Wilson v. Lyons

Decision Date09 July 2003
Docket NumberNo. CIV. 02-218-P-H.,CIV. 02-218-P-H.
Citation270 F.Supp.2d 73
PartiesChristopher WILSON, Plaintiff v. Stephen LYONS, et al., Defendants
CourtU.S. District Court — District of Maine

Thomas J. Connolly, Portland, ME, for Christopher Wilson, plaintiff. Edward R. Benjamin, Jr., Thompson & Bowie, Portland, ME, for Stephen Lyons, Sean Lally, defendants.


HORNBY, District Judge.

The United States Magistrate Judge filed with the court on May 22, 2003, with copies to counsel, his Recommended Decision on Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment. Docket No. 12. The plaintiff filed an objection to the Recommended Decision and a request for oral argument on June 6, 2003. Oral argument was held on July 8, 2003. I have reviewed and considered the Recommended Decision, together with the entire record; I have made a de novo determination of all matters adjudicated by the Recommended Decision; and I concur with the recommendations of the United States Magistrate Judge for the reasons set forth in his Recommended Decision, with one observation and one exception, and determine that no further proceeding is necessary.

First, on Counts 7 and 8, Torres v. Superintendent of Police of Puerto Rico, 893 F.2d 404 (1st Cir.1990), controls, and the plaintiffs case does not meet Torres's standard. Any excessive force was not in connection with the use of the judicial process, but instead followed upon it.

Second, I disagree with the Magistrate Judge on the applicability of United States v. Lombard, 853 F.Supp. 543, 546 n. 2 (D.Me.1993). Relying on Lombard, the Magistrate Judge gave collateral estoppel effect here to the state judge's ruling on the plaintiffs suppression motion in a criminal case that the police officers had probable cause to arrest him. But in that criminal proceeding, the plaintiff (there the defendant) could not appeal the adverse ruling because he was acquitted at trial. Thus, the plaintiff never had the opportunity to attack the adverse ruling. Whatever Lombard's correctness 1 and scope2 when it was decided, the Maine Law Court has recently made clear that the availability of appeal is critical for a prior court's suppression order to have collateral estoppel effect.

First, there obviously must be an identity of issues in the two proceedings. Second, a defendant must have had sufficient incentive to have vigorously and thoroughly litigated the issue in previous proceedings.... Third, the defendant estopped must have been a party to the previous litigation. Fourth, the applicable law must be identical in both proceedings .... Fifth and finally, the first proceeding must result in a final judgment on the merits that provides the defendant not only the opportunity to appeal, but also sufficient incentive.

State of Maine v. Hider, 715 A.2d 942, 946 (Me.1998), quoting Richard B. Kennelly Jr., Precluding the Accused: Offensive Collateral Estoppel in Criminal Cases, 80 Va. L.Rev. 1379, 1385 (1994). I follow this most recent pronouncement, and decline to give collateral estoppel effect to the Maine District Court's finding of probable cause.

It is therefore ORDERED that the Recommended Decision of the Magistrate Judge is hereby ADOPTED IN PART AND REJECTED IN PART. The defendants' motion for summary judgment is GRANTED as to Counts VII and VIII and as to any claims in Counts V and VI arising out of the defendants' testimony in any state-court proceeding, and is otherwise DENIED.



DAVID M. COHEN, United States Magistrate Judge.

The defendants, Stephen Lyons and Sean Lally, police officers in Westbrook, Maine, move for summary judgment in this action that was removed to this court from the Maine Superior Court (Cumberland County). I recommend that the court grant the motion in part.

I. Summary Judgment Standard

Summary judgment is appropriate only if the record shows "that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c). "In this regard, `material' means that a contested fact has the potential to change the outcome of the suit under the governing law if the dispute over it is resolved favorably to the nonmovant. By like token, `genuine' means that `the evidence about the fact is such that a reasonable jury could resolve the point in favor of the nonmoving party.'" Navarro v. Pfizer Corp., 261 F.3d 90, 93-94 (1st Cir.2001) (quoting McCarthy v. Northwest Airlines, Inc., 56 F.3d 313, 315 (1st Cir.1995)).

The party moving for summary judgment must demonstrate an absence of evidence to support the nonmoving party's case. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 325, 106 S.Ct. 2548, 91 L.Ed.2d 265 (1986). In determining whether this burden is met, the court must view the record in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party and give that party the benefit of all reasonable inferences in its favor. Nicolo v. Philip Morris, Inc., 201 F.3d 29, 33 (1st Cir.2000). Once the moving party has made a preliminary showing that no genuine issue of material fact exists, the nonmovant must "produce specific facts, in suitable evidentiary form, to establish the presence of a trialworthy issue." Triangle Trading Co. v. Robroy Indus., Inc., 200 F.3d 1, 2 (1st Cir.1999) (citation and internal punctuation omitted); Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e). "As to any essential factual element of its claim on which the nonmovant would bear the burden of proof at trial, its failure to come forward with sufficient evidence to generate a trialworthy issue warrants summary judgment to the moving party." In re Spigel, 260 F.8d 27, 31 (1st Cir.2001) (citation and internal punctuation omitted).

