United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
ORDER GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN PART
DEFENDANTS' MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT (DOC. 9)
CARAM STEEH, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
42 U.S.C. § 1983 excessive force suit, Plaintiff Erik
Collins alleges Defendant Michigan state troopers, John
Ferguson and Jeffrey Rucinski, struck him with their police
cruiser, tased him, and forced him to stand and walk on his
injured left leg after he dislocated his hip and fractured
his left acetabulum requiring emergency surgery and traction.
In lieu of an Answer and prior to any discovery, Defendants
filed a motion for summary judgment, arguing that they are
entitled to qualified immunity based on their police
cruiser's dash-cam video of the pursuit and incident in
question, which they claim shows Collins colliding with the
police cruiser two seconds after their vehicle came to a
stop. Defendants' theory of the case is that Collins ran
into their parked vehicle and is responsible for his own
injuries. In addition to his § 1983 excessive force
claim, Collins alleges a state law claim of gross negligence
against the officers. Defendants argue Collins' gross
negligence claim should be dismissed as the factual
allegations pled support an intentional tort claim only. For
the reasons set forth below, Defendants' motion for
summary judgment shall be denied as to the § 1983 claim
for excessive force, but shall be granted as to the gross
negligence claim which shall be dismissed.
court construes the factual allegations in the light most
favorable to the nonmoving party, here, Collins. On April 1,
2016, Collins, who was 28 years old, was riding his minibike,
a motorized bike which is considerably smaller than a
motorcycle, the wrong way on the one-way street of Norwood in
Detroit. There were no moving cars in his vicinity. Officers
Rucinski and Ferguson, followed Collins in their police
cruiser, driven by Officer Rucinski, shouting for him to pull
over. Collins ignored the police requests that he stop and
continued down the street on his minibike. The police gave
pursuit following Collins closely and driving across
sidewalks and the lawns of neighboring homes. After a short
while, Collins ditched his bike and proceeded on foot.
Officer Ferguson exited the police vehicle and pursued
Collins on foot. What happened next is in dispute. Officer
Rucinski continued to pursue Collins with his patrol car,
eventually stopping on either the driveway or lawn of one of
the neighboring residences, and then rolling backwards
towards the street.
claims the police car struck him while moving forward,
causing excruciating pain to his leg and hip, and causing him
to fall to the ground. Collins claims the vehicle then ran
over his left hip when the vehicle reversed. Defendants, on
the other hand, claim that Collins himself ran into the
police vehicle, and that he alone is responsible for the
impact. Defendants claim the patrol car's dash-cam video
supports this theory, claiming that the video shows their
vehicle coming to a stop two seconds before a loud sound is
heard, allegedly the sound of Collins running into their car.
The dash-cam video does not show Collins at the point of
impact, but does partially depict him lying on the ground to
the front left of the police cruiser. The court has carefully
reviewed the dash-cam video. At the time of the impact, the
police sirens are blaring, and it was quite difficult for the
court to discern the alleged sound of impact. The dash-cam
video is far from the indisputable proof the Defendants
assert it to be.
Collins fell to the ground, Officer Rucinski yelled at him to
get on the ground. Collins can be heard on the dash-cam video
moaning and yelling in pain. Officer Ferguson then tased
Collins. Defendants claim the taser was necessary because
Collins would not give up his hands for cuffing, and that the
taser was ineffective because Collins wore heavy clothing and
a back brace.
affidavit, Collins asserts that both Defendants then pinned
him to the ground, put their full weight on him, and
handcuffed him. These events are not depicted in the dash-cam
video. Collins was arrested for fleeing and eluding and
resisting and obstructing a police officer. Defendants then
ordered Collins to stand and demanded to know if he had a
weapon on him. Collins claims he was unable to stand because
of the excruciating pain in his leg and begged for an
ambulance which Defendants denied. While on the ground,
Collins can be heard on the dash-cam video crying out,
“Why'd you run me over with the car? Oh God
help!” (Doc. 9, Ex. 2 at 3:12-15). Collins claims that
Officers Ferguson and Rucinski forced him to stand, shoved
him into their police vehicle, and drove him to Detroit
Receiving Hospital where they insisted he walk on his injured
leg despite his protests of severe pain. Once Collins reached
the door of the Emergency Room, Defendants requested a wheel
chair for him.
the hospital, Collins was placed in an examination room, and
Defendants remained in the room with him. While in the room,
Defendants questioned Collins. Officer Rucinski left the room
for a while, during which time Collins was treated with
strong medicine to relax him and dull the pain, including
ketamine which can cause sedation and confusion, to prepare
him for the procedure of returning his dislocated hip to its
socket and to put him in traction. When Officer Rucinski
returned to the room, Collins was in traction and under the
influence of strong medication. Officer Rucinski asked
Collins to sign and initial a piece of paper which Collins
claims he represented was related to his medical bill and
treatment. Collins signed the document without reading it.
The statement was signed at 8:40 p.m. and contained the
following statements which Collins initialed:
Q: ARE YOU UNDER THE INFLUENCE OF ANY DRUGS OR ALCOHOL?
Q: HOW DID YOU INJURY YOUR HIP?
A: I WAS RUNNING, SLID ON MUD, AND STRUCK THE FRONT DRIVER
TIRE OF THE PATROL CAR WITH MY LEFT HIP.
Q: DID ANTHING [sic] HAPPEN TO INJURE YOUR HIP FURTHER?
A: NO, YOU GUYS HANDLED ME PRETTY WELL.
Q: DID YOU FEEL LIKE I WAS TRYING TO INJURE YOU?
A: NO, YOU HAD LOVE, DID NOT EVEN PULL A GUN ON ME, YOU