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Henke v. Collins

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

June 30, 2017

ADAM HENKE, Plaintiff,
v.
OFFICER DANIEL COLLINS,, Defendants.

          ORDER AND OPINION GRANTING OFFICER DANIEL COLLINS AND THE BOARD OF POLICE COMMISSIONERS SUMMARY JUDGMENT ON COUNTS III AND IV RESPECTIVELY

          BETH PHILLIPS, JUDGE.

         In an Order dated June 2, 2017, the Court resolved many of the claims in this suit, and then directed the parties to submit supplemental briefing that addressed the remaining claims. (Doc. 80.) The Court has reviewed the supplemental briefing and now grants summary judgment to Defendants on the remaining claims.

         I. BACKGROUND

         This suit arises from an arrest of Plaintiff Adam Henke. The Court's prior Order discusses the facts in great detail, (Doc. 80, pp. 3-6), and the discussion will not be recounted here. The Amended Complaint alleges that (1) the arresting officer, Daniel Collins, administered excessive force during the arrest, (2) three John Doe Defendants arrived on the scene and also administered excessive force during the arrest, and (3) three more John Doe Defendants administered excessive force at the police station. The Amended Complaint asserts the following claims:

• Count I asserts constitutional claims against Officer Collins and the John Doe Defendants,
• Count II also asserts constitutional claims against Officer Collins and the John Doe Defendants,
• Count III asserts a constitutional claim against the Board of Police Commissioners, (“the Board”) for failing to instruct, supervise, control, and discipline Officer Collins and the John Doe Defendants,
• Count IV asserts a negligence claim against all Defendants, and
• Count V does not assert a cause of action, but instead seeks punitive damages.

         The Court's June 2 Order (1) dismissed the John Doe Defendants from all counts because they had not been named or served, (2) granted Officer Collins summary judgment on Counts I and II, (3) granted the Board summary judgment on Count III to the extent that it was premised on Officer Collins' conduct, and (4) granted the Board summary judgment on Count IV. (Doc. 80.) This left (1) Count IVs negligence claim against Officer Collins and (2) Count III 's constitutional claim against the Board, to the extent the claim was based on the John Doe Defendants' conduct. The parties were directed to provide supplemental briefing on those claims; specifically, the parties were to address (1) whether Officer Collins is entitled to official immunity (as opposed to sovereign immunity) on Count IV's negligence claim and (2) whether Plaintiffs claims against the Board based on the John Doe Defendants' allegedly unconstitutional conduct could proceed. (Doc. 80, pp. 14-16.) The Court has reviewed the parties' supplemental filings, and now concludes that summary judgment on the remaining claims is warranted.

         II. DISCUSSION

         A moving party is entitled to summary judgment on a claim only upon a showing that “there is no genuine issue of material fact and that the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law.” See generally Williams v. City of St. Louis, 783 F.2d 114, 115 (8th Cir. 1986). “[W]hile the materiality determination rests on the substantive law, it is the substantive law's identification of which facts are critical and which facts are irrelevant that governs.” Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). Thus, “[o]nly disputes over facts that might affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law will properly preclude the entry of summary judgment.” Wierman v. Casey's Gen. Stores, 638 F.3d 984, 993 (8th Cir. 2011) (quotation omitted). In applying this standard, the Court must view the evidence in the light most favorable to the non-moving party, giving that party the benefit of all inferences that may be reasonably drawn from the evidence. Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587-88 (1986); Tyler v. Harper, 744 F.2d 653, 655 (8th Cir. 1984), cert. denied, 470 U.S. 1057 (1985). A party opposing a motion for summary judgment may not simply deny the allegations, but must point to evidence in the Record demonstrating the existence of a factual dispute. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(1); Conseco Life Ins. Co. v. Williams, 620 F.3d 902, 909-10 (8th Cir. 2010).

         A. Count IV - Officer Collins' Entitlement to Official Immunity

         Count IV alleges that Officer Collins was negligent in his use of force and in “escalating the use of force without trying lesser means of restraint and without adequate provocation.” (Doc. 22, ¶ 63.) In his supplemental briefing, Plaintiff clarifies that he alleges Officer Collins acted negligently by having his weapon drawn, failing to act calmly, and using more force than was necessary to remove Plaintiff from his car after he refused to exit on his own. (Doc. 82, pp. 1-2, 4-5.) However, Officer Collins is entitled to official immunity for these decisions and actions. “Under Missouri law, official immunity ‘protects public employees from liability for alleged acts of negligence committed during the course of their official duties for the performance of discretionary acts.'” K.B. v. Waddle, 764 F.3d 821, 824 (8th Cir. 2014) (quoting Southers v. City of Farmington, 263 S.W.3d 603, 610 (Mo. 2008) (en banc)). An “officer's decision to use force in the ...


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