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Sinegal v. Lake Charles Police Dep't

United States District Court, W.D. Louisiana, Lake Charles Division

July 22, 2019

ANASTASIA SINEGAL
v.
LAKE CHARLES POLICE DEP'T, ET AL.

          KAY, MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

          MEMORANDUM RULING

          JAMES D. CAIN, JR. UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Before the court is a Motion for Summary Judgment [doc. 20] filed by defendants Joshua Ewing and Princeton Jackson, in response to the pro se civil rights complaint filed in this court by Anastasia Sinegal. Sinegal has not responded to the motion and her time for doing so has passed. Accordingly, the motion is regarded as unopposed and is now ripe for review.

         I.

         Background

         This suit arises from Sinegal's complaints about her treatment at Golden Nugget Casino in Lake Charles, Louisiana, on or about August 31, 2017. Specifically, Sinegal alleges that she was wrongfully ordered to leave the casino after complaining that the slot machines were rigged. When she refused to leave, she asserts, Lake Charles Police Department officers Joshua Ewing and Princeton Jackson arrested her at the casino's behest and used excessive force to subdue her. See doc. 1. Sinegal filed suit in this court under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and Louisiana tort law against Golden Nugget, LLC; Golden Nugget security supervisor Mallory Bellard; the Lake Charles Police Department ("LCPD"); former LCPD Chief of Police Donald Dixon; and LCPD officers Ewing and Jackson.

         On defendants' motions, the court dismissed all claims except those brought against Ewing and Jackson for (1) assault and battery under Louisiana tort law and (2) excessive force under § 1983. Docs. 16, 17. Ewing and Jackson now move for summary judgment on the remaining claims, asserting that their use of force against Sinegal was justified under the circumstances to overcome her resistance to a lawful arrest. Doc. 20; doc. 20, att. 1. They also assert that they are entitled to qualified immunity because their actions were objectively reasonable. Id. Sinegal, who is still unrepresented in this matter, has filed no response. Under the court's Notice of Motion Setting [doc. 21], her time for doing so has passed and so the summary judgment motion is regarded as unopposed.

         II.

         Law & Application

         A. Summary Judgment Standard

         A court should grant a motion for summary judgment when 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.P. 56. The party moving for summary judgment is initially responsible for identifying portions of pleadings and discovery that show the lack of a genuine issue of material fact. Tubacex, Inc. v. M/V Risan, 45 F.3d 951, 954 (5th Cir. 1995). The court must deny the motion for summary judgment if the movant fails to meet this burden. Id.

         If the movant makes this showing, however, the burden then shifts to the non-moving party to "set forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., Ml U.S. 242, 248 (1986) (quotations omitted). This requires more than mere allegations or denials of the adverse party's pleadings. Instead, the nonmovant must submit "significant probative evidence" in support of his claim. State Farm Life Ins. Co. v. Gutterman, 896 F.2d 116, 118 (5th Cir. 1990). "If the evidence is merely colorable, or is not significantly probative, summary judgment may be granted." Anderson, Ml U.S. at 249 (citations omitted).

         A court may not make credibility determinations or weigh the evidence in ruling on a motion for summary judgment. Reeves v. Sanderson Plumbing Prods., Inc., 530 U.S. 133, 150 (2000). The court is also required to view all evidence in the light most favorable to the non-moving party and draw all reasonable inferences in that party's favor. Clift v. Clift, 210 F.3d 268, 270 (5th Cir. 2000). Under this standard, a genuine issue of material fact exists if a reasonable trier of fact could render a verdict for the nonmoving party. Brumfleld v. Rollins, 551 F.3d 322, 326 (5th Cir. 2008). When the motion is unopposed, the moving party retains its burden of showing that there is no genuine issue of material fact. Hetzel v. Bethlehem Steel Corp., 50 F.3d 360, 362 (5th Cir. 1995). Under the court's local rules, however, failure to file an opposition means that the moving party's statement of uncontested material facts is deemed admitted. Local Rule 56.2.

         B. ...


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