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Wroblewski v. Tyler

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

October 10, 2018




         This cause comes before the Court on Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment [41]. The Court, having considered the memoranda and submissions of the parties, along with relevant case law and evidence, is now prepared to rule.

         A. Background

         On the evening of September 30, 2014, Plaintiff Shaun Wroblewski, along with his friend, Eric Honaker, arrived at Gold Strike Casino in Tunica Resorts, Mississippi, and checked into room 437. That night, both men remained in their room and drank some alcoholic beverages.

         In the early morning of October 1, 2014, Plaintiff called the hotel's Front Desk and requested matches. He later called again and requested six bottles of water. Felicia Flowers was the employee who made both deliveries. After her second delivery, Ms. Flowers reported to her supervisor that when she arrived at room 437 to deliver the water she overheard one of the occupants say that he was going to try to get her into the room. In her statement, Ms. Flowers stated that, upon delivering the water, one man was standing behind the door and the other grabbed her arm and tried to pull her into the room. Ms. Flowers was able to get away and notify the hotel's front desk and security.

         At or around 1:53 a.m. on October 1, 2014, the hotel supervisor requested that security visit room 437. Mr. Bafford (hotel security) contacted Tunica County Sheriff's Department and, at approximately 2:07 a.m., Defendants John Tyler and Kendall Oliver were dispatched to the Gold Strike Casino. At approximately 2:24 a.m., Mr. Bafford and both Defendants visited room 437 to speak with Plaintiff and Honaker. Plaintiff opened the door and was informed of the report that somebody had been pulled into the room and that there had been screams. Plaintiff and Honaker both denied knowledge of the situation and allowed the Defendants and the security to enter the room and conduct a search.

         After a search was conducted, Bafford told Plaintiff and Honaker they had to leave the premises. Honaker began packing belongings. Plaintiff, upon being asked to vacate the premises, took out his cellphone and began video recording the situation. Per the video submission, Plaintiff was repeatedly asked-by both Bafford and the Defendants-to gather his things and leave, and Plaintiff continually asked for an explanation as to why he was being forced to leave. This back and forth ensued for a while.

         Deputy Tyler eventually commanded Plaintiff to put his hands behind his back. Instead of placing his hands behind his back, Plaintiff now asked why he was being asked to place his hands behind his back. Defendant Tyler responded to Plaintiff's question by stating “Because he told you to leave. Disorderly conduct, failure to comply.” At this point, Deputy Oliver, standing in front of Plaintiff holding his handcuffs, said “[Bafford] just told you to leave.” Plaintiff then commented “I will be willing to leave, but I want to know why. What did I do?” For a while longer, Plaintiff continued to ask why he was being asked to leave and for Bafford to state for the record the reason why he was being asked to vacate the premises. In the background Defendant Tyler can be heard saying “I am not going to tell you again.” Deputy Tyler then approached Plaintiff and instructed him to “turn around.” After Plaintiff asked why, Deputy Tyler grabbed his right arm and turned him against the bar. In a series of events, Plaintiff fell onto the ground and landed on his back. At this point, Deputy Tyler applied a drive stun with his taser on Plaintiff. Deputy Tyler then commanded Plaintiff to roll over onto his stomach. Plaintiff can also be heard yelling “get off of me” as we see Deputy Oliver over Plaintiff's upper body area (somewhere by Plaintiff's shoulders). Not rolling over, Defendant Tyler deployed the probes of his taser and tasered Plaintiff a total of three times.

         At 2:57 a.m. hotel security cameras captured Defendants escorting Plaintiff to their patrol car. The General Affidavits of arrest list Plaintiff's violations as disorderly conduct, failure to comply, and resisting arrest. Plaintiff posted bail the following morning on October 2, 2014, and visited the emergency room after suffering chest pains, muscle spasms, nausea, feelings of burning, and dehydration. All charges were eventually dropped.

         Plaintiff has brought claims against Defendant Tyler and Defendant Oliver for false arrest, excessive force, and First Amendment retaliation. Defendants moved for summary judgment based on their asserted defense of qualified immunity.

         B. Standard of Review a. Summary Judgment

          Summary judgment is proper “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 genuine dispute of material fact exists “if the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party.” Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248, 106 S.Ct. 2505, 91 L.Ed.2d 202 (1986). At the summary judgment stage, the court must “draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the nonmoving party, and it may not make credibility determinations or weigh the evidence.” Reeves v. Sanderson Plumbing Prods., 530 U.S. 133, 150, 120 S.Ct. 2097, 147 L.Ed.2d 105 (2000).

         b. Qualified Immunity

          Qualified immunity requires a two-pronged analysis. Kinney v. Weaver, 367 F.3d. 337, 374 (5th Cir. 2004). The court has discretion to decide “which of the two prongs” to address first. Pearson v. Callahan, 555 U.S. 223, 236, 129 S.Ct. 808, 172 L.Ed.2d 565 (2009). To rebut a defendant's qualified immunity defense, the plaintiff must show: “(1) that the official violated a statutory or constitutional right, and (2) that the right was ‘clearly established' at the time of the challenged conduct.” Ashcroft v. al-Kidd, 563 U.S. 731, 735, 131 S.Ct. 2074, 2085, 179 L.Ed.2d 1149 (2011). For a right to be clearly established, it must be sufficiently clear “that every ‘reasonable official would have ...

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