QUINN v. CINTRON et al
MEMORANDUM AND/OR OPINION. SIGNED BY HONORABLE THOMAS N. ONEILL, JR ON 10/31/2013. 10/31/2013 ENTERED AND COPIES E-MAILED.(kp, )
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF PENNSYLVANIA
TAMIKA CINTRON, et al.
October 31, 2013
Pursuant to § 1983, plaintiff Peter Quinn’s amended complaint asserts violations of his
constitutional rights by defendant police officers, defendant Cintron and the City of Philadelphia
stemming from his arrest for assault on December 1, 2009. The parties have stipulated to the
dismissal of defendant Cintron, all claims against the City of Philadelphia and the claim for
malicious prosecution against all defendants. On June 25, 2012 defendants moved for partial
summary judgment on all claims remaining except plaintiff’s claim against defendant Rafferty
for excessive force in violation of the Fourth Amendment. I granted defendants’ motion and
entered judgment in favor of defendants on all claims except this excessive force claim against
Defendant Rafferty, which is listed for trial on January 6, 2014.
Now before me is plaintiff’s motion for reconsideration of my Order of October 1, 2013
granting defendants’ partial motion for summary judgment. Alternatively, plaintiff seeks
amendment of my Order and asks that I enter final judgment on his claims for false arrest and
false imprisonment pursuant to Rule 54(b). For the foregoing reasons I will deny plaintiff’s
Pursuant to Local Rule 7.1(g), a party may move for “reconsideration or reargument . . .
within 14 days after the entry of the judgment, order or decree concerned.” Local R. Civ. P.
7.1(g). In order to prevail on a motion for reconsideration, the moving party must show one of
the following: “(1) an intervening change in the controlling law; (2) the availability of new
evidence that was not available when the court issued its order; or (3) the need to correct a clear
error of law or fact or to prevent manifest injustice.” Max’s Seafood Café v. Quinteros, 176 F.3d
669, 667 (3d Cir. 1999). Importantly, the moving party’s “mere disagreement” with the Court’s
decision is not grounds for reconsideration. Meachum v. Temple Univ. of the Commw. Sys. of
Higher Educ., 56 F. Supp. 2d 557, 557 n.2 (E.D. Pa. June 30, 1999), citing Bermingham v. Sony
Corp., 820 F. Supp. 834, 856 (D.N.J. 1992). The moving party bears a substantial burden, which
cannot be satisfied through “recapitulation of the cases and arguments considered by the court
before rendering its original decision.” Young Jewish Leadership Concepts v. 939 HKH Corp.,
No. 93-2643, 1994 WL 184410, at *1 (E.D. Pa. May 10, 1994), citing Starr v. J.C.I. Data
Processing, Inc., 767 F. Supp. 633, 635 (D.N.J. 1991).
In this case, plaintiff asserts that I committed a clear error of law by “failing to determine
whether any crime had been committed.” Dkt. No. 32 at 3. He contends that Ms. Cintron, the
alleged victim of his alleged conduct, did not suffer an injury serious enough to constitute a
“bodily injury” to warrant his December 1, 2009 arrest for assault. Id. at 4.
Plaintiff misunderstands the relevant probable cause analysis and seems to confuse it with
the prosecutor’s burden to prove the elements of assault against him at a criminal trial. As
explained in my Memorandum accompanying the Order plaintiff opposes, an arrest supported by
probable cause is not actionable under § 1983. Dkt. No. 30 at 6. Further, probable cause to
arrest is a significantly lower standard than that necessary to achieve a conviction for the crime
charged. E.g., Dowling v. City of Phila., 855 F.2d 136, 141 (3d Cir. 1988) (“The proper inquiry
in a section 1983 claim based on false arrest or misuse of the criminal process is not whether the
person arrested in fact committed the offense but whether the arresting officers had probable
cause to believe that the person arrested had committed the offense.”) I found that the victim’s
statement to officers, which the arresting officer understood to include her claims that “her rib
cage hurt” and that the plaintiff was responsible, and the corroborating statements of three
independent eyewitnesses were sufficient to give rise to probable cause to arrest plaintiff. Dkt.
No. 30 at 8-9. Additionally, plaintiff has not denied that the victim gave this statement to the
defendant officers prior to plaintiff’s arrest. Though he opposes the content of her statement,
that she was actually injured by plaintiff, he has not disputed that when they arrived on the scene
she told the officers that she had been elbowed by plaintiff. Rather, plaintiff corroborated this
fact in his own deposition when he stated that Ms. Cintron became angry and accused Mr. Quinn
of elbowing her. Quinn Dep. 100:24-25 (Pl.’s Ex. 2).
Because probable cause is determined at the moment an arrest is made, Ms. Cintron’s
subsequent statement in her January 30, 2012 deposition that she was not injured is irrelevant to
the inquiry as to whether defendants had probable cause to arrest plaintiff. Though the questions
of whether Ms. Cintron actually suffered a bodily injury and whether any injury was sufficient to
support a criminal assault charge would have been important ones for a jury at a criminal trial of
Mr. Quinn, they do not bear on whether the defendant officers had probable cause to arrest him,
especially in light of the victim’s allegations and the eyewitness statements at the time of the
arrest. Accordingly, plaintiff has failed to carry his burden of demonstrating that this Court
committed clear error of law or fact.
