United States District Court, D. Delaware
Christina Daum, Holiday FL - Pro Se Plaintiff
Michael F. McTaggart: State of Delaware Department of
Justice, Wilmington, DE - attorney for defendants
NOREIKA U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE
August 25, 2014, Plaintiff, Christina Daum ("Plaintiff
or "Ms. Daum"), filed a Complaint, pro se,
against Delaware State Police Troop #7 and individual
defendants, Corporal Eugene Miller, Corporal Dick, Corporal
Layfield, Trooper Lowe, Corporal Blakeman, Trooper Kester,
Captain Dixon and Delaware State Police Troop 7 (collectively
"Defendants"), alleging violations of 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983 for actions that purportedly (D.I. 1 at 1):
deprived plaintiff of rights of handicap, race, color, sex
and religion secured under the Constitution and laws of the
United States, conspiring for the purpose of impeding and
hindering the due course of justice with intent to deny
plaintiff equal protection of law, causing physical harm by
dragging plaintiff into police station while unconscious,
failing to provide medical care in a timely fashion, abusing
power, negligence, intentional injury, conspiring and
refusing or neglecting to prevent deprivations and denials to
* * *
[and] violated equal protection laws by their dereliction of
duties, flagrant false arrests, harassment, physical abuse,
emotional abuse, malicious prosecution, discrimination,
slander, and blatant abuse of power.
Ms. Daum's Complaint also appears to assert state law
claims for abuse of process, physical and mental abuse and
intentional infliction of pain. (Id.). Presently
pending before the court is Defendants' motion for
summary judgment on all pending claims. (D.I. 35). The court
has jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1331 and
1343, and supplemental jurisdiction over the state law claims
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1367.
discovery has been taken in the case. In support of their motion,
Defendants submitted approximately 600 pages of Appendices,
including the applicable arrest warrants, the transcripts of
Ms. Daum's preliminary hearing and trial, Ms. Daum's
Plea Agreement, a declaration of Corporal Miller and car dash
camera footage from Corporal Miller's police car. (D.I.
37). In addition to referencing allegations in her Complaint,
Plaintiff submitted the car dash camera footage from Corporal
Miller's police car (D.I. 45) as well as "Progress
Notes," dated between June 22, 2011 and July 15, 2013,
and letters from Richard L. Todd, Ph.D., Plaintiffs therapist
(D.I. 44 at 7-13; D.I. 47).
concedes that Defendants are entitled to summary judgment on
all claims for false arrest but opposes Defendants'
motion for summary judgment with respect to claims asserting
excessive force and violation of due process and
constitutional rights. (D.I. 44 at 1).
claims arise from her interactions with Troop 7 officers on
August 23, 2012 and October 1, 2012. The facts are largely
undisputed, but where disputes are alleged, they are noted
August 23, 2012
August 23, 2012, Corporal Miller responded to a complaint
"about a female removing property from a residence"
at 9 Carriage Lane, Rehoboth, Delaware. (D.I. 37, A-15;
A-600). When Corporal Miller arrived on the scene, Corporal
Dick of the Delaware State Police was already present.
(Id.). Corporal Miller observed a parked white van.
(Id.). He spoke to the driver of the van, Teferi
Nessibov, and observed Ms. Daum in the passenger seat of a
white van. (D.I. 37, A-20; A-600). Corporal Miller spoke
briefly with Ms. Daum, and she appeared to tell him that her
lawyer had instructed her not to talk to him. (D.I. 37,
Miller also spoke with Leonard Marchone and Bonnie Helder.
(D.I. 37, A-600-01). Mr. Marchone, who rents the property
from Ms. Helder, advised that he saw Ms. Daum carrying boxes
to the white van and attempting to remove a ladder from a
shed at the rear of the residence. (D.I. 37, A-20-22; A-600).
The boxes contained property belonging to Mr. Marchone and
Ms. Helder. (D.I. 37, A-24). The police observed damage to
the lock on the shed. (D.I. 37, A-28). The police inspected
the boxes and found equipment, fishing poles, golf clubs, and
family pictures that belonged to Mr. Marchone, and some
linens that belonged to Ms. Helder. (D.I. 37, A-28). Mr.
Nessibov, the driver of the minivan, confirmed that Plaintiff
had taken items from the shed and placed them in the white
van and granted police access to look in the white van. (D.I.
