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Maddocks v. Portland Police Department

United States District Court, D. Maine

January 30, 2017




         In this action, Plaintiff Dale Maddocks alleges Defendants, including Defendants Portland Police Department and certain of its command staff and officers (“Portland Defendants”), violated his constitutional rights in connection with an arrest and detention in May 2013.

         The matter is before the Court on the motion for summary judgment of the Portland Defendants. (Motion for Summary Judgment, ECF No. 50.) Through the motion, the Portland Defendants seek summary judgment on all of the claims (counts I, II, III, IV, V, IX, X, XI, and XV of the amended complaint) asserted against them.

         Following a review of the summary judgment record, I recommend the Court grant the motion for summary judgment.

         Summary Judgment Record

         At summary judgment, the Court ordinarily considers only the facts included in the parties' statements of material facts, which statements must be supported by citations to evidence of record. Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(c) and District of Maine Local Rule 56(b) - (d) require the specific citation to record evidence. In addition, Local Rule 56 establishes the manner by which parties must present their factual statements and the evidence on which the statements depend. A party seeking summary judgment thus must file a supporting statement of material facts setting forth each fact in a separately numbered paragraph, with each factual statement followed by a citation to evidence of record that supports the factual statement. D. Me. Loc. R. 56(b), (f).

         A party seeking to oppose a properly filed and supported motion for summary judgment must file an opposing statement of material facts that admits, denies, or qualifies the factual statements made by the moving party. D. Me. Loc. R. 56(c). Unless a statement is admitted, the opposing party must provide a citation to evidence of record that supports the opposing statement. Id. If a party fails to do so, the moving party's factual statements “shall be deemed admitted.” D. Me. Loc. R. 56(f). Moreover, pursuant to Local Rule 7(b), parties are expected to file an objection to a motion if they contest the motion, and unless they do so are “deemed to have waived objection.”

         A court, however, “may not automatically grant a motion for summary judgment simply because the opposing party failed to comply with a local rule requiring a response within a certain number of days.” NEPSK, Inc. v. Town of Houlton, 283 F.3d 1, 7-8 (1st Cir. 2002). Instead, courts must assess whether the movant has shown “that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a).

         In this case, the summary judgment record consists of the Local Rule 56 record filed by the Portland Defendants. Plaintiff's First Amended Complaint (Complaint, ECF No. 19) is unsworn and Plaintiff did not file an opposing statement of material facts or any record material.

         Background Facts

         In his amended complaint, Plaintiff alleges that members of the Portland, Maine, police force falsely arrested him on May 8, 2013. (Complaint ¶¶ 10 -15, 91 - 92.)[1] Plaintiff further asserts that following his arrest, certain county employees used excessive force against him and subjected him to unconstitutional conditions of confinement during his overnight detention at the Cumberland County Jail. (Id. ¶¶ 16 - 23.)

         Plaintiff also maintains the Portland Police Chief (Defendant Michael Sauschuck), who is responsible for establishing the policies and procedures for the training of Portland police officers, inadequately trained, supervised and/or disciplined on the issue of probable cause with respect to a person's right to carry a firearm and thus Plaintiff's claims are in part based on an unconstitutional policy, custom, or practice of the City of Portland. (Id. ¶¶ 52 - 54, 58 - 59, 79 - 81.) Plaintiff asserts his claims pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and the Maine Civil Rights Act, 5 M.R.S. § 4682.

         The uncontroverted record evidence establishes the following:

         1. On the evening of May 8, 2013, Portland Police Officers Brown and Johnson, and Sergeant Gorham, responded to a report that a female was on the ground, screaming, and throwing items into traffic.

         2. Upon arrival at the scene, Sgt. Gorham and Officers Brown and Johnson found the woman sitting on the sidewalk with no shoes on, visibly upset.

         3. The woman appeared to be intoxicated, as she slurred her words and kept repeating that she was from Ellsworth and wanted to go home to Ellsworth.

         4. The Portland officers decided that they needed to bring the woman to a safe location for the evening and she accepted their offer to transport her to a shelter.

         5. As Officer Brown was about to provide a ride to the shelter, a male, later identified as Plaintiff, suddenly approached Sgt. Gorham and Officers Brown and Johnson.[2]

         6. Plaintiff stated that the woman was his girlfriend and that he would take care of her.

         7. After speaking with the Portland officers for over a minute, Plaintiff moved in a way that caused his leather bomber jacket to move up slightly and expose the bottom inch or two of what appeared to Sgt. Gorham to be the barrel of a handgun.

         8. As Sgt. Gorham looked closer, he could see a large bulge under Plaintiff's jacket at waist level and, believing that Plaintiff may be concealing a firearm under his jacket, asked him what was on his hip.

         9. When Plaintiff responded to Sgt. Gorham that it was a Colt Commander, Sgt. Gorham took hold of Plaintiff's arm to keep it away from his hip and moved Plaintiff's jacket back to expose a handgun in a holster.[3]

         10. Sgt. Gorham removed the handgun from the holster and, as Plaintiff became angry and uncooperative, Officer Brown handcuffed Plaintiff and searched him for additional weapons.

         11. Sgt. Gorham and Officer Johnson did not observe anything in the way Plaintiff was handcuffed that conflicted with the procedure taught at the Maine Criminal Justice Academy, that was unnecessarily forceful, or that represented anything but a routine handcuffing.

         12. Other than in the course of handcuffing Plaintiff, the Portland officers did not use any physical force against Plaintiff.

         13. Officer Brown located two loaded magazines that contained hollow point ammunition in Plaintiff's left rear pocket of his pants and a folding knife in a small case on his left hip.

         14. Plaintiff became combative and more uncooperative. He insisted that his firearm was not concealed, that the officers should take him ...

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