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Chaney v. City of Framingham

United States District Court, D. Massachusetts

December 3, 2019



          M. Page Kelley United States Magistrate Judge

         I. Introduction.

         Rondey Chaney alleges that three officers of the Framingham Police Department violated his civil rights by forcing him to remain naked from the waist down after his arrest. (#1-1 at 6.) He makes a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 that Officer Christopher Hendry, Lieutenant Gregory Reardon, and Deputy Chief Victor Pereira[3] violated his Fourth, Fifth, and Fourteenth Amendment rights (Count I); that they acted with intent to coerce, threaten, or intimidate him in violation of the Massachusetts Civil Rights Act (MCRA) (Count II); he makes state tort claims of invasion of privacy and intentional infliction of emotional distress (Count III); and he makes a negligence claim against the City of Framingham under the Massachusetts Tort Claims Act (MTCA) (Count IV). Id. at 6-8.

         On July 30, 2019, defendants moved for summary judgment on all counts. (#29.) Plaintiff opposed. (#33.)

         For the reasons that follow, defendants' motion for summary judgment as to Counts I-III is denied, and the motion is allowed as to Count IV.

         II. Facts.

         For purposes of summary judgment, the facts are presented in the light most favorable to Chaney, the nonmoving party. Dennis v. Osram Sylvania, Inc., 549 F.3d 851, 855 (1st Cir. 2008). The facts below are undisputed unless otherwise indicated.[4]

         At the time of this incident, Chaney was on “interstate probation, ” meaning he resided in Massachusetts, but was on probation for a Connecticut state-court sentence stemming from a robbery charge. (#33-1 at 2.) He was being supervised by the Worcester Superior Court and was subject to electronic monitoring. (#30 at 2; #33-1 at 2.) On the morning of November 24, 2014, an arrest warrant issued for him because his electronic monitoring device was apparently malfunctioning and was not giving his probation officer a signal that indicated his location. (#33-1 at 2.) At approximately 6:50 a.m., Chaney and his girlfriend, Kate Gast, were asleep in Chaney's apartment when Hendry, Reardon, and an officer who was not named as a defendant, Sean Wilson, knocked on his door to arrest him. (#31-9 at 27.)

         Chaney, who had been asleep naked, put on a sleeveless t-shirt and wrapped a towel around his waist before answering the door. Id. Gast walked out of the bedroom and witnessed the interaction between Chaney and the defendants, as did Chaney's roommate Leonardo Reyes, who is deaf. (#31-7 at 12; 24.) The officers entered the apartment and informed Chaney that they were there to arrest him because of the problem with his electronic monitoring device. (#31-4 at 55; 56; #31-9 at 44.) Gast retrieved Chaney's driver's license and some clothes from the bedroom, and the officers handcuffed Chaney. (#31-4 at 63; #31-9 at 48.) Chaney submitted to arrest without resistance. (#31 at 2-3.)

         Chaney testified at his deposition that he “respectfully requested” to put on clothes prior to leaving the apartment because it was cold outside and because he was being arrested. (#31-4 at 63, 64.) Gast testified that she also repeatedly asked the police officers if Chaney could put on clothing. Id. at 68; #31-9 at 46. According to Chaney and Gast, these requests were denied. Id. at 65, 68.

         Hendry and Reardon, in contrast, assert that while in the apartment they “attempted to get [Chaney] to put on the pair of shorts several times, and he refused each time.” (#31-2 at 2; #31-3 at 2.) Chaney and Gast denied this allegation in their depositions. (#31-4 at 100; #31-9 at 106.) Hendry stated that Chaney requested to have the handcuffs removed so he could get dressed, which the officers would not allow for safety reasons. (#31-3 at 2.) Chaney and Gast deny that Chaney made this request. (#31-4 at 101-102; #31-9 at 105.)

