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Jenkins v. City of Taunton

United States District Court, D. Massachusetts

January 8, 2018

ROSEMARY JENKINS, Plaintiff,
v.
CITY OF TAUNTON, CHIEF EDWARD WALSH, MARK BRADY, ROBERT KRAMER, MATTHEW SKWARTO, RALPH SCHLAGETER, JEFFREY MARTIN, and FRED BOLTON, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER RE: DEFENDANTS' MOTION TO CORRECT THE SUMMARY JUDGMENT RECORD (DOCKET ENTRY # 76); DEFENDANTS' SUPPLEMENTAL MOTION TO CORRECT THE SUMMARY JUDGMENT RECORD (DOCKET ENTRY # 81)

          MARIANNE B. BOWLER, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         Pending before this court are two motions to correct the summary judgment record filed by defendants City of Taunton, Chief Edward Walsh (“Walsh”), Mark Brady (“Brady”), Robert Kramer (“Kramer”), Matthew Skwarto (“Skwarto”), Ralph Schlageter (“Schlageter”), Jeffrey Martin (“Martin”), and Fred Bolton (“Bolton”) (collectively “defendants”).[1] (Docket Entry ## 76, 81). Plaintiff Rosemary Jenkins (“plaintiff”) opposes the requested corrections. (Docket Entry # 82).

         BACKGROUND

         On September 29, 2017, this court allowed in part and denied in part defendants' summary judgment motion. (Docket Entry # 73). On October 27, 2017, defendants filed a notice of appeal of the denial of qualified immunity. (Docket Entry # 77).

         Brady, Schlageter, Martin, and Bolton, all police officers with the Taunton Police Department (“TPD”), as well as Kramer, a detective with the TPD, and Skwarto, a detective sergeant with the TPD, (“the responding officers”) sought qualified immunity for the 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (“section 1983”) and Massachusetts Civil Rights Act (“MCRA”)[2] claims grounded upon an entry into plaintiff's apartment with an arrest warrant for her son.[3](Docket Entry # 59, pp. 4-6). They argued that, “Prior to entering Plaintiff's apartment, [they] had a reasonable (although mistaken) belief that” Reginald Jenkins, Sr. (“Reginald”), plaintiff's son and a fleeing suspect, “lived in apartment #3.” (Docket Entry # 59). They further asserted that, because of their “knowledge from past encounters that [Reginald's] mother and his minor children lived in apartment #3, ” the responding officers were not “plainly incompetent for believing RJS lived there” as well. (Docket Entry # 59).

         The summary judgment opinion framed the qualified immunity inquiry as “whether ‘the police “reasonably believed” prior to entry that [the suspect] (1) resided at the apartment and (2) would be present.'” (Docket Entry # 73, p. 43) (quoting United States v. Graham, 553 F.3d 6, 12 (1st Cir. 2009), and citing United States v. Werra, 638 F.3d 326, 327 (1st Cir. 2011)). The denial of immunity turned upon an issue of fact, namely, the reasonable belief of the responding officers that, prior to the entry into the apartment, Reginald resided in apartment three. (Docket Entry # 73, pp. 37-44)); see United States v. Graham, 553 F.3d at 12. “Drawing reasonable inferences in plaintiff's favor, ” this court set out the facts that best comported with the summary judgment standard. (Docket Entry # 73, p. 40) (quoting Morelli v. Webster, 552 F.3d 12, 19 (1st Cir. 2009)).

         The undisputed facts in the LR. 56.1 statements established that: the building at 112 High Street had four apartments; apartment three was the only residence on the third floor; plaintiff resided in apartment three with her grandchildren; and TPD police were aware that plaintiff lived at the multi-unit building with her grandchildren because she “had called TPD on multiple occasions for assistance” with her grandchildren. (Docket Entry # 73, pp. 4-6) (Docket Entry # 63, ¶¶ 2, 3, 11, 12) (Docket Entry # 69, ¶¶ 2, 3, 11, 12).[4] Drawing reasonable inferences in plaintiff's favor, this court found that “members of TPD were aware that plaintiff . . . lived in apartment three on the third floor.” (Docket Entry # 73, p. 6). As also explained in the opinion, TPD records at the relevant time identified Reginald's address as apartment four or simply as 112 High Street. (Docket Entry # 73, pp. 26-27). TPD records did not designate Reginald's address as apartment three at 112 High Street, i.e., plaintiff's apartment. (Docket Entry # 73, p. 26). Dispatch transmissions included the victim's mother's statement that Reginald was inside “his apartment over there.” (Docket Entry # 73, pp. 9, 44). After surveying the clearly established law in the context of these and other facts in the record construed in plaintiff's favor, this court found that such law “would have given a reasonable police officer clear notice that he lacked a reasonable belief that Reginald resided in apartment three at 112 High Street.” (Docket Entry # 73, p. 44).

         Defendants seek to change the factual record to reflect that plaintiff actually resided in apartment four because plaintiff misstated the apartment number at her deposition as apartment three.[5] (Docket Entry ## 76, 81, 85). Plaintiff implicitly disagrees and submits that she “testified truthfully and to the best of her memory” at her deposition regarding apartment three.[6](Docket Entry # 82). To support the request to change the summary judgment record, defendants now provide documents that existed at the time they sought summary judgment that show plaintiff lived in apartment four at the relevant time, i.e., the same apartment number reflected in various TPD records prior to the August 2013 entry into plaintiff's apartment.[7] (Docket Entry ## 76-1 to 76-7, 81-1, 81-2). A number of these documents further identify apartment four as located on the third floor. (Docket Entry ## 76-1 to 76-4, 81-2). Once changed, defendants plan to file a motion to reconsider this court's denial of summary judgment on all claims related to the entry into plaintiff's apartment. (Docket Entry # 76, p. 5) (Docket Entry # 81, p. 2).

         The summary judgment record which defendants seek to correct by changing apartment three to apartment four includes: (1) defendants' LR. 56.1 statement that, “On August 2, 2013, Plaintiff resided in apartment #3 of 112 High Street in Taunton, Massachusetts”; (2) defendants' LR. 56.1 statement that, “Apartment #3 is the only residence located on the third floor”; (3) plaintiff's LR. 56.1 statement containing these same facts; and (4) defendants' response to plaintiff's LR. 56.1 statement admitting these facts as undisputed for purposes of summary judgment.[8] (Docket Entry # 60, ¶¶ 2, 6) (Docket Entry # 63, ¶¶ 2, 3) (Docket Entry # 69, ¶¶ 2, 3). To support the agreed-upon fact that plaintiff lived in apartment three, the LR. 56.1 statements cited plaintiff's deposition which, in pertinent part, reads as follows:

Q. Where did you live before that?
A. 112 High Street.
Q. Was there an apartment number?
A. Apartment 3 . . ..
Q. Can you kind of describe the -- maybe I should start with, how many floors is 112 High Street?
A. First floor, second floor, third floor.
Q. Three ...

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