United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Eastern Division
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
E. JACKSON UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
matter is before the Court on the joint motion of defendants
Dorothy Stewart and Anthony Davis and the separate motion of
defendant Richard Edwards for summary judgment pursuant to
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56. Plaintiff has responded in
opposition to both motions, and the issues are fully briefed.
David Hightower brings this 42 U.S.C. § 1983 action
against defendant Richard Edwards, a St. Louis police
officer, and defendants Anthony Davis and Dorothy Stewart,
nurses at the St. Louis City jail. In Count I, plaintiff
claims that Edwards used excessive force in arresting him on
June 19, 2014. According to plaintiff, the force used by
Edwards resulted in fracturing plaintiff's shoulder. In
Count II, plaintiff claims that Davis and Stewart were
deliberately indifferent to plaintiff's injuries after he
was brought to the jail, and as a result plaintiff suffered
extreme pain and was subjected to assault and verbal abuse by
other inmates. In Count III, plaintiff asserts a state law
claim of intentional infliction of emotional distress against
all three defendants.
56(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides that
summary judgment shall be entered if the moving party shows
“that there is no genuine dispute as to any material
fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of
law.” In ruling on a motion for summary judgment, the
court is required to view the facts in the light most
favorable to the non-moving party, giving that party the
benefit of all reasonable inferences to be drawn from the
underlying facts. AgriStor Leasing v. Farrow, 826
F.2d 732, 734 (8th Cir. 1987). The moving party bears the
burden of showing both the absence of a genuine issue of
material fact and its entitlement to judgment as a matter of
law. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242,
252 (1986); Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio
Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586-87 (1986). If the moving party
meets its burden, the non-moving party may not rest on the
allegations of its pleadings, but must set forth specific
facts, by affidavit or other evidence, showing that a genuine
issue of material fact exists. Gannon Int'l, Ltd. v.
Blocker, 684 F.3d 785, 792 (8th Cir. 2012); Gibson
v. Am. Greetings Corp., 670 F.3d 844, 853 (8th Cir.
2012). “Where the record taken as a whole could not
lead a rational trier of fact to find for the nonmoving
party, there is no genuine issue for trial.” Ricci
v. DeStefano, 557 U.S. 557, 586 (2009) (quoting
Matsushita, 475 U.S. at 587).
Count I of the third amended complaint, plaintiff claims that
defendant Edwards used excessive force in arresting plaintiff
on June 19, 2014, in violation of the Fourth and Fourteenth
Amendments. A claim that a law enforcement officer used
excessive force in the course of an arrest, investigatory
stop, or other seizure of a free citizen is properly analyzed
under the Fourth Amendment's objective reasonableness
standard, rather than the Fourteenth Amendment's
substantive due process standard. Graham v. Connor,
490 U.S. 386, 395 (1989); Dennen v. City of Duluth,
350 F.3d 786, 790 (8th Cir. 2003). Therefore, Edwards is
entitled to judgment as a matter of law on the Fourteenth
Amendment claim in Count I.
undisputed evidence is that plaintiff ran from police
officers as they were attempting to arrest him for a parole
violation. An officer deployed a Taser, and plaintiff fell to
the ground. Plaintiff testified that at that point he stopped
resisting arrest and “[s]omebody held me down, put my
shoulder around my back and twisted my arm all the way up and
put me in handcuffs.” Pl.'s Dep. 56:175-20, 21-24
[Doc. #83-2]. Plaintiff sustained a non-dislocated fracture
of his left shoulder.
support of his motion, Edwards submitted a statement of
uncontroverted material facts, excerpts from plaintiff's
deposition, and several documents. He did not submit an
affidavit or other sworn statement. However, Edwards asserts
that the alleged twisting of plaintiff's arm
“occurred before he was secured in handcuffs, ”
and that plaintiff ultimately pled guilty to a charge of
resisting arrest. Def't. Statement of Uncontroverted
Facts, ¶¶ 6 and 8 [Doc. #83-1].
use of force is unlawful under the Fourth Amendment if it is
objectively unreasonable in light of the facts and
circumstances confronting law enforcement officers at the
time of the incident.” Procknow v. Curry, No.
