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Lewis v. City of Jackson

United States District Court, Fifth Circuit

January 24, 2014

JD LEWIS, JR., Plaintiff,
v.
CITY OF JACKSON, MISSISSIPPI, OFFICER KEVIN NASH, IN HIS INDIVIDUAL CAPACITY, Defendants.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

CARLTON W. REEVES, District Judge.

Before the Court is Defendants City of Jackson's and Kevin Nash's Motion for Summary Judgment. Docket No. 49. Plaintiff opposes the motion. Docket No. 52. Defendant has replied [Docket No. 55] and the matter is ready for review. The motion is GRANTED.

I. Factual and Procedural Background

This is a suit brought under 42 U.S.C. ยง 1983. The facts are hotly contested and both parties' version of the facts is somewhat unclear. Notwithstanding the parties' dispute of facts, a genuine issue for trial has not been created.

A. Lewis's Version

According to Plaintiff, on the night of June 12, 2011, Lewis lost control of his vehicle and drove his car into a tree. See Dep. of JD Lewis, Jr., at Exhibit C, Docket No. 49-3, at 16, (hereinafter "Lewis Dep."). He described his accident as "bad" and indicated that it nearly knocked him unconscious. Id. at 22-23 and 25. The air bags deployed, causing injuries to his neck, arm and chest. Id. at 21-22. His cousin, Ammon Miles, was in the vehicle with him. Id. at 16, 22. After the accident, Lewis exited the vehicle and walked down the street searching for help. Id. at 31.

Officer Kevin Nash of the Jackson Police Department approached. Lewis recognized the vehicle as a patrol car, and ran to the middle of the street to stop it. Id. at 16-17. Lewis claims that when Nash approached in his patrol car, Plaintiff laid his body on the hood of the car pleading for help. Id. at 33-34. Nash exited the vehicle and screamed, "Get down on the ground." Id. Lewis complied with the command. Nash then asked Lewis if he had been involved in a shooting. Id. at 17. Lewis denied being involved in a shooting, [1] but informed Nash that he had been in a car accident. Although Lewis had complied with the commands, "[Nash] threw [Plaintiff] on the ground, stepped on [his] back, [and] pulled [his] arms back as far as he could [in order] to put the hand cuffs on." Id. at, at 32. Plaintiff stated that this caused him to suffer more pain. Id. at 42 ("My neck hurt worser [sic] and my arm. I couldn't move my arm. And my - my whole body, actually.")

While Plaintiff was being arrested, Sergeant Barbara Folsom arrived on the scene. Nash repeatedly questioned Lewis about a shooting. Lewis was placed in the back seat of Nash's "hot" patrol car with the windows up where he remained for "over a period of two or three hours... in a terrible cramped position." Id., at 40-41. Nash drove Lewis to the area where the shooting had occurred, but he refused to provide Lewis medical treatment even though Lewis requested it repeatedly.[2] See id. at 17, 32. See also, id. at 35 ("I'm steady pleading for the ambulance, or please, can I go to the hospital? If not the hospital, please can I go to jail? Maybe someone will call the ambulance.'"). After Nash checked Plaintiff's driver's license, Lewis was finally dropped off at J. J. Mobile's, a store on Northside Drive in Jackson, Mississippi. Id. [3] Lewis collapsed, and the owner of the store "actually pulled [Lewis] in the store and called the ambulance." Id. at 36. He was taken to the hospital, treated by a physician and stayed in the hospital until the following day. Id. at 36-37. Because of the events, Lewis claims that he suffered emotional, mental, and physical injuries, including, but not limited to his neck, ribs, right ankle, right toe, chest, right shoulder and his hand. See Pl. Amen. Compl., Docket No. 11, at 2-3.

B. City of Jackson's/Kevin Nash's Version

Unsurprisingly, the City describes some of the events quite differently.[4] According to the City, on June 12, 2011, after Plaintiff crashed his car into a tree, he left the vehicle and went to a nearby residence in search of assistance and knocked violently on the door. See Dep. of Off. Kevin Nash, at Exhibit B, Docket No. 49-2, at 36 (hereinafter "Nash Dep.").[5] Fearing that Nash was a burglar, the residents of the home called the police. Id. Sometime after 1:00 a.m., Nash was dispatched to respond to a call regarding a house burglary in progress. Nash Dep., at 28, 33. Upon arriving at the scene with his lights and siren activated, [6] Nash saw Plaintiff attempting to get inside a house through a window and commanded him to "stop, " but, after seeing Nash, Lewis fled the scene. Id. Nash chased the suspect, grabbed him by the shoulder, engaged in a struggle with him and eventually forced him to the ground and handcuffed him. Id. at 28-33.[7] See also, id. at 53 ("I had to wrestle him in handcuffs. He wasn't exactly cooperative."). Thereafter, Sergeant Folsom arrived at the scene, and Nash placed Plaintiff in the back of the police vehicle where he remained for only about 10 or 15 minutes. Nash Dep., at 63; Folsom Dep., at 37-38.

Folsom also asked Plaintiff about his condition and Plaintiff replied that he was "okay." Folsom Dep., at 18. Folsom and Nash both intimated that Plaintiff smelled like he had been drinking alcohol, [8] and he appeared to be "out of it." Id. at 20; Nash Dep., at 36.[9] Folsom questioned Nash as to why he was attempting to break into someone's home, and Plaintiff responded that he was actually looking for help. Folsom Dep., at 27 ("[Plaintiff said he] was not trying to burglarize their house. [He] was calling for help because... [he] went down the street and made a U-turn and people started firing at [him]..."). At this point, Folsom and Nash suspected that Lewis was actually the victim of the shooting and the person involved in the car wreck, so they unhandcuffed him and walked to the scene of the car accident. Id. Folsom then questioned Lewis about both incidents and asked him several times if he was in need of medical attention. Lewis denied that he needed treatment and simply requested a ride home. Id. at 29.[10] After more questioning, Nash confirmed that Lewis was actually the passenger of the vehicle when it wrecked. In addition, the gunshots heard were likely fired at Lewis by his cousin's boyfriend.[11] Id. at 29, 33. Nash did not give Lewis a ride home, but merely dropped him off at a gas station, at Lewis's request so that Lewis could call someone to come get him. Nash Dep., at 42, 50, 60 and 62.

On January 25, 2012, Lewis filed the instant lawsuit against the City of Jackson ("City"), Officer George A. Fields and Officer Kevin Nash in their official and individual capacities.[12] Docket No. 1. With respect to the City, Lewis contends that liability rests with it because of its failure to train its officers. As to the named officers, Lewis accuses them of using excessive force in violation of the Fourth Amendment and violating his due process and equal protection rights. See Pl. Amen. Compl., Docket No. 11. Lewis also asserts state law tort claims of negligent and/or intentional infliction of emotional distress, assault and battery, false arrest/imprisonment, and negligence per se. Id.

II. Legal Standard

A. Summary Judgment

Summary judgment is appropriate 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). When confronted with these motions, the Court focuses on "genuine" disputes of "material" facts. A dispute is genuine "if the evidence supporting its resolution in favor of the party opposing summary judgment, together with any inferences in such party's favor that the evidence allows, would be sufficient to support a verdict in favor of that party." St. Amant v. Benoit, 806 F.2d 1294, 1297 (5th Cir.1987). A fact is material if it might affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). A party asserting that a fact cannot be or is genuinely disputed must support the assertion by "citing to particular parts of materials in the record." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(1)(A). The Court will "view the evidence and draw reasonable inferences in the light ...


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