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Perry v. City of Bossier City

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

April 23, 2019





         This case arises out of allegedly excessive force deployed when officers of the Bossier City Police Department arrested Plaintiff Lloyd Perry (“Perry”). Before the Court is Defendants' motion for partial summary judgment on the issue of medical causation. [Record Document 46]. The motion is GRANTED IN PART and DENIED IN PART. Because Perry has raised a genuine issue of material fact as to the cause of his lacerated liver and his anemia, summary judgment is DENIED as to those injuries. However, because the record provides only highly speculative support for his claim that the force employed by Officers Brandon Kowalzek (“Kowalzek”) and Lamond Wheatly (“Wheatly”) (collectively, “Defendant Officers”) caused his renal pseudoaneurysm, summary judgment is GRANTED on that issue.

         I. Background

         The facts leading up to Defendant Officers' use of force have been thoroughly described in this Court's previous summary judgment ruling. [Record Document 37]. In brief, Perry called the police to report a hit-and-run on his car. [Id. at 2]. Kowalzek arrived to investigate but before he completed the accident report, Perry drove away. [Id.]. Kowalzek pulled Perry over and, after some heated discussion, attempted to place Perry in handcuffs. [Id. at 3]. Wheatly then arrived and punched Perry, allowing Defendant Officers to take Perry down to the ground. [Id. at 3-4]. Kowalzek then completed the handcuffing and transported Perry to the Bossier Parish Jail for booking. [Id.].

         Perry sued Defendant Officers, the City of Bossier City, and Shane McWilliams, the chief of the Bossier City Police Department, (collectively, “Defendants”) for false arrest and excessive force under federal and state law. [Record Document 1]. This Court granted Defendants' motion for summary judgment on all of Perry's claims except: (1) the 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and Louisiana constitutional claims against Defendant Officers for the force used when taking Perry to the ground; (2) the state-law tort claims for false arrest and false imprisonment; and (3) the state-law tort claims for battery, assault, and excessive force related to all of the force used on Perry by Defendant Officers throughout the encounter. [Record Document 37].

         While being booked at the Bossier City Jail, Perry collapsed onto the floor. [Record Document 48-3 at 19:11:25-:32 and 48-4 at 3]. The Bossier City Fire Department responded and transported him to the emergency room at University Health-Shreveport (“UH-S”) where he refused treatment and demanded to be returned to jail. [Record Documents 48-2 at 2, 48-4 at 3, and 48-5 at 1]. After returning from UH-S, Perry was held at the Bossier Maximum Security Facility (“Bossier Max”) and remained lethargic, repeatedly refusing meals and recreation time and spending much of the following days lying in bed. [Record Documents 48-8, 48-9, 48-10, 48-11, and 48-12]. Ten days after he was arrested, jail officials took him back to UH-S, where he was diagnosed with a Grade 4 liver laceration, renal dysfunction, central hypertension, anemia of acute blood loss, a left renal artery pseudoaneurysm, [1] a left mandible fracture, and a left subconjunctival hemorrhage. [Record Document 48-5 at 4].

         Defendants filed this motion for partial summary judgment on the issue of medical causation for three of the injuries that Perry asserts were caused by Defendant Officers' use of force: the anemia, the liver laceration, and the pseudoaneurysm. [Record Document 46].[2]Specifically, Defendants argue that causation for these injuries must be proven via expert medical testimony and that Perry has produced none. [Record Document 46-1 at 4-8]. While Dr. Navdeep Samra (“Dr. Samra”), a trauma surgeon who treated Perry at UH-S, did sit for a deposition, [Record Document 46-6], Defendants contend that Dr. Samra's cautious statements fail to carry Perry's summary judgment burden, [Record Document 46-1 at 4-8]. Conversely, Perry argues that the circumstantial evidence of his condition in the days following the accident (fainting, remaining mostly in bed, refusing many meals, refusing out-of-cell recreation time), combined with the medical records and Dr. Samra's admissions of possible causation, create a genuine factual issue for trial. [Record Document 48 at 5-7]. Defendants reply brief mainly points out that Perry has not provided any medical testimony regarding causation other than that of Dr. Samra. [Record Document 49 at 1-2].

         II. Summary Judgment Standard

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(a) directs a court to “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.”[3] Summary judgment is appropriate when the pleadings, answers to interrogatories, admissions, depositions, and affidavits on file indicate that there is no genuine issue of 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). When the burden at trial will rest on the non-moving party, the moving party need not produce evidence to negate the elements of the non-moving party's case; rather, it need only point out the absence of supporting evidence. See Id. at 322-23.

         If the movant satisfies its initial burden of showing that there is no genuine dispute of material fact, the nonmovant must demonstrate that there is, in fact, a genuine issue for trial by going “beyond the pleadings” and “designat[ing] specific facts” for support. Little v. Liquid Air Corp., 37 F.3d 1069, 1075 (5th Cir. 1994) (citing Celotex, 477 U.S. at 325). “This burden is not satisfied with some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts, ” by conclusory or unsubstantiated allegations, or by a mere “scintilla of evidence.” Id. (internal quotation marks and citations omitted). However, “[t]he evidence of the non-movant is to be believed, and all justifiable inferences are to be drawn in his favor.” Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 255 (1985) (citing Adickes v. S. H. Kress & Co., 398 U.S. 144, 158-59 (1970)). While not weighing the evidence or evaluating the credibility of witnesses, courts should grant summary judgment where the critical evidence in support of the nonmovant is so “weak or tenuous” that it could not support a judgment in the nonmovant's favor. Armstrong v. City of Dall., 997 F.2d 62, 67 (5th Cir. 1993).

         Additionally, Local Rule 56.1 requires the movant to file a statement of material facts as to which it “contends there is no genuine issue to be tried.” The opposing party must then set forth a “short and concise statement of the material facts as to which there exists a genuine issue to be tried.” W.D. La. R. 56.2. All material facts set forth in the movant's statement “will be deemed admitted, for purposes of the motion, unless controverted as required by this rule.” Id.

         III. Law and Analysis

         A. Standard for ...

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