United States District Court, D. Massachusetts
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER ON DEFENDANTS’ MOTIONS FOR
SUMMARY JUDGMENT AND MOTIONS TO STRIKE
DENNIS SAYLOR IV, United States District Judge
a civil rights action arising out of an incident at Logan
Airport in Boston between plaintiff Jason Cabot and defendant
William Lewis, a Massachusetts State Police
Trooper.Cabot was arrested, strip-searched, and
charged with assault and battery on a police officer.
Eventually, he accepted a disposition of pretrial probation
that resulted in the dismissal of the charges. He now asserts
federal and state civil rights claims, as well as various
tort claims, against the officers involved in his arrest. He
alleges, in essence, that he was arrested without probable
cause and in retaliation for seeking to file a complaint
against Officer Lewis. He also alleges that he was
unreasonably strip-searched in violation of the Fourth
have moved for summary judgment on the ground that all of
plaintiff’s claims are barred by the rule of Heck
v. Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477 (1994). For the reasons stated
below, those motions will be granted in part and denied in
following facts are either undisputed or taken in the light
most favorable to Cabot as the non-moving party.
August 8, 2011, Jason Cabot was at Logan International
Airport in Boston with a friend named Maksim Sigal. Although
not entirely clear from the record, it appears that Cabot
became involved in some kind of incident in the terminal with
a United Airlines employee and a Massachusetts State Trooper.
(Cabot Dep. at 97-99).
then went to the State Police barracks at Logan to obtain the
name of the United Airlines employee and to file a complaint
about Trooper. (Id.). Sigal drove him from the
terminal to the barracks and waited in the car while Cabot
went inside. (Id. at 99-100).
entered the lobby of the barracks and approached defendant
John Fallon, a Massachusetts State Police Sergeant, who was
sitting behind the reception window. (Id. at
101-02). Cabot told Fallon that he had a negative encounter
with a United Airlines employee as well as a state trooper at
the airport, and that he wanted to get the name of the
employee and to file a complaint against that trooper.
(Id. at 102-03). Fallon told him to have a seat and
that someone would be right with him. (Id. at 103).
Cabot took a seat in the lobby. (Id. at 104).
time later, Cabot received a phone call from Sigal, who was
waiting in the car, asking how much longer he was going to
be. (Id. at 109). Cabot alleges that during that
call William Lewis, a Massachusetts State Police Lieutenant,
entered the lobby from the parking lot and asked, in an
aggressive tone, “Are you on the telephone with that
guy outside?” (Id. at 109, 111-13). Cabot said
that he was. (Id. at 112). Lewis then allegedly
scoffed and said, “That’s ridiculous.”
(Id. at 112). Lewis then proceeded into the secure
area of the barracks. (Id. at 113).
his encounter with Lewis, Cabot returned to the reception
window and asked Lewis for his name and badge number.
(Id. at 117). At that point, only Lewis was behind
the reception window; Fallon was no longer present.
(Id.). According to Cabot, Lewis allegedly yelled,
“You want my name? I’ll give you my name”
in an aggressive and threatening manner. (Id. at
118). Lewis then walked from the secure area back into the
point, Cabot began videotaping the encounter with his
cellphone. (Id. at 123). According to Cabot, Lewis
began yelling at him and threatened to arrest him.
(Id. at 125). Cabot alleges that he asked what he
was going to be arrested for, and Lewis responded, “For
aggravating me.” (Id.). He further alleges
that Lewis then demanded Cabot tell him his age. When Cabot
refused to provide it, Lewis arrested him.
asked what he was being arrested for. Lewis responded,
“You chest-bumped me.” (Id. at 134).
Cabot denies doing so. (Id.). According to Cabot,
the first physical contact between the two was when Lewis
grabbed him, told him he was under arrest, and pushed him
against the wall. (Id.).
who was not present during the argument, came into the lobby
to assist Lewis with the arrest. (Id. at 137).
According to Fallon, he was in the secure area of the
barracks when he looked up and saw Cabot throw his shoulders
and elbows back and chest-bump Lewis. (Fallon Dep. at 34).
