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Brown v. City of Shreveport

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

January 30, 2017

THOMAS JAMAR BROWN
v.
CITY OF SHREVEPORT, ET AL.

          HORNSBY MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

          MEMORANDUM RULING

          S. MAURICE HICKS, JR. UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Before the Court are Defendants Chief Willie Shaw (“Chief Shaw”), Officer Roland Garner (“Officer Garner”), and the City of Shreveport's (“the City”) Motions for Summary Judgment (Record Documents 56 and 57) under Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure seeking dismissal of all of Plaintiff Thomas Jamar Brown's (“Brown”) claims. For the reasons stated in the instant Memorandum Ruling, Defendants' Motions for Summary Judgment are hereby GRANTED.

         FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         Brown's allegations in the instant lawsuit revolve around his arrest for public drunkenness and resisting arrest in the early morning hours of July 1, 2010. See Record Document 28 at 3. Brown alleges that at approximately 3:00 AM on July 1, 2010, he was walking with his fiancée Alicia Figueroa (“Figueroa”) in the 200 block of Crockett Street in downtown Shreveport. See id. Suddenly, an unknown officer “blind side pushed” him while he was walking. See id. Brown then asked why he was pushed; Officer Garner with the Shreveport Police Department (SPD), known to Brown because of Officer Garner's position as the “courtesy officer” at Brown's apartment complex, then allegedly responded by telling Brown to “just go home man.” Id. Brown alleges that he then proceeded home, but was wrongfully arrested a block away. See id. Officers then placed Brown in what Brown believed to be Officer Garner's patrol car. See id. Brown alleges that no one ever read him his rights or informed him of the crime for which he was being arrested. See id.

         Brown fell asleep in the car, but alleges that he was later awoken by being repeatedly punched in the face and tased until he lost consciousness. See id. He then awoke to discover that he was covered in blood and had been severely beaten on the face, head, arms, and legs. See id. Brown alleges that the SPD washed his clothes and returned them to him when he was released from the Shreveport City Jail “in an apparent attempt to remove blood stains from clothing.” Id. at 4.

         Brown filed the instant action on July 1, 2011. See Record Document 1. On August 3, 2012, the Clerk sent a notice to Brown stating the intention to dismiss the case for failure to effect service of process within 120 days of filing suit. See Record Document 8. On April 4, 2013, the Clerk of Court dismissed the case. See Record Document 9. On April 3, 2014, Brown file a pro se Motion to Reopen/Reinstate the case, explaining that he had attempted to contact the attorney who had originally represented him in the instant action but had been unable to contact him for some time; he also explained that he recently discovered that his attorney had passed away. See Record Document 10. The Court granted the Motion to Reopen/Reinstate the case. See Record Document 11.

         Brown eventually filed an Amended Complaint on March 10, 2015. See Record Document 28. The Amended Complaint alleges (1) 42 U.S.C. § 1983 causes of action for violations of the Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, Ninth, and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 against all Defendants; (2) a conspiracy to deprive Brown of his federal civil rights under these laws; (3) state law causes of action for violations Article I, §§ 2, 3, 4, and 13 of the Louisiana Constitution; and (4) a conspiracy to deprive Brown of his civil rights under these state constitutional provisions. See id. as 4-5. On March 11, 2016, Defendants filed the instant Motions for Summary Judgment. See Record Documents 56 and 57. Brown filed a Memorandum in Opposition, and Defendants filed Reply briefs. See Record Documents 61, 66, and 67.

         LAW AND ANALYSIS

         I. Legal Standards

         A. The Summary Judgment Standard

         Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure governs summary judgment. This rule provides that the 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). Also, "a party asserting that a fact cannot be or is genuinely disputed must support the motion by citing to particular parts of materials in the record." Fed R. Civ. P. 56(c)(1)(A). "If a party fails to properly support an assertion of fact or fails to properly address another party's assertion of fact as required by Rule 56(c), the court may . . . grant summary judgment." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e)(3).

