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Newton v. Caminita

United States District Court, M.D. Louisiana

February 13, 2019

DANIEL NEWTON
v.
DEPUTY JOSEPH CAMINITA ET AL. CIVIL ACTION

          RULING AND ORDER

          BRIAN A. JACKSON JUDGE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT

         Before the Court is the Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. 29) filed by Tangipahoa Parish Sheriff Daniel Edwards and Tangipahoa Parish Sheriffs Office Deputies Joseph Caminita and Alexander Zebrick. No. opposition was filed. For the reasons that follow, the Motion (Doc. 29) is GRANTED.

         I. BACKGROUND

         This 42 U.S.C. § 1983 suit arises from a struggle between an intoxicated man and law enforcement officers. (Doc. 29-1 at ¶¶ 1-13). After drinking liquor for several hours, Plaintiff Daniel Newton awoke at his father's home. (Id. at ¶ 1). Plaintiff began arguing with his father, and someone called the police. (Id. at ¶ 5). Deputies Caminita and Zebrick responded to the call around midnight. (Id.).

         After Deputies Caminita and Zebrick arrived at Plaintiffs father's home, Plaintiffs father told them that he wanted Plaintiff to leave the property. (Id. at ¶ 6). Deputy Caminita and Plaintiff got into Plaintiffs father's truck, and Deputy Caminita drove Plaintiff off the property. (Id. at ¶ 7). Deputy Zebrick followed in a police car. (Id. at ¶ 8).

         Next, Deputies Caminita and Zebrick dropped Plaintiff off. (Id. at ¶ 9). No. one recalls where. (Id. at ¶ 9). Before leaving Plaintiff, Deputy Caminita advised him not to drive the truck. (Id. at ¶ 11). Plaintiff does not recall the events that followed. (Id. at ¶ 12).

         Around 12:45 A.M., Louisiana State Trooper Erin Williams received a dispatch call about an abandoned truck in a ditch. (Doc. 31-2 at ¶ 9). Trooper Williams arrived at the scene about ten minutes later. (Id. at ¶ 10). Plaintiff arrived at the scene five minutes later; he began arguing with Trooper Williams about whether the truck would be towed. (Id. at ¶ 17). Trooper Williams then gave Plaintiff a field sobriety test. (Id. at ¶ 25). Plaintiff passed. (Id.).

         After the test, the argument escalated. (Id. at ¶ 34). Trooper Williams and Plaintiff began to fight. (Id.). Trooper Williams brought Plaintiff to the ground, arrested Plaintiff, and charged Plaintiff with resisting arrest, driving without a license, careless operation, and driving without insurance. (Id. at ¶ 43). This lawsuit followed.

         Plaintiff sued Sheriff Edwards, Deputy Caminita, and Deputy Zebrick for constitutional violations under § 1983. (Doc. 12). Plaintiff alleges deliberate-indifference claims against Deputies Caminita and Zebrick and a failure-to-train claim against Sheriff Edwards. (Id.), Plaintiff also alleges negligence claims against all Defendants . (Id.).

         Now, Defendants move for summary judgment. (Doc. 29). Defendants argue that they are entitled to qualified immunity on Plaintiffs individual-capacity federal-law claims. (Doc. 29-2 at p. 12). And Plaintiffs state-law claims should be dismissed, Defendants argue, because the undisputed facts in the record show that Defendants acted reasonably under the circumstances. (Id.).

         II. LEGAL STANDARD

         The Court will enter summary judgment in Defendants' favor if Defendants show that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and that they are entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed. R. ClV. P. 56(a). The Court cannot grant summary judgment just because Defendants' motion is unopposed; Defendants must point to the absence of a material factual dispute. Hetzel v. Bethlehem Steel Corp., 50 F.3d 360, 362 n.3 (5th Cir. 1995). In deciding if they have done so, the Court views facts and draws reasonable inferences in Plaintiffs favor. Vann v. City of Southaven, Miss., 884 F.3d 307, 309 (5th Cir. 2018). Because Plaintiff failed to file a response, Defendants' properly-supported assertions of fact are undisputed. FED. R. Civ. P. 56(e)(2).

         III. DISCUSSION

         A. ...


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