Lewis also testified that Cabot chest-bumped him. (Lewis Dep.
the incident, Lewis completed a police report and an
Application for Criminal Complaint. (Def. Lewis Ex. 3).
According to those documents, Cabot was arrested for assault
and battery on a police officer. (Id.).
was booked and escorted to a holding cell. (Cabot Dep. at
147). Fallon asked Cabot to stand in front of the holding
cell and remove his clothes. (Id. at 149). Fallon
then performed a visual strip-search of Cabot.
(Id.). Following the search, Cabot got dressed again
and was placed into the holding cell. (Id.).
Suffolk County District Attorney’s office prosecuted
Cabot for one count of assault and battery on a police
officer under Mass. Gen. Laws. ch. 263 § 13D. (Def. SMF
¶ 12). He was arraigned on August 12, 2011.
February 17, 2012, Cabot accepted a disposition of three
months’ pretrial probation pursuant to Mass. Gen. Laws.
ch. 276, § 87. (Id.). The probation was
unsupervised. (Def. Ex. 5). The district judge also ordered a
“written letter of apology to be submitted
forthwith.” (Id.). No court costs or
restitution were ordered. (Id.).
successful completion of the terms of that probation, the
criminal case was dismissed on or about May 17, 2012.
complaint in this action was originally filed on August 9,
2013, with an amended complaint filed on June 20, 2014. The
amended complaint alleges ten claims, each against both
defendants Lewis and Fallon: deprivation of rights under 42
U.S.C. § 1983 (Count 1); deprivation of rights under the
Massachusetts Civil Rights Act (“MCRA”), Mass.
Gen. Laws ch. 12, § 11I (Count 2); battery (Count 3);
assault (Count 4); false imprisonment (Count 5); false arrest
(Count 6); intentional infliction of emotional distress
(“IIED”) (Count 7); defamation (Count 8); abuse
of process (Count 9); and malicious prosecution (Count 10).
and Lewis have separately moved for summary judgment on all
claims. In his oppositions to defendants’ motions for
summary judgment, Cabot agreed to voluntarily dismiss the
defamation claim as to both defendants as well as the
malicious prosecution and abuse of process claims as to
with his opposition to Fallon’s motion for summary
judgment, Cabot filed a declaration in which he stated that
he had been falsely arrested and that he had never
chest-bumped Lewis. He also provided a transcript of the
recording that he had captured on his cellphone. The
declaration also explained his reasoning for accepting the
disposition of pretrial probation, including advice he
received from counsel. Fallon has moved to strike that
Motion to Strike
general matter, only evidence that would be admissible at
trial may be considered by the court on summary judgment.
See Garside v. Osco Drug, Inc., 895 F.2d 46, 49-51
(1st Cir. 1990). Under Rule 56(e), affidavits-although not
themselves admissible at trial-may be offered in support of,
or opposition to, summary judgment if they set forth facts
that would be admissible at trial. See Fed. R. Evid.
56(e). A motion to strike is the proper vehicle for
challenging the admissibility of evidence offered at summary
judgment. See Casas Office Machines, Inc. v. Mita
Copystart Am., Inc., 42 F.3d 668, 682 (1st Cir. 1994).
The moving party must specify the objectionable portions of
the opposing party’s summary judgment materials along
with the grounds for objection. Id.
“Furthermore, a court will disregard only those
portions of an affidavit that are inadmissible and consider
the rest of it.” Id.
statements included in plaintiff’s declaration are
irrelevant to defendants’ motions for summary judgment.
Defendants have moved for summary judgment only on the ground
that plaintiff’s claims are barred by the rule of
Heck v. Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477 (1994). The issue
before the Court, therefore, is the narrow question of
whether plaintiff’s acceptance of pretrial probation
bars his claims. For present purposes, it is irrelevant
whether plaintiff was in fact arrested without probable
cause, whether he in fact chest-bumped Lewis, or even why he
accepted the disposition of pretrial probation. The Court
therefore will not rely on plaintiff’s declaration in
deciding the motions for summary judgment. For that reason,
the motion to strike will be denied as moot.
