United States District Court, N.D. Mississippi, Aberdeen Division
RASUNDRA ELEY, individually and as the next friend of J.Y. PLAINTIFF
THE CITY OF WEST POINT MISSISSIPPI DEFENDANT
Sharion Aycock, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Eley filed her Complaint  individually and as the next
friend of her minor daughter J.Y. against the City of West
Point on June 8, 2015. Eley seeks redress for alleged
constitutional violations under 42 U.S.C. §1983. Eley
also requests that this Court exercise supplemental
jurisdiction over several state law claims. Now before the
Court is the City's Motion  requesting summary
judgment in its favor on all claims. Despite the Court's
grant of addition time, Eley failed to respond.
and Procedural Background
October 2, 2014 Eley observed her sixteen year old daughter,
J.Y., who has a history involving mental health issues,
“in a crisis” at their home. According to Eley,
J.Y. was agitated, standing out in the rain, using profanity
and refusing to come inside. Fearful that J.Y. may harm
herself, Eley contacted J.Y.'s therapist at Community
Counseling. Community Counseling dispatched social worker and
crisis team member Patricia Harris to the home. When Harris
arrived at the home and made contact, J.Y. immediately ran
away. Unable to locate J.Y., Harris contacted the Clay County
Youth Court. The Youth Court issued a Pickup Order
instructing any law enforcement officer to apprehend J.Y. and
take her to her mother at her home address. At some point,
J.Y. returned home and attended school the next day, October
remained concerned that J.Y. would harm herself so she
contacted Alliance Health Center and requested inpatient
psychiatric treatment for J.Y. Because Eley knew that J.Y.
may not go to Alliance willingly, she called 911 and
requested an ambulance to transport J.Y., hoping that the
paramedics would be able to sedate her. Eley informed the 911
operator that J.Y. would not go willingly and that she may be
combative. The 911 operator informed Eley that police would
be dispatched along with the ambulance. Eley did not inform
J.Y. of the plan to transport her to Alliance.
Point police officer Nick Coe was the first to arrive at
Eley's home. Coe approached the front porch where J.Y.
and Eley were seated. Coe greeted J.Y. who immediately
indicated, “I'm not going back, I'm not going
back.” J.Y. then got up and attempted to run away. Eley
grabbed her by the shirt but J.Y. pushed her away and
attempted to run by Officer Coe. Coe grabbed J.Y. from
behind, put his arm around her neck, and subdued her using a
vascular restraint. By this time, a second police officer,
Anderson had arrived. According to Eley, J.Y. was resisting
the officers by kicking and squirming and trying to get
away. Anderson put handcuffs on J.Y. An
ambulance and two Emergency Medical Technicians arrived at
the home. J.Y. calmed down temporarily and the paramedics
talked with J.Y. in an attempt to convince her to allow them
to transport her in the ambulance. J.Y. refused to go. Social
worker Harris was called to the home.
Harris arrived, the police, J.Y., Eley, and the paramedics
were gathered under the carport. A few neighbors were
observing. J.Y. was handcuffed but otherwise unrestrained.
According to Eley, J.Y. became increasingly angry, moving
around and repeating, “I'm not going back, I'm
not going back.” Also according to Eley, J.Y.
