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Farrington v. Silva

United States District Court, D. Delaware

December 28, 2018

CORPORAL J. SILVA, et al., Defendants.

          Johnny B. Farrington, Jr., Sussex Correctional Institution, Georgetown, Delaware; Pro Se Plaintiff.

          Michael F. McTaggart, Deputy Attorney General, Delaware Department of Justice, Wilmington, Delaware; Counsel for Defendants Jesse Silva and Margaret O'Bara.



         Plaintiff Johnny B. Farrington, Jr. ("Farrington"), an inmate at the Sussex Correctional Institution, in Georgetown, Delaware, filed this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. He proceeds pro se and has been granted leave to proceed in forma pauperis. Defendants Sergeant Margaret O'Bara ("O'Bara") and Corporal Jesse Silva ("Silva") (together "Defendants") move for summary judgment. (D.I. 49). Plaintiff opposes and has filed several motions seeking discovery and a motion to amend. (D.I. 32, 36, 37, 47). Briefing on the matters is complete.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Farrington alleges he was subjected to excessive force by O'Bara, a Capitol Police Sergeant, and Silva, a Capitol Police Corporal, on October 19, 2016. The Complaint alleges this occurred when Farrington was being escorted to the Capitol Police Office. (D.I. 1 at 5). Plaintiff states that he "pulled away" from O'Bara. (Id. at 5). Then, he was tased in the stomach by Silva, instantly fell to the ground, and an unknown officer put what felt like a gun to the back of his neck. (Id.). Farrington turned his head and Silva said, "stop resisting." (Id.). Farrington alleges that Silva and the other unknown officer began tasing Farrington and continued to tase him until he defecated on himself. (Id.). The Complaint alleges that Farrington had taser marks on the back of his neck to support his allegations. (Id.). The Complaint alleges that Farrington was dragged into the Capitol Police Office, dropped on the floor, and Silva cursed at him. (Id. at 5-6). The Complaint alleges that O'Bara was the superior officer who oversaw what was being done to him. (Id.).

         The evidence of record indicates that on October 19, 2016, O'Bara was assigned to the Sussex County Courthouse. (D.I. 50 at Ex. 1 at 1). That morning, at 8:35 a.m., she responded to a call of an active capias for Farrington who was scheduled to appear in Superior Courtroom #2. (Id.). O'Bara met Farrington on the second floor of the courthouse and told him that he had an active warrant from the Laurel Police Department. (D.I. 39-1 at 138). O'Bara told Farrington he would have to go to the Capitol Police office on the first floor of the courthouse to be processed. (D.I. 39-1 at 138; D.I. 50 at Ex. 1 at 3). Farrington was cuffed with his hands behind his back, and he and O'Bara walked towards the lobby of the courthouse to the front of the building, near the metal detector. (Id.). At that point, Farrington pulled away from O'Bara and ran out the front doors of the courthouse. (Id. at 1-2). As Farrington ran out of the courthouse he dragged O'Bara down the front steps of the courthouse and they landed near a grassy area in front of the building. (Id. at 2). Farrington's arm or handcuffs were entangled with O'Bara's arm and they were on the ground. (D.I. 39-1 at 139).

         According to Farrington, on October 19, 2016, he appeared at the Sussex County Courthouse for a final case review on an assault third charge. (D.I. 50, at Ex. 2 at 17). When he arrived at the courthouse, O'Bara told him she had to detain him for an outstanding warrant from Laurel Police Department, and she handcuffed him. (Id. at 19). Farrington testified that while being escorted, he flashbacked to an incident with another police department, freaked out, pulled away from her, and ran for the door. (Id. at 20-21).

         According to Silva, he and Corporal Davidson ("Davidson"), another Capitol Police Officer, responded outside to assist O'Bara. (D.I. 50 at Ex. 1 at 1). Earlier, Silva had heard the dispatch from the Capitol Police Communications Center and knew that Farrington was wanted on an outstanding capias on charges of assault second degree and resisting arrest with force or violence. (Id. at 1). Silva had seen Farrington begin to run out of the courthouse, use his body to force open the front doors of the courthouse, and drag O'Bara down the front steps. (Id. at 2).

         Silva saw Farrington on the ground with his arm entangled with O'Bara's arm. (Id. at 2). At that point, Silva deployed his taser two times seconds apart, both times in the right side of Farrington's body. (D.I. 50 at Ex. 1 at 2; D.I. 59 at Ex. 1). According to Silva, he deployed his Taser a second time because he was fearful that Farrington was still attempting to escape and would attempt to regain his footing and cause more harm to O'Bara. (Id. at 2). Silva states that he deployed his Taser to gain compliance in a short period of time. (Id.). Silva states that he did not tase Farrington in the neck. (Id.).

         According to Farrington, once he was off the steps, Silva deployed his Taser and, as he was lying on the ground, he felt someone come up and put something on the back of his neck. (D.I. 50 at Ex. 2 at 21). Farrington testified that the first time he was tased it was justified, and he brought it on himself because he should not have run. (Id. at 40, 44, 49). Farrington testified that Silva was hollering, "Stop resisting," and Silva tased him a second time as he was laying on the ground. (Id. at 40). According to Farrington, he was "tased in the back of his neck as well." (Id. at 21, 40). Farrington testified that he was tased until he defecated on himself. (Id.). Farrington testified that someone other than Silva tased him in the back of his neck. (Id. at 42). According to Farrington there was no need to tase him a second time. (Id. at 44).

         Silva assisted Davidson in removing and freeing O'Bara's arm from Farrington's arm. (D.I. 50 at ex. 1 at 2). Silva, with the assistance of the Superior Court bailiffs, lifted Farrington and took him inside to the Capitol Police Office. (Id.). Silva saw that O'Bara had multiple cuts and contusions, and he saw no injuries on Farrington. (D.I. 39 at 29; D.I. 50 at ex. 1 at 2). Farrington only complained of complications with his breathing. (D.I. 50 at ex. 1 at 2). EMS medical staff responded to treat Farrington for possible injuries, but no visible injuries were located. (Id. at 3). Farrington was taken by ambulance to the Nanticoke Hospital, treated, and released. (Id.). At the hospital Farrington made repeated statements that he did not want to go to jail and wanted to see his mother in heaven. (Id.). Later he made other statements about wanting to "jump in front of traffic." (Id.). Hospital records indicate that Farrington had abrasions and rib and chest contusions. (D.I. 50 at Ex. 2 at medical records). There were no reported neck injuries. (Id.).

         Courthouse security cameras captured this incident. (D.I. 51). Silva reviewed the DVD and states that it is a fair and accurate depiction of the events. (D.I. 50 at Ex. 1 at 3). I have also reviewed the DVD, which shows three camera angles. Farrington testified his claim is an excessive force claim in violation of his constitutional rights because he was tased excessively. (Id. at Ex. 2 at 44). Following the October 19, 2016 incident, Farrington was charged with resisting arrest with force, and he pled guilty. (Id. at 58.)


         A. Discovery Motions

         On April 10, 2018, the Court amended the discovery deadline for all discovery to be initiated so that it would be completed on or before June 15, 2018. (See D.I. 29).

         On April 27, 2018, Farrington filed a motion for the Court to direct the Delaware Department of Correction give him a copy of his institutional medical records, pursuant to Rules 26 through 37 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. (D.I. 32). The motion will be denied. The proper discovery method to obtain records for a non-party is to issue a subpoena for those records. It would be inappropriate for the Court to order a non-party ...

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