Miller then again tried to speak to Ms. Daum. She attempted
to verify the insurance on the van, but ultimately shut and
locked the door of the van. (D.I. 37, A-601). Corporal Miller
was "eventually able to remove [Ms.] Daum from the
minivan and place [her] in [his] marked police car."
(D.I. 37, A-601). Plaintiff alleges that she was placed in
the backseat of Corporal Miller's "car for almost an
hour without turning the car on or putting the air
conditioner on" (D.I. 1 at 9) and that she was left in
the back of the vehicle "for approximately 40-50
minutes" in 95-degree heat. (D.I. 44 at 1-2). According
to Corporal Miller's dash camera (which was submitted by
Defendants (D.I. 37, A-603) and by Plaintiff (D.I. 45)),
however, Ms. Daum was in the vehicle for approximately 12
minutes. (D.I. 37, A-603; D.I. 45). Plaintiff also alleges
that the vehicle and air conditioning were off while she was
in the car. (D.I. 1 at 9). The dash camera footage, however,
suggests that the car was on - as the car radio can be heard
on the recording during the time Ms. Daum was in the
(D.I. 37, A-603). Finally, Plaintiff alleges that her
requests for medical assistance were ignored and that she
subsequently passed out due to heat. (D.I. 37, A-9; D.I. 44
at 1). The dash camera footage recorded Plaintiff shouting
for Mr. Nessibov to call for medical assistance, but not when
Corporal Miller approached the vehicle. (D.I. 37, A-603).
completing the witness interviews, Corporal Miller
transported Plaintiff to Troop 7. Plaintiff alleges that she
was unconscious or drifted in and out of consciousness
throughout her time in the police car. (D.I. 1 at 1; D.I. 44
at 1-2). Corporal Miller stated that Ms. Daum "had her
eyes closed and appeared to be breathing but sweating. (D.I.
37, A-601). He further stated that for the "short ride
of a few minutes to Troop #7, [Ms.] Daum was seated upright
in her seat, against the headrest and was not slumped over in
any way." (Id.). Before he arrived at Troop 7,
he requested assistance. (Id.). He stated that he
"did see [Ms. Daum] open her eyes slightly when [they]
arrived at the police Troop." (Id.).
Oliphant assisted Corporal Miller in removing Ms. Daum from
the car. (Id.). Ms. Daum alleges that she was
"drag[ged] into [the] police station while
unconscious." (D.I. 1 at 1). Corporal Miller attested
that he attempted to move Ms. Daum's leg, and she
resisted and moved her leg back, indicating to Corporal
Miller that she was cognizant. (D.I. 27, A-601).
Nevertheless, Trooper Miller and Corporal Oliphant together
pulled Plaintiff from the vehicle and carried her under the
arms as her legs dragged on the ground. (Id.).
Another civilian employee then came to assist, and the three
carried Ms. Daum into the Troop. (Id. at A-601-02).
inside, Corporal Oliphant attempted to rouse Ms. Daum with
smelling salts. (D.I. 37, A-602). Paramedics were called, and
they transported her to Beebe Medical Center. (Id.).
Sternum rubs were administered by both the paramedics and the
Emergency Room doctor. (Id.). Ms. Daum was treated
and released that same day. (D.I. 37, A-602).
Miller obtained an arrest warrant based on his investigation
and Ms. Daum was indicted on six charges . (D.I. 37, A-12).
On March 25, 2013, she pleaded guilty to Criminal Trespass
First Degree and Disorderly Conduct in connection with the
August 23, 2012 incident. (D.I. 37, A-127).
October 1, 2012
to Plaintiffs Complaint and notes from her therapist, Dr.
Todd, at some time prior to 12:45 p.m. on October 1, 2012,
Ms. Daum was told by a police officer that she was going to
be arrested. (D.I. 1 at 1; D.I. 44 at 7). On October 1, 2012
at 7:20 p.m., Ms. Daum called 911 to report terroristic
threatening. She testified that she was on the phone with the
Dispatch Center for approximately 10 minutes. (D.I. 37,
A-263). After being dispatched at 7:28 p.m., Trooper Lowe and
Corporal Blakeman responded to the scene at approximately
7:34 p.m. and entered Ms. Daum's residence. (D.I. 37,
A-264). The officers spoke with Ms. Daum and she related
several landlord-tenant matters. The officers advised her
that these were civil matters, outside of their jurisdiction,
and would not be discussed. (D.I. 37, A-233). Ms. Daum then
asserted that she had been threatened by "one or both of
her tenants." (D.I. 37, A-284-85).
