United States District Court, D. Massachusetts
MEMORANDUM OF DECISION AND ORDER ON CROSS-MOTIONS FOR
GAIL DEIN UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
plaintiff, Sharon McDonald, was arrested on an arrest warrant
obtained by the defendant, Richard Walker, a detective with
the Boston Police Department. The plaintiff was unable to
post bail and spent eight days in jail before being released
on her own recognizance. Her arrest was later determined to
be the result of mistaken identity, and the charges against
her were dismissed. McDonald subsequently brought suit
against Det. Walker and the City of Boston. Following rulings
on the defendants' motions to dismiss,  the plaintiff is
proceeding on claims against Det. Walker for false arrest,
pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (“Section
1983”) (Count I) and the Massachusetts Civil Rights
Act, Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 12, § 11I (“MCRA”)
(Count VI), and for intentional infliction of emotional
distress (“IIED”) (Count V). She is also
asserting claims against the City of Boston for negligence
and negligent infliction of emotional distress
(“NIED”) (Counts III and V,  respectively).
matter is presently before the court on Det. Walker's
“Motion for Summary Judg-ment” (Docket No. 65),
by which Det. Walker seeks summary judgment on all of
McDonald's claims against him. The matter is also before
the court on McDonald's “Motion for Partial Summary
Judgment on Liability” (Docket No. 69), by which
McDonald seeks summary judgment on her Section 1983 claim
against Det. Walker, and her negligence claim against the
City of Boston. In connection with her motion for partial
summary judgment, McDonald has also filed a “Motion to
Strike Evidence of the Surveillance Video” (Docket No.
75), by which McDonald seeks to exclude surveillance video
footage of the crime Det. Walker was investigating, as well
as any testimony that makes reference to the video. For all
of the reasons detailed herein, the motions are ALLOWED IN
PART and DENIED IN PART as follows:
1. Plaintiff's Motion for Partial Summary Judgment
(Docket No. 69) is ALLOWED as to her Section 1983 claim
against Det. Walker (Count I) (liability only) and DENIED as
to her negligence claim against the City of Boston (Count
2. Det. Walker's Motion for Summary Judgment (Docket No.
65) is DENIED as to the Section 1983 claim (Count I) and
ALLOWED as to the MCRA (Count VI) and IIED claims (Count V)
3. Plaintiff's Motion to Strike Evidence of Surveillance
Video (Docket No. 75) is DENIED, provided, however, that the
defendants are limited to the version of the video produced
to the plaintiff.
STATEMENT OF FACTS
The following facts are undisputed unless otherwise
indicated. Defendant Richard Walker is a detective with the
Boston Police Department. DF ¶ 1. On or about May 22,
2012, Det. Walker responded to a report of an armed robbery
at a store in Roslindale committed by four African-American
women. DF ¶¶ 2-3; PF ¶¶ 1-2. The store
clerks told Det. Walker that the suspects fled the scene in a
1992 green Honda Civic, and provided him with the license
plate number. DF ¶ 4; PF ¶ 3. Det. Walker went to
the residence of the registered owner of the car, Fitzroy
Swift, and spoke with a woman at the residence who identified
herself as Swift's sister. PF ¶ 6. She called Swift
and handed the phone to Det. Walker. PF ¶ 8. Swift told
Walker that he had registered the car for a friend, Sharon
McDonald, who lived in Brockton. DF ¶ 5. Swift indicated
that McDonald was Jamaican, 47 years old, 5'3”, and
had several daughters. DF ¶ 6; PF ¶¶ 10-11.
Swift provided Det. Walker with a telephone number for
McDonald, but did not provide a specific address for
McDonald's residence in Brockton. DF ¶ 7. Swift
refused to provide Det. Walker with his location and refused
to meet with him. PF ¶ 9.
Walker called the number Swift provided and left a voicemail.
DF ¶ 8. Five minutes later, Walker received a call back
from an individual with a Jamaican accent who identified
herself as Sharon McDonald. DF ¶ 10; PF ¶ 15. She
stated that she was not involved in the robbery and did not
know anyone named “Fitz, ” but later stated that
“if you explain to me what happened, I can tell you in
return what happened.” Id. Det. Walker asked
her to come to the station, but she refused. PF ¶ 16.
Walker searched the Registry of Motor Vehicles
(“RMV”) for individuals with a license named
“Sharon McDonald.” PF ¶ 13. Only one such
individual, the plaintiff, was listed as residing in
Brockton. Id. The plaintiff's license photograph
was five years old and her height was listed as
5'8”. PF ¶ 18. Det. Walker assembled a photo
array that included the plaintiff's driver's license
picture and presented the array to two store clerks who
witnessed the robbery. PF ¶ 19. Neither clerk identified
the plaintiff. Id. Det. Walker also ran a criminal
background check on both the plaintiff and Swift. PF
¶¶ 17, 20. The plaintiff had no criminal record. PF
¶ 20. Swift had an extensive criminal record with over
31 charges, including charges for armed robbery. PF ¶
Walker obtained and reviewed surveillance video from the
store which included footage from the time of the robbery. PF
¶ 21; DF ¶ 12. The surveillance picture was not
very good, as the clarity “wasn't definite.”
