Spadaro v. City of Miramar et al
ORDER denying 448 Defendants Pierson and Mantesta's Renewed Motion for Judgment as a Matter of Law and Motion for New Trial. Signed by Judge James I. Cohn on 9/23/2013. (npd)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF FLORIDA
CASE NO.: 11-61607-CIV-COHN/SELTZER
DONALD R. SPADARO, as Limited
Guardian for ANTHONY CARAVELLA,
CITY OF MIRAMAR, etc., et al.,
ORDER DENYING DEFENDANTS PIERSON AND MANTESTA’S RENEWED
MOTION FOR JUDGMENT AS A MATTER OF LAW AND MOTION FOR NEW TRIAL
THIS CAUSE is before the Court upon Defendants, Pierson’s and Mantesta’s
Renewed Motion for Judgment as a Matter of Law and Motion for New Trial [DE 448]
(“Motion”). The Court has carefully reviewed the Motion, Plaintiff’s Response [DE 460]
(“Response”), Defendants Pierson and Mantesta’s Reply [DE 475] (“Reply”), the record
in the case, and is otherwise fully advised in the premises.
On February 7, 2013, the Court granted in part and denied in part Defendants’
motions for summary judgment. See February 7, 2013 Order. In the February 7, 2013
Order, the Court granted summary judgment for Defendants City of Miramar, George
Pierson (“Pierson”), William Mantesta (“Mantesta”), and William Guess (collectively
“City Defendants”) on Anthony Caravella’s (“Caravella”) claim for negligent hiring (Count
A full recitation of the background of this case may be found in the Court’s
Order Granting in Part and Denying in Part Defendants’ Motions for Summary
Judgment [DE 367] (“February 7, 2013 Order”).
VI),2 42 U.S.C. § 1983 claim for failure to properly train, supervise, control, or otherwise
screen employees (Count VII),3 and violations of the Florida Racketeer Influenced and
Corrupt Organizations Act, Fla. Stat. § 772.103 (Counts XIII, XIV, and XV). The Court
also granted summary judgment for Defendants Scott Israel (“Israel”), Kenneth C.
Jenne, II, and Anthony Fantigrassi (“Fantigrassi”) on a claim for supervisory liability
pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (Count X),4 claim for negligent hiring (Count XI),5 42
U.S.C. § 1983 claim for failure to properly train, supervise, control, or otherwise screen
its employees (Count XII),6 and violations of the Florida Racketeer Influenced and
Corrupt Organizations Act, Fla. Stat. § 772.103 (Counts XIII, XIV, and XV). Because
summary judgment was granted on all claims against Defendant Kenneth C. Jenne, II,
the Court entered a final judgment in favor of him and against Caravella. See DE 368.
All remaining claims proceeded to trial after the Court denied Caravella’s motion for
reconsideration. See DE 389.
A jury trial commenced in this case on February 19, 2013. See DE 401. After
16 days of testimony, Caravella rested his case. See DE 422. Defendants then moved
This claim was against Defendant City of Miramar only. The Court
allowed the claim to proceed to the extent it was premised on theories of negligent
supervision and/or retention.
This claim was against Defendant City of Miramar only.
This claim was against Defendant Kenneth C. Jenne, II only.
This claim was against Defendant Israel in his official capacity only. The
Court allowed the claim to proceed to the extent it was premised on theories of
negligent supervision and/or retention.
This claim was brought against Defendant Israel in his official capacity
for judgment as a matter of law pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 50. The
Court granted the City Defendants’ Rule 50 motion as to Caravella’s conspiracy claim
brought pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (Count V), denied the motion as to the 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983 claims brought under Brady and malicious prosecution theories (Count IV), and
denied the motion as to the intentional infliction of emotional distress claims against
Pierson, Mantesta, and Guess (Counts I, II, and III). See DE 422. The Court deferred
ruling on the City of Miramar’s Rule 50 motion as to the negligent retention and/or
supervision claim (Count VI) until the next morning to allow Caravella to conduct further
research on the issue. See id. The Court granted Defendants Israel and Fantigrassi’s
Rule 50 motion as to the conspiracy claim brought pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (Count
V), denied the motion as to the 42 U.S.C. § 1983 claims brought under Brady and
malicious prosecution theories (Count IX), and denied the motion as to the intentional
infliction of emotional distress claim against Fantigrassi (Counts VIII). See id. The
Court also deferred ruling on Israel’s Rule 50 motion as to the negligent retention
and/or supervision claim (Count XI) until the next morning. See id.
