Davila v. N. Reg'l Joint Police Bd.

Decision Date27 February 2019
Docket Number2:13-cv-00070
Citation370 F.Supp.3d 498
Parties Angelica DAVILA, Plaintiff, v. NORTHERN REGIONAL JOINT POLICE BOARD, et al., Defendants.
CourtU.S. District Court — Western District of Pennsylvania

Sara Rose, ACLU, Witold J. Walczak, ACLF of PA, Thomas J. Farrell, Farrell & Reisinger LLC, Pittsburgh, PA, for Plaintiff.

Sheryl L. Brown, Andrew J. Bellwoar, Siana, Bellwoar and McAndrew, LLP, Chester Springs, PA, for Defendants.


Mark R. Hornak, Chief United States District JudgeAngelica Davila ("Ms. Davila") brought this lawsuit alleging violations of her rights under the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments to the Constitution, made actionable by 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Ms. Davila alleges that Defendant Officer Andrew Bienemann ("Officer Bienemann") unlawfully detained her during a traffic stop when he extended the length of the traffic stop, without reasonable suspicion or probable cause to do so, in order to investigate Ms. Davila's immigration status. Ms. Davila also alleges that this detention violated the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment as being conducted because of Ms. Davila's Hispanic ethnicity and/or national origin. Ms. Davila further alleges that Officer Bienemann caused her to remain unlawfully jailed overnight after learning that she was legally residing in the United States by failing to notify the Allegheny County Jail (the "ACJ") of her lawful status.

At all times relevant to this case, Officer Bienemann was a patrol police officer employed by the Northern Regional Joint Police Board (the "NRJPB"), another Defendant in this case. (Third Amended Compl. ¶ 6, ECF No. 138 ). The NRJPB is a local governmental agency that provides police services for the municipalities of Pine, Richland, and Marshall Townships and Bradford Woods Borough in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania. (Pl.'s Concise Statement of Material Facts in Supp. of Mot. for Partial Summ. J. ("Pl.'s SMF") ¶¶ 1–2, ECF No. 236 ). Ms. Davila alleges that the NRJPB's customs, policies, and/or practices resulted in the deprivation of her Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment rights in connection with these incidents.

This case has a long and complicated procedural history. The Court first issued a lengthy opinion addressing the Defendants' motions to dismiss the Second Amended Complaint. Davila v. N. Reg'l Joint Police Bd. , 979 F.Supp.2d 612 (W.D. Pa. 2013) (" Davila I "). That Opinion was later vacated in part on further consideration. No. 13-70, 2014 WL 3735631 (W.D. Pa. July 28, 2014) (" Davila II "). Davila II was itself vacated in part on reconsideration. Davila v. United States , 247 F.Supp.3d 650 (W.D. Pa. 2017) (" Davila IV ").1 Officer Bienemann also moved to dismiss the claims in Ms. Davila's Third Amended Complaint against him, which the Court granted in part and denied in part. Davila v. N. Reg'l Joint Police Bd. , No. 13-70, 2016 WL 1252986 (W.D. Pa. Mar. 31, 2016) (" Davila III ").

Now before the Court is Ms. Davila's Motion for Partial Summary Judgment (ECF No. 234 ), Officer Bienemann's Motion for Summary Judgment (ECF No. 238 ), and the NRJPB's Motion for Summary Judgment (ECF No. 240 ). Ms. Davila seeks the entry of summary judgment in her favor and against Officer Bienemann on Counts I and V of the Third Amended Complaint for alleged violations of her Fourth Amendment rights to be free from unreasonable seizures and from false imprisonment. She also seeks the entry of summary judgment in her favor and against the NRJPB on Counts I and II of the Third Amended Complaint for alleged violations of her Fourth Amendment rights to be free from unreasonable seizures. Defendants Officer Bienemann and NRJPB seek the entry of summary judgment in their favor in all claims asserted against them. These Motions are fully briefed and ripe for disposition. For the reasons that follow, each Motion will be GRANTED IN PART and DENIED IN PART.


The following facts are undisputed. On January 22, 2011, Angelica Davila drove herself and her friend, Joel Garrete ("Mr. Garrete"), to Los Campos, a Mexican grocery store on U.S. Route 19 in Pine Township, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania. (Defendants' Statement of Material Facts in Supp. of Mot. for Summ. J. ("Defs.' SMF") ¶¶ 36–38, ECF No. 242 ; see also ECF No. 242-8 ). Ms. Davila and Mr. Garrete arrived at Los Campos sometime between 5:30 p.m. and 6:00 p.m. (Defs.' SMF ¶ 44). As the two left Los Campos, Ms. Davila turned right/north onto U.S. Route 19, a highway with two lanes in each direction. (Id. ¶¶ 46–47).

Officer Andrew Bienemann observed Ms. Davila travelling northbound in the left lane of Route 19. (Defs.' SMF ¶ 49). Ms. Davila's vehicle did not have its headlights on. (Id. ¶¶ 50, 57). Officer Bienemann thereupon initiated a traffic stop and reported the stop to Allegheny County Dispatch ("ACD") at 6:07 p.m. (Id. ¶ 52). Ms. Davila pulled her car over into the parking lot of a nearby restaurant. (Id. ¶ 54). Officer Bienemann approached Ms. Davila's vehicle and requested Ms. Davila's driver's license, vehicle registration, and proof of insurance. (Id. ¶ 56). Ms. Davila produced a valid and current Pennsylvania driver's license, vehicle registration, and proof of insurance. (Pl.'s SMF ¶ 29). Officer Bienemann also requested identification from Mr. Garrete. (Id. ¶ 58).