II. Factual Background

The following undisputed material facts are appropriately presented by the defendants in their statement of material facts in accordance with this court's Local Rule 56.

In September 2000 defendant Lyons was employed by the City of Westbrook as a detective sergeant. Defendants' Statement of Material Facts ("Defendants' SMF") (Docket No. 8) ¶ 1; Plaintiff's Objection to Defendant's Statement of Material Facts ("Plaintiff's Responsive SMF") (Docket No. 10) ¶ 1. In September 2000 defendant Lally was employed as a detective with the Westbrook Police Department. Id. ¶ 4. Both were graduates of the Maine Criminal Justice Academy and certified by the state to function as police officers in the state. Id. ¶¶ 2, 5.

On September 19, 2000 Westbrook police officer Stephen Crocker took an incident report concerning the theft on September 16 or 17 of an all-terrain vehicle ("ATV") from a person who identified himself as Steve Foster. Id. ¶¶ 7, 10. Foster is the service manager for Dead River Oil Company and had stored two ATVs at the Dead River bulk plant at 14 Terminal Way, Westbrook. Id. ¶ 8. The bulk plant is a fenced-in area containing large propane storage tanks. Id. ¶ 9. On the morning of September 21, 2000 Lyons spoke with Foster on the telephone about his complaint. Id, ¶ 11. Foster told Lyons that he suspected the manager of the Dead River bulk plant, the plaintiff, knew something about the theft of the ATV. Id. ¶ 12. Foster told Lyons that the plaintiff had physical control of the bulk plant, was often alone at the plant and was responsible for securing the facility at night. Defendants' SMF ¶ 13.1 Foster told Lyons that he had reason to suspect the plaintiff in the theft of the ATV. Id. ¶ 14.2 Foster further advised Lyons that relatives of his, Genaro and Linda Balzano, who live on the same street as the plaintiff, saw a pickup truck with an ATV in the back the previous weekend and that they had observed the plaintiff and a group of young men standing around the pickup and ATV in front of the plaintiffs house at that time. Id. ¶ 16.3 Lyons asked Foster if he believed the plaintiff had stolen the ATV himself and Foster replied that he "wasn't sure." Defendants' SMF ¶ 17; Plaintiff's Responsive SMF ¶ 17. Foster clearly conveyed to Lyons his suspicion that the plaintiff at least had information about his stolen ATV. Id. ¶ 18.

Lyons told Foster that he would contact the plaintiff and inquire about his knowledge of the theft. Id. ¶ 19. Following his conversation with Foster, Lyons telephoned the plaintiff at the bulk plant and asked if it was possible for him to come to the Westbrook police station to discuss the theft of Foster's ATV. Id. ¶ 20. After further conversation, Lyons told the plaintiff that he would come to the bulk plant immediately to speak with him. Id. ¶¶ 22-23. Lally accompanied Lyons to the bulk plant to interview the plaintiff. Id. ¶ 24. At the plant an employee directed the detectives to the rear of the building when they asked for the plaintiff. Id. ¶ 25. Lyons and Lally met the plaintiff at the rear of the building, identifying themselves as Westbrook police detectives. Id. ¶¶ 26-28. The plaintiff sat on a propane tank and the detectives stood within four or five feet of him. Id. ¶¶ 32-33. Lyons told the plaintiff that he had received information to the effect that someone had seen him with Foster's stolen ATV. Id. ¶ 34.

The plaintiff's response to this statement is very much in dispute. At some point, the defendants decided to arrest the plaintiff. Defendants' SMF ¶ 43.4 The defendant was handcuffed while on the ground and then the defendants stood him up. Id. ¶¶ 47-48.5 Lally then adjusted the handcuffs and double locked them for the plaintiffs comfort. Id. ¶ 49.6 The defendants then led the plaintiff to the front of the building, where Lyons patted him down for weapons and had him sit on the front stairs. Defendants' SMF ¶ 50; Plaintiff's Responsive SMF ¶ 50. Lally radioed for a uniformed officer to transport the plaintiff to the county jail. Id. ¶ 51. The plaintiff did not complain of any injuries at this time. Id. ¶ 53. Lyons read the plaintiff his Miranda rights. Id. ¶ 55. The plaintiff told Lyons that he did not steal...

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    ...determination in part because defendant was subsequently acquitted and therefore lacked the opportunity to appeal); Wilson v. Lyons, 270 F.Supp.2d 73, 75 (D.Me.2003) (rejecting application of collateral estoppel in malicious prosecution action because “in [the] criminal proceeding, the plai......

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