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Escort v. Miles

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

July 25, 2018





         Plaintiff Irvin M. Escort (“Escort”) brought this lawsuit against Officer Derrick Miles (“Officer Miles”), Interim Chief Reginald Thomas (“Chief Thomas”), and the Lafayette City Parish Consolidated Government (“LCPCG”), seeking damages for injuries he allegedly sustained during his arrest following a traffic stop. Pending before the Court is a Motion for Summary Judgment [Doc. No. 24] filed by Defendants. Plaintiff Escort has filed an Opposition [Doc. No. 26], and Defendants have filed a Reply [Doc. No. 27]. For the following reasons, the Motion for Summary Judgment is GRANTED.

         I. FACTS

         On April 23, 2016, Officer Miles observed Escort make an illegal U-turn on Hollywood Drive in Lafayette, Louisiana. Officer Miles stopped Escort and began investigating the alleged traffic violation by asking Escort for his identification. Escort acknowledged that he did not have his driver's license. Officer Miles noted a strong chemical smell emitting from Escort's person, similar to what he has smelled in past instances when a person has ingested PCP. At this point, Escort ran from Officer Miles.

         While Escort was running away, Officer Miles saw Escort throw something to the ground, which was later determined to be a Scope bottle containing PCP. Officer Miles pursued Escort, overtook him from behind, and they both went to the ground.

         Escort contends that Officer Miles broke his right elbow while attempting to handcuff him. He claims that he advised Officer Miles, immediately after he was cuffed, that his arm was broken, but Officer Miles said he should not have run and threatened him not to tell anyone.

         Escort was taken by the booking officer to the medical station, where he was examined by a medical professional and x-rays were taken. Although the medical personnel at the jail advised him that there was no break or fracture, Escort went to Lafayette General Medical Center after he bonded out the following morning. There he was diagnosed with a nondisplaced fracture of the radial head.

         Escort was initially charged with possession of PCP and resisting arrest. However, Escort and the District Attorney made an agreement that if Escort took and passed six drug screens and stayed clean, the charges would be dismissed. The District Attorney ultimately dismissed the charges.

         Escort subsequently filed suit against Officer Miles, Chief Thomas, and the LCPCG, seeking damages for violations of his civil rights under 42 USC § 1983, et seq., as well as under state law.

         Defendants filed the instant motion for summary judgment. The motion is fully briefed, and the Court is prepared to rule.


         A. Standard of Review

         Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(a), “[a] party may move for summary judgment, identifying each claim or defense--or the part of each claim or defense--on which summary judgment is sought. 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.” The moving party bears the initial burden of informing the court of the basis for its motion by identifying portions of the record which highlight the absence of genuine issues of material fact. Topalian v. Ehrmann, 4 F.2d 1125');">954 F.2d 1125, 1132 (5th Cir. 1992); see also Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c)(1) (“A party asserting that a fact cannot be . . . disputed must support the assertion by . . . citing to particular parts of materials in the record . . .). A fact is “material” if proof of its existence or nonexistence would affect the outcome of the lawsuit under applicable law in the case. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242');">477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). A dispute about a material fact is “genuine” if the evidence is such that a reasonable fact finder could render a verdict for the nonmoving party. Id.

         If the moving party can meet the initial burden, the burden then shifts to the nonmoving party to establish the existence of a genuine issue of material fact for trial. Norman v. Apache Corp., 19 F.3d 1017, 1023 (5th Cir. 1994). In evaluating the evidence tendered by the parties, the Court must accept the evidence of the nonmovant as credible and draw all justifiable inferences in its favor. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 255. However, “a party cannot defeat summary judgment with conclusory allegations, unsubstantiated assertions, or only a scintilla of evidence.” Turner v. Baylor Richardson Med. Ctr., 476 F.3d 337');">476 F.3d 337, 343 (5th Cir. 2007) (citing Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248.)

         B. Analysis

         1.Plaintiff's False Arrest/Unreasonable Seizure Claim

         Escort has conceded in brief that he cannot make a good faith argument that the seizure and the arrest were unreasonable, and that, as such, these claims should be dismissed with prejudice. This Court agrees with that conclusion, and therefore, the Court will dismiss these claims with prejudice.

         2. Plaintiff's Excessive Force Claim

         a. The Heck Doctrine

         Escort acknowledges that an officer making a lawful arrest may use a reasonable amount of force to overcome resistance by a person being arrested. Escort contends, however, that he never actively resisted the arrest. He admits to taking 7-8 steps in furtherance of a flight, but he claims he stopped the flight prior to the seizure by Officer Miles. He argues that the slamming to the ground and the yanking and twisting of the arm to the point of breakage is excessive. Escort states that some form of force is a reoccurring theme when dealing with police officers, and that the force grows exponentially when there is flight or resistance. He asserts it is a sad fact that many individuals in high crime areas have grown to anticipate some force when they engage with police officers.

         Defendants respond that Escort's excessive force claim is precluded by the Heck doctrine, as Escort admittedly participated in a pretrial diversion program which ultimately led to the dismissal of the charges brought against him. Escort was charged with possession of PCP and resisting arrest, and the charges were only dismissed pursuant to an agreement between Escort and the District Attorney's ...

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