CONSTITUTIONAL LAW

§1983 Liability • Constitutional Deprivations • Failure to Train • Malicious Prosecution

Freeman v. Murphy, PICS Case No. 14-0357 (E.D. Pa. Feb. 24, 2014) Slonsky, J. (9 pages).

Where a plaintiff failed to allege specific policies and procedures that a municipal police department failed to train officers on, and failed to assert deliberate indifference to constitutional violations, the municipality was not liable a §1983 claim for failure to train; and where a plaintiff alleged that municipal police officers initiated a criminal proceeding against plaintiff by arresting and issuing a citation without justification, the municipality was not entitled to summary judgment. Granted in part and denied in part.

Defendant Officer William Murphy brought this motion for summary judgment seeking to dismiss plaintiff Anthony Murphy’s §1983 claims based on failure to train/supervise/discipline and malicious prosecution. Plaintiff alleged that he was assaulted and arrested without provocation or justification by defendant, who issued plaintiff a citation for disorderly conduct. Arising from the citation, an arrest warrant was issued for plaintiff, who was arrested and incarcerated, before plaintiff was tried and found not guilty of the citation charge.

The court noted that, in order to survive a summary judgment challenge, a plaintiff must contain sufficient factual matter to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.

The court found that, as to his §1983 claim based on a failure to train/supervise/discipline, the plaintiff failed to identify a specific policy or procedure sanctioned by the police department or which the department failed to train its officers on, and instead only provided a general allegation that the police department and city failed to discipline, train, or supervise police officers who violated the rights of citizens. The court found that plaintiff failed to provide specific facts to support his general allegation, and further failed to establish the city’s contemporaneous knowledge of defendant’s actions, or the city’s deliberate indifference to citizens’ constitutional deprivations.

However, the court found that plaintiff had alleged sufficient facts to support his §1983 claim for malicious prosecution. The court noted that the facts showed that the defendant did not likely have probable cause to arrest the plaintiff. Although defendant argued that plaintiff’s arrest that led to incarceration was pursuant to a valid arrest warrant, the court noted that the warrant stemmed from the prior arrest of the plaintiff without probable cause, and defendant failed to provide any evidence to show that the second arrest was not related to the first.