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Bogosian v. Rhode Island Airport Corporation T.F. Green Airport

United States District Court, D. Rhode Island

April 27, 2017

GREGG BOGOSIAN and THADOSHA BOGOSIAN and A.B., a minor child, by and through her parents and natural guardians, Gregg Bogosian and Thadosha Bogosian, Plaintiffs
v.
RHODE ISLAND AIRPORT CORPORATION T.F. GREEN AIRPORT; OFFICER STEPHEN E. REIS; SERGEANT CHARLES E. HALL; OFFICER JOHN KINGSTON; and OFFICER JOHN DOE, Defendants

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          Mary M. Lisi Senior United States District Judge

         Following his arrest and brief detainment at the T.F. Green Airport (the “Airport”) in Warwick, Rhode Island, Gregg Bogosian, (“Bogosian”), together with his wife Thadosha and on behalf of their minor child, A.B., (together, the “Plaintiffs”) filed a nine-count complaint (the “Complaint”) (ECF 1-2) in Rhode Island state court, alleging, inter alia, wrongful arrest and assault and battery. Because the Complaint also asserted claims of illegal search and seizure in violation of the Fourth Amendment, the Defendants, the Airport and the officers of the Airport Police Department, removed the case to this Court.

         After a long and contentious discovery period, during which the Plaintiffs dismissed their first set of attorneys and engaged new counsel, the Defendants filed a motion for summary judgment (ECF No. 33). While the Defendants' motion was pending, the Plaintiffs terminated their second set of attorneys and engaged new successor counsel to pursue their claims.

         After the parties' respective positions had been briefed, the Court conducted a hearing on the Defendants' motion, in the course of which it dismissed Counts V, VI, and IX (Wrongful Arrest and Imprisonment, Malicious Prosecution, and Illegal Search and Seizure) and denied the Defendants' motion as to Counts I, II, III, IV, and VII (Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress, Negligent Infliction of Emotional Distress, Deprivation of Privacy, Assault and Battery, and Loss of Consortium). (ECF No. 72).

         Both parties filed appeals (ECF Nos. 74, 80). While the appeals were pending, the Plaintiffs once again terminated the services of their counsel and continued to proceed pro se. (ECF Nos. 87, 94). The Plaintiffs' appeal was subsequently dismissed for lack of jurisdiction (ECF No. 89). Because the Plaintiffs, who are not attorneys, could not represent the interests of their minor child, the case as to the minor Plaintiff, A.B., was dismissed as well (ECF No. 99).

         Subsequently, the First Circuit Court of Appeals concluded that summary judgment shall enter in the Defendants' favor as to Counts I, II, and III (Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress, Negligent Infliction of Emotional Distress, and Deprivation of Privacy) and remanded the case to this Court for further proceedings as to the assault and battery claim and the related loss-of-consortium claim) (ECF No. 112).

         The matter now before the Court is a determination on Gregg Bogosian's claim of assault and battery based on allegations of excessive force, when considered in the context of the Defendants' qualified immunity defense, as well as the related claim of loss of consortium asserted by Thadosha Bogosian.

         I. Summary of Facts[1]

         The background against which the events leading to this litigation occurred are, for the most part, undisputed. The T.F. Green Airport is operated by Defendant Rhode Island Airport Corporation (“RIAC”), a quasi-governmental entity. SUF ¶1. The Rhode Island Airport Police, a department of RIAC, is a police force with the same powers as any Rhode Island municipal police agency. SUF ¶2. RIAC police officers, who wear standard police uniforms with badges, patches, and equipment, and who drive police SUVs marked “POLICE” equipped with standard police lights, are empowered to enforce traffic laws on Airport property, investigate crimes, detain suspects, and make arrests. SUF ¶¶3, 4. RIAC officers are responsible for ensuring that drivers abide by all traffic signs and regulations on airport property, and they have the right to request a driver's license and registration. SUF ¶¶5, 6.

         The Airport has its own Homeland Security-mandated security plan, for which RIAC Airport Police must ensure compliance. SUF ¶8. Since the 9/11 attacks in 2001, the Airport property remains a sensitive security area. SUF ¶7. To ensure the continuing security and safety of the public and overall management of the Airport roadways, there are strict traffic control requirements, especially in the upper level Departures area and the lower level Arrivals area, that prohibit any vehicles from parking, waiting, or otherwise standing at the terminals. SUF ¶10.

         Following September 11, 2001, the FAA also implemented a rule that cars cannot be parked within 300 feet of a terminal building. SUF ¶11. To advise drivers that travel lanes adjacent to the terminal building are only for active loading and unloading of passengers and baggage, there are multiple signs in both Arrivals and Departures roadways. SUF ¶12. The signs inform drivers that they cannot park or wait for passengers in those areas. SUF ¶13.

         According to the Defendants, “[e]ven where a handicap sign exists in the Arrivals and Departure roadways, there is no stopping, parking or waiting; rather, a vehicle with a handicap placard can only actively load or unload passengers or baggage.” SUF ¶14. In response, the Plaintiffs have argued that “in essence, whatever the meaning of the handicap sign, it is not enforced by Officer Reis in his experience.” Statement of Disputed Facts ¶14 (ECF No. 59). Nothing in their response, however, indicates the Plaintiffs' understanding that vehicles with a handicap placard may use the marked area for anything but active loading and unloading. Id.

         On July 31, 2012, Bogosian drove his wife Thadosha, their child, and his mother-in-law to the Airport to drop off his mother-in-law for a flight. SUF ¶16. As Bogosian acknowledged during his deposition, he was aware at that time that the Airport was a sensitive security area, that security was a priority at the Airport, and that he had to abide by Airport traffic signs. SUF ¶17, 18, 22. After dropping off his family, Bogosian went to a nearby coffee shop and then returned to the Departures area to pick up his wife and child. SUF ¶19. Bogosian parked at the far end of the Departures roadway. SUF ¶20. Bogosian maintains that there were no signs in front of the terminal where he waited for his wife and child, he also insists that they were walking through the terminal doors and toward the exit as he was parked. SDF ¶¶21, 23-25. Bogosian does not deny, however, that at the time he stopped, he was alone in the car, waiting for his wife; nor does he assert that passengers were getting in or out of his car or that he was in the process of unloading or loading baggage. SUF ¶¶23, 24. On their part, the Defendants maintain that there were multiple signs along the roadway, including the area where Bogosian had stopped his car. SUF ¶21.

         While Bogosian was stopped, RIAC Police Officer Steven Reis (“Officer Reis”), wearing a full police uniform and driving an SUV marked “POLICE, ” approached Bogosian's car and determined that Bogosian had violated Rhode Island law prohibiting stopping in a tow zone and parking and waiting while not actively loading or unloading. SUF ¶¶26, 27. According to Bogosian, he did not realize that ...


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