After further argument, the Court granted the City of Miramar’s Rule 50 motion
as to the negligent retention and/or supervision claim (Count VI) and Defendant Israel’s
Rule 50 motion as to the negligent retention and/or supervision claim (Count XI). See
DE 424. Defendants Pierson, Mantesta, Guess, and Fantigrassi then presented their
cases. See DE 424, 425.7 Prior to submission of the case to the jury, Caravella
elected to voluntary dismiss his intentional infliction of emotional distress claims
At this time, no claims remained as to the City of Miramar and Israel.
(Counts I, II, III, VIII). Thus, the only claims that remained to be submitted to the jury
were Caravella’s claims for violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1983 under malicious prosecution,
Fifth Amendment and due process theories against Defendants Pierson, Mantesta,
Guess, and Fantigrassi. Following a charge conference, the parties presented their
closing arguments and the case was submitted to the jury. See DE 425.
Following three days of jury deliberation, the jury returned a verdict which found
no liability for Defendants Guess and Fantigrassi and liability under all three theories as
to Defendants Pierson and Manteta. Special Interrogatory Verdict Form [DE 441]. The
jury awarded Caravella $1,000,000 in compensatory damages against Pierson and
$1,500,000 in compensatory damages against Mantesta. Id. at 4. The jury also
awarded $2,000,000 in punitive damages as to Pierson and $2,500,000 in punitive
damages as to Mantesta. The Court entered a final judgment on March 27, 2013. See
DE 444. Defendants Pierson and Mantesta have now renewed their motion for
judgment as a matter of law pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 50(b).
Alternatively, Pierson and Mantesta seek a new trial pursuant to Rule 59. Caravella
opposes the Motion.
A. Legal Standard.
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 50(b) governs a motion for judgment as a matter
of law. When ruling on a 50(b) motion, the Court views all of the evidence adduced at
trial and draws all reasonable inferences in the light most favorable to the non-moving
party. Cleveland v. Home Shopping Network, Inc., 369 F.3d 1189, 1192-93 (11th Cir.
2004). “The trial judge may not re-weigh the evidence, make credibility determinations
or substitute its judgment for that of the jury.” Hudson v. Chertoff, 473 F. Supp. 2d
1279, 1283 (S.D. Fla. 2007) (citing Montgomery v. Noga, 168 F.3d 1282, 1289 (11th
On the other hand, to grant a motion for a new trial, “a trial judge must determine
if in his opinion, the verdict is against the clear weight of the evidence . . . or will result
in a miscarriage of justice, even though there may be substantial evidence which would
prevent the direction of a verdict.” Hewitt v. B.F. Goodrich Co., 732 F.2d 1554, 1556
(11th Cir. 1984) (internal citations and quotations omitted). “[T]o assure that the judge
does not simply substitute his judgment for that of the jury, . . . new trials should not be
granted on evidentiary grounds unless, at a minimum, the verdict is against the great –
not merely the greater – weight of the evidence.” Id. (quoting Conway v. Chem.
Leaman Tank Lines, Inc., 610 F.2d 360, 363 (5th Cir. 1980)). Moreover, a motion for a
new trial is left to the discretion of the trial court. Hercaire Int’l, Inc. v. Argentina, 821
F.2d 559, 562 (11th Cir. 1987). The Court will not grant a motion for a new trial “merely
because the losing party can probably present a better case on another trial.” Hudson,
473 F. Supp. 2d at 1285.
B. Fourth Amendment Malicious Prosecution Claim.
1. Whether There was an Evidentiary Basis Supporting an Absence of Probable Cause.
Defendants Pierson and Mantesta first contend that they are entitled to judgment
as a matter of law on Caravella’s section 1983 malicious prosecution claim because
there was no legally sufficient evidentiary basis for a jury to find an absence of probable
cause. Motion at 6. Specifically, Pierson and Mantesta argue that Caravella admitted
to his involvement in the homicide at least two times outside the presence of Pierson
and Mantesta prior to confessing his involvement to them. Id. at 7. Pierson and
Mantesta also argue that the results of the polygraph which found that Caravella’s
confession was truthful also establish probable cause. Id. at 8. Finally, Defendants
Pierson and Mantesta point to other evidence adduced at trial which they contend
establishes probable cause. Id. at 8-9. In opposition, Caravella points to “substantial
evidence presented at trial from which the jury could reasonably conclude that the
Defendants had targeted Anthony Caravella to frame him for this crime.” Response at
To establish malicious prosecution under section 1983, a plaintiff must prove an
absence of probable cause. Kingsland v. City of Miami, 382 F.3d 1220, 1234 (11th Cir.
