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Goodwin v. Clark

United States District Court, District of Maine

May 15, 2014

ROBERT GOODWIN, Plaintiff
v.
BILL CLARK, et als., Defendants

Plaintiff ROBERT GOODWIN represented by ROBERT GOODWIN PRO Se

BILL CLARK Sheriff in charge of County Jail represented by PETER T. MARCHESI WHEELER & AREY, P.A. CASSANDRA S. SHAFFER WHEELER & AREY, P.A.

Defendant TROY BIRES Maine Drug Enforcement Agent represented by WILLIAM R. FISHER ATTORNEY TO BE NOTICED

Defendant PATRICK LARSON Drug Prosecutor represented by WILLIAM R. FISHER ATTORNEY TO BE NOTICED

AMENDED RECOMMENDED DECISION ON MOTIONS FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT AND ORDER ON “MOTION CHALLENGING QUALIFICATIONS” [1]

John C. Nivison U.S. Magistrate Judge

In this action, Plaintiff Robert Goodwin seeks to recover for damages allegedly caused by the conduct of Defendants Hancock County Sheriff Bill Clark, Maine Drug Enforcement Agency Agent Troy Bires, and Assistant Attorney General Pat Larson in connection Defendants’ efforts to recover contraband that Plaintiff attempted to hide in his body.

The matter is before the Court on the Motions for Summary Judgment of Defendant Clark (ECF No. 39) and Defendants Bires and Larson (ECF No. 42). Plaintiff has not opposed the Motions for Summary Judgment in accordance with Local Rule 56 but, instead, has filed a motion challenging (a) the warrant that lead to the hospital x-ray that disclosed the presence of hidden drugs and (b) Defendants’ decision to detain Plaintiff at the county jail until he passed the drugs. (“Motion Challenging Qualification, ” ECF No. 47.) As explained below, it is recommended that the Court grant Defendants’ motions. In addition, Plaintiff’s motion is denied.[2]

Facts

As part of their summary judgment submissions, Defendants filed statements of material fact in support of their respective motions. Plaintiff has not opposed any of the factual assertions contained in these statements. Pursuant to Local Rule 56(f), facts contained in a statement of material facts “shall be deemed admitted unless properly controverted, ” if the facts in question are “supported by record citations.” Based on Defendants’ statements and the record materials cited in support thereof, including Plaintiff’s deposition testimony, the written deposition answers of Defendants Bires and Larson, the affidavit of Defendant Clark, and the subject search warrant, the following facts are established for purposes of summary judgment.

On November 25, 2010, Thanksgiving Day, Plaintiff acquired between 16 and 18 grams of heroin in Bangor, Maine, and later placed the drugs in his rectum prior to being stopped by police. During the stop of a motor vehicle in which Plaintiff was traveling, a drug-detection canine reportedly detected drugs on Plaintiff. With this information, law enforcement obtained a warrant for a hospital x-ray and Defendant Bires, an agent with the Maine Drug Enforcement Agency (MDEA), transported Plaintiff to the hospital. (Clark’s Statement of Material Facts ¶¶ 1-11; Bires and Larson’s Statement of Material Facts ¶¶ 3, 5-9.)

The x-ray revealed that Plaintiff had drugs in his body, and Defendant Bires accompanied Plaintiff to the Hancock County Jail, where Plaintiff remained until he passed the drugs with the assistance of laxatives. At the jail, Plaintiff was placed in a secure holding cell, which consisted of a small room with a glass door and two sets of windows. Defendant Bires, Corey Bagley, and Shawn Wardwell, all MDEA personnel, watched Plaintiff, who remained fully clothed while he was in the cell. When Plaintiff indicated that he was ready to pass the contraband, Defendant Bires retrieved a metal trash can lined with a plastic bag, which was provided to Plaintiff in the booking area cell. Defendant Bires also provided Plaintiff with a blanket to cover himself while passing the contraband. Plaintiff then lowered his pants, sat on the trash can, and passed the heroin. Because he had his head down, Plaintiff does not know whether anyone observed him. (Clark’s Statement ¶¶ 12-23; Bires and Larson’s Statement ¶¶ 10-16.)

Defendant William Clark is the Sheriff of Hancock County. Defendant Clark did not have any involvement, either by participation, direction, or direct supervision, in the events that occurred on November 25, 2010. In fact, Defendant Clark was not at the Jail on November 25, 2010. (Clark’s Statement ¶¶ 26-28.)

Defendant Patrick Larson is an Assistant Attorney General who prosecutes drug offenses. Defendant Larson was not present at the Jail when Plaintiff was there and had no supervisory authority over anyone who was present. In addition, Defendant Larson was not in charge of the agents who arrested Plaintiff (Bires and Larson’s Statement ¶¶ 4, 18-19.)

Plaintiff is serving a nine-year sentence for heroin and aggravated trafficking at the Maine State Prison. (Clark’s Statement ¶ 25; Bires and Larson’s Statement ¶ 1.) Although the Hancock County Jail maintains a prison grievance policy that includes final review by the Maine Department of Corrections, ...


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