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Ware v. Riley

United States District Court, D. Delaware

March 13, 2014

CHRISTOPHER J. WARE, Plaintiff,
v.
POLICE OFFICER TODD RILEY and POLICE OFFICER KIMBERLY DONAHUE, Defendants

Decided March 12, 2014

Page 493

[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

Page 494

[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

Page 495

Christopher J. Ware, Plaintiff, Pro se, Wilmington, Delaware.

Daniel Foster McAllister, Esquire, City of Wilmington Law Department, Wilmington, Delaware, Counsel for Defendants.

OPINION

Page 496

ROBINSON, District Judge.

I. INTRODUCTION

Plaintiff Christopher J. Ware (" plaintiff'), who proceeds pro se, filed this lawsuit alleging violations of his constitutional rights pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 [1] and raising supplemental state claims for actions taken during the investigation of a suspected break-in at plaintiff's residence following the triggering of an alarm system. A bench trial was held November 20 and 21, 2013. (D.I. 94, 95) The court has jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331 and § 1367(a). Having considered the documentary evidence and testimony, the court makes the following findings of fact and conclusions of law pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 52(a).

II. FINDINGS OF FACT

A. The Parties

1. Plaintiff Christopher J. Ware is a citizen of the State of Delaware who rented a room at 608 W. 9th Street, Wilmington, Delaware on the date in question.[2] (D.I. 2; D.I. 94 at 84:25, 110:15-18) Plaintiff is currently a student at the University of Delaware. (D.I. 94 at 109:10-12) At one time, he was a bail bonds agent. ( Id. at 65:11-14)

2. Defendant Todd Riley (" Riley" ) currently works for the United States Drug Enforcement Administration. He formerly worked for the Wilmington Police Department and was deployed as backup patrol on the date in question. (D.I. 94 at 131:15-25, 167:11-16)

3. Defendant Kimberly Pfaff (né e Donahue) (" Pfaff" ) was employed by the Wilmington Police Department on the date in question and is currently a senior corporal in the department. (D.I. 95 at 180:8-16)

B. The Alarm

4. A residential burglar alarm, monitored by Tri-State Alarm Company, activated the front door at 608 W. 9th Street on the date in question. (D.I. 94 at 85:18-20, 172:10-12; D.I. 95 at 184:3-6)

5. Plaintiff, who was asleep in a third floor bedroom, walked to the first floor, deactivated the alarm, and returned to bed. (D.I. 94 at 85:20-23, 86:1-2, 88:1-2) The monitoring station called both the police department and plaintiff, and plaintiff advised the monitoring station that it was a false alarm. (D.I. 94 at 86:2-4; D.I. 95 at 184:14-18) The monitoring station indicated to plaintiff that it would call the property owner, Howard A. Sudler, Jr. (" Sudler" ). (D.I. 94 at 86:7-8)

6. Plaintiff also called Sudler, who advised plaintiff that he would contact Michele Green (" Green" ), another individual who lived in the property. (D.I. 94 at 86:10, 21-23) Green called plaintiff and told him that she was in the house, but was leaving because she had a capias and a police car was coming down the street and she was worried she would be arrested. ( Id. at 87:1, 7-9) Plaintiff told Green to

Page 497

lock the door and close it. ( Id. at 87:13-14) Plaintiff again returned to ...


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