Plaintiff also contends that I committed clear error by resolving a conflict in favor of the
moving party rather than the non-moving party. Dkt. No. 32 at 10. He repeats his argument that
defendant Shoemaker’s apparent confusion over the precise moment of arrest demonstrates that
the decision to arrest plaintiff was made before probable cause was determined. I reject this
argument again. Even assuming arguendo that the moment of arrest was the earliest possible, at
11:40 a.m. when defendant officers arrived on the scene, the uncontested facts show that plaintiff
was not arrested until after the officers had taken statements from the victim and the three
corroborating eyewitnesses. Because I have found that these statements give rise to probable
cause as a matter of law, the precise moment of plaintiff’s arrest is not relevant since it occurred
after these statements were given. Finally, Officer Robinson-Middleton’s Vehicle or Pedestrian
Investigation Report establishes only that she was called to the courthouse at 11:20am. It does
not establish that Mr. Quinn was arrested at 11:20 a.m., prior to a proper determination of
probable cause, because plaintiff himself agrees that he was taken from the courthouse at
approximately 11:40 a.m. Dkt. No. 27 at 10.
Further, the expense and time of trying the only one of plaintiff’s claims remaining and
the limited damages for which he remains eligible do not constitute a manifest injustice. Rather,
the decision to litigate is always one which requires plaintiffs to consider the time and expense of
doing so. Defendants did not move for summary judgment on plaintiff’s excessive force claim,
and so plaintiff has been on notice since June 25, 2012 that litigation could be limited to that
Plaintiff has not demonstrated that I overlooked any dispositive facts or controlling law.
Rather, his stated grounds for reconsideration are mere repetition of facts and cases raised in his
opposition to defendants’ motion for summary judgment that I have already considered and
rejected. Plaintiff’s mere disagreement with my analysis does not warrant reconsideration of my
Rule 54(b): Amendment to Enter Final Judgment
When an action involves more than a single claim for relief, “the court may direct entry
of a final judgment as to one or more, but fewer than all, claims or parties only if the court
expressly determines that there is no just reason for delay.” Fed. R. Civ. P. 54(b). Certification
of a final decision pursuant to Rule 54(b) therefore requires two separate findings: “that (1) there
has been a final judgment on the merits; and (2) there is ‘no just reason for delay.’” Freedom
Medical, Inc. v. Gillespie, No. 06-3195, 2013 WL 3819366, at *2 (E.D. Pa. July 24, 2013), citing
Berckeley Inv. Grp., Ltd. V. Colkitt, 455 F.3d 195, 202 (3d Cir. 2006).
A final judgment is one that “ends the litigation on the merits and leaves nothing more for
the court to do but execute the judgment.” Digital Equip. Corp. v. Desktop Direct, Inc., 511 U.S.
863, 867 (1994); see also Berckeley Inv. Grp., Ltd. v. Colkitt, 455 F.3d 195, 202 (3d Cir. 2006).
Under Rule 54(b), a grant of a partial motion for summary judgment is not a final judgment
unless “the court expressly determines that there is no reason [to delay entering final judgment.]”
Because I have made no such determination, my partial grant of defendants’ motion for summary
judgment was not a final order subject to the provisions of Rule 54(b). See Freixenet, S.A. v.
Admiral Wine and Liquor Co., 731 F.2d 148, 152 (3d Cir. 1984) (“The grant of a partial
summary judgment is not a final judgment . . . “).
“Sound judicial administration does not require that Rule 54(b) requests be granted
routinely.” Curtiss-Wright Corp. v. Gen. Elec. Co., 446 U.S. 1, 10 (1980). Recognizing that
district courts must “assure that application of the Rule effectively ‘preserves the historic federal
policy against piecemeal appeals,’” I will deny plaintiff’s request to certify a final decision under
Rule 54(b) with respect to his claims for false arrest and false imprisonment. Id. at 8, quoting
Sears, Roebuck & Co. v. Mackey, 351 U.S. 427, 438 (1956). As plaintiff correctly notes, “even
if the arrest was made with probable cause, the arresting officer can still remain liable for an
excessive force claim if the force used to make the arrest exceeded the bounds of the 4th
Amendment.” Dkt. No. 32 at 17. However, this fact inures against granting plaintiff’s request
under Rule 54(b), as any appeal of his claims for false arrest and false imprisonment would not
resolve his outstanding excessive force claim, thus potentially give rise to two appeals. This
impedes sound judicial administration and creates exactly the piecemeal appeal process that I
should prevent. Therefore, I will deny plaintiff’s request to enter final judgment on his claims
for false arrest and false imprisonment.
An appropriate Order follows.
Disclaimer: Justia Dockets & Filings provides public litigation records from the federal appellate and district courts. These filings and docket sheets should not be considered findings of fact or liability, nor do they necessarily reflect the view of Justia.
Why Is My Information Online?