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Hill v. Alliance Police Department

United States District Court, N.D. Ohio, Eastern Division

January 10, 2017

CHRISTOPHER A. HILL, Plaintiff,
v.
ALLIANCE POLICE DEPARTMENT, ET AL., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION & ORDER

          GEORGE J. LIMBERT, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         Before the Court is an Amended Motion for Partial Summary Judgment filed by Plaintiff Christopher A. Hill (“Plaintiff”) and a motion for summary judgment filed by Defendants Alliance Police Department, City of Alliance, Lieutenant Akenra X (“Defendant X”)[1], Patrolman Kevin D. Brown (“Defendant Brown”), Patrolman Paul J. Vesco (“Defendant Vesco”) (collectively “Defendants”) and Patrolman William T. Johnson[2]. ECF Dkt. #s 38, 39.

         For the following reasons, the Court GRANTS Defendants' motion for summary judgment (ECF Dkt. #39) and DENIES as MOOT Plaintiff's motion for partial summary judgment (ECF Dkt. #37) and his amended motion for partial summary judgment (ECF Dkt. #38). Consequently, Plaintiff's second amended complaint against all Defendants is dismissed in its entirety with prejudice.

         I. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         Plaintiff first filed suit in this Court on February 8, 2016 against Defendants APD, Defendant X, and the City of Alliance. ECF Dkt. #1. He alleged that on May 9, 2014 at 5:10 a.m., Defendant X of the APD was dispatched to the home of the victim, Plaintiff's girlfriend, regarding a domestic violence complaint. Id. at 3. Plaintiff averred that his girlfriend told Defendant X that he had punched her in the face, shoved her to the floor and put a gun to her face threatening to kill her. Id. Plaintiff alleged that his girlfriend told Defendant X that she gained control of the gun and Plaintiff took off running out of the house. Id. at 3. Plaintiff averred that his girlfriend showed Defendant X where the gun was and he retrieved it. Id. Plaintiff alleged that Defendant X asked his girlfriend where she thought Plaintiff would be and she said he was likely going to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania or to their adult daughter's house as he had a key. Id.

         Plaintiff further alleged in his complaint that Defendants Brown and Vesco went to his daughter's residence and they reported that they saw movement inside the house and heard coughing inside, although no one answered the door when they knocked. ECF Dkt. #1 at 4. Plaintiff averred that Defendant X was relayed this information and then asked his girlfriend if her daughter was home and the girlfriend responded that her daughter was most likely at work but her children would be at home. Id. According to Plaintiff, Defendant X asked his girlfriend if she had a key to her daughter's home and when she responded that she did, they went to the daughter's home. Id. Plaintiff alleged that his girlfriend opened the door to her daughter's house and let Defendant X and the other officers inside and found Plaintiff sleeping in an attic bedroom. Id.

         According to Plaintiff, the police arrested him and he was charged with felonious assault and having a weapon while under disability, to which he pleaded guilty “under duress.” ECF Dkt. #1 at 4-5. Plaintiff alleged that Defendant X and the APD did not have an arrest warrant in order to arrest him and he had a legitimate expectation of privacy in his daughter's residence as he “partially resided at that address.” Id. at 5. He also averred that exigent circumstances did not exist for Defendants to enter the residence as there was no threat to a person's life or safety, escape was not imminent, and no evidence was going to be removed or destroyed. Id. at 5. He further submitted that his girlfriend did not reside at that residence and was not authorized to let the police in and his daughter did not give consent for the police to enter. Id.

         In his complaint, Plaintiff alleged a violation of his Fourth Amendment Right to be free from unwarranted searches and seizures. ECF Dkt. #1 at 5-6. He also averred negligence on the part of the City of Alliance in failing to properly train Defendant X concerning invasion of privacy rights. Id. at 6. He further alleged that Defendant X and the APD traumatized his grandchildren by waking them at his daughter's house with guns drawn. Id. Plaintiff explained that he was not challenging his criminal conviction as his “sole contention is that Sgt. X and the City of Alliance invaded his privacy, and he should be compensated.” Id. He demanded $100, 000 from Defendant X, $100, 000 for the City of Alliance, retraining of the APD in warrantless entries and arrests, and $50, 000 in punitive damages from each of the two Defendants. Id. at 7.

         On March 10, 2016, Plaintiff filed an amended complaint which included the same Defendants, but added allegations that the invasion of privacy by Defendant X and the Alliance Police Department caused him trauma and severe emotional distress. ECF Dkt. #5 at 6.

         On May 16, 2016, Plaintiff filed a motion for the appointment of counsel. ECF Dkt. #21. On May 20, 2016, the parties consented to the undersigned's jurisdiction. ECF Dkt. #26.

         On July 28, 2016, Plaintiff filed a second amended complaint in which he added Defendants Brown and Vesco to the instant 42 U.S.C. § 1983 civil rights action for violating his Fourth Amendment protection against unreasonable search and seizure and his right to privacy. ECF Dkt. #31. He also specified that he was suing Defendants X, Brown, and Vesco in their official and individual capacities. Id. at 8. He requested relief of $300, 000.00 from Defendant X, $200, 000.00 from Defendant Brown, $200, 000.00 from Defendant Vesco, $100, 000.00 from the APD, and $100, 000.00 from the City of Alliance. Id. at 10. He also requested punitive damages and set the total amount of damages at $900, 000.00 and requested that the APD be retrained in warrantless entries and arrests. Id.

         On August 29, 2016, Plaintiff filed a motion for partial summary judgment. ECF Dkt. #37. On September 12, 2016, Plaintiff filed the instant amended motion for partial summary judgment. ECF Dkt. #38. In this motion, Plaintiff identified a number of facts that he asserted were undisputed and he contended that no fact question remained for trial as to Defendants X, Brown, and Vesco's liabilities in their individual capacities for violating his Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment protections against unreasonable seizures and invasion or privacy. Id.

         On October 11, 2016, Defendants filed an opposition to Plaintiff's amended motion for partial summary judgment combined with their own motion for summary judgment. ECF Dkt. #39. On November 7, 2016, Plaintiff filed a reply brief to Defendants' opposition to his motion for partial summary judgment combined with a response to Defendants' motion for summary judgment. ECF Dkt. #42. On November 14, 2016, Defendants filed a reply brief to Plaintiff's response to their motion for summary judgment. ECF Dkt. #43.

         II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

         Summary judgment should be granted “if the movant shows 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). A party asserting that a ...


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