United States District Court, D. Rhode Island
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
WILLIAM E. SMITH, Chief Judge.
Ryan Angelo Brochu (“Plaintiff”) filed an Amended
Complaint (ECF No. 7-1) alleging false imprisonment against
Defendants Christine Chamberland, in her capacity as Finance
Director for the City of Woonsocket; the Woonsocket Police
Department; Thomas F. Oates, III, Police Chief for the
Woonsocket Police Department; and Ronald Marcos, individually
and in his official capacity (collectively, “City
Defendants”). Pending before the Court is the City
Defendants' unopposed Motion for Summary Judgment
(“Motion”) (ECF No. 15). For the reasons set
forth below, the Motion is GRANTED.
initial matter, the City Defendants filed a Statement of
Undisputed Facts (“Undisputed Facts”) (ECF No.
16). Because Plaintiff failed to object or otherwise respond
to the Undisputed Facts, these facts are deemed
admitted. See DRI LR 56(a)(3) (“For
purposes of a motion for summary judgment, any fact alleged
in the movant's Statement of Undisputed Facts shall be
deemed admitted unless expressly denied or otherwise
controverted by a party objecting to the motion.”);
see also Schiffman v. United States, 811 F.3d 519,
525 (1st Cir. 2016) (“This failure [to contest or deny
undisputed facts] has consequences. . . . The
[nonmovant's] failure meant that all of the facts set
forth in the [movant's] statement of undisputed facts
were deemed admitted.”).
August 9, 2013, a search of Plaintiff's residence by
Woonsocket Police Officers turned up narcotics, drug
paraphernalia, a handgun, and a large amount of money.
Plaintiff was arrested and subsequently charged with,
inter alia, possession of a controlled substance
with the intent to deliver. While released on bail,
Woonsocket Police Officers, by way of undercover informants,
executed and surveilled several “control buys” of
crack cocaine at Plaintiff's home. Based on this
surveillance, officers obtained and executed a search warrant
for Plaintiff's home on October 29, 2013. Officers
uncovered seventeen blue capsules in the pocket of a pair of
shorts in Plaintiff's room. Defendant Marcos conducted a
field test of the capsules, which tested positive for
methamphetamines. On November 13, 2014, the Rhode Island
Department of Health Forensic Science Laboratory analyzed one
of the collected capsules, which failed to reveal the
presence of a controlled substance.
prevail on a false-imprisonment claim, Plaintiff must show,
inter alia, that he was confined and that the
confinement was not legally justified. See Dyson v. City
of Pawtucket, 670 A.2d 233, 239 (R.I. 1996), cert.
denied, 517 U.S. 1192 (1996). Thus, the City Defendants
can defeat Plaintiff's false-imprisonment claim upon a
showing that probable cause supported his confinement at the
time of his arrest. See Beaudoin v. Levesque, 697
A.2d 1065, 1067 (R.I. 1997); Dyson, 670 A.2d at 239.
Probable cause to arrest exists “when the facts and
circumstances within the officer's knowledge at the time
of arrest . . . would warrant a reasonably prudent
person's belief that a crime has been committed and that
the suspect committed the crime.” Ferreira v. City
of East Providence, 568 F.Supp.2d 197, 206 (D.R.I. 2008)
(quoting Winn v. Collins, 723 A.2d 798, 799 (R.I.
1998)). The First Circuit has held that probable cause to
arrest existed when a field test conducted on a suspect's
bag tested positive for cocaine. United States v.
Uricoechea-Casallas, 946 F.2d 162, 166 (1st Cir. 1991).
the information gathered during the execution of a search
warrant, including that the officers had reason to believe
controlled substances might be present in the residence
because of the controlled purchases, and that they found
seventeen blue capsules, one of which tested positive for
methamphetamine on a field test, sufficed to give officers
probable cause to arrest Plaintiff. See id. Thus,
because probable cause is determined at the time of arrest,
Beaudoin, 697 A.2d at 1067, it is of no moment that
the capsule ultimately tested negative for a controlled
substance. See United States v. Castillo, 287 F.3d
21, 27 (1st Cir. 2002) (concluding magistrate had
“ample basis” for finding of probable cause
despite disclosure that substance tested negative for
presence of heroin and cocaine).
judgment is proper where “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). Here,
because Plaintiff deemed admitted each of the Undisputed
Facts, that there is no genuine dispute of material fact was
preordained. Further, the law is sufficiently clear that
officers had probable cause to arrest Plaintiff, which
nullifies an element of Plaintiff's false imprisonment
claim. Thus, summary judgment for the City Defendants is
appropriate on Plaintiff's false-imprisonment claim, and
the Court, therefore, need not address the City
Defendants' qualified-immunity argument.
aforementioned reasons, the City Defendants' Motion for
Summary Judgment (ECF No. 15) is GRANTED. Judgment will enter
at the conclusion of this case, once Plaintiff's claim
against Defendant Sirchie Acquisition Company, LLC has been
 Plaintiff alleged a separate
negligence claim against Defendant Sirchie Acquisition
Company, LLC, which is not a party to this motion.
 For that reason, for purposes of this
Memorandum and Order, the Court incorporates the facts as
outlined by ...