United States District Court, D. Maine
ORDER AND JUDGMENT
A. WOODCOCK, JR. UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
that a defendant committed the tort of malicious prosecution,
the Court awards $1, 769, 354 in compensatory, economic, and
punitive damages in favor of a man the defendant falsely
accused of committing gross sexual assaults and assaults
against his then wife. The Court's verdict and judgment
runs against his now ex-wife's friend, who conspired with
his wife to concoct the allegations that he committed these
crimes, falsely reported these crimes to law enforcement,
encouraged his wife to make false reports to the police, and
falsely testified at his trials, resulting in his convictions
for gross sexual assault and assault of which he was later
January 9, 2015, Vladek Filler filed a civil action in the
Superior Court of Hancock County, Maine against Hancock
County, a number of government officials, and Linda Gleason.
State Ct. Record Attach. 1, Docket Record
at 2 (ECF No. 6). On February 4, 2015, the Defendants removed
Mr. Filler's lawsuit to this Court. Notice
of Removal (ECF No. 1) (Notice of Removal).
This Court and the Court of Appeals for the First Circuit
resolved issues of governmental immunity by and large in
favor of Mr. Filler. Order on Mots. to Dismiss (ECF
No. 42), 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 10777 (D. Me. Jan. 27, 2016);
Filler v. Kellett, 859 F.3d 148 (1st Cir. 2017). In
July and August 2018, Mr. Filler and all the Defendants
except Linda Gleason filed Stipulations of Dismissal with the
Court. Stip. of Dismissal with Prejudice Pursuant to
[Fed. R. Civ. P.] 41(a)(1)(A)(ii) (ECF No. 98);
Stip. of Dismissal with Prejudice Pursuant to [Fed. R.
Civ. P.] 41(a)(1)(A)(ii) (ECF No. 101); Stip. of
Dismissal with Prejudice Pursuant to [Fed. R. Civ. P.]
41(a)(1)(A)(ii) (ECF No. 103).
Filler impleaded Ms. Gleason as an original Defendant in
January 2015 and on March 17, 2015, he served a copy of the
Amended Complaint on her in South Greenfield, Missouri.
See Notice of Removal Attach. 1, Compl.,
State Ct. Record Attachs. 4-5, Am. Compl.;
Mot. for Entry of Default Against Linda Gleason Pursuant
to F.R. Civ. P. 55, Attach. 1 Proof of Serv. of
Summons and Compl., Attach. 2, Aff. of Counsel in
Support of Req. for Entry of Default as to Def. Linda Gleason
Pursuant to F.R. Civ. P. 55 (ECF No. 27). Ms. Gleason
never filed an answer to the Amended Complaint nor has she
otherwise defended the civil action. Accordingly, on May 1,
2015, Mr. Filler moved for entry of default against Ms.
Gleason and on June 1, 2015, the Deputy Clerk of Court duly
entered a default against her. Order Granting Mot. for
Entry of Default (ECF No. 33).
October 12, 2018, Mr. Filler moved for a default judgment
against Ms. Gleason. Pl.'s Mot. for Default J.
Against Def. Linda Gleason (ECF No. 106)
(Pl.'s Mot.). Mr. Filler's Amended
Complaint contains two counts against Ms. Gleason: Count
Five, a malicious prosecution count, and Count Six, a
negligent infliction of emotional distress count. Am.
Compl. ¶¶ 616-54. Mr. Filler requested a
hearing and the entry of a judgment against Ms. Gleason.
Pl.'s Mot. at 1-2.
November 9, 2018, the Court entered an order on Mr.
Filler's motion for default judgment. Order on Mot.
for Default J. (ECF No. 108). The Court allowed Mr.
Filler to proceed with an evidentiary hearing on damages,
required him to give notice of the hearing to Ms. Gleason,
and mandated that he provide evidence that Ms. Gleason had
not otherwise defended the lawsuit. Id. at 1-6. On
January 23, 2019, the Court held a default hearing on
damages. Min. Entry (ECF No. 114). Mr. Filler
appeared with his attorney, David Weyrens; Ms. Gleason did
not appear. Attorney Weyrens confirmed by affidavit that he
had a notice of the January 23, 2019 damages hearing served
on Ms. Gleason on December 17, 2018 in South Greenfield,
Missouri. Aff. of Paralegal, Andrew R. Ambrose
¶¶ 5-6 (ECF No. 110). On February 22, 2019, Mr.
