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Horn v. St. Louis County

United States District Court, Eastern District of Missouri, Eastern Division

March 5, 2015

ROBERT HORN and MARIAN HORN, Plaintiffs,
v.
ST. LOUIS COUNTY, et al., Defendants.

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

TERRY I. ADELMAN, MAGISTRATE JUDGE

This matter is before the Court on Defendant St. Louis County's Motion for Summary Judgment (Docket No. 163). Plaintiffs filed a Brief and Memorandum to All Motions for Summary Judgment (Docket No. 180) and Defendant filed a Reply (Docket No. 184) thereto. All matters are pending before the undersigned United States Magistrate Judge, with consent of the parties, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c). For the reasons set forth below, the Motion for Summary Judgment will be granted.

On November 5, 2012, Plaintiffs Robert Horn and Marian Horn filed a forty-nine page Fourth Amended Complaint and Petition alleging violation of constitutional rights (Counts I), violation of statutory civil rights (Count II)[1], conspiracy to violate civil rights (Count IV), assault and battery (Counts V and VI), intentional infliction of emotional distress (Counts VII and VIII), and false imprisonment (Counts XVI)[2] stemming from the events on September 9, 2005 and July 15, 2006 and adding a count against Scott Cox alleging conspiracy and slander.[3] Plaintiff Robert Horn alleges that Defendant police officers without probable cause pulled him out of his house, handcuffed him, and assaulted and arrested him. Plaintiff Robert Horn further alleges Defendants unlawfully arrested him without probable cause or a warrant and seized the firearms from his house. Next, he alleges false charges were entered in the Municipal Court of the County of St.

Louis, Missouri against him for peace disturbance, resisting arrest, assault on a police officer, and interfering with a police officer. In the Second Cause of Action stemming from events on July 15, 2006, Plaintiff Robert Horn alleges violation of constitutional rights (Counts I), violation of statutory civil rights (Count II)[4], conspiracy to violate civil rights (Count IV), assault and battery (Counts V and VI), intentional infliction of emotional distress (Counts VII and VIII), and malicious abuse of process, false arrest, and false imprisonment (Counts XVI).[5] Plaintiff Robert Horn alleges Defendants Foppe, Most, Shelvy, Hoots, and Harrison entered his home without probable cause or a warrant and attacked him by tasering him four times and pepper spraying him once. Thereafter, Defendants handcuffed and assaulted him and seized his guns and firearms. Plaintiff Robert Horn further alleges that Defendants had him falsely charged with peace disturbance and resisting arrest and had him incarcerated at the police station on the false charges.

In the Third Cause of Action stemming from the events on July 15, 2006, Plaintiff Marian Horn alleges that Defendants Foppe, Most, Shelvy, Hoots, and Harrison approached her in the yard requesting permission to enter the house. After she refused to give permission, Defendants Shelvy, Hoots, and Most handcuffed Plaintiff and placed her in a hot police car for over fifteen minutes. Only after agreeing to grant permission to enter the house, she was released from the vehicle, and Defendants handcuffed, tasered, and pepper sprayed Defendant Robert Horn. After videotaping the scene, one of the Defendants removed the camcorder and the video tape and memory card and seized the camcorder and memory card without probable cause. Without probable cause, Marian Horn alleges that Defendants placed her under arrest for interfering with a police officer and thereafter she was found not guilty by a jury in the Municipal Court of St. Louis County on July 24, 2008.

In relevant part, Marion Horn further alleged as follows:

1. Upon information and belief the County of St. Louis by County Officials and its County Council and County Executive, defendants herein, and St. Louis County Police Department has maintained a system of review of police conduct and police training which is so untimely and cursory as custom and practice to be ineffective and to permit and tolerate by its Police Officers and in the case of Defendant Officers as alleged herein caused or acquiesced in the unreasonable and excessive use of force, false imprisonment, unlawful detention and the activity....
2. The acts, omissions, systemic flaws, policies, and customs and practices caused Defendant Officers of the St. Louis County to believe that the excessive, unreasonable, unjustified and unlawful use of force, unlawful searches and seizures and unlawful intrusion into citizens homes and malicious, wrongful and fraudulent, prosecution under color of state law would not be aggressively, honestly, and properly investigated, with the foreseeable result that police officers are more likely to use excessive or unreasonable or unjustified or unlawful force, false ijmpresonment [ sic ], malicious prosecution, invading the right of privacy, destruction of evidence and property of citizens and unlawful restraint of exercise of constitutional rights by citizens such that it caused the injuries in such regard to Plaintiff in this case....