threatened several people present repeatedly shouting
“Bitch, I will hit you in the face” at social
worker Harris, and “I will hit you in the face”
at each of the paramedics. J.Y. also threatened a neighbor
that was pointing his cell phone at her by shouting
“Y'all got him recording me? Mother Fucker, I will
hit you in the face too.” At this point, J.Y. managed
to slip one of her hands out of the handcuffs and took off,
running down the street. Officer Coe chased after her and
while running, deployed his taser into her back. J.Y. fell to
the street and cut her chin requiring stiches. J.Y. was
transported to the emergency room for treatment. Later that
same night she was transported to Alliance Health Center for
psychiatric treatment where she remained for a matter of
filed this case on J.Y.'s behalf against the City of West
Point. In her Complaint, Plaintiff Eley asserts a federal
claim under 42 U.S.C. §1983 for alleged constitutional
violations. Plaintiff Eley also requests that the Court
exercise supplemental jurisdiction over a number of state law
claims including battery, false imprisonment, negligent
hiring, negligent entrustment, and intentional infliction of
emotional distress. Now before the Court is the Defendant
City of West Point's Motion for Summary Judgment. The
City requests that the Court grant summary judgment in its
favor on all of the Plaintiff's claims. The City's
primary argument is that the Plaintiff failed to bring forth
any evidence of an “official policy, ” an
essential element of her claim against the City under
§1983. As noted above, the Plaintiff failed to respond.
Rule of Civil Procedure 56 governs summary judgment. Summary
judgment is warranted when the evidence reveals no genuine
dispute regarding any material fact, and the moving party is
entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a).
The rule “mandates the entry of summary judgment, after
adequate time for discovery and upon motion, against a party
who fails to make a showing sufficient to establish the
existence of an element essential to that party's case,
and on which that party will bear the burden of proof at
trial.” Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S.
317, 322, 106 S.Ct. 2548, 91 L.Ed.2d 265 (1986).
moving party “bears the initial responsibility of
informing the district court of the basis for its motion, and
identifying those portions of [the record] which it believes
demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of material
fact.” Id. at 323, 106 S.Ct. 2548. The
nonmoving party must then “go beyond the
pleadings” and “designate ‘specific facts
showing that there is a genuine issue for trial.'”
Id. at 324, 106 S.Ct. 2548 (citation omitted). In
reviewing the evidence, factual controversies are to be
resolved in favor of the non-movant, “but only when . .
. both parties have submitted evidence of contradictory
facts.” Little v. Liquid Air Corp., 37 F.3d
1069, 1075 (5th Cir. 1994) (en banc). When such contradictory
facts exist, the Court may “not make credibility
determinations or weigh the evidence.” Reeves v.
Sanderson Plumbing Prods., Inc., 530 U.S. 133, 150, 120
S.Ct. 2097, 147 L.Ed.2d 105 (2000).
though the Plaintiff did not respond to the instant summary
judgment motion, Rule 56 makes it clear that there is
“no summary judgment by default” and the lack of
a response by the Plaintiff does not alter the Court's
summary judgment inquiry. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(e)
advisory committee notes to 2010 amendments. Summary judgment
may only be granted if it is appropriate to do so.
See Fed R. Civ. P. 56(a). “Although ‘[a]
motion for summary judgment cannot be granted simply because
there is no opposition' . . . a court may grant an
unopposed summary judgment motion if the undisputed facts
show that the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of
law.” Calais v. Theriot, 589 F. App'x 310,
311 (5th Cir. 2015) (quoting Hibernia Nat'l Bank v.
Administracion Cent. Sociedad Anonima, 776 F.2d 1277,
1279 (5th Cir. 1985)).
Liability under 42 U.S.C. §1983
outset, the Court notes that the Plaintiff is asserting her
federal claim under §1983 against the City of West Point
and not against Officer Coe although her claim is premised,
at least in part, on Coe's actions. Under §1983, a
city is not liable simply because it employed a
constitutional wrongdoer. Zarnow v. City of Wichita
Falls, Tex., 614 F.3d 161, 167 (5th Cir. 2010) (stating
“a municipality may not be subject to liability merely
for employing a tortfeasor”). Instead, a city may only
be held liable under §1983 when the violation of the
plaintiff's federally protected right is attributable to
the enforcement of a municipal policy or pattern. Hall v.
Robinson, 618 F. App'x 759, 763 (5th Cir. 2015)
(citing Monell v. Dep't of Soc. Servs. of City of
N.Y., 436 U.S. 658, 691, 98 S.Ct. 2018, 56 L.Ed.2d 611
(1978)). In ...