2004). Probable cause is defined as “facts and circumstances sufficient to warrant a
prudent man in believing that the suspect had committed or was committing an
offense.” Grider v. City of Auburn, 618 F.3d 1240, 1257 (11th Cir. 2010) (quoting
Gerstein v. Pugh, 420 U.S. 103, 111 (1975) (internal quotation marks omitted)). “It is
well settled that in an action to recover damages for malicious prosecution where ... the
evidence is in dispute, the existence or non-existence of malice and want of probable
cause are questions of fact for the jury.” Williams v. Miami-Dade Police Dep’t, 297 F.
App’x 941, 947 (11th Cir. 2008) (quoting Kingsland, 382 F.3d at 1235 (internal quotation
marks and citation omitted)).
At trial, Caravella had the burden of establishing his section 1983 malicious
prosecution claim. The jury found that Caravella had produced sufficient evidence to
establish his section 1983 malicious prosecution claim, including an absence of
probable cause. The Court agrees with Caravella that the evidence presented at trial is
sufficient to support the jury's finding of an absence of probable cause. Both the
evidence and the proper inferences to be drawn from the evidence were contested, and
a reasonable jury could have resolved credibility disputes in favor of Caravella and
found that Pierson and Mantesta lacked probable cause. Indeed, as Caravella points
out, the jury could have credited evidence demonstrating that Pierson and Mantesta
had off-tape, conversations, including trips to the crime scene, with Caravella outside
the presence of his mother prior to his confessions to his mother and Fantigrassi. See
Response at 5-7. Moreover, the mere fact that the jury found Fantigrassi not liable on
Caravella’s section 1983 claims does not mean that the jury accepted the results of the
polygraph. See Motion at 8. This contention is mere speculation on the part of Pierson
and Mantesta. See Response at 9. Finally, as Caravella indicates in his Response, the
other evidence Pierson and Mantesta contend establishes probable cause is far from
undisputed. See id. at 10-13. Accordingly, drawing all inferences in favor of the nonmoving party, Caravella, Pierson and Mantesta’s motion for judgment as a matter of law
must be denied as to this issue. See Rankin v. Evans, 133 F.3d 1425,1435 (11th Cir.
2. Whether There was an Evidentiary Basis Supporting that Pierson and Mantesta
Were the Cause of Caravella’s Criminal Prosecution.
Next, Pierson and Mantesta contend that there was no sufficient evidentiary
In their Reply, Pierson and Mantesta assert that the Court should
determine whether they had arguable probable cause for arresting Caravella. See
Reply at 11-14. Although Pierson and Mantesta failed to raise the issue of arguable
probable cause in their Motion, the Court nonetheless finds that the evidence adduced
at trial is sufficient to establish that Pierson and Mantesta lacked arguable probable
cause to arrest Caravella.
basis for a jury to find that they were the cause of Caravella’s prosecution because the
prosecutor and the grand jury actually made the decision to prosecute. Motion at 9.
Caravella rejects this contention, arguing that the jury received evidence that Pierson
and Mantesta “knowingly presented [ ] spurious statements to the state attorney’s
office, withheld exculpatory evidence, and by doing so, misled the prosecutor into
pursing the criminal charges against Mr. Caravella which were presented to the courts.”
Response at 14. As this Court has previously noted, the Eleventh Circuit has held that
a plaintiff establishes a section 1983 malicious prosecution claim where the police
officer responsible for the plaintiff’s arrest allegedly fabricated evidence against him.
