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Amato v. Barone

United States District Court, D. Massachusetts

June 1, 2015

JOSEPH AMATO, Plaintiff,
v.
MICHAEL BARONE and THOMAS STEELE, Defendants.

MEMORANDUM & ORDER

INDIRA TALWANI, District Judge.

. Introduction

Plaintiff Joseph Amato ("Amato") alleges that on December 24, 2012, he was arrested in his home, taken outside in public view, and transported to the police station while nude from the waist down. Amato now brings claims against the arresting officers, Defendants Michael Barone ("Officer Barone") and Thomas Steele ("Sergeant Steele"), for an unreasonable seizure under the Fourth Amendment and a violation of privacy and civil rights under state statutory law. Finding summary judgment unwarranted on all claims, the court hereby DENIES Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment [#24].

I. Factual Background

For the purposes of summary judgment, the court views the evidence in the light most favorable to Amato and resolves any disputes of material fact in his favor. See Prescott v. Higgins, 538 F.3d 32, 39 (1st Cir. 2008).

On December 24, 2012, Officer Barone and Sergeant Steele responded to a report of a domestic disturbance between Amato and his partner Christian Peters.[1] See Defs.' Concise Statement Material Facts Record Which The Moving Party Contends There Is No Genuine Issue To Be Tried ¶ 1 [#26] [hereinafter Defs.' Facts]. Officer Barone and Sergeant Steele found Peters at the home of a neighbor, Brenda LeBlanc ("LeBlanc"). Id.

After speaking with Peters, the officers conducted an initial search of all areas of Amato and Peters' home save for a locked office, the doorway to which was not opened after the officers knocked and announced their presence. Id . After speaking with Peters again, the officer returned to the home and again knocked on the locked office door and identified themselves. Id . Amato opened the door dressed only in a sweatshirt and a blanket wrapped around his body. Id . ¶¶ 2, 13-14; Plaintiff's L.R. 56.1 Statement of Material Facts Opp'n Defs.' Mot. Summ. J., Ex. A Amato Dep. 34:12-18 [#33-1] [hereinafter Pl.'s Facts].

The officers immediately placed Amato under arrest and handcuffed him as he stood in the doorway of the office. Defs.' Facts ¶¶ 3, 18, 64; Pl.'s Facts Ex. A Amato Dep. 37:18-23, 43:8-10. As he was being handcuffed, the blanket Amato had wrapped around his body fell off. Defs.' Facts ¶ 27; Pl.'s Facts ¶ 1. Amato was left wearing only a sweatshirt that ended at his waist, leaving his genitalia and buttocks exposed.[2] Pl.'s Facts ¶ 1.

Amato was compliant throughout his arrest. Pl.'s Facts, Ex. C Steele Dep. 84:10-15; Defs.' Resps. Pl.'s L.R. 56.1 Statement Material Facts Opp'n Mot. Summ. J., ¶ 10 [#36] [hereainafter Defs.' Resps.] (admitting that Amato was compliant and did not resist arrest). After the blanket fell to the floor, Amato asked that he be allowed to put on his pants, which were lying approximately three feet away. Defs.' Facts ¶¶ 20-21, Pl.'s Facts ¶ 11, Ex. A Amato Dep. 42:24-43:10. The officers refused Amato's request, and Sergeant Steele told him to "shut the f**k up." Pl.'s Facts ¶ 11. Officer Barone picked up Amato's pants and carried them with him. Defs.' Facts at 67; Pl.'s Facts ¶ 12. At this time, Sergeant Steele told Amato "Merry f**cking Christmas." Pl.'s Facts at ¶ 12. Amato repeated his request to be allowed to put on pants several times.[3] Id. at ¶ 17.

Peters was not inside the residence or within sight of Amato at the time Amato was arrested. See Defs.' Facts ¶ 61, Ex E Barone Dep. 42:7-43:6 ("Was Christian Peters with you [when you returned to the house]?" "No... [t]he last I had seen him, he was still down at the reporting party's apartment."); Pl.'s Facts ¶ 13, Ex. B Peters Dep. 38:7-39:18 (explaining that Peters stood on an outside deck, where he could hear but not see Amato).

Officer Barone and Sergeant Steele led Amato, wearing only the sweatshirt, outside and down his driveway to a police vehicle at the bottom of the hill. Id . ¶ 16; see also Defs.' Facts ¶ 24. During this walk, Amato was visible to the officers, LeBlanc, a friend of LeBlanc, Peters, and the staff of an ambulance that had responded to the reported disturbance.[4] Defs.' Facts ¶ 54; Pl.'s Facts 16. At the bottom of the driveway, Peters approached Defendants with a pair of sweatpants and requested that he be allowed to give them to Amato. Pl.'s Facts ¶ 17. Defendants refused this request. Id.

Officer Barone transported Amato approximately five minutes by car to the police station.[5] Def.'s Facts ¶ 30; Pl.'s Facts ¶ 20. Upon entering the station, Amato was allowed to put on pants in the station's booking area. Def.'s Facts ¶ 30; Pl.'s Facts ¶¶ 20-21, Ex. D Barone Dep. 58:17-59:1. This booking area is monitored by a police officer via video camera. Pl.'s Facts ¶ 21; Defs.' Resps. ¶ 21.

II. Discussion

A. Standard of Review


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