(ECF No. 124, Fourth Amend. Compl. at 36-37). Plaintiff Marion Horn alleges violation of constitutional rights (Counts I), violation of statutory civil rights (Count II)[6], conspiracy to violate civil rights (Count IV), assault and battery (Counts V and VI), intentional infliction of emotional distress (Counts VII and VIII), and malicious abuse of process, false arrest, and false imprisonment (Counts XVI).[7]

In the Fourth Cause of Action, Plaintiff Robert Horn alleges a cause of action for slander and malicious prosecution against Defendants Haefeli and Cox. Plaintiff alleges that after he was arrested on September 9, 2005, Officer Haefeli placed a "hazard" designation on him for someone dangerous or mentally ill and falsely reported seeing him shoot a firearm. This false report resulted in Robert Horn being attacked, his home invaded, and his guns seized. In the Fifth Cause of Action, Plaintiff Robert Horn alleges causes of action for slander and malicious prosecution contending that on September 9, 2005, Defendant Scott Cox, brother of Defendant Ken Cox, called St. Louis County dispatch 911 and falsely reported seeing him shoot a firearm. This false report resulted in Robert Horn being attacked, his home invaded, and his guns seized. On February 14, 2013, Defendant Scott Cox was dismissed with prejudice.

The Defendants are St. Louis County, William Ostendorf, Robert Shelvy, Joshua Lawrence, Joseph Brandt, Jason Neuman, Sean Haefeli, Colin Foppe, Christopher Most, Jeffery Hoots, Timothy Harrison, Charlie Rodriguez, Eric Austermann, and Kenneth Cox, sued in both their individual and official capacities.

Pursuant to Rule 56(c), Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, a court may grant summary judgment if the information before the court shows that there are no material issues of fact in dispute and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 247 (1986). The burden of proof is on the moving party to set forth the basis of the motion, Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986), and the court must view all facts and inferences in the light most favorable to the non-moving party, Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio, 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986). Once the moving party shows there are no material issues of fact in dispute, the burden shifts to the adverse party to set forth facts showing there is a genuine issue for trial. Id. "[T]he nonmovant must respond by submitting evidentiary materials that ‘set out specific facts showing a genuine issue for trial.'" Celotex, 477 U.S. at 323 (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e)(2)). The non-moving party may not rest upon her pleadings, but must come forward with affidavits or other admissible evidence to rebut the motion. Id., at 324. The nonmovant must "explain the legal significance of her factual allegations beyond the mere conclusory statements importing the appropriate terms of art." Quinn v. St. Louis Cnty., 653 F.3d 745, 752 (8th Cir. 2011).

In passing on a motion for summary judgment, the Court must review the facts in a light most favorable to the party opposing the motion, and give that party the benefit of any inference that logically can be drawn from those facts. Buller v.Buechler, 706 F.2d 844, 846 (8th Cir. 1983). The Court is required to resolve all conflicts of evidence in favor of the nonmoving party. Robert Johnson Grain Co. v. Chem. Interchange Co., 541 F.2d 207, 210 (8th Cir. 1976). At the summary judgment stage, the undersigned will not weigh the evidence and decide the truth of the matter, but rather the undersigned need only determine if there is a genuine issue of material fact for trial. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 249. Summary judgment is not appropriate unless all the evidence points one way and is susceptible to no reasonable inferences sustaining the position of the nonmoving party." Hindman v. Transkrit Corp., 145 F.3d 986, 990 (8th Cir. 1998) (citations omitted); Bassett v. City of Minneapolis, 211 F.3d 1097, 1099 (8th Cir. 2000). Material facts are those "that might affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law, " and a genuine material fact is one "such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party." Anderson, 477 at 248. Further, if the nonmoving party has failed to "make a showing sufficient to establish the existence of an element essential to that party's case, ... there can be ‘no genuine issue as to any material fact, ' since a complete failure of proof concerning an essential element of the nonmoving party's case necessarily renders all other facts immaterial." Celotex, 477 U.S. at 322- 23.

Nonetheless, it is clear to survive summary judgment, a plaintiff must support his/her allegations with sufficient probative evidence to permit a finding in the plaintiff's favor based upon more than mere speculation, conjecture, or fantasy. Putnam v. Unity Health Sys., Inc. 348 F.3d 732, 733-34 (8th Cir. 2003). "Mere allegations, unsupported by specific facts or evidence beyond the nonmoving party's own conclusions, are insufficient to withstand a motion for summary judgment." Thomas v. Corwin, 483 F.3d 516, 526-27 (8th Cir. 2007). "Simply referencing the complaint, or alleging that a fact is otherwise, is insufficient to show there is a genuine issue for trial." Kountze ex rel. v. Hitchcock Foundation v. Gaines, 2008 WL 2609197, at * 3 (8th Cir. 2008). "‘Only disputes over the facts that might affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law will properly preclude the entry of summary judgment.'" Bass v. SBC Commc'ns, Inc., 418 F.3d 870, 872-73 (8th Cir. 2005) (quoting Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248). Thus, Plaintiff, even though the non-moving party for summary-judgment purposes, "must still ‘present[] evidence sufficiently supporting the disputed material facts [such] that a reasonable jury could return a verdict in [its] favor.'" Pope v. ESA Servs,, Inc., 406 ...


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