United States District Court, D. Massachusetts
MEMORANDUM & ORDER
Nathaniel M. Gorton United States District Judge
suit arises out of claim that a police officer violated
plaintiff's constitutional rights by unlawfully stopping
the driver and towing his car, all while plaintiff was
suffering from a serious medical condition.
Harper (“Harper” or “plaintiff”), who
is African American, was driving in Attleboro, Massachusetts
when he was pulled over by Officer Christopher Booth
(“Booth” or “defendant”). Booth, who
was driving a marked police car, had conducted a random query
of plaintiff's license plate which reported that the
vehicle's license plate was cancelled and last registered
to a different vehicle. The attached license plate was also
issued to a person with a suspended license.
the stop, Booth notified plaintiff that the vehicle's
license plate was cancelled and registered to another
vehicle, which plaintiff did not dispute. Plaintiff did,
however, have a valid license at that time. Following this
colloquy, Booth ordered Harper out of the vehicle and
informed him that he would be towing it. At some point during
this interaction, Harper allegedly told Booth that he was on
the way to the hospital because he was having a heart attack.
Although it is unclear if Booth indicated that he or the tow
truck driver would transport plaintiff to the hospital, the
tow truck driver, who eventually towed the vehicle, dropped
Harper off at a nearby gas station. From there, plaintiff
called 911 and an ambulance transported him to an emergency
plaintiff filed suit, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983,
alleging that Officer Booth committed constitutional
violations by interfering with his right to travel, racially
profiling him and denying him of his property and medical
care. The defendant has filed a motion for summary judgment
in response to which plaintiff has filed a hand-written
opposition pro se. A hearing on the motion for
summary judgment was held on April 22, 2019.
role of summary judgment is to assess the proof in order to
see whether there is a genuine need for trial. Mesnick v.
Gen. Elec. Co., 950 F.2d 816, 822 (1st Cir. 1991). The
burden is on the moving party to show, through the pleadings,
discovery and affidavits, that there is “no genuine
dispute as to any material fact and that the movant is
entitled to judgment as a matter of law”. Fed.R.Civ.P.
56(a). A fact is material if it “might affect the
outcome of the suit under the governing law”.
Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248
(1986). A genuine issue of material fact exists where the
evidence with respect to the material fact in dispute
“is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict
for the nonmoving party”. Id.
moving party has satisfied its burden, the burden shifts to
the nonmoving party to set forth specific facts showing that
there is a genuine, triable issue. Celotex Corp. v.
Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 324 (1986). The Court must view
the entire record in the light most favorable to the
nonmoving party and indulge all reasonable inferences in that
party's favor. O'Connor v. Steeves, 994 F.2d
905, 907 (1st Cir. 1993). Summary judgment is appropriate if,
after viewing the record in the nonmoving party's favor,
the Court determines that no genuine issue of material fact
exists and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a
matter of law. Celotex Corp., 477 U.S. at 322-23.
Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment
Freedom to Travel
argues that the vehicle stop violated his fundamental right
to travel, which defendant does not address. The
constitutional right to travel refers to interstate travel,
as opposed to intrastate travel, and thus is not applicable
here. Nevertheless, the Court will briefly address the issue.
“right to travel” under federal law protects the
right of 1) a citizen of one State to enter and to leave
another State, 2) a citizen to be treated as a welcome
visitor when temporarily present in the second State and 3)
permanent residents to be treated like other citizens of that
State. Saenz v. Roe, 526 U.S. 489, 500 (1999). The
fundamental right to travel is not, however, an absolute
privilege and citizens are, in any event, required to comply
with federal and state laws. Thus, plaintiff cannot claim
that his right to travel was violated because 1) he was
traveling within the state and 2) ...