15-2046, 2016 WL 3383776, at *3 (8th Cir. June 20, 2016)
(citing Peterson v. Kopp, 754 F.3d 594, 600 (8th
Cir. 2014)). “The ‘reasonableness' of a
particular use of force must be judged from the perspective
of a reasonable officer on the scene, rather than with the
20/20 vision of hindsight.” Graham, 490 U.S.
at 396. This calculus allows “for the fact that police
officers are often forced to make split-second judgments-in
circumstances that are tense, uncertain, and rapidly
evolving-about the amount of force that is necessary in a
particular situation.” Id. at 396-97.
“Circumstances relevant to the reasonableness of the
officer's conduct include ‘the severity of the
crime at issue, whether the suspect poses an immediate threat
to the safety of the officers or others, and whether he is
actively resisting arrest or attempting to evade arrest by
flight.'” Brown v. City of Golden Valley,
574 F.3d 491, 496 (8th Cir. 2009) (quoting Graham,
490 U.S. at 396). “A court may also evaluate the extent
of the suspect's injuries, as well as standard police
procedures.” Mann v. Yarnell, 497 F.3d 822,
826 (8th Cir. 2007) (internal citations omitted); see
Chambers v. Pennycook, 641 F.3d 898, 906 (8th Cir. 2011)
(“The degree of injury is certainly relevant insofar as
it tends to show the amount and type of force used.”).
An officer's underlying intent or motivation is not
relevant to an objective reasonableness analysis.
Graham, 490 U.S. at 397.
Court cannot determine on the basis of the present record
whether twisting plaintiff's arm to the point of
fracturing his shoulder was a reasonable use of force after
plaintiff ceased running from the police and was no longer
resisting arrest. Thus, it cannot be said that Edwards is
entitled to judgment as a matter of law on the excessive
argues that he is entitled to qualified immunity.
“[Q]ualified immunity protects government officials
‘from liability for civil damages insofar as their
conduct does not violate clearly established statutory or
constitutional rights of which a reasonable person would have
known.'” Pearson v. Callahan, 555 U.S.
223, 231 (2009) (quoting Harlow v. Fitzgerald, 457
U.S. 800, 818 (1982)). “To overcome the defense of
qualified immunity the plaintiff must show: ‘(1) the
facts, viewed in the light most favorable to the plaintiff,
demonstrate the deprivation of a constitutional or statutory
right; and (2) the right was clearly established at the time
of the deprivation.'” Meehan v. Thompson,
763 F.3d 936, 940 (8th Cir. 2014) (quoting Parrish v.
Ball, 594 F.3d 993, 1001 (8th Cir. 2010)). As to the
first prong, “whether summary judgment on grounds of
qualified immunity is appropriate from a particular set of
facts is a question of law.” Lambert v. City of
Dumas, 187 F.3d 931, 935 (8th Cir. 1999). “The
issue of qualified immunity, however, is frequently
intertwined with unresolved factual questions.”
Littrell v. Franklin, 388 F.3d 578, 585 (8th Cir. 2004).
the facts in the light most favorable to plaintiff, Edwards
held plaintiff down on the ground and twisted his arm with
enough force to fracture plaintiff's shoulder. Even if
plaintiff was not handcuffed at the time, he had been
disabled by the Taser and was not resisting arrest. When
plaintiff was arrested in June 2014, the law in the Eighth
Circuit was clearly established that a police officer's
use of excessive force in effecting an arrest violates the
Fourth Amendment. See Kukla v. Hulm, 310 F.3d 1046,
1050 (8th Cir. 2002) (right to be free from excessive force
clearly established; genuine issue of fact precluded summary
judgment when defendant police officer twisted
plaintiff's arm, causing injury to his collar ...