Williams, 297 F. App’x at 947. Thus, a plaintiff’s section 1983 claim based upon the
defendant’s alleged fabrication of evidence, which resulted in the prosecutor being
presented with false and misleading evidence, satisfies the requirement that the
defendant was the legal cause of the original prosecution. Id. The Court finds that
there was substantial evidence presented at trial from which a reasonable jury could
conclude that Pierson and Mantesta presented fabricated evidence to the prosecutor.
Thus, Pierson and Mantesta are not entitled to judgment as a matter of law on this
C. Fifth Amendment Claim.
1. Whether Pierson and Mantesta are Entitled to Qualified Immunity on This Claim.
Pierson and Mantesta also claim that they are entitled to judgment as a matter of
law on Caravella’s section 1983 Fifth Amendment claim because they are entitled to
qualified immunity regarding any claims that they coached Caravella or threatened him
regarding Dawn Simone Herron, there was no evidence that Caravella was physically
coerced into confessing, and there was no evidence that Caravella’s statements were
involuntary. Motion at 10-19. In opposition, Caravella contends “[t]here was abundant
evidence presented at trial to support the jury’s determination that Anthony Caravella’s
self-incriminating statements were the product of the illegal and unconstitutional
interrogation tactics by the Defendants.” Response at 15.
Qualified immunity “offers complete protection for government officials sued in
their individual capacities if their conduct does not violate clearly established statutory
or constitutional rights of which a reasonable person would have known.” Wood v.
Kesler, 323 F.3d 872, 877 (11th Cir. 2003) (internal citations and quotations omitted).
Qualified immunity is intended “to allow government officials to carry out their
discretionary duties without the fear of personal liability or harassing litigation,
protecting from suit all but the plainly incompetent or one who is knowingly violating the
federal law.” Id. Once an official establishes that he was acting within the scope of his
discretionary authority, the burden shifts to the plaintiff to overcome the privilege of
qualified immunity. See Case v. Eslinger, 555 F.3d 1317, 1325-26 (11th Cir. 2009). To
do so, the plaintiff must prove: (1) that the defendant violated a constitutional right and
(2) that this right was clearly established at the time. See id.
“The Fifth Amendment, made applicable to the States by the Fourteenth
Amendment, Malloy v. Hogan, 378 U.S. 1, 84 S.Ct. 1489, 12 L.Ed.2d 653 (1964),
requires that ‘[n]o person ... shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness
against himself.’” Chavez v. Martinez, 538 U.S. 760, 766 (2003) (citing U.S. Const.
amend. V) (emphases in original)). It was well-established in 1983 that a defendant’s
conviction could not be based on an involuntary confession, Malloy, 378 U.S. at 6 (“We
hold today that the Fifth Amendment's exception from compulsory self-incrimination is
also protected by the Fourteenth Amendment against abridgment by the States.”), and
that use of fabricated evidence and perjured testimony violated due process. Mooney
v. Holohan, 294 U.S. 103, 112-13 (1935). In Sparado v. Boone, a case where a plaintiff
brought a similar civil suit after he was exonerated for a crime he did not commit, the
Eleventh Circuit affirmed the lower court’s denial of the defendants’ motion to dismiss
the plaintiff’s Fifth Amendment claim, where the defendants had argued on appeal that
they were entitled to qualified immunity because it was not clearly established in 1982
that use of a coerced confession violated the Fifth Amendment. 212 F. App’x 831, 832
(11th Cir. 2006).
Pierson and Mantesta argue they are entitled to qualified immunity on this claim
because alleged threats to Caravella regarding prosecution of his friend Dawn Simone
Herron were not improper in 1983 or 1984 as the police had probable cause to charge
Herron for hiding Caravella. Motion at 11-12. They also argue that there was
insufficient evidence presented at trial to support that Caravella was coached by
Pierson and Mantesta and that it was not clearly established in 1983 and 1984 that
such tactics were unconstitutional. Id. at 13. The Court disagrees that Pierson and
Mantesta are entitled to qualified immunity on this claim. As discussed above, it was
clearly established in 1983 and 1984 that police officers could not coerce false
confessions from criminal defendants. There was extensive evidence presented at trial
regarding Caravella’s mental deficiencies, the defendants’ knowledge of these
deficiencies, and that the officers held off-tape conversations with Caravella where they
may have fed him details of the crime. See Response at 16. Moreover, testimony was
presented that Caravella was told that he could see Dawn Simone Herron and that she
would not get in trouble if he gave a statement. Id. at 17. Finally, there was evidence
presented at trial which suggested that Caravella had been subjected to physical
coercion before his first statement. Id. Viewing this evidence in the light most favorable
to Caravella, the Court declines to find that Pierson and Mantesta are entitled to
qualified immunity on this claim.
