Sacchetti v. Gallaudet Univ.

Decision Date29 October 2018
Docket NumberCivil Action No. 15-455 (RBW)
Citation344 F.Supp.3d 233
Parties Terrylene SACCHETTI and Robert Manganelli, Plaintiffs, v. GALLAUDET UNIVERSITY and the District of Columbia, Defendants.
CourtU.S. District Court — District of Columbia

Justin D. Grosz, Morelli Alters LLP, Dania Beach, FL, for Plaintiffs.

Jason R. Waters, Peter Meredith Moore, Wilson Elser Moskowitz Edelman & Dicker, LLP, McLean, VA, Cara J. Spencer, Steven J. Anderson, Office of the Attorney General for the District of Columbia, Washington, DC, for Defendants.


REGGIE B. WALTON, United States District Judge

The plaintiffs, Terrylene Sacchetti and Robert Manganelli, in their individual capacities and as representatives of the Estate of Gianni Manganelli, bring this suit against defendants Gallaudet University ("Gallaudet") and the District of Columbia (the "District"), asserting violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA"), 42 U.S.C. §§ 12101 – 12213 (2012), and common law claims for false arrest. Compl. ¶¶ 160–272. Currently pending before the Court are Defendant Gallaudet's Motion to Exclude Testimony of [the] Plaintiff's Expert Michael Welner, M.D. ("Gallaudet's 702 Mot."); the Plaintiffs' Motion to Strike the District of Columbia's Undisclosed Exhibits ("Pls.' Mot. to Strike"), and the defendants' motions for summary judgment, see Defendant Gallaudet University's Motion for Summary Judgment ("Gallaudet's Summ. J. Mot."); Defendant the District of Columbia's Motion for Summary Judgment ("District's Summ. J. Mot."). Upon careful consideration of the parties' submissions,1 the Court concludes that it must grant Gallaudet's motion to exclude the testimony of Dr. Welner, deny the plaintiffs' motion to strike the District's exhibits, and grant in part, deny in part, and hold in abeyance in part the defendants' motions for summary judgment.

A. Factual Background

The following facts are undisputed by the parties, unless otherwise indicated. The plaintiffs are the parents of Gianni Manganelli ("Manganelli"), see Gallaudet's Facts ¶¶ 1–2; Pls.' Reply to Gallaudet's Facts ¶¶ 1–2, who is now deceased, see Gallaudet's Facts ¶ 164; Pls.' Reply to Gallaudet's Facts ¶ 164. Manganelli "was deaf from the age of two onward." Gallaudet's Facts ¶ 3; see Pls.' Reply to Gallaudet's Facts ¶ 3. "During the summer of 2013, [Manganelli] decided ... to enroll at Gallaudet," and he "accepted admission to Gallaudet [ ] for the school year beginning August 2013." Gallaudet's Facts ¶¶ 45–46; see Pls.' Reply to Gallaudet's Facts ¶¶ 45–46. Manganelli "and Spencer Opie became roommates at Gallaudet at the start of the 2014 [s]pring semester." Gallaudet's Facts ¶ 64; see Pls.' Reply to Gallaudet's Facts ¶ 64.