Filler filed a memorandum of law in support of his claim for
damages. Pl.'s Demand for Damages Against Linda
Gleason (ECF No. 117) (Pl.'s Damages
The Allegations in the Amended Complaint
The Truth of the Factual Allegations is Assumed
party who defaults is taken to have conceded the truth of the
factual allegations in the complaint as establishing the
grounds for liability as to which damages will be
calculated.” Franco v. Selective Ins. Co., 184
F.3d 4, 9 n.3 (1st Cir. 1999); Perfect Fit, LLC v. Inmate
Legal Forms Serv., No. 1:18-cv-00239-LEW, 2019 U.S.
Dist. LEXIS 14537, at *1 (D. Me. Jan. 30, 2019) (citations
omitted). The Court turns first to the allegations in the
Amended Complaint and later describes the evidence Mr. Filler
presented at the damages hearing. In describing the
allegations in the Amended Complaint, the Court focused on
Ms. Gleason's role, but the significance of her actions
becomes meaningful in the context of the actions of others
because Ms. Gleason and others caused the sequence of tragic
events that befell Mr. Filler.
A Cautionary and Extraordinary Tale a. Ligia
Arguetta's Mental Health History
Filler's Amended Complaint tells a cautionary and
extraordinary tale. Mr. Filler says that before he knew her,
his ex-wife, Ligia Arguetta, had “a history of serious
mental problems, psychiatric treatment, and [a] history of
claims of sexual abuse and abandonment.” Am.
Compl. ¶ 40. In fact, Ms. Arguetta had “a
prior child custody dispute involving three restraining
orders, numerous claims of abuse, and criminal charges
against [her] for Assault and Battery and Assault and Battery
with a Deadly Weapon (her teeth) on one Carlos Badias who
sought parental rights to the daughter he had with Arguetta
in 1990.” Id. ¶ 41. Mr. Filler says that
when he began dating Ms. Arguetta in October 1991, he was
“unaware of her previous hospitalization and court
experiences.” Id. ¶ 42.
Vladek Filler and Ligia Arguetta's Relationship:
Filler and Ms. Arguetta moved in together in 1994 and were
married in October 1995. Id. ¶ 43. Mr. Filler
and Ms. Arguetta had been intimate partners for sixteen years
and married for twelve, producing two sons. Id.
¶ 37. Ms. Arguetta brought a daughter, Natasha, to the
marriage and Mr. Filler “raised and mentored”
Natasha from the time she was one year old. Id.
¶ 38. In May of 2004, Mr. Filler, Ms. Arguetta and their
family moved to coastal Maine, where Mr. Filler worked from
home and cared for the three children and for Ms. Arguetta.
Id. ¶ 45. Mr. Filler owned an historic
1800's timber-framed project house in Gouldsboro, Maine
that overlooked Frenchman Bay and Mount Desert Island and the
family moved into the house in May 2004. Id. ¶
The Filler-Arguetta Marriage Deteriorates: 2007
in Maine, Ms. Arguetta's mental health deteriorated and
she was prescribed medications “with daily doses
reaching some twenty-four pills.” Id. ¶
46. By 2007, Mr. Filler's and Ms. Arguetta's marriage
had “deteriorated beyond repair and the parties were in
the midst of a separation initiated by [Mr. Filler].”
Id. ¶ 48. Mr. Filler “openly made plans
and arrangements to relocate with the children to the state
of Georgia to live with relatives.” Id. ¶
Linda Gleason and Ligia Arguetta
Gleason was “a registered nurse working at the Maine
Coast Memorial Hospital and Mount Desert Island
Hospital.” Id. ¶ 617. Ms. Gleason also
“taught a nursing course at Sumner High School Adult
Education.” Id. In 2007, Ms. Gleason was
unmarried and residing alone in a new three-bedroom house in
Steuben, Maine. Id. ¶ 618. Ms. Gleason met Ms.
Arguetta when Ms. Arguetta took her “adult education
certified nurs[es] aid[e] class, beginning in January
2007.” Id. ¶ 619. Over the next few
months, Ms. Gleason and Ms. Arguetta developed “a close
relationship.” Id. ¶ 620. Ms. Arguetta
informed Ms. Gleason that Mr. Filler “intended to leave
[Ms.] Arguetta and move back to his family's home in
Georgia and take his two sons with him.” Id.
Ligia Arguetta and Linda Gleason Concoct a Plan
Arguetta and Linda Gleason “conspired to concoct a plan
which would allow [Ms.] Arguetta to keep custody of her two
sons” and the plan “included [Ms.] Arguetta and
her children residing at [Ms.] Gleason's home in
Steuben.” Id. ¶¶ 622-23. On April
21, 2007, Ms. Arguetta “in fact moved into [Ms.]