Motions for Summary Judgment
role of summary judgment is to “pierce the pleadings
and to assess the proof in order to see whether there is a
genuine need for trial.” Mesnick v. General Elec.
Co., 950 F.2d 816, 822 (1st Cir. 1991) (quoting
Garside v. Osco Drug, Inc., 895 F.2d 46, 50 (1st
Cir. 1990)). Summary judgment is appropriate when the moving
party shows 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). A genuine issue
is “one that must be decided at trial because the
evidence, viewed in the light most flattering to the
nonmovant would permit a rational fact finder to resolve the
issue in favor of either party.” Medina-Munoz v.
R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., 896 F.2d 5, 8 (1st Cir. 1990)
(citation omitted). In evaluating a summary judgment motion,
the court indulges all reasonable inferences in favor of the
nonmoving party. See O'Connor v. Steeves, 994
F.2d 905, 907 (1st Cir. 1993). When “a properly
supported motion for summary judgment is made, the adverse
party must set forth specific facts showing that there is a
genuine issue for trial.” Anderson v. Liberty
Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 250 (1986) (quotations and
footnotes omitted). The non-moving party may not simply
“rest upon mere allegation or denials of his
pleading,” but instead must “present affirmative
evidence.” Id. at 256-57.
have moved for summary judgment on the ground that
plaintiff’s acceptance of pretrial probation bars all
of his claims under the rule of Heck v. Humphrey,
512 U.S. 477 (1994). Because the analysis under Heck
turns on the nature of the claims asserted, see Thore v.
Howe, 466 F.3d 173, 179 (1st Cir. 2006), each of
plaintiff’s claims will be addressed in turn.
Section 1983 Claims (Count 1)
have struggled for many years to ascertain when and under
what circumstances persons contending that they have been
wrongfully convicted or imprisoned can bring § 1983
actions against the state actors responsible for their
alleged wrongful convictions or imprisonments.
Preiser v. Rodriguez, 411 U.S. 475 (1973), the
Supreme Court held that any “challenge to the fact or
duration of [one’s] confinement” must be brought
under the habeas statute and not through a civil action under
42 U.S.C. § 1983. Id. at 489. In
Preiser, state prisoners brought a § 1983
action against officers of the New York State Department of
Correctional Services, alleging that the officers had acted
unconstitutionally in depriving them of good-conduct-time
credits as a result of disciplinary proceedings. Id.
at 476. The prisoners sought injunctive relief to restore the
credits, which, if received, would have resulted in their
immediate release from prison. Id. at 476-77.
Because they were, in essence, claiming that they were being
held in prison unconstitutionally, the Supreme Court
concluded that their challenge had to be brought through a
habeas proceeding. Id. at 489. The court noted,
however, that its holding would not apply to prisoners
seeking damages, as opposed to injunctive relief, for
violations of federal law. Id. at 494. Where state
prisoners seek damages, it concluded, they are
“attacking something other than the fact or length of
[their] confinement” and thus their claims do not fall
within the core purpose of a habeas proceeding. Id.
than twenty years later, the Supreme Court decided Heck
v. Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477 (1994). In Heck, the
plaintiff was a state prisoner seeking damages under §
1983 for his allegedly unlawful arrest and conviction.
Id. at 479. Drawing an analogy to the common-law
tort of malicious prosecution-one element of which is the
termination of prior criminal proceedings in favor of the
accused-the court concluded that “damages actions that
necessarily require the plaintiff to prove the unlawfulness
of his conviction or confinement” are not cognizable
under § 1983 unless the conviction or sentence that
forms the basis of his claim has been invalidated.
Id. at 486-87. The court held:
in order to recover damages for allegedly unconstitutional
conviction or imprisonment, or for other harm caused by
actions whose unlawfulness would render a conviction or
sentence invalid, a § 1983 plaintiff must prove that the
conviction or sentence has been reversed on direct appeal,
expunged by executive order, declared invalid by a state
tribunal authorized to make such ...