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Grubbs v. Marconi

United States District Court, D. Delaware

February 27, 2017

JASON W. GRUBBS, Plaintiff,
v.
CPL. JAMES MARCONI, et al., Defendants.

          Jason W. Grubbs, Plaintiff, Avondale, Pennsylvania, pro se.

          Richard D. Abrams, Esquire and Daniel P. Bennett, Esquire of Mintzer, Sarowitz, Zeris, Ledva & Meyers, LLP, Wilmington, Delaware. Attorneys for Defendants James Marconi, Greg D'Elia, Andrew Rubin and James Skinner.

          James Darlington Taylor, Jr., Esquire, Allison Jean McCowan, Esquire and Dawn Kurtz Crompton, Esquire, of Saul Ewing LLP, Wilmington, Delaware. Attorneys for Michael Jon Maier, Jay Protz and Sean Hogan.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          ROBINSON, SENIOR DISTRICT JUDGE

         I. INTRODUCTION

         On March 2, 2015, pro se plaintiff Jason W. Grubbs ("plaintiff') filed this action against thirty-five different individuals and entities for claims revolving around his arrest and prosecution. (D.I. 1) The complaint alleges civil rights violations pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §§ 1983, 1985 and the Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendments of the United States Constitution and asserts violations of Delaware state law, including claims of false arrest, false imprisonment, assault, battery, defamation, invasion of privacy, negligent publication, gross negligence, malice, negligent infliction of emotional distress, malicious prosecution, abuse of process, conspiracy, and tortious interference. Many of the counts and defendants were dismissed upon defendants' motions. (D.I. 184, 185)

         Pending before the court are fully briefed motions for protective orders filed by plaintiff, cross motions for summary judgment filed by plaintiff and remaining defendants, and a motion for discovery filed by plaintiff. (D.I. 195-200, 205-207, 212-216, 218, 219, 221-227, 230-232) The court has jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §1331.

         II. PROCEDURAL AND FACTUAL BACKGROUND

         A. Procedural Background

         The allegations in the unverified complaint are set forth in detail in the court's March 29, 2016 memorandum opinion. (See D.I. 184) Counts three, four, five, and six (raised pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983)[1] and count seventeen (raised pursuant to Delaware law) against Newark Police Department ("NPD") defendants Cpl. James Marconi ("Marconi"), MS/Cpl. Greg D'Elia ("D'Elia"), Sgt. Andrew Rubin ("Rubin"), and detective James Skinner ("Skinner") (collectively "NPD defendants") and University of Delaware Police Department ("UDPD") defendants Sgt. Michael Jon Maier ("Maier"), detective Jay Protz ("Protz") and officer Sean Hogan ("Hogan") (collectively "UDPD defendants") survived defendants' dismissal motions. (D.I. 184, 185) After the court ruled on defendants' motions to dismiss, it entered a scheduling and discovery order on March 31, 2016, that set a discovery deadline of October 3, 2016, and a dispositive motion deadline of November 4, 2016. (D.I. 186)

         Discovery commenced and, on April 13, 2016, plaintiff filed a motion for a protective order from unwarranted discovery from defendants and a motion for summary judgment. (D.I. 195, 197) Plaintiff filed a second motion for a protective order on May 4, 2016. (D.I. 212) Plaintiff did not respond to any of defendants' discovery requests or provide defendants any discovery. Defendants responded to interrogatories served upon them by plaintiff. (D.I. 208-211, 217, 233) Defendants filed motions for summary judgment on November 4, 2016 and, approximately one month later, plaintiff filed a motion for submission of new evidence. (D.I. 221, 222, 230)

         B. Facts Presented by the Parties[2]

         On April 20, 2013, at around 10:45 p.m., NPD and UDPD officers responded to a complaint of a naked man exposing himself to two female victims in the area of Beverly Road in Newark, Delaware. (D.I. 198, ex. C; D.I. 223, ex. 1) A perimeter was set up, the NPD initiated a K-9 track in the area, and officers operated as mobile units in vehicles and on foot. (D.I. 198, ex. C) Marconi and Maier saw an individual matching the description provided by the victims (later identified as plaintiff) hiding in a group of bushes and trees. (D.I. 198, ex. C; D.I. 223, exs. 1, 4) Plaintiff, who emerged from the bushes and trees, fled on foot; he was pursued by Marconi and Maier, who were also on foot. (Id.) When Maier saw plaintiff, he shouted "hey, " and plaintiff began running. (D.I. 223, ex. 4) Maier pursued plaintiff and announced "police stop, " but plaintiff continued to run. (Id.) Plaintiff was apprehended by Marconi and Maier while he was attempting to climb a fence. (D.I. 198, ex. C; D.I. 223, exs. 1, 4) Maier was holding onto plaintiff's leg while the rest of plaintiffs body was on the other side of the fence. (D.I. 198, ex. C) Marconi grabbed plaintiff by his shoulders and physically pulled plaintiff back over to the side of the fence causing all three to fall to the ground. (Id.) In pulling plaintiff back over the fence, one of the fence pickets broke. (D.I. 208-211) Maier handcuffed plaintiff. (D.I. 223, ex. 4) Marconi and Maier placed plaintiff into custody with no further resistence, and plaintiff was placed in a NPD patrol unit. (Id.) Maier denies striking plaintiff on the ankle or stomping on his ankle. (D.I. 223, ex. 1) Maier states that he did not deploy or have a police K-9 under his control during the arrest and did not permit or otherwise cause a police K-9 to bite plaintiff's thigh. (D.I. 223, ex. 1) Maier asked plaintiff if he was hurt, and plaintiff did not complain of injuries. (D.I. 198, ex. C, D.I. 223, ex. 1) Police reports prepared by the NPD and UDPD make no mention that plaintiff complained of injuries. (D.I. 191, ex. C; D.I. 223, exs. 1, 4)

         Marconi called out that the suspect was in custody and D'Elia responded to the area to assist. (D.I. 198, ex. C) During this time, Rubin contacted the victims and transported them to the area to conduct a show-up. (D.I. 198, ex. C) Following the show-up, plaintiff was placed in a NPD police car and transported to the NPD precinct for processing, questioning and detention. (D.I. 198, ex. C; D.I. 223, ex. 2) Plaintiff was questioned by NPD detective Skinner and UDPD detective Protz.[3] (Id.) According to Skinner's report, plaintiff stated that he went for a run in the area and, when he saw uniformed police, he fled because he had marijuana inside his vehicle and he was afraid. (D.I. 198, ex. C) Plaintiff did not complain of any injuries or request any medical care when he was interviewed by Protz. (D.I. 223, ex. 2)

         Plaintiff was charged with sixteen criminal counts including lewdness, resisting arrest and indecent exposure for a total of six incidents dating to 2011. (D.I. 141, exs. A, B) Plaintiff agreed to plead guilty to one count of resisting arrest and no contest to one count of lewdness in exchange for ...


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