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Goodhile v. Gribbons

United States District Court, D. Massachusetts

May 16, 2016

CYNTHIA A. GOODHILE, as Personal Representative of the Estate of ARNOLD GOODHILE, and CYNTHIA GOODHILE, Plaintiff,
v.
ANTHONY GRIBBONS and TOWN OF HOLDEN, Defendants.

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER ON DEFENDANTS’ MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT (DOCKET NO. 50), PLAINTIFF’S CROSS-MOTION FOR PARTIAL SUMMARY JUDGMENT (DOCKET NO. 64), PLAINTIFF’S MOTION TO STRIKE (DOCKET NO. 63), AND PLAINTIFF’S SUPPLEMENTAL MOTION TO STRIKE (DOCKET NO. 71)

TIMOTHY S. HILLMAN, DISTRICT JUDGE

Cynthia Goodhile brought this suit on behalf of her husband, Arnold Goodhile, who passed away approximately two months after a violent encounter with members of the Holden police department. Mr. Goodhile was seventy-six years old at the time of the incident and suffered from Alzheimer’s disease. Mrs. Goodhile alleges excessive force and various common-law causes of action against the Town of Holden and Officer Anthony Gribbons (collectively, Defendants). Defendants move for summary judgment, and Mrs. Goodhile cross-moves for partial summary judgment on her negligence claim. Mrs. Goodhile also moves to strike two paragraphs from Defendants’ statement of material facts, as well as a photograph attached thereto.

For the reason set forth below, Defendants’ motion for summary judgment (Docket No. 50) is granted with regard to count IV, and denied with regard to counts I, II, III, and VIII. Plaintiff’s cross-motion for partial summary judgment (Docket No. 64) is denied. Plaintiff’s motion to strike (Docket No. 63) is denied as to paragraph 7 of Defendants’ statement of material facts, and granted as to paragraph 41. Plaintiff’s supplemental motion to strike (Docket No. 71) is granted.

Background

On July 7, 2011, at around 6:30 a.m., Cynthia Goodhile saw her seventy-six-year-old husband, Arnold Goodhile, walk by the dining room of their house, dressed and heading out the door. Mr. Goodhile had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in 2007 or 2008. His disease was in a “slowly progressive” status, but he remained “physically able.” (Docket No. 52-1 at 11.) Mrs. Goodhile followed Mr. Goodhile to the door, down the stairs toward the driveway, and asked him where he was headed. He turned toward her but did not answer her question. When he turned, Mrs. Goodhile saw that he was carrying a sheathed fishing knife. Mrs. Goodhile asked him again where he was going, and again he did not respond. He continued down the stairs to the driveway. Mrs. Goodhile went back inside the house and called 911. Her conversation with the dispatcher went as follows:

Dispatcher: 911 This line is recorded, what’s your emergency?
Caller: My name is Cyndi Goodhile, I live at -------- . My husband has Alzheimer’s, and um, he is a little bit out of control this morning he just walked out the house down towards Goodhile’s store and he’s got a like a fishing knife in his hand
Dispatcher: Ok, he’s heading toward Goodhile’s?
Caller: Yup, down towards the store, we live at -------- right around the corner from the store
Dispatcher: OK Cyndi, what’s your phone number?
Caller: --------
Dispatcher: --------
Caller: Yup
Dispatcher: Ok I will send an officer down and see if we can (inaudible)… OK
Caller: Thank you, bye bye.
Dispatcher: Bye bye.

(Docket No. 52-2 at 2.)

The dispatcher, David Glasberg, radioed Officer Anthony Gribbons. Glasberg did not tell Gribbons that Mr. Goodhile had Alzheimer’s disease. And, he construed Mrs. Goodhile’s statement that “he is a little bit out of control this morning” to mean that he might do harm to himself. The communication between Glasberg and Gribbons went as follows:

Dispatcher: H to 34 [Gribbons]
Responder: Go ahead H
Dispatcher: Ah, can you swing down to ah, from -------- and head towards Goodhile’s, I have a party calling reporting her husband ah is is heading down that direction ah with a knife in his hand she is afraid he might do harm to himself, again that was ah call from -------- heading toward Goodhile’s.
Responder: Received, do you have a name there?
Dispatcher: Ah, reporting party was Cindy, ah, actually last name Goodhile, ah, party in question is Arnold Goodhile
Responder: Coming from Malden at Redgate
Dispatcher: Received
Responder: (Inaudible)… I’m coming from the station
Responder: (Inaudible)… H is he on foot or in a vehicle?
Dispatcher: Ah, he’s on foot at ...

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