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Robertson v. City of Shreveport

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

April 12, 2018



          Mark L. Hornsby, U.S. Magistrate Judge.


         Jackie Robertson (“Plaintiff”), who is self-represented, filed this civil rights action against Shreveport Police Officer James A. Delo and the City of Shreveport after Plaintiff was arrested for, but then acquitted of, a charge of careless operation of a vehicle. The parties filed written consent to have the case decided by the undersigned magistrate judge, and the district judge referred the case pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c). Before the court is a Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. 28) filed by the City and Corporal Delo. Plaintiff has not filed any timely opposition. For the reasons that follow, the motion will be granted.

         Plaintiff's Allegations

         Plaintiff's original complaint was filed on a Pro Se 1 form that asked him to provide a short and plain statement of his claim. Plaintiff referred to an attachment, which consisted of a letter to the court in which he described a traffic stop. Plaintiff wrote that he was stopped by Corporal Delo, who said Plaintiff was driving carelessly and charged him with being under the influence of alcohol. Plaintiff alleged that the officer perjured himself in court, and the case was dismissed.

         Plaintiff also submitted a single page from a transcript of the city court proceeding. It includes the judge's verdict, where she found reasonable doubt, acquitted Plaintiff, and suggested he contact Internal Affairs about his claim of missing money. Plaintiff said that he had done so. In his letter to the court, Plaintiff wrote that Internal Affairs found the officer guilty of violating his civil rights by keeping his personal property and taking $300 from his wallet. Plaintiff suggests that $5, 000, 000, 000 in damages would be appropriate.

         Plaintiff later filed an Amended Complaint (Doc. 16) that added some factual allegations about the traffic stop and related events. He alleged that police were conducting a dragnet on I-49 at Kings Highway on the lookout for a black male around 30 or 40 years old who was driving a 2003 to 2004 burgundy Nissan Altima. Plaintiff alleges that he was driving south through that area on his way home to shower and prepare for work, and he had wet his pants because of a bladder procedure performed on him in 2015. Plaintiff alleges that the police stopped him as part of the dragnet even though he was driving a red (not burgundy) 2015 Altima and was 60 years old. Plaintiff alleges that Corporal Delo accused him of being drunk when he saw that Plaintiff's pants were wet.

         The Amended Complaint alleged that Corporal Delo took Plaintiff's cell phone and $300 from his wallet. Plaintiff contends that Delo is also liable for false arrest, defamation, and slander, with the latter two charges stemming from publication of his arrest in a local paper. He contends that friends have asked him about the arrest and lost respect for him even though he has not consumed alcohol in 20 years.

         Summary Judgment

         Summary judgment is appropriate “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. Pro. 56(a). A fact is “material” if it might affect the outcome of the suit under governing law. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 106 S.Ct. 2505, 2510 (1986). A dispute is “genuine” if there is sufficient evidence so that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for either party. Anderson, supra; Hamilton v. Segue Software Inc., 232 F.3d 473, 477 (5th Cir. 2000).

         The party seeking summary judgment has the initial responsibility of informing the court of the basis for its motion, and identifying those parts of the record that it believes demonstrate the absence of a genuine dispute of material fact. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 106 S.Ct. 2548 (1986). If the moving party carries his initial burden, the burden then falls upon the nonmoving party to demonstrate the existence of a genuine dispute of a material fact. Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 106 S.Ct. 1348, 1355-56 (1986).

         Defendants' Summary Judgment Evidence

         Defendants moved for summary judgment and directly challenged each of Plaintiff's claims. They submitted a transcript of Corporal Delo's city court testimony, an inmate property release form, and a police report as their summary judgment evidence. Corporal Delo testified at the trial that he was southbound on Interstate 49 at 11:20 p.m. and was traveling in a lane where there was one lane to his left. He was driving at about the speed limit when he saw in his rearview mirror a vehicle in that left lane closing in at a high rate of speed, estimated to be 20 to 25 miles an hour faster than Delo was going. That vehicle passed Delo in the left lane and quickly came upon the bumper of a truck that was ahead in that same lane. Plaintiff's vehicle slowed rapidly and began to tailgate the truck.

         Corporal Delo testified that he pulled into the left-hand lane and activated his lights and siren to make a traffic stop. Plaintiff's vehicle kept going for about 30 seconds-which Delo said he confirmed by reviewing video of the stop-but finally pulled over. Plaintiff quickly got out of the car before Delo ordered him back in the car. Corporal Delo approached on the passenger side and asked for Plaintiff's license, registration, and proof of insurance. Plaintiff was granted permission to look in his ...

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