United States District Court, E.D. North Carolina, Western Division
TERRENCE W. BOYLE UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
cause comes before the Court on defendant's motion for
summary judgment under Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil
Procedure. [DE 44]. This matter has been fully briefed and is
ripe for adjudication. For the following reasons,
defendant's motion is granted.
events precipitating this case began with a traffic stop in
Apex, North Carolina, on September 24, 2012. Defendant, an
Apex Police Department officer, stopped plaintiffs vehicle
because she observed that plaintiffs vehicle registration had
expired 11 months before. [DE 46-13 at ¶ 4]. When
defendant spoke with plaintiff and inquired regarding his
expired Colorado registration, plaintiff told defendant that
he had moved to North Carolina some months before and had not
renewed his registration in Colorado, nor registered his
vehicle in North Carolina. [DE 46-13 at ¶¶ 5-8].
Defendant issued a citation to plaintiff for: (1) unlawfully
operating a motor vehicle that displayed a registration he
knew to be expired, in violation of N.C. Gen. Stat. §
20-111(2), and (2) operating a motor vehicle without having
registered the vehicle with the North Carolina Division of
Motor Vehicles, such vehicle being one required to be
registered, in violation of N.C. Gen. Stat. § 20-111(1).
[DE 46-13 at ¶ 10 and pp. 5-9].
defendant ran plaintiffs driver's license information
through the NCIC database, she discovered an outstanding
warrant for his arrest. Plaintiff was a wanted person and the
state of Colorado had requested full extradition from
participating states nationwide, should plaintiff be
apprehended. [DE 46-13 at ¶¶ 11-12 and p. 8; DE
46-16]. Defendant confirmed the warrant with The Town of Apex
Emergency Communications Department. [DE 46-13 at
¶¶ 13-14 and p. 8].
admits that there was an outstanding Colorado warrant against
him for probation violations. [DE 4 at ¶ 8].
Consequently, defendant arrested plaintiff and took him to
the Wake County detention facility and disclosed the NCIC hit
to Magistrate B. Nickels, who took copies of the paperwork
and used the NCIC information to complete the document
entitled "Fugitive Affidavit." [DE 46-13 at ¶
15]. Magistrate B. Nickels then issued a Warrant for Arrest
for Fugitive for plaintiff and set plaintiffs bond for $200,
000. [DE 46-10]. During a hearing the next day, plaintiff
refused extradition to Colorado. Id. Plaintiffs
court-appointed defense counsel moved for a reduction in his
bond, which was denied. [DE 46-10 and 46-11]. ' A Waiver
of Extradition signed by plaintiff in Colorado on August 18,
2010, as a condition of his probation, was upheld, and the
Wake County Superior Court issued an order that plaintiff be
turned over to agents of the state of Colorado. [DE 46-12].
Plaintiff states that he was extradited to Denver County jail
on or about November 9, 2012, where he was able to post bond
on or about November 11, 2012. [DE 4 at ¶¶ 20-21].
Plaintiff, proceeding pro se, then brought the
instant suit against defendant, the City of Apex Police
Department, and John Letteney on November 6, 2015, seeking
damages arising out of alleged Fourth, Eighth, and Fourteenth
Amendment violations. [DE4].
City of Apex Police Department filed a motion to dismiss on
January 7, 2016, [DE 18], which was granted by the Court on
March 18, 2016. [DE 21]. On August 29, 2016, the remaining
defendants, John Letteney and defendant, filed a partial
motion for judgment on the pleadings, [DE 20], which was
granted by the Court on December 21, 2016. [DE 32]. As a
result of that motion, all claims against defendant Letteney
and all Eighth Amendment claims against defendant were
February 27, 2017, defendant filed the instant motion for
summary judgment. [DE 44], Plaintiff responded, [DE 51], and
defendant filed a reply, [DE 55].
motion for summary judgment may not be granted unless there
are no genuine issues of material fact for trial and the
movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.
Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). The moving party bears the initial burden
of demonstrating the absence of a genuine issue of material
fact. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323
(1986). If that burden has been met, the non-moving party
must then come forward and establish the specific material
facts in dispute to survive summary judgment. Matsushita
Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574,
588 (1986). In determining whether a genuine issue of
material fact exists for trial, a trial court views the
evidence and the inferences in the light most favorable to
the nonmoving party. Scott v. Harris, 550 U.S. 372,
378 (2007). However, "[t]he mere existence of a
scintilla of evidence" in support of the nonmoving
party's position is not sufficient to defeat a motion for
summary judgment. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc.,
477 U.S. 242, 252 (1986). "A dispute is genuine if a
reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving
party ... and [a] fact is material if it might affect the
outcome of the suit under the governing law."
Libertarian Party of Virginia v. Judd, 718 F.3d 308,
313 (4th Cir. 2013) (internal quotations and citations
omitted). Speculative or conclusory allegations, however,
will not suffice. Thompson v. Potomac Elec. Power
Co., 312 F.3d 645, 649 (4th Cir. 2002).
order to state a claim for violation of a constitutionally
protected right under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, a plaintiff must
allege "that some person has deprived him of a federal
right. .. [and] that the person who has deprived him of that
right acted under color of state or territorial law."
Gomez v. Toledo, 446 U.S. 635, 640 (1980). The
Fourth Amendment provides in relevant part that "[t]he
right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses,
papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and
seizures, shall not be violated." U.S. Const, amend. IV.
complaint, plaintiff claims generally that Corporal Hansen
lacked probable cause for his arrest, caused a deprivation of
his constitutional rights, and that her training was
insufficient. All challenges to the setting or amount of
plaintiff s bail were dismissed by this Court by its previous
order dismissing all Eight Amendment claims made by
plaintiff. Thus, the only remaining claims are under the
Fourth Amendments and concern whether defendant had probable
cause to justify the arrest of plaintiff and whether her
conduct during that arrest in filling out and presenting a
Fugitive Affidavit before the Wake County Court violated
plaintiffs constitutional rights.
temporary detention of a person during a vehicle stop
constitutes a seizure for purposes of the Fourth Amendment.
Whren v. United States, 517 U.S. 806, 809 (1996).
"Because a traffic stop is more analogous to an
investigative detention than a custodial arrest, [courts]
treat a traffic stop, whether based on probable cause or
reasonable suspicion, under the standard set forth in
Terry v. Ohio, 392 U.S. 1 (1968)." United
States v. Digiovanni, 650 F.3d 498, 506 (4th Cir. 2011),
as amended (Aug. 2, 2011). Under Terry, a
court must examine a traffic stop on two grounds-first, to
determine whether it was justified at its inception and,
second, to determine whether the police officer's actions
after the stop were reasonably related to the circumstances
which justified the stop. Id. Generally, "the
decision to stop an automobile is reasonable where the police
have probable cause to believe that a traffic violation has
occurred." Whren, 517 U.S. at 8010.
"Observation of any traffic violation, no matter how
minor, gives an officer probable cause to stop the
driver." United States v. Jones, 364
F.App'x 834, 835 (4th Cir. 2010) (citation omitted).
officer may also "stop and briefly detain a person for
investigative purposes if the officer has a reasonable
suspicion supported by articulable facts that criminal
activity 'may be afoot, ' even if the officer lacks
probable cause." United States v. Sokolow, 490
U.S. 1, 7 (1989) (quoting Terry, 392 U.S. at 30).
"Reasonable suspicion is a less demanding standard than
probable cause not only in the sense that reasonable
suspicion can be established with information that is
different in quantity or content than that required to
establish probable cause, but also in the sense that
reasonable suspicion can arise from information that is less
reliable than that required to show probable cause."
Alabama v. White,496 U.S. 325, 330 (1990). Whether
an officer had a reasonable articulable suspicion ...