Mr. Garrete did not speak English, and Ms. Davila interpreted for Mr. Garrete during the traffic stop. (Defs.' SMF ¶¶ 60–61). After Mr. Garrete, through interpretation, answered "no" as to whether he had identification on him, Officer Bienemann asked Ms. Davila to ask Mr. Garrete if he was in the country legally. (Pl.'s SMF ¶¶ 33–34). Through Ms. Davila's interpretation, Mr. Garrete answered "no." (Id. ¶ 35). Officer Bienemann questioned Mr. Garrete about his immigration status because Mr. Garrete did not speak English and did not have a form of identification on him. (Id. ¶ 36). Officer Bienemann then asked Ms. Davila whether she was in the United States legally, and Ms. Davila responded that she was a legal permanent resident. (Id. ¶ 41).

Ms. Davila was born in Mexico in 1984 and immigrated to the United States with her parents when she was approximately two years old. (Dep. of Angelica Davila ("Davila Dep.") at 15:25–16:3, 169, 170, ECF No. 237-4 ). Ms. Davila received derivative United States citizenship pursuant to the Child Citizenship Act of 2000, 8 U.S.C. §§ 1431 – 33, on April 30, 2001. (Pl.'s SMF ¶ 10). Because she was a citizen, Ms. Davila had no obligation to carry a legal permanent resident card on January 22, 2011, the date of the incident.2 (Id. ¶ 12).

Officer Bienemann then returned to his patrol car and requested a backup unit to assist him. (Deposition of Andrew Bienemann ("Bienemann Dep.") at 62:3–25, ECF No. 237-3 ). Despite Ms. Davila indicating that she was lawfully present in the United States, and providing facially valid copies of the requested driving and identification documents, Officer Bienemann asked ACD to submit both Ms. Davila's and Mr. Garrete's names to United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement ("ICE") in order to check their immigration statuses. (Pl.'s SMF ¶ 43). Officer Bienemann admitted that, at the time of the request, Ms. Davila had done nothing to cause him to believe that she might not have been lawfully present in the United States. (Bienemann Dep. at 63:17–20). Rather, Officer Bienemann's justification for providing Ms. Davila's name to ICE was that "in the course of [his] years of experience" he had "encountered numerous people who ha[d] not told [him] the truth or had been less than truthful with [him]," and since he was already notifying ICE about Mr. Garrete, he wanted ICE to "run [Ms. Davila's] name as well just to confirm what she had told [him]." (Id. at 63:8–16).

A second officer, Officer Sabrina Devereaux, arrived on the scene at approximately 6:13 p.m. (Pl.'s Response to Defs.' Statement of Material Facts ("Pl.'s Resp. SMF") ¶ 68, ECF No. 250 ). Officer Mark Wolfe responded to the scene at 6:18 p.m. (Deposition of Mark Wolfe ("Wolfe Dep.") at 48:21–49:4, ECF No. 237-5 ). ACD entered Ms. Davila's and Mr. Garrete's information provided by Officer Bienemann into its system at 6:35 p.m. (Pl.'s Resp. SMF ¶ 73). At approximately 6:36 p.m., Officer Bienemann received confirmation from ACD that Ms. Davila's license, registration, and registration were valid and up to date. (Bienemann Dep. at 119:18–120:1, 121:7–15). ACD did not provide information about Ms. Davila's immigration status at that time. (Id. ). Sergeant John Sicilia arrived on scene shortly before 6:41 p.m. (Deposition of John Sicilia ("Sicilia Dep.") at 37:23–38:8, ECF No. 237-5 ). Sergeant Sicilia suggested that all of the cars on the scene at this point (four police cars, and Ms. Davila's) be moved to a vacant parking lot across the street. (Id. at 37:23–38:19). Officer Bienemann asked Ms. Davila to move her car to the vacant lot at approximately 6:41 p.m. (Bienemann Dep. at 114:6–13). Officer Bienemann remained roadside with Ms. Davila and Mr. Garrete while awaiting contact with an ICE agent. (Id. at 69:24–71:12). Officer Bienemann testified during his deposition that Ms. Davila was not free to leave at any point during the roadside stop. (Id. at 86:5–9).

At 6:34 p.m., ICE received an immigration alien query ("IAQ") for Ms. Davila and responded that "this subject is not legally in the United States and appears to be subject to removal proceedings." (ECF No. 242-16 ). There was no match found in their database for Mr. Garrete. (ECF No. 242-10 ). At 6:54 p.m., an individual from ACD contacted the ICE Law Enforcement Support Center ("LESC") regarding Ms. Davila and Mr. Garrete. (ECF No. 242-21 ). That individual inquired as to how to proceed with Ms. Davila and Mr. Garrete and purported to be speaking with Officer Bienemann, who remained on the scene. (ECF No. 242-20 ). The individual from ACD advised the individual purported to be Officer Bienemann that "we're going to continue just where you are...

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