85 F.3d 1521 (11th Cir. 1996), 94-5300, Ortega v. Christian

Docket Nº:94-5300.
Citation:85 F.3d 1521
Party Name:Fernando Alberto ORTEGA, Plaintiff-Appellant, v. W. CHRISTIAN, Officer, individually, and as police officer for Metro-Dade Police Department; Fred Taylor, individually as Director/Chief of Police of Metro-Dade Police Department, Metro-Dade Police Department, a political subdivision of Dade County, Florida, Defendants-Appellee.
Case Date:June 25, 1996
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit
 
FREE EXCERPT

Page 1521

85 F.3d 1521 (11th Cir. 1996)

Fernando Alberto ORTEGA, Plaintiff-Appellant,

v.

W. CHRISTIAN, Officer, individually, and as police officer

for Metro-Dade Police Department; Fred Taylor, individually

as Director/Chief of Police of Metro-Dade Police Department,

Metro-Dade Police Department, a political subdivision of

Dade County, Florida, Defendants-Appellee.

No. 94-5300.

United States Court of Appeals, Eleventh Circuit

June 25, 1996

Page 1522

[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

Page 1523

Douglas S. Lyons, Alan Goodman, Lyons and Farrar, P.A., Coral Gables, Florida, for Appellant.

Mitchell Alexander Bierman, Dade County Attorney's Office, Miami, FL, for Appellees.

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida.

Before HATCHETT and BARKETT, Circuit Judges, and OAKES [*], Senior Circuit Judge.

HATCHETT, Circuit Judge:

Appellant, Fernando Alberto Ortega, appeals the district court's order granting a judgment on the pleadings in favor of appellees, Officer William Christian, Chief Fred Taylor, and the Metro-Dade Police Department on his claims for false arrest and false imprisonment under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. We reverse.

FACTS

On January 21, 1992, the Metro-Dade Police Department (MDPD) received a report of a robbery and kidnapping. On January 23, 1992, a confidential informant informed the MDPD and Officer Christian that an organized group of which he was a member committed the robbery. The informant stated that he knew the member who committed the robbery, provided the address of the alleged robber's residence, and proceeded with Christian to that address. That address belonged to Ortega's brother.

Upon arrival at the address, the informant identified Ortega and his brother as the men

Page 1524

who committed the robbery. Christian immediately arrested both men and searched the residence. Ortega proclaimed his innocence and requested an opportunity to prove a case of mistaken identity. Christian refused to comply with Ortega's request and failed to make any inquiries into the claims of innocence. The MDPD held Ortega in custody for five months without bond until Ortega's bond hearing on June 3, 1992. At the bond hearing, the court ordered the release of Ortega from custody.

The victim of the robbery never identified Ortega as the person who committed the robbery. Ortega, however, repeatedly proclaimed his innocence and demanded an opportunity to appear in a line-up or a photo spread. The MDPD scheduled and cancelled Ortega for a line-up or photo spread on three separate occasions--April 24, April 30, and May 14--during the five months of his incarceration.

PROCEDURAL HISTORY

On April 22, 1994, Ortega filed a complaint in the state courts against Officer William Christian, in his individual capacity, Chief Fred Taylor, in his individual capacity, and the Metro-Dade Police Department, seeking damages pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and common law on claims of false arrest and false imprisonment. The appellees-defendants removed the case from state court to federal court. Accepting as true the facts presented in Ortega's complaint, the appellees filed a motion for judgment on the pleadings. After a time extension, Ortega filed a memorandum in opposition to appellees' motion for judgment on the pleadings. The district court granted appellees' motion for judgment on the pleadings finding that probable cause existed to arrest Ortega; therefore, Ortega could not prevail on a false arrest claim under common law or section 1983. Additionally, the district court held that Ortega's false imprisonment claim, which was predicated on the false arrest claim, failed under common law and section 1983. Ortega filed a timely motion for reconsideration of the order, which the district court denied.

CONTENTIONS

Ortega contends that Christian lacked probable cause to arrest him because Christian had no information that could have led him to believe that Ortega participated in the robbery, or lived at the address that the informant provided. Next, Ortega contends that his detention, which followed the unlawful arrest, violated his constitutional rights under section 1983, and that his false arrest claim is separate and distinct from...

To continue reading

FREE SIGN UP