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Castagna v. Edwards

United States District Court, D. Massachusetts

January 31, 2018

CHRISTOPHER CASTAGNA and GAVIN CASTAGNA, Plaintiffs,
v.
DARAN EDWARDS, ANTHONY TROY, JAY TULLY, KAMAU PRITCHARD, MICHAEL BIZZOZERO, KEITH KAPLAN, HARRY JEAN, and JAMES DOE, individually, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM & ORDER

          INDIRA TALWANI UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         I. Introduction

         Plaintiffs Christopher Castagna and Gavin Castagna bring this action against various City of Boston police officers. Plaintiffs assert that Defendants violated their civil rights under the United States Constitution and 42 U.S.C. § 1983 by entering Christopher Castagna's home without a warrant, arresting both Plaintiffs without probable cause, using excessive force, failing to conduct a proper investigation, and interfering with a First Amendment right to videotape the action by unlawfully seizing cell phones, deleting videos to destroy evidence, and wrongfully attempting to access data in Christopher Castagna's cell phone. Third Am. Compl., ¶¶ 71-75 (Count 1) [#189]. Plaintiffs also bring claims under state law. Id. ¶¶ 76-108 (Counts 2-8). Pending before this court are Defendant Anthony Troy's Motion for Partial Summary Judgment [#149], Defendant Jay Tully's Motion for Partial Summary Judgment [#151], Defendant Michael Bizzozero's Motion for Partial Summary Judgment [#153], Defendant Harry Jean's Motion for Partial Summary Judgment [#155], Defendant Keith Kaplan's Motion for Partial Summary Judgment [#157], Defendant Daran Edwards' Motion for Partial Summary Judgment [#159], and Defendant Kamau Pritchard's Motion for Partial Summary Judgment [#161].[1] For the reasons that follow, each Defendant's motion is GRANTED IN PART and DENIED IN PART.

         II. Factual Background

         A. The Residence at Issue

         The events at issue took place at a property in South Boston owned by Christopher and Gavin Castagna's father. Pls.' Response to Defs.' Statement of Undisputed Material Facts & Pls.' Statement of Further Material Facts [“Pls.' SOF”] ¶ 2 [#176]. Christopher Castagna resided at the property. Gavin Castagna resided there until he went to college in or around 2007. Pls.' SOF ¶ 2. At the time of the events, Gavin resided elsewhere in South Boston with his father and his father's wife, Defs.' Statement of Undisputed Material Facts [“Defs.' SOF”] ¶¶ 47-48 [#163], but he visited the residence five or more times per week, slept in the extra bedroom in the residence approximately three times per week (though not the night before the events in question), and kept clothing in the extra bedroom closet, Pls.' SOF ¶ 2. Gavin had a key to the residence, and Christopher permitted Gavin to enter and stay at the residence whenever he pleased. Id.

         B. The Police Officers' Entries into the Residence

         On March 17, 2013, after receiving a dispatch call regarding a loud party, Kaplan, Edwards, and Jean, along with three other police officers, (the “first wave officers”) arrived and entered the residence. Defs.' SOF ¶ 1; Pls.' SOF Response ¶ 1. Whether that initial entry was lawful is disputed and is not the subject of the pending motions.

         At some point after entry, Kaplan called dispatch and requested assistance. Pls.' SOF ¶ 10. Nine officers, including Troy, Tully, Pritchard, and Bizzozero responded to Kaplan's call. Pls.' SOF ¶ 11. These “second wave officers” entered the home to provide assistance, but did not know why assistance had been requested. Defs.' SOF ¶¶ 6, 20, 43, 45. Kaplan, who had requested the additional officers so that he could obtain additional handcuffs, was surprised by the number of officers who arrived. Pls.' SOF ¶ 10.

         C. The Events in the Residence

         Christopher and Gavin Castagna and others were in Christopher's bedroom when the first wave of police arrived. Pls.' SOF ¶ 5. Those officers removed Christopher from his bedroom, and multiple party-goers, including Gavin, began videotaping the interaction and verbally protesting the police entry. Pls.' SOF ¶ 6.

         The lights subsequently went off in the kitchen where Gavin was standing. Pls.' SOF ¶¶ 6-7. Christopher was brought downstairs, and at some point as Christopher was being arrested, the second wave of officers arrived. Some of the second wave officers, including, at various times, Tully, Pritchard, and Bizzozero, surrounded Castagna as first wave officers Edwards, Kaplan, and Jean attempted to arrest him. Pls.' SOF ¶¶ 7-8; Statement of Undisputed Material Facts (With Pls.' Responses to Defs.' Facts & Defs.' Responses to Pls.' Additional Facts Incorporated Herein [Defs.' Response to Pls.' SOF”] ¶ 7 [#184]; Pls.' SOF Response ¶ 49. The altercation became physical. Christopher Castagna alleges that Bizzozero, Jean, Edwards, and Kaplan, as well as an unidentified “motorcycle cop, ” had physical contact with him. Defs.' SOF ¶ 12; Pls.' SOF Response ¶ 22; Pls.' SOF ¶ 9. None of the civilian witnesses could identify which Defendants were involved. Defs.' SOF ¶¶ 27-28, 30, 32, 34, 36, 38-39, 41. Troy did not recall seeing Christopher Castagna at all and denies having any physical contact with him. Defs.' SOF ¶¶ 9-10; Pls.' Response to Defs.' SOF ¶ 9. Christopher Castagna was arrested, but the criminal charges against him were later dismissed. Pls.' SOF ¶ 23.

         Shortly after the second wave of police officers entered, Gavin Castagna was also involved in a physical altercation that culminated in his arrest. Pls.' SOF ¶¶ 13-14. Gavin Castagna asserts that Pritchard and Tully were involved in his arrest, but admits that Bizzozero was not involved in placing him in handcuffs. Defs.' SOF ¶¶ 22-23; Pls.' SOF Response ¶ 22. None of the civilian witnesses to this altercation could recall or identify which Defendants were involved. Defs.' SOF ¶¶ 27, 29, 31, 33, 35, 37-38, 40, 42. Gavin Castagna was arrested, but the criminal charges against him were later dismissed. Pls.' SOF ¶ 23.

         During the course of his arrest, Gavin Castagna lost both his and Christopher Castagna's phones (which Gavin had been using to film the events), but did not see what happened to them. Defs.' SOF ¶¶ 13-17; Pls.' SOF ¶ 14. Neither Gavin nor Christopher Castagna saw any officers take Christopher's phone. Defs.' SOF ¶¶ 16-18. A guest at the party also did not see any police officer in possession of either Christopher or Gavin Castagna's cell phones. Defs.' SOF ¶ 26.

         After the arrests, guests found a number of phones, including Gavin Castagna's phone, in a trash can at the residence. Pls.' SOF ¶¶ 16, 18, 22. The video on Gavin Castagna's phone had been deleted. Pls.' SOF ¶ 18. Additionally, another guest, who had recorded the incident, testified that his phone was missing from the residence when he went inside to retrieve it. Pls.' SOF ¶ 18. And another guest's phone was found in the trash along with Gavin Castagna's phone, and his video of the incident had also been deleted. Pls.' SOF ¶ 16.

         III. Summary Judgment Standard

         In resolving a motion for summary judgment, the court takes all properly supported evidence in the light most favorable to the non-movant and draws all reasonable inferences in the non-movant's favor. Griggs-Ryan v. Smith, 904 F.2d 112, 115 (1st Cir. 1990). Summary judgment is appropriate only if “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 dispute is genuine if the evidence about the fact is such that a reasonable jury could resolve the point in the favor of the non-moving party. A fact is material if it has the potential of ...


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