         The three officers walked Chaney, who was wearing the towel, the sleeveless shirt, and no shoes, out of the apartment, down a public hallway, and into an elevator. (#31-2 at 2; #31-3 at 2; #31-9 at 52-53.) Reyes, Chaney's roommate, testified at his deposition that an old man was looking out from his door as Chaney was being escorted down the hallway (#33-1 at 5), although defendants assert that no one was in the hallway other than the officers, Chaney, and Gast. (#31 at 3.) Defendants allege that Wilson carried a pair of shorts to the elevator. (#31-2 at 2; #31-8 at 2.) Chaney denies this. (#33-1 at 5.)

         Using her cell phone, Gast video-recorded the officers and Chaney walking into the elevator. (#31-6; #31-9 at 51.) The video is marked as an exhibit to defendants' motion. (#31-6.) It is about thirteen seconds long. One can see in the video that while Chaney was in the elevator with the three officers, with his hands handcuffed behind him, Chaney's towel fell to the floor, leaving him wearing only the sleeveless shirt.[5](#31 at 3; #31-4 at 87.) Chaney's shirt extended to his thighs and one cannot see his genitalia in the video. (#31 at 3; #31-6; #33-1 at 6.) Chaney agreed that the video does not show his genitalia, however, he asserts that one could nevertheless see his genitalia. (#33-1 at 6.)

         Chaney stated at his deposition that after the towel fell off, the officers never offered him the towel or any clothing, and he remained naked below the waist as he walked from the elevator to a waiting police car; during the ride to the Framingham Police Station; while he was booked at the station; as he was transported to the Framingham District Court; and during his appearance before a judge at the courthouse, who dismissed his case and allowed him to go home. (#31-4 at 110-11, 114-16, 129-33, 155-56.)

         Reardon and Wilson stated in affidavits that Chaney agreed to put shorts on in the elevator of the apartment building. (#31-2 at 3; #31-8 at 2.) Chaney denies this. (#31-4 at 103-104.)

         Reyes, Chaney's roommate, testified that he saw Chaney's towel fall off in the elevator, and saw the officers put it back on him. (#33-1 at 11.) He said that when Chaney was being led to the waiting police car, he was wearing the towel. Id. He further said that Gast had a video of Chaney wearing the towel while outside the apartment building, and that he had watched the video with Chaney. Id. He said he thought the video had been lost. Id.

         Gast stated that after the elevator doors closed, she went down the stairs, but by the time she got to the first floor, the officers had already taken Chaney out to the car, and so she did not see Chaney leaving the building. Id. at 6.

         Chaney was escorted from the elevator to the waiting police car, which he estimated was located fifteen to forty feet from the building. Id. at 7, 11. Although Chaney did not remember seeing anyone between the time the elevator doors opened and he got in the police car, Gast said there was “more than one” person in the lobby of the building as Chaney was taken out. Id. at 7, 12. Reardon's involvement with Chaney ended when Chaney got into the car. Id. at 7. Hendry transported Chaney to the Framingham Police Station, which was about a ten-minute ride from the apartment building. Id.

         At the police station, Chaney was booked by Pereira. Id. at 8. Pereira stated in an affidavit that Chaney was clothed during booking. Id. at 3. Chaney, in contrast, alleges that while booking him, Pereira asked him why he was naked from the waist down, and called the situation “unbelievable, ” stating that he wished he had something to offer with which Chaney could cover himself. (#31-4 at 115-16.) Hendry alleges that he was not involved with any events that took place after Chaney was booked at the Framingham Police Department. (#31-3 at 3.)

         After Chaney was booked, he was taken to the Framingham District Court. (#33-1 at 9.) In preparation for transportation to the court, he was handcuffed to other male prisoners, and put in a transport vehicle. Id. None of the individually-named defendants transported Chaney to the Framingham District Court and they had no involvement with Chaney's detention at the courthouse. Id.

         Chaney returned to his apartment after the incident, wearing long pants and shoes that were not his own. (#31-7 at 37; #31-9 at 75.) He said he received the clothes from a law student as he was leaving the Framingham District ...

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