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Estate F Manus v. Webster County

United States District Court, N.D. Mississippi, Aberdeen Division

August 6, 2014

THE ESTATE OF JOSEPH CONWAY MANUS, et al. Plaintiffs,
v.
WEBSTER COUNTY, MISSISSIPPI, et al., Defendants.

ORDER ON MOTION TO CLARIFY

SHARION AYCOCK, District Judge.

This cause comes before the Court on Plaintiffs' Motion to Clarify [351]. Plaintiffs seek clarification of the Court's Order [324] and Memorandum Opinion [325] entered in this matter March 31, 2014. Specifically, Plaintiffs' move the Court for an on-the-record explanation of whether the Court's prior ruling barred certain evidence relating to Plaintiffs' claims for deliberate denial of medical care against the remaining Defendants. Upon due consideration of the motions, responses, rules, and authorities, the Court finds as follows:

PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

This action involves claims brought by the estate of Joseph Conway Manus ("Manus") and his widow, on behalf of herself and all wrongful death beneficiaries, against various law enforcement agencies and personnel stemming from an altercation on September 7, 2010. Plaintiffs allege law enforcement officers from Webster County, Mississippi; Eupora, Mississippi; and Mathiston, Mississippi used excessive force against Manus in order to effectuate an unlawful arrest and denied him medical care during the subsequent seven days that he was in their custody. Plaintiffs claim Manus suffered serious injuries, including quadriplegia, and ultimately died on December 1, 2012 as a result of Defendants actions.

All Defendants filed motions for summary judgment, asserting, among other things, that Plaintiffs' claims are barred by the doctrines of qualified immunity and the Mississippi Tort Claims Act. The Court granted in part and denied in part these motions in its Order and Memorandum Opinion entered March 31, 2014. Pertinent to the instant motion, the Court denied summary judgment on Plaintiffs' claims for denial of medical care in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment with regard to Defendants Eupora Police Chief Greg Hunter, Eupora Police Chief Roger Miller, the estate of Eupora Police Officer Keith Crenshaw, [1] the City of Eupora, Mississippi, and the City of Mathiston, Mississippi.

Thereafter, Eupora Police Chief Greg Hunter, the estate of Eupora Police Officer Keith Crenshaw, and the City of Eupora filed a Motion for Reconsideration [327] requesting the Court reconsider its finding that genuine issues of material fact precluded the grant of summary judgment and qualified immunity in their favor with regard to Plaintiffs' claims against them for excessive force bystander liability and for the denial of medical care. The Court declined to reconsider [338] its prior opinion with regard to Plaintiffs' claims against these Defendants for excessive force bystander liability and Plaintiffs' claims against Chief Hunter and the City of Eupora for deliberate denial of medical care. However, the Court reversed its finding with regard to Plaintiffs' claim for deliberate denial of medical care against Officer Crenshaw and dismissed that claim with prejudice.

Subsequently, Plaintiffs reached a settlement agreement with Defendants Webster County, Mississippi, Phillip Bowen Smith, Jeremy Kilgore, Derek Mays, Shay Holmes, and Toby Britt. The Court entered an Order [350] dismissing all remaining claims against these Defendants without prejudice on July 31, 2014.

DISCUSSION AND ANALYSIS

Plaintiffs seek to "present evidence and testimony" at trial "regarding the alleged negligent acts of the Municipal Defendants for the period of time September 8-14, 2010." However, the parties dispute whether Plaintiffs stated claims for relief against the remaining Defendants[2] in their Amended Complaint [249] based upon these Defendants' acts or omissions committed after September 7, 2010. To the extent Plaintiffs did allege claims based on events after September 7, the parties additionally dispute whether, pursuant to the Court's ruling on summary judgment, any such claims remain for trial. In particular, the parties disagree with regard to whether Plaintiffs may offer evidence at trial in support of claims for denial of medical care by the Defendants based upon events occurring after September 7, 2010.

While the claims asserted in the Amended Complaint are laid out generally, [3] Plaintiffs provide detailed factual support over approximately four pages of text. However, with respect to the Municipal Defendants, the only factual allegations arguably made against them are as follows:

During this time [referring to the initial altercation at Manus' residence on September 7, 2010], Defendant, Chief Roger Miller of Mathiston Police Department arrived, entered the bedroom and sprayed Manus' face with mace.
Defendant Police Chief Greg Hunter and Defendant Officer Keith Crenshaw of the Eupora Police Department arrived at some point during the beating [at Manus' residence] and were present in the hallway and bedroom while the beating occurred. Both Defendant Hunter and Crenshaw could have prevented or aided in preventing the beating of Manus and other wrongs committed against him, but failed to use reasonable diligence and knowingly, recklessly, or with gross negligence failed to do so. Defendant, Shane Box, Mathiston Police Officer arrived and assisted Defendants while they were outside of the house.
The entire incident [again referring to the struggle at Manus' home on September 7, 2010] lasted approximately 30-40 minutes. Manus was severely beaten and injured by the Defendants.
At the Webster County Jail, Defendant... Eupora Police Officer Mitch Jackson removed Manus from Defendant Mays' patrol car and took him inside the jail.... Defendant Jackson threw the hand cuffed Manus against walls and cell bars and left him on the floor. They [referring to Defendant Jackson and one ...

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