff. ¶ 5. Officer McMahon did observe Miller after Officer Guillet had detained him in handcuffs on Sunset Drive. Id. Neither Officer Guillet, nor Officer McMahon observed a puddle or body of water in the area where Miller was apprehended. Ansonia Defs’ L.R. 56(a)1 ¶ 9. When Officer McMahon left the scene, Miller was sitting on a curb in handcuffs. McMahaon Aff. ¶ 10. Officer McMahon did not go to the Derby Police Department or see Miller again at any time that day. Id.

         Officer Guillet was not involved in transporting Miller to the Derby Police Department and had no further contact with Miller that day. Guillet Aff. ¶¶ 11-12. Ansonia Detective Adcox was not on duty or present at the time of Miller’s apprehension, arrest or transport to the Derby police station. Ansonia Defs’ L.R. 56(a)1 ¶ 21; Adcox Aff. ¶ 3, Ex. A.

         The Derby Defendants were not involved in or present for the arrest or apprehension of Miller on September 2, 2015. Derby Defs’ L.R. 56(a)1 ¶ 1. Derby Police Officer Madura transported Miller to the Derby Police Department after Miller had been placed under arrest. Madura Aff. ¶ 2, Ex. A, ECF No. 66-3. After Miller arrived at the police department, Officer Madura had no further contact with him. Id. ¶ 4.

         The Derby Defendants did not make the temperature in the holding cell area at Derby police station colder when Miller was confined in that area on September 2, 2015. Derby Defs’ L.R. 56(a)1 ¶ 2. Nor do they have any knowledge that any other individual attempted to make the holding cell area colder on that date. Id. The Derby Defendants have no knowledge of Miller vomiting or requesting medical assistance during his confinement at the Derby police station in September 2015. Id. ¶ 3. Derby Police Detectives Netto and Sullivan interviewed Miller at the Derby police station at approximately 11:30 a.m. on September 2, 2015. Id. ¶ 4. During that interview, Miller received a shirt. Id.

         At Miller’s request, Derby Detectives Netto and Sullivan began a second interview at the Derby Police Department at approximately 11:00 p.m. on September 2, 2015. Ansonia Defs’ L.R. 56(a)1 ¶ 18; Ex. E, DVD, Second Interview. Miller requested that his mother be present for that interview, Id. ¶ 17, so Detectives Netto and Sullivan waited with Miller until his mother arrived. Id. ¶19. After Miller’s mother’s arrival at approximately 11:46 p.m., Ansonia Police Detective Adcox entered the interview room. Id. ¶ 20.

         The interview continued until approximately 1:42 a.m. on September 3, 2015. Id. ΒΆ 22. Miller was wearing a short-sleeved shirt during the interview and did not complain about the temperature, that he had vomited or felt ...


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