Daum raised issues about recording the ongoing events and
discussed calling 911 to do so. (D.I. 37, A-237-38). The
officers advised Plaintiff that the motor vehicle recorder
("MVR") was recording everything. (Id.).
Coiporal Blakeman further told Plaintiff that she cannot
abuse 911 by calling for non-emergency reasons and if she
calls while the officers are on the scene, she would be
arrested. (D.I. 37, A-237-239). Corporal Layfield then
arrived and entered the residence, while Corporal Blakeman
stepped outside to call the Dispatch Center to determine if
threats had been heard during Plaintiffs initial 911 call.
(D.I. 37, A-286).
thereafter, the officers left Plaintiffs residence to confirm
the statements that Plaintiff had made and talk to tenants.
(D.I. 37, A-286-287). Trooper Lowe testified that Plaintiff
started shouting in the parking lot causing a scene before
eventually returning inside and calling 911. (D.I. 37,
A-307). Plaintiff admitted that she shouted to a neighbor as
well as called 911. (D.I. 37, A-443-44). After being advised
of this call by the Dispatch Center, Corporal Blakeman told
Trooper Lowe to arrest Plaintiff as she had been warned she
would be arrested for abusing 911 if she called again for
non-emergency reasons. (D.I. 37, A-237-39; A-288).
Lowe asked Ms. Daum to open the door and advised that she was
under arrest for misusing 911. (D.I. 37, A-288). Plaintiff
asked Trooper Lowe if she was being arrested for calling 911,
and then asked him wait a minute and closed the door when he
replied yes. (D.I. 37, A-330-31). Trooper Lowe attempted to
open the door, but it was secured by a chain. (D.I. 37,
A-288). Through the opening, Trooper Lowe could see
Plaintiffs walking away, toward the back of the apartment.
(D.I. 37, A-289). After again asking Plaintiff to open the
door and not receiving a response, Trooper Lowe forced the
door open and saw Plaintiff "walking with a cane at a
rapid pace toward the back of the residence." (D.I. 37,
A-289). Trooper Lowe asked Plaintiff to stop, and when she
did not, Trooper Lowe, joined by Corporal Kester grabbed her
and attempted to handcuff her. (D.I. 37, A-289). Plaintiff
refused to put her arms behind her back and screamed at the
officers. (D.I. 37, A-290). She was told to stop repeatedly
but did not and was eventually tackled to the ground. (D.I.
37, A-290-296). Corporal Blakeman entered the residence
through the back door and saw Plaintiff on the ground being
handcuffed. (D.I. 37, A-240).
Lowe obtained an arrest warrant (D.I. 37, A-307) and Ms. Daum
was indicted on four charges. (D.I. 37, A-122-26). On July
16, 2013, a jury trial was held in the Court of Common Pleas.
Plaintiff was found guilty of Resisting Arrest and Malicious
Interference with Emergency Communications and was acquitted
of Disorderly Conduct. (D.I. 37, A-574).
addition to the events laid out above, Plaintiff complains of
generalized conduct listed in her Complaint without
corroborating dates or names. The conduct includes filing
charges which were later dropped, giving out of personal
information, failing to file police reports when requested,
and lack of oversight or remediation for abusive behavior.
(D.I. 1). Plaintiff also discusses non-parties' conduct
at length, such as her issues with Mr. Marchone and a 2012
offensive touching case. (Id.).
judgment is appropriate where "the pleadings, the
discovery and disclosure materials on file, and any
affidavits show that there is no genuine issue as to any
material fact and that the movant is entitled to judgment as
a matter of law." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c). The moving party
bears the burden of demonstrating the absence of a genuine
issue of material fact. Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co., Ltd.
v. Zenith Radio Corp.,475 U.S. 574, 586 n. 10 (1986).
If the moving party has carried its burden, the nonmovant
must then "come forward with 'specific facts showing
that there is a genuine issue for trial.'"
Id. at 587 (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e)) (emphasis in
original). The Court will "draw all reasonable
inferences in favor of the nonmoving party, and it may not
make credibility determinations or weigh the evidence."
Reeves v. Sanderson Plumbing Prods., J«c.,