Gleason's Steuben home, along with her daughter and
one-year-old son.” Id. ¶ 624. “This
move was part of the plan, and was in place prior to April
21, 2007.” Id. It “was agreed between
[Ms.] Gleason and [Ms.] Arguetta that [Ms.] Arguetta would
falsely accuse [Mr. Filler] of simple assault and gross
sexual assault.” Id. ¶ 625. “The
purpose of this was to promote [Ms.] Arguetta obtaining
custody of the children, to subject [Mr.] Filler to false and
malicious prosecution, and preclude him from maintaining a
relationship of any kind with his children.”
Id. ¶ 626.
April 2007: Ligia Arguetta's Allegations, Linda Gleason
and Initial Police Involvement
the date of [Mr. Filler's] departure approached, on April
21, 2007, [Ms.] Arguetta unexpectedly took their one-year-old
son and relocated to live with an unknown new friend at an
undisclosed location in another county.” Id.
¶ 51. In an “effort to gain physical custody of
the couple's ten-year-old son, [Ms.] Arguetta engaged the
police and began making numerous allegations of abuse.”
Id. ¶ 52.
April 22, 2007, Linda Gleason, Ms. Arguetta's new friend,
“called the Gouldsboro police to go over to [Mr.
Filler's] house and ‘get' the couple's
ten-year-old son and deliver him . . . to [Ms.]
Arguetta's custody.” Id. ¶ 75.
Gouldsboro police “only agreed to get involved if [Ms.]
Arguetta was a victim of abuse, ” and Ms. Arguetta
“then took the phone and claimed she was a victim of
being ‘pushed' by [Mr. Filler] two days earlier on
April 20, 2007.” Id. ¶ 76. Gouldsboro
Police Sergeant Harry Larrabee “later testified he
could hear [Ms.] Arguetta's friend Linda Gleason
‘in the background advising her' to make claims of
sexual abuse.” Id. ¶ 77.
meeting Ms. Arguetta or Ms. Gleason in person, Gouldsboro
police officers drove directly to Mr. Filler's home and
“separately interviewed [Mr. Filler] and his
ten-year-old son. Both denied [Ms.] Arguetta's
allegations and according to Sgt. Larrabee, [Mr. Filler]
appeared to have no prior knowledge that police were coming
to interview him.” Id. ¶ 78. The
ten-year-old reported prior incidents of witnessing his
mother assault and punch his father; however, other than an
argument, no physical contact at all took place on the night
[of April 20, 2007].” Id. ¶ 79. The
ten-year-old “refused to be taken to his mother or live
with her.” Id. ¶ 80.
Filler “informed Gouldsboro Police that he and [Ms.]
Arguetta were in the middle of separation and a child custody
dispute and that [Ms.] Arguetta was clearly attempting to
gain an advantage in their child custody dispute as she
employed identical tactics in another custody fight with the
father of her daughter in Massachusetts.” Id.
¶ 81. Mr. Filler “reported he never assaulted
[Ms.] Arguetta but suffered physical violence from [her]
including being hit and punched in the face in front of the
children and that he didn't call the police because he
was a man.” Id. ¶ 82. Mr. Filler
“reported [Ms.] Arguetta was on numerous medications,
and had previous criminal charges for attacking the father of
her first child in Massachusetts.” Id. ¶
83. Gouldsboro police “still issued a summons to [Mr.
Filler] for simple assault and then traveled to meet and
interview [Ms.] Arguetta and her friend Linda Gleason for the
first time.” Id. ¶ 84.
Sergeant Larrabee's April 22, 2007 Interview of Ligia
the police arrived at Linda Gleason's residence, and
Ligia Arguetta observed that they did not have her
ten-year-old son with them, she “collapsed in her
friend's driveway.” Id. ¶ 85.
Sergeant Larrabee interviewed Ms. Arguetta and inspected her
arms, finding no bruises or markings of any kind, two days
after the alleged assault. Id. ¶ 86. Before
leaving, Sergeant Larrabee advised Ms. Arguetta to get a
physical examination at one of the two local hospitals and
provide him with a medical release required for his
investigation. Id. ¶ 87.
Chief Wycoff's April 23, 2007 Interview of Ligia
April 23, 2007, Ligia Arguetta met with town of Gouldsboro
Chief of Police Guy Wycoff at Ms. Gleason's residence.
Id. ¶ 88. At that time, Mr. Filler had been
ordered to stay out of his house so that Ms. Arguetta could
retrieve her belongings. Id. At Ms. Gleason's
house, Ms. Arguetta showed Chief Wycoff a new bruise on her
upper arm and she alleged that Mr. Filler had caused the
bruise during his alleged altercation with her three days
before. Id. ¶ 89. Chief Wycoff took photographs
of Ms. Arguetta showing her bruise. Id. ¶ 90.