1. Manganelli's Interactions with Opie on March 28, 2014

"Around midday on Friday, Marc[h] 28, 2014, [ ] Manganelli ... was in his dorm[itory] room folding clothes when ... Opie ... walked in and tried to talk to him." Pls.' Facts ¶ 1; see Gallaudet's Facts ¶ 73 (asserting that "on March 28, 2014, [Opie] returned to the dorm[itory] room"). Manganelli "just stared [blankly at Opie], with no response," Pls.' Facts ¶ 1; see Gallaudet's Facts ¶ 74 (asserting that Manganelli "stared menacingly at [ ] Opie"), which "Opie thought ... was odd" behavior, Pls.' Facts ¶ 3 (citing Pls.' Summ. J. Opp'n, Exhibit ("Ex.") K (Deposition of Spencer Opie (May 4, 2017) ("Opie Dep.") ) 83:10–15). According to Opie, Manganelli's "behavior had been strange since Spring Break," and Manganelli "seemed scared and paranoid." Id. ¶ 2 (citing Pls.' Summ. J. Opp'n, Ex. K (Opie Dep.) 81:24–82:6). Manganelli "went to the bathroom[,] and when he came back[, he] said that [Opie] had ruined everything,’ " id. ¶ 4 (quoting Pls.' Summ. J. Opp'n, Ex. K (Opie Dep.) 31:11–13), and he "drew an imaginary line down the middle of the room and asked Opie to stay on his side" of the line, id. ¶ 6; see Gallaudet's Facts ¶ 74 (asserting that Manganelli "told [Opie] that he was mad at [him], that [ ] Opie had ‘ruined everything,’ and insisted that [ ] Opie stay on his side of the room"). Then, "Opie ‘got up’ and approached" Manganelli, and in response, Manganelli " ‘almost raised his hand openly and then he left.’ " Pls.' Facts ¶ 7 (quoting Pls.' Summ. J. Opp'n, Ex. K (Opie Dep.) 31:18–20); see Gallaudet's Facts ¶ 75 ("Opie testified that [Manganelli] raised a hand as if to hit him but did not make contact, storming out of the room instead.").

Manganelli "went directly to the bathroom," and "Opie immediately pursued [him]." Pls.' Facts ¶¶ 8–9. On the way, "Opie ran into a friend, John, in the hallway, and ... [they both] went into the bathroom," where "[t]hey found [Manganelli] in a shower stall." Id. ¶¶ 10–11; see Gallaudet's Facts ¶ 76 ("Opie testified that he went to look for [Manganelli] and that he and a friend, John Delatto, found [Manganelli] hiding in the men's shower."). "Opie confronted [Manganelli,] asking[,] ‘What's wrong with you?’ " Pls.' Facts ¶ 13 (quoting Pls.' Summ. J. Opp'n, Ex. K (Opie Dep.) 33:11–12). In response, Manganelli "pulled his arm back but did not swing at Opie," id. ¶ 14, and "John stepped in between Opie and [Manganelli]," id. ¶ 15. Manganelli "told Opie and John to leave him alone," id. ¶ 16, and "Opie and John left the bathroom," id. ¶ 17, with "John [telling] Opie that [Manganelli] seems pretty emotional, just let him be,’ " id. ¶ 18.

Following this incident, Manganelli "went to class." Id. ¶ 19. Afterward, he "made a report to [a] [r]esident [a]ssistant, ... advising her that he had been violated by ... Opie, who had walked into him intentionally while he was in the shower after [he] made it clear to [Opie] that [Opie] was to leave him alone." Id. ¶ 43 (second and third alterations in original) (internal quotation marks omitted). The resident assistant then "authored and submitted an incident report documenting [Manganelli's] concerns about [ ] [Opie] ..., which was routed to Adrienne Morgan, [a] Coordinator of Residential Education (CRE) at Gallaudet." Id. ¶ 44. Then, Manganelli "went to see [ ] Morgan," id. ¶ 45, "and told her he was concerned about Opie's personal violations and asked [her] for another room," id. ¶ 47; see Gallaudet's Facts ¶ 82 (asserting that Manganelli "visited [ ] Morgan[ ] ... to ask[ ] for another room because he felt that his roommate ... had violated his boundaries and he no longer felt safe"). However, "Morgan[ ] ... rejected his request." Pls.' Facts ¶ 53; see Gallaudet's Facts ¶ 83 ("Morgan inquired, but she did not feel [Manganelli]'s explanation justified an emergency room re-assignment.").