2. Whether There was an Evidentiary Basis Supporting that Caravella was Physically
Coerced into Confessing.
Pierson and Mantesta also contend that there was insufficient evidence to
support that Caravella was physically coerced into confessing because Caravella only
testified that he confessed to protect Dawn Simone Herron. Motion at 13. At the
outset, the Court notes that physical coercion is just one factor that the jury could have
believed made Caravella’s confessions involuntary. As Caravella points out, whether a
confession is voluntary or not is based upon the totality of the circumstances. Colorado
v. Connelly, 479 U.S. 157, 176 (1986); Response at 19. Thus, because it is entirely
possible that the jury credited Caravella’s other evidence regarding the involuntariness
of his confessions, Pierson and Mantesta would not be entitled to judgment as a matter
of law on the Fifth Amendment claim based solely on this narrow issue. Nonetheless,
there was sufficient evidence of physical coercion presented to the jury. Dawn Simone
Herron testified that she heard banging in her garage prior to Caravella’s arrest and
later at the Miramar Police Department. See Response at 17. Mr. Caravella’s public
defender, Robin Siegel Sorkin, also testified that she observed Caravella’s lips were
blue, dry, and bleeding and that he seemed agitated and distressed. Id. at 18. Drawing
all reasonable inferences in favor of Caravella, the Court cannot conclude that Pierson
and Mantesta are entitled to judgment as a matter of law on the Fifth Amendment
3. Whether There was Other Evidence Supporting that Caravella’s Statements were
Finally, Pierson and Mantesta argue that they are entitled to judgment as a
matter of law on the Fifth Amendment claim because Caravella presented insufficient
evidence that his confessions were involuntary to support the jury’s verdict. Motion at
15. Specifically, they argue that the “Your Rights” form signed by Caravella and his
mother for three out of the four statements demonstrates that Caravella was not
subjected to any pressure. Id. Caravella argues that evidence was presented at trial
“that Defendants had physically and mentally coerced Caravella into mak[ing] selfincriminating statements at the very outset of their custodial interrogation of him and
prior to any Miranda warnings.” Response at 18. Caravella also argues that the two
cases Pierson and Mantesta rely on for the proposition that his confessions were
voluntary, Paxton v. Jarvis, 735 F.2d 1306 (11th Cir. 1984) and Hall v. Thomas, 611
F.3d 1259 (11th Cir. 2010), actually support his position because in this case, the
totality of the circumstances establishes that Caravella’s confessions were involuntary.
As discussed above, the jury was presented with evidence of threats, physical
coercion and coaching which occurred outside the presence of Caravella’s mother and
prior to the administration of Miranda warnings. Thus, unlike Paxton and Hall, the jury
was presented with sufficient evidence to conclude that Caravella’s confessions were
involuntary under the totality of the circumstances. Accordingly, the Court agrees with
Caravella that Pierson and Mantesta are not entitled to judgment as a matter of law on
D. Fourteenth Amendment Brady Claim.
1. Whether Pierson and Mantesta are Entitled to Judgement as a Matter of Law
Regarding the Alleged Coerced Confessions.
Pierson and Mantesta first argue that they are entitled to judgment as a matter of
law on Caravella’s Fourteenth Amendment claim brought pursuant to Brady v.
Maryland, 373 U.S. 83 (1963), for withholding of exculpatory evidence because coerced
confessions alone cannot constitute a Brady violation. Motion at 19. In his Response,
Caravella does not dispute this fact. Response at 21. Brady protects “the defendant's
right to a fair trial mandated by the Due Process Clause of the [Fourteenth] Amendment
to the Constitution.” Porter v. White, 483 F.3d 1294, 1303 n.4 (11th Cir. 2007) (quoting
United States v. Agurs, 427 U.S. 97, 107 (1976)). “A former criminal defendant who
was denied his due process right to a fair trial as a result of withholding of exculpatory
evidence may have a due process claim for money damages against a police officer
under § 1983.” Barber v. Doe, No. 09-60635-Civ-MORENO, 2010 WL 3384766, at *6
(S.D. Fla. Aug. 5, 2010) (citing Porter, 483 F.3d at 1294; McMillian v. Johnson, 88 F.3d
1554 (11th Cir. 1996)). To establish a Brady violation on the part of a police officer, the
plaintiff must establish more than “mere negligence or inadvertence on the part of a law
enforcement official in failing to turn over Brady material to the prosecution.” Porter,
