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Ricks v. City of Alexandria

United States District Court, W.D. Louisiana, Alexandria Division

March 10, 2015

LAWRENCE RICKS,
v.
CITY OF ALEXANDRIA, ET AL

RULING

DEE D. DRELL, Chief District Judge.

Currently before the Court is Defendant TASER International, Inc.'s (TASER) Motion for Summary Judgment based on Louisiana Revised Statute § 9:2800.10 (Doc. 131). In its motion, TASER argues that because Robert Ephraim Ricks was engaged in the commission of two felony offenses at the time he died, his father, Plaintiff Lawrence Ricks, is barred from recovering damages related to his death. We have considered the filings and evidence in the record and the parties' arguments contained in their briefs and are prepared to rule on the pending motion. For the reasons detailed below, Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment will be DENIED.

I. Background

Plaintiff Lawrence Ricks (Plaintiff) is suing Defendant TASER in this case for the wrongful death of his son, Robert Ephraim Ricks (Mr. Ricks). The factual background in this case has been discussed in prior rulings of this Court (See Docs. 108, 129) and by the Magistrate Judge's Report and Recommendation that was adopted by this court (Doc. 25). The Report and Recommendations detailed the allegations surrounding Mr. Ricks' complaint as follows:

[Plaintiff] alleges in his complaint that, on February 5, 2011, Maxine Jones called 911 for assistance because her grandson, Robert [Ricks], was sweating and shaking very badly. [Mr. Ricks] had a history of bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. [Plaintiff] alleges that Acadian Ambulance Service and the Alexandria Fire Department responded to the call and noted IMr. Ricks] was diaphoretic with dilated pupils, but he refused medical treatment and retreated to a backroom in the house, where he appeared to be agitated and restless but not combative. [Plaintiff] alleges the Alexandria Police Department was called by Acadian Ambulance, and officers entered the home and tried to talk [Mr. Ricks] into going to the hospital; [Mr. Ricks] was very restless. [Plaintiff] alleges that Maxine Jones convinced [Mr. Ricks] to go to the hospital, but when she said she could not go with him, he grabbed her and allegedly' fell on her. [Plaintiff] alleges [Mr.] Ricks was then handcuffed and led to a patrol car, where he sat down but refused to put his feet in the car. [Plaintiff] alleges Officer Kirk performed two knee strikes to [Mr. Ricks's] common peroneal, to no avail, so Officer Joffrion tasered [Mr. Ricks] in his right thigh area; [Mr. Ricks] then placed his feet in the car and was transported to the Rapides Parish jail. [Plaintiff] alleges in his complaint that, upon arrival, [Mr. Ricks] exited the car escorted by two sheriff's deputies, but a struggle broke out in which [Mr. Ricks] was alleged to have kicked and yelled; four deputies then carried [Mr. Ricks] into the elevator and up to the jail. [Plaintiff] alleges that [Mr. Ricks] was held down on the ground until the isolation cell was available, then picked up and another struggle started; [Deputy] Mark Wood kicked [Mr. Ricks] in the shoulder area to push him back to the ground, then held [Mr. Ricks'] shoulders. [Plaintiff] alleges that, at some point, [Mr. Ricks] was tasered in the back by [Deputy James] Brunet, then moved toward the cell, but as he was moved his body went limp; [Mr. Ricks] was placed in the cell and observed not to be breathing.

(Doc. 25 at 1-2). TASER is the only defendant remaining in this suit, and the only claim that remains against TASER is one for unreasonably dangerous construction or composition under the Louisiana Products Liability Act (LPLA). (See Docs. 108, 129).

II. Law and Analysis

A. Summary Judgment Standard

A court "shall grant summary judgment if the movant 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). A dispute of material fact is genuine if the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party. See Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). We consider "all evidence in the light most favorable to the party resisting the motion." Seacor Holdings, Inc. v. Commonwealth Ins. Co., 635 F.3d 675, 680 (5th Cir. 2011) (internal quotations omitted). It is important to note that the standard for a summary judgment is two-fold: (1) there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact, and (2) the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.

B. Louisiana Revised Statute 9:2800.10

La. R.S. § 9:2800.10 states in full:

A. No person shall be liable for damages for injury, death, or loss sustained by a perpetrator of a felony offense during the commission of the offense or while fleeing the scene of the offense.
B. The provisions of this Section shall apply regardless of whether the injury, death, or loss was caused by an intentional or unintentional act or omission[1] or a condition of property or a building. However, the provisions of this Section shall not apply if injury to or death of a perpetrator results from an intentional act involving the use of excessive force.
C. For purposes of this Section "damages" includes all general and special damages which may be recoverable for personal injury, death, or loss of or damage to property, including those otherwise ...

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