Ligia Arguetta Suffers a Mental Breakdown
after Ms. Arguetta began to act “delusional and
psychotic” one moment and “calm and
calculating” another moment. Id. ¶ 117.
Ms. Arguetta was intent upon regaining custody of her
ten-year-old son, who was still with Mr. Filler, and after a
series of escalating claims, on April 24, 2007, she claimed
that he had sexually assaulted her. Id. ¶¶
116-19. After failing to convince her seventeen-year-old
daughter to claim that Mr. Filler had molested her, Ms.
Arguetta headed down the road on foot with her one-year-old
son in tow with the intention of going to Mr. Filler's
residence and retrieving their ten-year-old son. Id.
¶¶ 121-23. She was “spotted and apprehended
by Deputy Willey, Deputy Crabtree and Lieutenant Denbow
running on the road barefoot ‘only in a bra' and
pants with a child while screaming she would cut her husband
into pieces and kill Deputy Willey.” Id.
¶ 124. Ultimately on April 24, 2007, she was taken to
Machias Hospital “and involuntarily hospitalized for
psychiatric observation and physical examination.”
Id. ¶ 143.
The April 25, 2007 Chief Wycoff Videotaped
Gleason was “the first one to promote that [Ms.]
Arguetta should tell the police she had been sexually
assaulted by Plaintiff.” Id. ¶ 627. On
April 25, 2007, Ms. Gleason “made arrangements to pick
up [Ms.] Arguetta at the Next Steps facility (a women's
shelter) following [her] involuntary psychiatric
hospitalization on April 24, 2007 as a result of a psychotic
episode” and Ms. Gleason brought Ms. Arguetta to the
Hancock County District Attorney's Office to give a taped
interview to Gouldsboro Chief Wycoff and Detective Stephen
McFarland. Id. ¶¶ 630-31, 146. Ms. Gleason
“knew that [Ms.] Arguetta did not eat or sleep between
April 21, 2007 and April 24, 2007, and that when [Ms.]
Gleason left [Ms.] Arguetta the morning of April 24, 2007 to
go to work, [Ms.] Arguetta was in a state of total confusion,
and was rambling in a paranoid fashion.” Id.
¶ 634. Ms. Gleason was aware that Ms. Arguetta
“was suffering a psychotic episode brought about in
part because [Ms.] Arguetta could not tolerate the thought of
[Mr. Filler] getting custody of the children.”
interview, Chief Wycoff allowed Ms. Gleason “who has
never met [Mr. Filler], to sit in during the entire
interview, and then to submit her own ‘witness
statements' to help corroborate Ms. Arguetta's
claims.” Id. ¶ 148. At the time of the
interview, Ms. Gleason knew that Ms. Arguetta was
“mentally unsound.” Id. ¶ 628.
about an hour, when the interview was coming to a close,
Chief Wycoff left the room. Id. ¶ 149. The
videorecorder was still recording as Ms. Arguetta
“admitted to her friend that her report of sexual abuse
against her husband was her way of ‘fighting for the
children.'” Id. Ms. Gleason advised Ms.
Arguetta “to cry during the interview to make the story
of spousal rape ‘seem real.'” Id.
¶¶ 150, 632. Ms. Arguetta “calmly put lip
gloss or lip balm on, and told Linda Gleason that she
didn't feel like crying, but Linda Gleason repeatedly
urged her to cry stating that ‘it wouldn't seem
real' unless [Ms.] Arguetta cried during the
interview.” Id. ¶ 151. Ms. Arguetta
“expressed some strategic concerns about claims she was
making against her husband making her sound less
believable.” Id. ¶ 152. When Chief Wycoff
returned to the room and briefly resumed the interview, Ms.
Arguetta “began crying hysterically.”
Id. ¶ 153.
Vladek Filler April 26, 2007 Arrest
April 26, 2007, Mr. Filler “was charged and arrested on
a claim that he raped his wife on April 6, 2007 . . .
because, according to [Ms.] Arguetta, ‘He was very
upset that I spent money from his bank account to have my
hair cut.'” Id. ¶¶ 163, 165.
“No investigation beyond [Ms.] Arguetta's claims
was done prior to [Mr. Filler's] arrest” and
“[b]oth [Mr. Filler's] joint and business bank
account records showed no money being withdrawn by anyone at
any time on or around April 6, 2007.” Id.