         In a summary judgment motion, "a party seeking summary judgment always bears the initial responsibility of informing the district court of the basis for its motion, and identifying those portions of the pleadings . . . [and] affidavits, if any, which it believes demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of material fact." Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986) (internal quotations and citations omitted). If the movant meets this initial burden, then the non-movant has the burden of going beyond the pleadings and designating specific facts that prove that a genuine issue of material fact exists. See id. at 325; see Little v. Liquid Air Corp., 37 F.3d 1069, 1075 (5th Cir. 1994). A non-movant, however, cannot meet the burden of proving that a genuine issue of material fact exists by providing only "some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts, by conclusory allegations, by unsubstantiated assertions, or by only a scintilla of evidence." Little, 37 F.3d at 1075. Additionally, in deciding a summary judgment motion, courts "resolve factual controversies in favor of the nonmoving party, but only when there is an actual controversy, that is when both parties have submitted evidence of contradictory facts." Id. Courts "do not, however, in the absence of any proof, assume that the nonmoving party could or would prove the necessary facts." Id.

         Rule 56 states that “a party asserting that a fact . . . is genuinely disputed must support the assertion by citing to particular materials in the record, including depositions, documents, electronically stored information, affidavits or declarations, stipulations, . . . admissions, interrogatory answers, or other materials.” Once the party seeking to establish that there is a genuine dispute as to a material fact has cited to such materials, the opposing party “may object that the material cited to support or dispute a fact cannot be presented in a form that would be admissible in evidence.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56. “At the summary judgment stage, materials cited to support or dispute a fact need only be capable of being presented in a form that would be admissible in evidence.” LSR Consulting, LLC v. Wells Fargo Bank, N.A., 835 F.3d 530, 534 (5th Cir. 2016) (emphasis in original). However, once a party has challenged the admissibility of the evidence relied upon to demonstrate a genuine dispute of material fact, the proponent of that evidence must show that the evidence is capable of being presented in a form that would be admissible in evidence. See id.

         Under the Local Rules of the Western District of Louisiana, a party seeking summary judgment must file “a separate, short and concise statement of the material facts as to which the moving party contends there is no genuine issue to be tried.” Local Rule 56.1. Then, the party opposing summary judgment must file “a separate, short and concise statement of the material facts as to which there exists a genuine issue to be tried.” Local Rule 56.2. “All material facts set forth in the statement required to be served by the moving party will be deemed admitted, for the purposes of the motion, unless controverted as required by this rule.” Id.

         B. Qualified Immunity in 42 U.S.C. § 1983 Claims

         Section 1983 authorizes the assertion of a claim for relief against a person who, acting under the color of state law, allegedly violated the claimant's rights under federal law. See 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Section 1983 actions are often brought against persons acting under the color of state law in their individual capacity, but these persons are often protected from liability by qualified immunity. “The basic thrust of the qualified-immunity doctrine is to free officials from the concerns of litigation.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 685 (2009) (internal quotations and citations omitted). In fact, a qualified immunity defense is truly “an immunity from suit rather than a mere defense to liability.” Pearson v. Callahan, 555 U.S. 223, 231 (2009).

         Once the defendant raises a qualified immunity defense, the plaintiff carries the burden of demonstrating the inapplicability of qualified immunity. See Floyd v. City of Kenner, 351 Fed.Appx. 890, 893 (5th Cir. 2009). First, the court must determine whether the plaintiff demonstrated a genuine dispute of material fact as to a violation of a constitutional right. See Pearson, 555 U.S. at 232. Second, the court must determine whether the constitutional right at issue was “clearly established” at the time of the defendant's alleged misconduct. Id. A defendant who can validly raise a qualified immunity defense will enjoy its protection so long as the allegedly violated constitutional right was not clearly established at the time of the violation. See id. In other words, the defendant can only be held liable if he violates a right that is clearly established at the time of the violation.

         Additionally, when the plaintiff seeks to impose supervisory liability on a defendant public official in his individual capacity, “the plaintiff must show that: (1) the supervisor either failed to supervise or train the subordinate official; (2) a causal link exists between the failure to train or supervise and the violation of the plaintiff's rights; and (3) the failure to train or supervise amounts to deliberate indifference." Estate of Davis v. City of N. Richland Hills, 406 F.3d 375, 381 (5th Cir. 2005). Thus, in a supervisory liability case, a plaintiff must demonstrate a ...


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