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Babbs v. Block

United States District Court, W.D. Missouri, Western Division

June 1, 2017

RODNEY BABBS, JR., Plaintiff,
BRYAN BLOCK, Defendant.



         This lawsuit arises from a shooting outside of a nightclub. A bouncer at the club, Plaintiff Rodney Babbs, Jr. (“Plaintiff”), ejected an off-duty police officer, Defendant Bryan Block (“Defendant”), from the premises. Shortly afterward, a scuffle occurred outside the club during which Defendant shot Plaintiff.

         Now before the Court is Defendant's Motion for Partial Summary Judgment on Plaintiff's Claims for Lost Wages and Future Damages (Doc. 124). Defendant argues Plaintiff cannot establish that the injuries he sustained from this shooting are the proximate cause of his alleged disability or inability to work. The Court holds that because Plaintiff will be able to present some expert medical and vocational testimony that could establish these gunshots caused, or partially caused, some of Plaintiff's medical problems which are responsible for, or partially responsible for, his inability to work, the motion is DENIED.

         That said, at trial, the Court will hold Plaintiff to his burden to prove causation by admissible medical evidence. Plaintiff cannot prove his case solely under the sudden onset doctrine.

         Summary Judgment Standard[1]

         A moving party is entitled to summary judgment “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). The movant bears the initial responsibility of explaining the basis for its motion, and it must identify those portions of the record which demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of material fact. Torgerson v. City of Rochester, 643 F.3d 1031, 1042 (8th Cir. 2011). If the movant does so, then the nonmovant must submit evidence demonstrating that there is a genuine issue for trial. Id. The court views any factual disputes in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party. Id. Decisions concerning credibility, how to weigh the evidence, and what inferences to draw from the evidence, are decisions reserved for the jury, not the judge. Reeves v. Sanderson Plumbing Prods., Inc., 530 U.S. 133, 150 (2000).

         When the burden shifts to the nonmoving party, it “must do more than simply show that there is some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts.” Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co., Ltd. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986). Nor can the nonmoving party “create sham issues of fact in an effort to defeat summary judgment.” RSBI Aerospace, Inc. v. Affiliated FM Ins. Co., 49 F.3d 399, 402 (8th Cir. 1995) (citation omitted). “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, 585 (2009).

         Undisputed Material Facts

          The Court has limited the facts presented here to those that are not in dispute and relevant to the motion. The Court has also excluded legal conclusions, argument presented as fact, and proposed facts that are not properly supported by admissible evidence. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c); L.R. 56.1(a). The Court has included reasonable inferences from material facts not in dispute and proposed facts the opposing party has not controverted properly. Stating that a document “speaks for itself” does not controvert a statement. See Kings Pro'l Basketball Club, Inc. v. Green, 597 F.Supp. 366, 369 (W.D. Mo. 1984) (holding such statements do not set forth specific facts showing there is a genuine issue for trial). The Court treats these and other improperly controverted facts as undisputed. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e)(2).

         Consequently, the Court finds the relevant, undisputed material facts to be as follows.

         On March 4, 2011, Defendant, an off-duty Kansas City, Kansas, Police Detective went to the 6902 Club in Kansas City, Missouri. He brought his service weapon, a .40 caliber Glock handgun, into the club with him. He drank several alcoholic drinks and became intoxicated. When it was discovered he was carrying a gun, he was asked to leave. Defendant refused to leave and began to argue with security. Two bouncers, one of which was Plaintiff, escorted Defendant from the building. Defendant then attempted to re-enter the club. At this point, the parties' accounts sharply diverge, but there is no dispute that a scuffle ensued and that Defendant shot Plaintiff twice.

         Plaintiff was taken by ambulance to the emergency room at Research Medical Center (“Research”). He arrived at approximately two minutes after mid-night on March 5, 2011. Plaintiff had been shot two times, with two entrance wounds and two exit wounds. A medical report describes wounds as superficial injuries within the right upper quadrant and right posterior back. It also found he had large bullet fragments lodged within his right pectoralis muscle. The large bullet fragments in his chest were determined to be from a 2006 gunshot wound. CT scans revealed no evidence of rib fractures, hemopneumothorax, pulmonary contusion, or shockwave injury. The CT scans indicated both wounds were “through and through” and did not damage the underlying organs.

         The Research lab report from that night found Plaintiff had a serum alcohol level of 141 MG/D.[2] Plaintiff admits he consumed alcohol sometime on March 4th, but maintains he did not consume any additional alcohol after the shooting, so the lab report must be incorrect. The head of the trauma team who treated Plaintiff, Dr. H. Scott Bjerke, M.D., testified Plaintiff was not clinically intoxicated. Plaintiff was coherent, he was not slurring his speech, and his eyes did not appear to be bloodshot.

         Dr. Bjerke ordered the bullet wounds to be cleaned and bandaged. He prescribed IV pain medication including Ancif and Fentanyl. Plaintiff was treated at Research for approximately one hour and forty minutes. He was then offered admission to ...

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