483 F.3d at 1307.
Here, there is no indication that the jury premised their finding of liability on the
Brady claim upon the alleged coerced confessions. Moreover, as discussed below,
there was other evidence presented to the jury regarding Pierson and Mantesta’s
withholding of exculpatory evidence. Thus, this argument cannot serve as a basis for
granting Pierson and Mantesta judgment as a matter of law on the Brady claim.
2. Whether Pierson and Mantesta are Entitled to Judgement as a Matter of Law
Regarding FBI Testing Evidence.
Next, Pierson and Mantesta argue that judgment as a matter of law is
appropriate on this claim because the alleged FBI letters withheld from Caravella were
signed by Mantesta, not Pierson. Motion at 20. Additionally, they argue that there is no
evidence that the FBI tested items identified in Plaintiff’s Exhibit 56, documents related
to such testing existed, the missing documents contained exculpatory evidence,
Mantesta or Pierson concealed such documents from the prosecution, or that such
documents would have altered the prosecution’s decision to prosecute Caravella. Id. at
20-21. In opposition, Caravella argues that there was evidence produced at trial that
the evidence to be sent to the FBI was gathered and packaged by Mantesta and
Carolyn Carter. Response at 22. Caravella also contends that the jury could
reasonably infer that the reports did exist and contained information exculpatory to
Caravella. Id. at 23. Moreover, Caravella argues that there was other evidence
presented at trial regarding the fabrication and withholding of evidence beyond the FBI
reports which did involve Pierson. Id. For example, Caravella cites the drawing Pierson
created during the initial interrogation of Caravella and the drawing Caravella created
during the December 29, 1983 interrogation. Id. Caravella also argues that the verdict
was not based upon an unsupported piling of inferences because jury verdicts may be
based upon circumstantial evidence. Id. at 24.
The Court agrees with Caravella that Pierson and Mantesta are not entitled to
judgment as a matter of law on this issue. As Caravella points out, Defendants focus
solely on the FBI reports, but there was other evidence introduced at trial which a jury
could have believed was withheld from both the prosecution and Caravella and was
exculpatory for Caravella. See Response at 23. The Court also agrees with Caravella
that the jury’s finding of liability is not premised upon impermissible bundling of
inferences. In fact, in Daniels v. Twin Oaks Nursing Home, 692 F.2d 1321 (11th Cir.
1982), one of the cases cited by Pierson and Mantesta, the Eleventh Circuit held that:
Under the modern case law applying a federal standard, a verdict based on
circumstantial evidence is not infirm simply because the evidence supports an
equally probable inference to the contrary. It is the jury that chooses among
allowable inferences. The standard for determining whether an inference is
allowable is generally whether it is a reasonable one, that is, whether it is one
that “reasonable and fair-minded men in the exercise of impartial judgment”
might draw from the evidence. Boeing Company v. Shipman, supra, 411 F.2d at
375. An inference is not unreasonable simply because it is based in part on
conjecture, for an inference by definition is at least partially conjectural. Helene
Curtis Industries, Inc. v. Pruitt, 385 F.2d 841, 851 (5th Cir.1967), cert. denied,
391 U.S. 913, 88 S.Ct. 1806, 20 L.Ed.2d 652 (1968).
Id. at 1326. Pierson and Mantesta have failed to establish that the jury’s inferences
regarding the Brady material were unreasonable or otherwise unsupported by the
evidence presented at trial.
3. Whether Pierson and Manstesta are Entitled to Judgment as a Matter of Law
Because There was No Brady Violation regarding the Delgado Tape.
Finally, Pierson and Mantesta argue that they are entitled to judgment as a
matter of law because there was no Brady violation regarding the Delgado tape which
was presented to the prosecutor and was not exculpatory. Motion at 22. Pierson and
Mantesta have failed to cite to any trial testimony where Caravella asserted that the
Delgado tape was withheld from the prosecution and his defense attorney. Moreover,
in his Response, Caravella does not assert that this is an item of exculpatory evidence
withheld in violation of Brady. See Response at 23. Accordingly, this cannot serve as a
basis for judgment as a matter of law on the Brady claim.
