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Lowell v. Ard

United States District Court, M.D. Louisiana

September 30, 2019

DAVID BARTLET LOWELL, ET AL.
v.
JASON ARD, ET AL.

          RULING AND ORDER

          BRIAN A. JACKSON, JUDGE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT

         Before the Court are Defendants Derek J. Gaudin and Cory Winburn's Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. 39) and Defendants Jason Ard and Perry Rushing's Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. 42). For the reasons that follow, both motions for summary judgment are GRANTED.

         I. BACKGROUND

         A. Plaintiffs Arrest

         On Saturday, January 7, 2017, Plaintiff was found asleep in the men's restroom a Walmart Neighborhood Market in Denham Springs around 2:00 A.M. Store personnel called law enforcement, and Plaintiff alleges that when the Sheriffs deputies arrived, officers forcibly removed him from the store. (Doc. 1 at ¶ 7). Once removed from the store, Plaintiff alleges that Deputies Derek J. Gaudin and Cory Winburn questioned him, then suddenly attacked him. (Id. at ¶8, 9). Plaintiff further alleges that he was thrown to the ground and struck in the neck and upper back. (Id. at ¶ 9, 11). Plaintiff asserts that the attack was unprovoked and that he did not resist arrest. (Id. at ¶ 10). After arresting Plaintiff, Defendants transported him to the Livingston Parish Detention Center, which Defendant Warden Perry Rushing supervised. (Id. at ¶ 12). Plaintiff was booked and detained. On August 1, 2017, Plaintiff pleaded guilty to the charge of Resisting an Officer under Louisiana Revised Statute 14:108. Plaintiff was sentenced to one month in the Livingston Parish Jail. Plaintiffs sentence was later suspended, and he was given credit for the time served (Doc. 44 at pg. 6).

         B. Plaintiffs Alleged Post-Arrest Injuries

         Throughout his detention, Plaintiff alleges he complained of severe back and neck pain. (Id. At ¶ 13). After an examination by a health care provider at the detention center, Plaintiff was transported to Lallie Kemp Regional Medical Center, where X-rays and diagnostic testing revealed a fracture of his C-6 vertebrae. (Id. at ¶ 14).

         On March 24, 2017, Plaintiff filed a complaint against Gaudin, John Doe, Sheriff Jason Ard, and Warden Perry Rushing. Plaintiff amended the complaint to include Defendant Winburn, who was named "John Doe" in the initial complaint.

         Plaintiff sued Gaudin and Winburn under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for excessive force, violations of the Fourth, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendments, and state law claims of intentional torts and negligence. Plaintiff sued Ard for vicarious liability for the negligent hiring, training, and supervision of Gaudin, Winburn, Rushing. (Doc. 1 at ¶ 21).

         Plaintiff alleges that as a result of the alleged unprovoked attack, he underwent medical treatment and continues to suffer pain, mental anguish, aggravation, and the inconvenience of restrictions in his activities. (Id. At ¶ 15). Plaintiff asserts special damages such as medical expenses and lost wages and asserts that he may continue to incur medical expenses as a result of the incident. (Id. at ¶ 16, 17). Plaintiffs wife joined the complaint to assert damages of loss of consortium, society, companionship, and services. (Id. at 18).

         C. Motions for Summary Judgment

         Gaudin and Winburn filed a Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. 39) asserting that Plaintiff resisted arrest, and that Plaintiff pleaded guilty to and was convicted of Resisting an Officer under La. R.S. 14:108. Although Plaintiff claims that he never resisted arrest[1], Defendants assert that Plaintiffs claims are barred by Heck v. Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477, 114 S.Ct. 2364 (1994). Defendants Ard and Rushing also filed a Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. 42), arguing that the vicarious liability claims against them must be dismissed due to the absence of liability and the invocation of qualified immunity.

         II. LEGAL STANDARD

         Pursuant to Rule 56, "[t]he [C]ourt 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). In determining whether the movant is entitled to summary judgment, the Court views the facts in the light most favorable to the non-movant and draws all reasonable inferences in the non-movant's favor. Coleman v. Houston Independent School Dist, 113 F.3d 528, 533 (5th Cir. 1997).

         After a proper motion for summary judgment is made, the non-movant must set forth specific facts showing there is a genuine issue for trial. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc.,477 U.S. 242, 250 (1986). At this stage, the Court does not evaluate the credibility of witnesses, weigh the evidence, or resolve factual disputes. Int'l Shortstop, Inc. v. Rally's, Inc.,939 F.2d 1257, 1263 (5th Cir. 1991), cert, denied, 502 U.S. 1059 (1992). However, if the evidence in the record is such that a reasonable jury, drawing all inferences in favor of the non-moving party, could ...


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