"In the meantime, ... Opie ... ran into a friend, Jason Scherrenberg." Pls.' Facts ¶ 37. After "explain[ing to Scherrenberg] what happened with [Manganelli] earlier that afternoon," id. ¶ 39, "Scherrenberg offered to let Opie stay at his room for the night," id. ¶ 38. "Around midnight, [ ] Opie returned to [his] dorm[itory] with [ ] Scherrenberg to collect [his] belongings from [his] room." Gallaudet's Facts ¶ 87; see Pls.' Reply to Gallaudet's Facts ¶ 87. When "Opie went up to the room and opened the door," Pls.' Facts ¶ 60, Manganelli "did not say anything to Opie," id. ¶ 61. However, "when Scherrenberg tried to come into the room[,] [ ] [Manganelli] got up from where he was sitting," id. ¶ 63, and "told Scherrenberg that he did not know him and did not want him in his room," id. ¶ 64. Manganelli "asked Scherrenberg to leave," id. ¶ 65, but "Scherrenberg resisted and would not leave," id. ¶ 66. In response, Manganelli "approached Scherrenberg and told [him] that he [ ] would fight him [ ] if Scherrenberg [did not] leave." Id. ¶ 67. "Scherrenberg and Opie left without getting Opie's toiletries." Id. ¶ 68.

Then, "Opie and [ ] Scherrenberg went to Laura Crowder, the Residential Assistant [ ] for [the dormitory], to report what happened." Gallaudet's Facts ¶ 89; see Pls.' Reply to Gallaudet's Facts ¶ 89. "Crowder prepared a report of the incident on Gallaudet's reporting system," Gallaudet's Facts ¶ 90; see Pls.' Reply to Gallaudet's Facts ¶ 90, and, according to Crowder, she "also contacted Gallaudet's [Department of Public Safety ("DPS") ] via instant message," Gallaudet's Facts ¶ 91; see Pls.' Reply to Gallaudet's Facts ¶ 91 ("[a]dmitting that [ ] Crowder claims to have contacted DPS"). Meanwhile, Manganelli "sent an email to Gallaudet CRE Thuan Nguyen, at 12:38 a.m.," Pls.' Facts ¶ 72, which described the incident in the bathroom, stated that Manganelli was "afraid for [his] safety around" Opie, and requested that Nguyen "assign [him] to a different room immediately," id. (internal quotation marks and citation omitted); see Gallaudet's Facts ¶ 92 (asserting that Manganelli "sent an email complaining about the incident to ... Nguyen").

2. Manganelli's Interactions with Gallaudet DPS Officers

Thereafter, at "[a]bout 12:30 a.m. [on March 29, 2014], DPS dispatched Lieutenant Daniel Bauer ... via text" to Manganelli and Opie's room. Gallaudet's Facts ¶ 93; see Pls.' Reply to Gallaudet's Facts ¶ 93 ("[a]dmitting that Bauer was dispatched by Gallaudet to respond to a room in the dorm[itory], which was ultimately discovered to belong to [Manganelli] and Opie").2 According to Lieutenant Bauer's deposition testimony, which the plaintiffs dispute, see Pls.' Reply to Gallaudet's Facts ¶¶ 93, 95–108,3 the text message "stat[ed] that there was ‘a man in a room hurting ten [ ] people,’ " Pls.' Facts ¶ 74 (quoting Pls.' Summ. J. Opp'n, Ex. A (Deposition of Lieutenant Daniel Bauer (Mar. 6, 2017) ("Bauer Dep.") ) 22:1–23:8). However, it is undisputed that, at the time he received the message, Lieutenant "Bauer did not know [Manganelli] or that it was his dorm[itory] room." Gallaudet's Facts ¶ 100; see Pls.' Reply to Gallaudet's Facts ¶ 100.

"At about 12:45 a.m.[,] ... [Lieutenant] Bauer arrived at [Manganelli's] door." Pls.' Facts ¶ 73. According to Lieutenant Bauer's testimony, which, again, the plaintiffs dispute in many respects, see ...

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