E. Request for New Trial.
Alternatively, Pierson and Mantesta move this Court for a new trial pursuant to
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 59. Motion at 22-25. They assert that a new trial is
warranted based upon the following prejudicial evidentiary rulings: (1) admission of
testimony of Al Smith regarding a conversation he had with Guess that related to
Mantesta; (2) admission of testimony of Pierson and Mantesta from the criminal
proceedings against Caravella; and (3) admission of DNA reports from 2009 onwards.
Id. at 23. Caravella opposes the request for a new trial. See Response at 25-30. The
Court agrees and will deny the request.
Regarding the admission of Al Smith’s testimony as to the statement Guess
made, the Court found by a preponderance of the evidence that a conspiracy existed.
Thus, the Court properly admitted the statement as a statement of a co-conspirator
pursuant to Federal Rule of Evidence 801(d)(2)(E). Although the Court ultimately found
that Caravella’s section 1983 conspiracy claim was barred by the intracorporate
conspiracy doctrine, the Court’s finding that a conspiracy existed made the admission of
this testimony appropriate. Accordingly, this cannot serve as a basis for awarding
Pierson and Mantesta a new trial.
Pierson and Mantesta are also not entitled to a new trial based upon the
admission of some of their former testimony. As Caravella’s response reflects, Pierson
and Mantesta failed to timely object to the admission of this testimony on absolute
immunity grounds until after some of the testimony had previously been admitted. See
Response at 8 (citing Trial Testimony of William Mantesta [DE 457-3] at 515). Once an
objection was made on the grounds of absolute immunity, the Court ruled that the
admission of any further prior testimony was improper. Thus, Pierson and Mantesta
waived any objection to the admission of the former testimony. See Wilson v. Attaway,
757 F.2d 1227, 1242 (11th Cir. 1985) (“objections to the admission of evidence ... are
preserved only if they are timely and state the specific ground of objection, if the
specific ground was not apparent from the context”) (citations and internal quotations
Finally, Pierson and Mantesta are not entitled to a new trial based on the
admission of the 2009 and later DNA reports. As Caravella points out, Pierson and
Mantesta maintained that Caravella had actually committed the homicide of Ada
Jankowski. Accordingly the 2009 and later DNA evidence which further exonerated
Caravella and implicated Anthony Martinez was relevant and admissible despite
Pierson and Mantesta’s stipulation that Caravella was exonerated.9 The Court also
disagrees that Pierson and Mantesta were prejudiced by not being allowed to call or
present documentary evidence from the State Attorney regarding the reason that
Caravella’s sentence was vacated. A court should not take judicial notice of the
accuracy of factual allegations in the documents of other courts. Fireman v. Travelers
Indeed, in this very Motion, Pierson and Mantesta assert in favor of their
argument that Caravella failed to demonstrate an absence of probable cause that
Caravella, to this date, has still failed to provide an alibi for the night of the murder. See
Motion at 8.
Cas. & Sur. Co. of Am., No. 10-81564-CIV, 2011 WL 4527405, at *4 (S.D. Fla. Sept.
21, 2011) (citing United States v. Jones, 29 F.3d 1549, 1553 (11th Cir. 1994) and
Thompson v. Fla. Bar, 526 F. Supp. 2d 1265, 1274 n.11 (S.D. Fla. 2007)). This is
essentially what Defendants asked the Court to do by admitting the State’s Motion to
Vacate Caravella’s sentence. The Court properly held that whether Caravella was
exonerated was a factual issue that the parties could argue to the jury. Thus, Pierson
and Mantesta are not entitled to a new trial on this basis.
Based on the foregoing, it is ORDERED AND ADJUDGED that Defendants,
Pierson’s and Mantesta’s Renewed Motion for Judgment as a Matter of Law and Motion
for New Trial [DE 448] is DENIED.
DONE AND ORDERED in Chambers at Fort Lauderdale, Broward County,
Florida, on this 23rd day of September, 2013.
Copies provided to counsel of record via CM/ECF.
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