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Young v. Brown University

United States District Court, D. Rhode Island

October 22, 2014


Page 199

For Christopher Young, Plaintiff: Samuel A. Kennedy-Smith, LEAD ATTORNEY, Keven M. McKenna, Providence, RI; Keven A. McKenna, Keven A. McKenna, P.C., Providence, RI; Nicholas S. Gelfuso, Providence, RI.

For Brown University, Paul Shanley, Brown University Police Officers, Defendants: Beverly E. Ledbetter, James M. Green, LEAD ATTORNEYS, Brown University, Providence, RI; Jeffrey S. Michaelson, LEAD ATTORNEY, Michaelson & Michaelson, North Kingstown, RI.

Page 200


Mary M. Lisi, United States District Judge.

The plaintiff, Christopher Young (" Young" ), filed claims against Brown University (" Brown" ) and Deputy Chief of Brown's Department of Public Safety, Paul Shanley (" Officer Shanley," together with Brown, the " Defendants" )[1] after Brown campus police officers removed Young from the Brown campus for his disruptive behavior during a public forum on health care reform. Young alleged that the removal and subsequent arrest by the Providence Police Department (" PPD" ) occurred in violation of his constitutional rights (Count I); that he was subjected to an unreasonable seizure by Officer Shanley, as a result of which Young suffered bodily injuries and mental anguish (Count II); and that Young was unlawfully detained by Officer Shanley (Count XII). In addition, Young sought an injunction

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against a Notice Not to Trespass (the " No Trespass Notice" ) issued to him by Brown, which prohibits him from entering the Brown campus and any building and property owned or leased by Brown (Count X). Following an extended discovery period, the parties agreed to a trial without a jury, which was conducted before this Court on October 6, 2014. The matter before the Court in this case is the Defendants' motion for judgment on partial findings pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 52(c).

I. Procedural History

On November 29, 2012, three years after Young was removed from Andrews Hall on the Brown campus where he and his wife had attended a roundtable lecture on health care reform, he filed a pro se complaint (the " Complaint" ) against the Defendants in Rhode Island state court. On December 21, 2012, the Defendants removed the case to this Court on the grounds of federal question jurisdiction (Dkt. No. 1-1). Young filed an objection to the removal on January 4, 2013 (Dkt. No. 6) and urged the Court to abstain from the matter on January 22, 2013. (Dkt. No. 11). As of February 4, 2013, Young was represented by counsel (Dkt. No. 14). Young's motion to remand the case was denied on March 18, 2013 (Text Order), after which the parties engaged in discovery. Factual discovery, which was extended on Young's motion for an additional six months, closed on April 30, 2014. (Dkt. Entry September 3, 2013). On March 26, 2014, the Defendants filed a motion to dismiss the Complaint. (Dkt. No. 24). On April 4, 2014, Young sought to amend his Complaint (Dkt. Nos. 31, 32); his motion to amend was denied (Text Order April 9, 2014)[2]

On April 9, 2014, all claims against named defendants other than Brown and Officer Shanley were dismissed, (Dkt. Nos. 35, 36), as were Counts III, IV, X, XIII, XIII, leaving Counts I, II, XI, XII, and X.[3]

On August 14, 2014, Officer Shanley filed a motion for summary judgment (Dkt. Nos. 51, 52), to which Young responded with an objection on August 26, 2014. (Dkt. Nos. 54-56). The Court informed the parties on September 4, 2014 that the case would be set for trial to commence on October 6, 2014. (Dkt. No. 59).

With the waiver of a jury by both sides, trial without a jury was held on October 6, 2014. Young and his wife Kara gave testimony. By stipulation, the parties entered Exhibits 1-7, which included a DVD with video footage taken by Young and his wife at the Brown lecture. Ex. 2. Defendants offered an additional videotape, a small portion of which--showing a scene from the same event from a different perspective--was admitted into evidence. Ex. A. Because Young's only remaining witness was acknowledged to address only the question of damages, not liability, Defendants made a motion for judgment on partial findings pursuant to Rule 52(c) of the Federal Rules of Civil procedure. The Court took the motion under advisement and instructed the parties to submit supplemental briefs as to Count X of the Complaint, related to Brown's No Trespass Notice. Count XI was voluntarily dismissed by Young at the conclusion of trial.

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II. Standard of Review

Pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 52(c), a Court may render judgment on partial findings " [i]f a party has been fully heard on an issue during a nonjury trial; " however, the Court may decline to do so " until the close of the evidence." Fed.R.Civ.P. 52(c). Judgment under Rule 52(c) is indicated " [w]hen a party has finished presenting evidence and that evidence is deemed by the trier insufficient to sustain the party's position." Morales Feliciano v. Rullan,378 F.3d 42, 59 (1st Cir. 2004). In determining whether judgment pursuant to Rule 52(c) is appropriate, the Court " need not consider the evidence in a light favorable to the plaintiff and may render judgment for the defendant if it believes the plaintiff's evidence is insufficient to make out a claim." Geddes v. Northwest Missouri State Univ.,49 F.3d 426, 429 n. 7 (8th Cir. 1995). The Court is tasked with resolving any conflicts in the evidence ...

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