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Lachney v. Linzay

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

August 30, 2019





         Before the court are cross motions for summary judgment filed by defendants, Deputy Sheriff Chase Linzay ("Linzay") and Rapides Parish Sheriff William Earl Hilton ("Hilton") and plaintiff Danny Lachney ("Lachney). (Docs. 47 and 53, respectively).

         I. BACKGROUND

         This lawsuit arises out of events that took place on October 20, 2015 at Rapides Parish Detention Center III ("DCIII"). It was on that date that Lieutenant Jay Patrick Slayter, an investigator and intelligence officer in the corrections department of the Rapides Parish Sheriffs Department, received information that two knives were hidden by DCIII inmates somewhere in the dormitories and a specific inmate was targeted.

         Lt. Slayter requested and received permission to use both Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) and Corrections Emergency Response Team (CERT) deputies to assist in the search for the knives. Members of SWAT and CERT gathered near DCIII. The teams dressed in tactical and riot gear and received information from Lt. Slayter that they would search certain DCIII dormitories for the two missing knives. The teams made their way to the dormitories they were to search. Linzay was assigned to the dormitory that housed Lachney.

         According to Lachney, he was incarcerated at DCIII for the purpose of serving a 20-day sentence on a charge of public intoxication.[1] He was seated on his assigned bunk, a top rack, when he noticed deputies gathering by the main entrance to his dormitory. He heard the officers yelling but couldn't make out the commands. He was scared of being shot so he put his hands up and remained seated on his top bunk. As Linzay approached, he told Lachney to get down. Lachney acknowledged the command, came off of the top bunk, and lawnded on the floor in a forward leaning position. Linzay advanced on Lachney, turned his weapon around, and struck Lachney on the top of the head with the butt of the shotgun. Lachney suffered a large, open gash which required hospital attention and eight staples to close.

         Video evidence of the event shows the deputies enter the dorm and inmates make their way to the floor. In the back, right corner of the dorm, Lachney remains seated on his top bunk. Although the video is grainy, he appears to raise his hands and then come off of his bunk and then Linzay approaches. Once Lachney comes off of his bunk, he disappears from view - blocked by other bunk beds that obstruct the video view.

         Lachney filed suit against Linzay in his personal and official capacities for use of excessive force pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and battery under Louisiana state law. He also filed suit against Sheriff Hilton in his official capacity for failing to establish and/or enforce policies to investigate wrongdoing by his deputies, the administration of punishment, and inmate grievance procedures.

         Linzay contends Lachney cannot state a claim for excessive force and even if he can, Linzay is entitled to qualified immunity. Sheriff Hilton asserts he is not liable in his official capacity as Lachney fails to show that any policy, practice, custom, or training was inadequate or that anyone was deliberately indifferent to adopting a policy, practice, custom, or training, or that the inadequate policy, practice, custom, or training resulted in Lachney's injury. Defendants further claim Lachney cannot establish a claim for the violation of his due process rights nor is he entitled to punitive damages.

         Lachney contends Linzay intentionally used force and that force was both excessive and deadly. Thus, he says Linzay violated his Eight Amendment right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment.


         A. Summary Judgment Standard

         A 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." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). A dispute of material fact is genuine is the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party. See Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). "[W]e consider all evidence in the light most favorable to the party resisting the motion." Seacor Holdings, Inc. v. Commonwealth Ins. Co, 635 F.3d 675, 680 (5th Cir.2011) (internal citations omitted). It is important to note that the standard ...

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