Linda Gleason Witness Statement
week after the April 25, 2007 Wycoff interview, the police
to complete a witness statement, which was incorporated into
the discovery the state disclosed to Mr. Filler. Id.
Linda Gleason Knowledge, False Reports, False Comments, and
Gleason was aware that Mr. Filler “had at no time
sexually assaulted [Ms.] Arguetta and that the sexual
assaults were a total fabrication.” Id. ¶
on April 29, 2007, Ms. Gleason “filed a police report
including false information.” Id. ¶ 636.
Ms. Gleason wrote “comments on the internet to stories
linked to newspaper articles related to the alleged events,
and which were designed to spread false information and to
incite hatred and ridicule in the community against [Mr.
Filler].” Id. ¶ 637.
first trial in January 2009, Ms. Gleason “falsely
testified that she saw a bruise on [Ms.] Arguetta's arm
when [Ms.] Arguetta moved into [Ms.] Gleason's home on
April 21, 2007.” Id. ¶¶ 638-39. Ms.
Gleason also “lied that she had not ‘coached'
[Ms.] Arguetta during the April 25, 2007 Wycoff
interview.” Id. ¶ 640. Ms. Gleason
“took these actions knowingly, lacking probable cause
to believe the allegations of gross sexual assault or the
allegations of simple assault.” Id. ¶
641. Ms. Gleason “conspired with [Ms.] Arguetta to
promote the false allegations for the purpose of having [Mr.
Filler] charged criminally, and convicted.”
Id. ¶ 642. Ms. Gleason took these actions with
malice and as a “direct, substantial, proximate, and
foreseeable result of [Ms.] Gleason's malicious conduct,
criminal charges were initiated and continued against [Mr.
Filler].” Id. ¶ 645.
State v. Filler, No. ELLSC-CR-2007-00135: April 27,
2007 to April 24, 2015
the damages hearing, Mr. Filler filed certified copies of six
exhibits, reflecting the travel of the state of Maine's
criminal case against him. Pl.'s Damages
Demand at 2, Attachs. 1-7. The Court admits these
exhibits. The first exhibit is the docket record of the case
against Mr. Filler. Pl.'s Ex. 1 at 1-24
(State Docket Record).
docket reflects that on April 27, 2007, the state charged
seven counts against Mr. Filler:
(1) gross sexual assault, Class A, an alleged violation of
17-A M.R.S. § 253(1)(A),
(2) assault, Class D, an alleged violation of 17-A M.R.S.
(3) gross sexual assault, Class A, an alleged violation of
17-A M.R.S. § 253(1)(A),
(4) gross sexual assault, Class A, an alleged violation of
17-A M.R.S. § 253(1)(A),
(5) gross sexual assault, Class A, an alleged violation of
17-A M.R.S. § 253(1)(A),
(6) gross sexual assault, Class A, an alleged violation of
17-A M.R.S. § 253(1)(A), and
(7) assault, Class D, an alleged violation of 17-A M.R.S.
Id. at 1.
docket record reflects that a jury trial took place from
January 12, 2009 to January 15, 2009, and on January 15,
2009, the jury returned verdicts, convicting Mr. Filler of
Count I, gross sexual assault, Count II, assault, and Count
VII, assault. Id. at 7. The jury returned not guilty
verdicts on Count III, gross sexual assault, Count IV, gross
sexual assault, Count V, gross sexual assault, and Count VI,
gross sexual assault. Id. Immediately following the
verdicts, Mr. Filler filed a motion for new trial
“based on prosecutorial misconduct and the court's
error in excluding from evidence the protection from abuse
complaints and the divorce complaint, initiated by his
wife.” State v. Filler, 2010 ME 90, ¶ 8,
3 A.3d 365. On March 2, 2009, the Superior Court Justice
granted the motion for new trial and on March 5, 2009, the
state of Maine filed a motion for further findings of fact
and conclusions of law. Id. ¶¶ 8-10. In
regard to the state of Maine's motion for further
findings of fact and conclusions of law, the Superior Court
Justice held “the interest of justice required . . . a
new trial [because the] state[']s arguments were on facts
not presented by the defendant as a result of rulings by the
court during the trial, thereby creating the high likelihood
of unfairly prejudicing the [defendant] in the eyes of the
jury.” State Docket Record at 8.
March 31, 2009, however, the state of Maine, with the
approval of the Attorney General, appealed to the Maine
Supreme Judicial Court the trial judge's granting of a
new trial. Id. Mr. Filler cross-appealed the same
day. Id. The Maine Supreme Judicial Court affirmed
the trial court judgment granting Mr. Filler's motion and