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Barton v. City of Lincoln Park

United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division

December 20, 2016

James Barton, Plaintiff,
City of Lincoln Park, et al. Defendants.

          David R. Grand United States Magistrate Judge.


          HON. GERSHWIN A. DRAIN United States District Court Judge.

         I. Introduction

         This is an excessive force action against four police officers and the City of Lincoln Park. Plaintiff alleges both federal and state theories for relief. Pending before the Court is Defendants' Motion for Partial Summary Judgment [34]. For the reasons stated below, the Court will GRANT Defendants' Motion IN PART and DENY Defendants' Motion IN PART.

         II. Factual Allegations

         On the night of November 21, 2013, James Barton (hereinafter “Plaintiff”) and his friend Todd Daw went to the Best Damn Bar & Grill in Lincoln Park. Dkt. No. 38, p. 9 (Pg. ID 364). The men got drunk, after consuming about seven to nine beers each. Dkt. No. 38-8, pp. 10-11 (Pg. ID 404-05). At about 1:30AM on November 22, 2013, the two men walked to the Plaintiff's home. Id. The Plaintiff rented a home in Lincoln Park with his girlfriend, Michelle Faulkner. Id., p. 6 (Pg. ID 400). Once the two arrived at the Plaintiff's home, Plaintiff asked his girlfriend to drive Mr. Daw to his home. Id., p. 11 (Pg. ID 405). Ms. Faulkner refused. Id. An argument ensued. Id. While the arguing continued, Susan Ferrante (Ms. Faulkner's daughter) called the police. Id. Four Lincoln Park Police Officers responded to the call and arrived at the home. Dkt. No. 38, p. 10 (Pg. ID 365).

         Officers Kerr and Lasinskas arrived first. Id. When the officers arrived, Mr. Daw was outside of the home with Bradley Dorow (Ms. Ferrante's boyfriend). Id. The Plaintiff, Ms. Faulkner, and Ms. Ferrante were inside the home, yelling at each other. Id.; Dkt. No. 38-3, p. 12 (Pg. ID 406). Officers Kerr and Lasinskas entered Plaintiff's home and told the Plaintiff to quiet down. Id. Dkt. No. 38-3, p. 12 (Pg. ID 406). After a few minutes, the Plaintiff complied. Id.

         Sometime later, Officers Pierson and Behrik arrived. Dkt. No. 38, pp. 10-11 (Pg. ID 365-66). Officers Pierson and Behrik talked to Mr. Daw and Mr. Dorow outside. Id. Eventually, Officer Pierson joined Officers Kerr and Lasinskas in the home. Officer Behrik remained outside with Mr. Daw and Mr. Dorow. Id.

         According to the Plaintiff, Officers Kerr and Lasinskas grabbed the Plaintiff's hand, twisted it, and then told the Plaintiff that he was under arrest. Id. Plaintiff pulled his hand away because his hand was broken and he recently had surgery that inserted a rod into his arm. Id. Ms. Faulkner and the Plaintiff explained the Plaintiff's injury to the officers, and warned them not to bend his arm because it was extremely painful. Id. Nevertheless, Plaintiff claims that Officers Kerr and Lasinskas continued to grab his hand, threw the Plaintiff to the floor, and handcuffed him. Id. While on the floor, the Plaintiff believes he was punched in his side and his lower back. Id.

         Next, officers stood the Plaintiff up and proceeded to escort him out of the house. Id., p. 12 (Pg. ID 367). A screen door separated the home from outside. Id. Plaintiff alleges that Officers Kerr and Pierson rammed the Plaintiff's head into the aluminum screen door, which caused a two-inch laceration on the Plaintiff's forehead. Id.

         Moments later, Officers Kerr and Pierson escorted the Plaintiff to a police vehicle. Id. Just as the Plaintiff began to get into the vehicle, he claims that he was yanked out of the car and one of the officers choked him. Id. Throughout the entire altercation, Plaintiff alleges that Officer Behrik - who remained outside with Mr. Daw and Mr. Dorow - heard commotion, but did nothing. Id.

         As a result of the force used against the Plaintiff during the arrest and placement into the police vehicle, Plaintiff claims to have suffered physical and mental injuries. Id. In addition to the laceration on his head, Plaintiff needed additional medical treatment on his hand and arm and suffered back pain. Id. Plaintiff now spends most of his days researching remedies to help alleviate his anxiety and amplified nervousness. Id., p. 13 (Pg. ID 368). In his Complaint, Plaintiff alleges three counts: (1) excessive force pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against each officer; (2) Fourth Amendment violations against the City of Lincoln Park; and (3) gross negligence against all Defendants.

         III. Legal Standard

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(c) “directs that summary judgment shall be granted if there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law.” Cehrs v. Ne. Ohio Alzheimer's Research Ctr., 155 F.3d 775, 779 (6th Cir. 1998) (quotations omitted). The court must view the facts, and draw reasonable inferences from those facts, in the light most favorable to the non-moving party. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 255, 106 S.Ct. 2505, 91 L.Ed.2d 202 (1986). No genuine dispute of material fact exists where the record “taken as a whole could not lead a rational trier of fact to find for the non-moving party.” Matsushita Elec. Indus., Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587, 106 S.Ct. 1348, 89 L.Ed.2d 538 (1986). Ultimately, the court evaluates “whether the evidence presents a sufficient disagreement to require submission to a jury or whether it is so one-sided that one party must prevail as a matter of law.” Anderson, 477 U.S. at 251-52, 106 S.Ct. 2505.

         IV. Plaintiff's Section 1983 Claims against Officer Behrik

         “[Sixth Circuit] cases teach that, in order to hold Officer [Behrik] liable for the use of excessive force, [Plaintiff] must prove that [Officer Behrik] (1) actively participated in the use of excessive force, (2) supervised the officer who used excessive force, or (3) owed the victim a duty of protection against the use of excessive force.” Turner v. Scott, 119 F.3d 425, 429 (6th Cir. 1997). In this case, the first two possibilities are not relevant. Plaintiff ...

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