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McDonnell v. Hewitt-Angleberger

United States District Court, Fourth Circuit

September 9, 2013

BRIDGET M. MCDONNELL
v.
DEPUTY KELLY HEWITT-ANGLEBERGER et al.

MEMORANDUM

WILLIAM M. NICKERSON, Senior District Judge.

Before the Court is Defendant Deputy Kelly Hewitt-Angleberger's Motion for Summary Judgment. ECF No. 37. The motion is fully briefed and ripe for review. Upon a review of the papers, facts, and applicable law, the Court determines (1) that no hearing is necessary, Local Rule 105.6, and (2) the motion will be granted.

I. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

On April 22, 2009, Defendant Deputy Kelly Hewitt-Angleberger responded to Plaintiff Bridget McDonnell's home to investigate a report, made by Ms. Andrea Longnecker, that Longnecker's two children had been kidnapped from Plaintiff's home.[1] Plaintiff informed Defendant that the children had not been kidnapped. Defendant thereafter indicated that Ms. Longnecker, who is Plaintiff's daughter, would be arrested for making a false report.

Shortly thereafter, another officer, Corporal Michael Ochoa, arrived at Plaintiff's home and asked her where the children were. Plaintiff, apparently confused as to what day it was, admitted that they had been left in her care, but did not know where they were. She mentioned that they could be in a number of places, including Hagerstown or Ocean City. The officers then asked Plaintiff to telephone Ms. Longnecker, after which Defendant stepped out of the house to, allegedly, witness and arrest Ms. Longnecker for driving on a suspended license.

When Ms. Longnecker arrived, she entered the home with Defendant and proceeded to have a heated argument with Plaintiff regarding the children's whereabouts, which remained, at that point, unresolved. At some point, Defendant and Ms. Longnecker went outside, while Plaintiff remained inside the house with Corporal Ochoa and another officer, Deputy Todd Joia. While Defendant was outside with Ms. Longnecker, Plaintiff recalled that the children were at church with one of her other daughters.

Shortly thereafter, Deputy Joia instructed Plaintiff to pack up her grandchildren's belongings, and to stay in the house while he took them out to Ms. Longnecker. Plaintiff complied with the instruction to gather the children's belongings but, upon learning that Ms. Longnecker had been driven to the scene by another individual, became concerned about the identity of the driver of the vehicle. She then put on a jacket and ran down the front steps of her house, yelling to Corporal Ochoa and Deputy Joia that she needed to see who was driving the car. Plaintiff recognized the driver as an individual who she believed to be a drug dealer, and she began yelling as much to the officers as she approached the vehicle. At that point, Defendant approached Plaintiff, stepped between Plaintiff and the vehicle, and told Plaintiff to return to the house multiple times. Defendant pushed Plaintiff in the chest while ordering Plaintiff to get back in the house.

The parties dispute what followed. Plaintiff testified that, after being pushed, she turned around and asked Corporal Ochoa and Deputy Joia whether they had seen what occurred, that Defendant instructed her again to return to the house, and that Defendant pushed her again, this time very hard in the back, causing her to catch herself to prevent falling to the ground. After the second push, Plaintiff became angry, and testified that she "went up against" Defendant, although she claims not to have used her hands, and was immediately handcuffed. Plaintiff claims that it was this alleged second push by Defendant which caused her to suffer a substantial neck injury that required her to undergo surgery in October 2009.

Defendant offered a different version of events. She testified that after she pushed Plaintiff the first time, Plaintiff punched her in her chest and then turned around to walk away, and that she then informed Plaintiff that she was under arrest and attempted to handcuff her. According to Defendant, Plaintiff resisted being handcuffed, and Defendant required the assistance of another officer to do so.

Ultimately, Plaintiff was charged with failure to obey lawful orders, obstructing and hindering, and resisting arrest. The charges were terminated when the State's Attorney entered a nolle prosequi.

Plaintiff filed the present suit against Defendant, the Board of County Commissioners for Frederick County, the State of Maryland, and Sheriff Charles Jenkins, alleging the following claims: (1) excessive force under 42 U.S.C. § 1983; (2) deliberate indifference to serious medical needs under 42 U.S.C. § 1983; (3) deprivation of federal rights under 42 U.S.C. § 1983; (4) assault and battery; (5) false imprisonment; (6) malicious prosecution; and (7) violation of Maryland constitutional rights under Articles 24 and 26 of the Maryland Declaration of Rights. Plaintiff voluntarily dismissed the State of Maryland as a defendant and, on April 19, 2012, the Court dismissed Plaintiff's claims against the Board of County Commissioners for Frederick County and Sheriff Charles Jenkins. Defendant has now moved for summary judgment on all counts.

II. LEGAL STANDARD

Summary judgment is appropriate if the record before the court "shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a); Celotex Corp. v. Catrett , 377 U.S. 317, 322-23 (1986). See also Felty v. Graves-Humphreys Co. , 818 F.2d 1126, 1128 (4th Cir. 1987) (noting that trial judges have "an affirmative obligation... to prevent factually unsupported claims and defenses from proceeding to trial" (internal quotation marks omitted)). A fact is material if it might "affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc. , 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). In determining whether there is a genuine issue of material fact, the Court "views all facts, and all reasonable inferences to be drawn from ...


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