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Ketchum v. Khan

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

March 31, 2017

DAVID KETCHUM, Plaintiff,
v.
RANDY KHAN, et al., Defendants.

          ORDER STATING FINDINGS OF FACT AND CONCLUSIONS OF LAW AND GRANTING JUDGMENT ON PARTIAL FINDINGS FOR DEFENDANTS

          THOMAS L. LUDINGTON UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         This case concerns an excessive force claim, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, made by Plaintiff David Ketchum regarding a warrant to draw Ketchum's blood which was executed by Michigan State Police Troopers. On February 27, 2014, Magistrate Judge Paul J. Komives issued a report recommending that the motion for summary judgment filed by Defendants Werda, Welton, McMillan, and Khan be granted in part and denied in part. See Rep. & Rec., ECF No. 43. Judge Komives further recommended that all claims against Defendants be dismissed except for Plaintiff Ketchum's excessive force claim. Id. at 22. The Court adopted Judge Komives's Report and overruled the parties' objections to it. See July 18, 2014 Op. & Order, ECF No. 50.

         After significant effort, Ketchum was appointed counsel from the firm, Pepper Hamilton. Ketchum and his appointed counsel immediately began having issues. After warning Ketchum that he had no right to court-appointed counsel and directing the parties to make another effort at cooperation, ECF No. 77, the Court allowed Pepper Hamilton to withdraw. ECF No. 84. Because the dispositive motion deadline had passed and the case was trial-ready, the Court rescheduled the bench trial.

         On March 28, 2017, the bench trial was held. After Ketchum presented his case and Defendants presented two witnesses, the Court entered judgment for Defendants pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 52(c). The factual and legal bases for the judgment on partial findings was articulated on the record. For clarity, the Court's findings of fact and conclusions of law will also be briefly presented here.

         I.

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 52(c) allows a Court to enter judgment on partial findings in a nonjury trial. “If a party has been fully heard on an issue during a nonjury trial and the court finds against the party on that issue, the court may enter judgment against the party on a claim or defense that, under the controlling law, can be maintained or defeated only with a favorable finding on that issue.” Id. In conjunction with a judgment on partial findings, the Court must make findings of fact and conclusions of law pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 52(a). Id.

         Rule 52(a) explains that, in a nonjury trial, “the court must find the facts specially and state its conclusions of law separately.” Id. at Rule 52(a). The findings and conclusions can be stated on the record or provided in an opinion issued after the trial. Id.

         II.

         The Court makes the following findings of fact. By Ketchum's own admission, he was driving a vehicle while intoxicated in the early morning of May 2, 2009. Defendants McMillan and Khan conducted a traffic stop of Ketchum's vehicle. He admitted to the officers that he was intoxicated, but refused to take a preliminary breath test. Ketchum became verbally abusive. When the officers informed him that they would obtain a warrant to draw his blood, Ketchum stated that he had a religious right to object to the blood draw. Ketchum was arrested, placed in handcuffs, and put in the rear of the patrol car.

         The officers then obtained a blood draw warrant and transported Ketchum to Covenant Hospital in Saginaw. According to Ketchum, he was docile and compliant as he entered the hospital and was restrained via a four point extremity restraining system on a bed, plus a torso band. He asserts that he did not resist until a doctor tried to physically withdraw the blood, but acknowledged moving his arm to avoid the blood draw. According to Misty Maclellan, a registered nurse who was present during the incident and who testified at trial, Ketchum was uncooperative and combative from the moment he entered the hospital. She remembers him being verbally abusive and physically resistant. Maclellan testified that blood draw warrants are typically executed while the arrestee is sitting in a chair. Ketchum's behavior made that impossible. Because Ketchum was so combative, the hospital staff decided that he needed to be placed in “four point restraints.” That restraining method involves straps which are wound around the individual's wrists and ankles. Prior to being restrained, Ketchum kicked two nurses.

         Ketchum asserts that, when the doctor tried to draw the blood, he began struggling against his restraints. He contends that the officers twisted metal handcuffs into his wrists and ankles so deeply that they drew blood and chipped bone. He also accuses the Defendants of choking him.

         Maclellan, on the other hand, indicates that hospital staff and officers physically held Ketchum while the blood was being drawn. She testified that she saw no torture and no unnecessary actions by the officers present in response to Ketchum's combative behavior.

         Officer Kevin Fent also testified at trial. He is a Saginaw County Jail officer who was working on the night Ketchum was booked and videotaped Ketchum's processing. Officer Fent authenticated a video which depicted Ketchum being ushered into the police department by several officers. Ketchum was agitated and belligerent in the video. Ketchum walked without difficulty up to the counter where certain information was obtained. Ketchum stated that he did not remember his name, accused officers of assaulting him in the police car, and complained of pain in multiple parts of his body. Specifically, Ketchum asserted that his back, face, and neck were injured. He also mentioned, in passing, that his wrists and ankles had ...


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