United States District Court, D. Delaware
Alan R. Silverstein, POTTER, ANDERSON & CORROON, LLP, Wilmington, DE Eric J. Evain, NOVAK DRUCE CONNOLLY BOVE QUIGG LLP, Wilmington, DE Attorneys for Plaintiff
Michael F. McTaggart, Ophelia M. Waters, Deputy Attorneys General, Wilmington, DE Attorneys for State Defendants
LEONARD P. STARK, District Judge.
State Defendants Scott Meixell ("Meixell") and Christopher Albence ("Albence") (collectively, "Defendants") filed a motion for summary judgment. (D.I. 162) After full briefing, the Court heard oral argument on the motion during the pretrial conference on October 30, 2014. ( See Transcript ("Tr.")) Given the imminence of trial, which was scheduled to begin on November 17, 2014, the Court advised the parties at the conclusion of the pretrial conference that it would advise them by Monday, November 3 as to whether trial would go forward as scheduled. On November 3, the Court issued an Order granting the summary judgment motion and cancelling trial, indicating that an opinion explaining the Court's reasoning would issue in due course. (D.I. 183) This is that opinion.
I. Procedural Background
This civil rights action was filed by Plaintiff, Jeffrey Krahn ("Plaintiff' or "Krahn"), an inmate at the James T. Vaughn Correctional Center ("VCC") in Smyrna, Delaware, on February 18, 2010. (D.I. 1) Krahn initially filed suit against the State of Delaware, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. ( Id. ) On March 26, 2010, Plaintiff filed an Amended Complaint, adding as Defendants both Meixell and Albence - both of whom are former Delaware Probation and Parole Officers - as well as other individual defendants. (D.I. 7) Plaintiff alleged that on April 2, 2008, at a time when he was a supervised probationer, he was shot by Defendants, and thereafter Defendants and their colleagues conspired to retaliate against him. ( Id. )
On June 25, 2010, the Court dismissed the State of Delaware from the suit based on immunity, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(b) and § 1915A(b)(1). (D.I. 14; see also D.I. 13) The Court further granted Plaintiff leave to amend his retaliation claim, which he did in a Second Amended Complaint filed on July 23, 2010. (D.I. 15) On September 30, 2010, the Court dismissed the Second Amended Complaint as frivolous, thereby dismissing all state defendants except for Meixell and Albence. (D.I. 18) Later, on October 14, 2011, the Court denied Plaintiffs request to amend his complaint to add a conspiracy claim against the previously-dismissed defendants. (D.I. 86; D.I. 106)
On February 28, 2012, Defendants Meixell and Albence filed their first motion for summary judgment. (D.I. 114) On September 7, 2012, the Court granted Plaintiffs request for assistance of counsel and denied without prejudice Defendants' summary judgment motion. (D.I. 127) On September 13, 2012, the Court appointed members of its Federal Civil Panel to represent Krahn. (D.I. 128)
On May 16, 2014, Defendants filed their renewed motion for summary judgment. (D.I. 162)
II. Factual Background
Given that the Court is reviewing Defendants' motion for summary judgment, the following recitation of the facts is based on the admissible evidence, taken in the light most favorable to Krahn, as well as the undisputed facts. Included in the record evidence are video recordings of a significant portion of the pertinent events as they unfolded, which were captured by two surveillance cameras. (D.I. 167; D.I. 172)
On the evening of April 2, 2008, Defendants were eating dinner at the Seasons Pizza Restaurant in New Castle, Delaware. ( See D.I. 165 Ex. C at 2; D.I. 164 at A6, A38, A41-42, A90, A93-94, A101, A210, A212-14; see also D.I. 167 at 9:40-10:00; D.I. 172 at 7:55-9:23) Defendants were dressed in their uniforms. ( See D.I. 164 at A90-94, A213-14)
At approximately 7:40 p.m., Krahn and his wife arrived at the restaurant and were seated in a booth adjacent to Defendants. ( See D.I. 165 Ex. A at 4, Ex. C at 2; D.I. 164 at A6, A210, A212; see also D.I. 167 at 9:40-10:10) Albence, to whom Krahn had previously reported (D.I. 164 at A7, A39-40), recognized Krahn and told Meixell that the "last time [he] checked" Krahn was a wanted probation absconder (D.I. 164 at A38, A40-41, A210, A212, A214). Plaintiff, who had previously been convicted ...