United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana
ORDER AND REASONS
the court are Plaintiff's objections to the Magistrate
Judge's Report and Recommendation granting
Defendants' motion for summary judgment and dismissing
Plaintiff's claims (Rec. Doc. 23), and Defendants'
Response to Plaintiff's objections (Rec. Doc. 24). For
the reasons discussed below, IT IS ORDERED
that the objections (Rec. Doc. 23) are
OVERRULED and the Magistrate Judge's
Report and Recommendation are ADOPTED as the
BACKGROUND AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
11, 2017, Plaintiff was arrested by the Jefferson Parish
Sheriff's Office. See Rec. Doc. 22 and 24-1. On
September 15, 2017, Plaintiff was charged in two separate
bills of information. See Rec. Doc. 17-1. On April 9, 2018,
Plaintiff pled guilty to reckless operation of a motor
vehicle, resisting arrest, and battery on a peace officer
causing injury. See Rec. Doc. 17-6 at 1.
Subsequently, on April 11, 2018, Plaintiff also pled guilty
to illegal possession of prescription narcotics, possession
of heroin, and being a felon in possession of a firearm.
See Id. at 6.
January 29, 2018, Plaintiff filed a complaint in federal
court under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 alleging that his
constitutional rights were violated when the defendants used
excessive force during Plaintiff's arrest. See
Rec. Doc. 1. According to Plaintiff, Defendants Detectives
Lowe and Wiebelt approached his car with their guns drawn,
punched him in the right eye, busted a vessel, and kicked and
punched him multiple times while on the ground. See
id. On June 14, 2018, Defendants filed a motion to
dismiss Plaintiff's complaint pursuant to Federal Rules
of Civil Procedure 12(c) or alternatively, for summary
judgment pursuant to F.R.C.P. 56. Rec. Doc. 17. On August 24,
2018, Magistrate Judge Janis Van Meerveld reviewed
Defendants' motion for summary judgment and recommended
it be granted and Plaintiff's claims be dismissed with
prejudice. See Rec. Doc. 22 at 4.
judgment is appropriate when “the pleadings,
depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on
file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there
is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the
moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of
law.” Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317,
322 (1986) (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)). A genuine issue of
material fact exists if the evidence would allow a reasonable
jury to return a verdict for the nonmoving party.
Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248
the movant bears the burden of proof, it must
“demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of material
fact” using competent summary judgment evidence.
Celotex, 477 U.S. at 323. But “where the
non-movant bears the burden of proof at trial, the movant may
merely point to an absence of evidence.” Lindsey v.
Sears Roebuck & Co., 16 F.3d 616, 618 (5th Cir.
1994). When the movant meets its burden, the burden shifts to
the non-movant, who must show by “competent summary
judgment evidence” that there is a genuine issue of
material fact. See Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co., Ltd. v.
Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986);
Lindsey, 16 F.3d at 618. Conclusory statements,
speculation, and unsubstantiated assertions are not enough
for the non-movant party to meet his or her burden. See
Eaton-Stephens v. Grapevine Colleyville Indep. Sch.
Dist., 715 Fed.Appx. 351, 353 (5th Cir. 2017).
determine whether there is a genuine issue of material fact,
the court must determine if Plaintiff's claims are barred
under Heck v. Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477 (1994). If they
are, then summary judgment is appropriate as there are no
genuine issues of material fact. In Heck, the
Supreme Court held that a prisoner may not bring a §
1983 suit if judgment in favor of the plaintiff would
“imply the invalidity of his conviction or
sentence.” Heck, 512 U.S. at 487. See also
Hainze v. Richards, 207 F.3d 795, 798 (5th Cir. 2000).
In order to recover damages for allegedly unconstitutional
conviction or imprisonment, or for other harm caused by
actions whose unlawfulness would render a conviction or
sentence invalid, a § 1983 plaintiff must prove that the
conviction or sentence has been reversed on direct appeal,
expunged by executive order, declared invalid by a state
tribunal authorized to make such determination, or called
into question by a federal court's issuance of a writ of
Heck, 512 U.S. at 486-87.
Heck court found that this policy avoids duplicate
litigation and conflicting results arising out of the same or
identical transaction. See Id. at 484. “The
Heck doctrine bars the court from entertaining a
suit for damages under § 1983 where such claims would
necessarily undermine the validity of the state court
criminal conviction.” Curran v. Aleshire, 67
F.Supp. 3D 741, 747 (E.D. La. 2014) (citing Buckenberger
v. Reed, 342 Fed.Appx. 58, 61 (5th Cir. 2009)). However,
a claim would not be barred by Heck if the facts
underlying the state criminal court conviction are
“temporally and conceptually distinct from the
excessive force claim.” Bush v. Strain, 513
F.3d 492, 498 (5th Cir. 2008).
Curran, the court found that the plaintiff's
excessive force claims were not Heck-barred. See
Curran, 67 F.Supp.3d at 750. In that case, the plaintiff
battered the defendant outside of the school's
auditorium, which led the defendant to later push the
plaintiff against a wall and place her in handcuffs.
Id. at 749. Then, while the defendant was bringing
the plaintiff to another room, the defendant again pushed the
plaintiff against a wall in the hallway. Id. The
defendant argued that Plaintiff's excessive force claims
were barred under Heck, because such claims would
undermine the validity of her adjudication for battery of a
police officer. See Id. at 747. However, the court
disagreed and found that the incidents underlying
Plaintiff's excessive force claims took place after the
battery of the officer. Id. at 750. There was no
evidence that the plaintiff was attempting to flee, evade
arrest, or resist arrest when she was subjected to excessive
force. Id. Because the charged crime, the battery of
a police officer, was over at the time of Defendant's use
of force, the plaintiff was permitted to bring her excessive
force claims. Id.
other hand, in Buckenberger, the court found that
Plaintiff's excessive force claim was barred not only by
Heck, but also by the Fifth Circuit's decision
in Hudson v. Hughes, 98 F.3d 868 (5th Cir. 1996).
See Buckenberger, 342 Fed.Appx. at 64. In
Buckenberger, the plaintiff kicked, spat at, and
threatened the police officer as the officer attempted to
place the plaintiff in handcuffs. Id. at 60. The
plaintiff pled guilty to battery; however, following his
conviction, the plaintiff alleged that the officer used
excessive force in his arrest. Id. The court found
that because self-defense is a justification defense to
battery of an officer, an excessive force claim against the
arresting officer, if proved, would imply the invalidity of
the plaintiff's arrest and conviction for ...