Pl. Ex. 3 at 123. In his Supplemental Incident Report, Det.
Walker indicated that “[o]ne of the suspects (the
oldest) looks like Sharon Mcdonald [sic] as she appears in
her Massachusetts Drivers License.” PF ¶ 26. Det.
Walker sought an arrest warrant for the plaintiff for armed
robbery but did not mention the failed photo arrays in his
warrant application. DF ¶¶ 13-14; Pl. Ex. 6. Det.
Walker testified that his failure to mention the photo arrays
was an oversight, as it is his normal practice to do so. PF
¶ 32. An arrest warrant was issued for the plaintiff and
the plaintiff was arrested by Brockton police. PF ¶ 34;
Pl. Ex. 4 at 2. At her arraignment, McDonald was unable to
make the $5, 000 cash bail set by the court, and she remained
incarcerated for eight days until her bail was reduced to
personal recognizance and she was released. Pl. Ex. 8 at 2-3.
around July 9, 2012, Det. Walker met with Swift and presented
him with a photo array that included the plaintiff's
driver's license picture. PF ¶ 40. Swift did not
identify the plaintiff as the Sharon McDonald he knew.
Id. The next day, Det. Walker met with the
plaintiff, who was in court with her attorney. DF
¶¶ 17-18; PF ¶ 36; Pl. Ex. 4 at 2. He asked
the plaintiff if she drove a green Honda Civic. PF ¶ 38.
She replied that she did not and had another vehicle
registered in her name. Id. Walker also observed
that the plaintiff did not have a Jamaican accent and was not
5'3”. Pl. Ex. 3 at 234. As a result of this
meeting, Det. Walker determined that the plaintiff was not
the Sharon McDonald involved in the armed robbery and
requested that the District Attorney drop the charges against
her. DF ¶¶ 18-19; PF ¶ 39. On July 23, 2012,
the court allowed the Commonwealth's motion to dismiss on
the grounds that she “is not the proper subject of
[the] criminal complaint” and had been
“wrongfully charged[.]” PF ¶ 41.
factual details relevant to the court's analysis are
described below where appropriate.
Summary Judgment Standard of Review
McDonald and Det. Walker have moved for summary judgment,
pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 56. “The 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.'” PC Interiors, Ltd. v. J. Tucci Constr.
Co., 794 F.Supp.2d 274, 275 (D. Mass. 2011) (quoting
Mesnick v. Gen. Elec. Co., 950 F.2d 816, 822 (1st
Cir. 1991)) (additional citations omitted). The burden is
upon the moving party to show, based upon the discovery and
disclosure materials on file, and any affidavits, “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]n issue is ‘genuine'
if it ‘may reasonably be resolved in favor of either
party.'” Vineberg v. Bissonnette, 548 F.3d
50, 56 (1st Cir. 2008) (quoting Garside v. Osco Drug,
Inc., 895 F.2d 46, 48 (1st Cir. 1990)). “A fact is
‘material' only if it possesses the capacity to
sway the outcome of the litigation under the applicable
law.” Id. (quotations, punctuation and
the moving party has satisfied its burden, the burden shifts
to the non-moving party to set forth specific facts showing
that there is a genuine, triable issue.” PC
Interiors, Ltd., 794 F.Supp.2d at 275. The opposing
party can avoid summary judgment only by providing properly
supported evidence of disputed material facts. LeBlanc v.
Great Am. Ins. Co., 6 F.3d 836, 841-42 (1st Cir. 1993),
cert. denied, 511 U.S. 1018, 114 S.Ct. 1398, 128
L.Ed.2d 72 (1994) . Accordingly, “the nonmoving party
‘may not rest upon mere allegation or denials of his
pleading[, ]'” but must set forth specific facts
showing that there is a genuine issue for trial. Id.
(quoting Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S.
242, 256, 106 S.Ct. 2505, 2514, 91 L.Ed.2d 202 (1986)).
for summary judgment do not alter the basic Rule 56 standard,
but rather simply require [the court] to determine whether
either of the parties deserves judgment as a matter of law on
facts that are not disputed.” Adria Int'l
Group, Inc. v. Ferre Dev., Inc., 241 F.3d 103, 107 (1st
Cir. 2001). “‘When facing cross-motions for
summary judgment, a court must rule on each motion
independently, deciding in each instance whether the moving
party has met its burden under Rule 56.'” Peck
v. City of Boston, 750 F.Supp.2d 308, 312 (D. Mass.
2010) (quoting Dan Barclay, Inc. v. Stewart &
Stevenson Servs., Inc., 761 F.Supp. 194, 197-98 (D.
Plaintiff's Motion to Strike Evidence of ...