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Kidis v. Reid

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

April 16, 2019

Nikos Kidis, Plaintiff,
v.
John Moran, Defendant.

          OPINION AND ORDER DENYING DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR REMITTITUR OR A NEW TRIAL (ECF No. 125)

          Sean F. Cox United States District Court Judge

         In this §1983 excessive-force case, a jury returned a verdict in favor of Plaintiff Nikos Kidis and against Defendant John Moran. Moran now moves for a remittitur or, in the alternative, a new trial. Because the Court concludes that oral argument will not aid the decisional process, the motion will be decided on the parties' briefing. E.D. Mich. LR 7.1(f)(2). For the reasons below, the Court will deny the motion.

         BACKGROUND[1]

         On August 31, 2014, Plaintiff Nikos Kidis attended a Labor Day Festival in Hamtramck, Michigan. Trial Tr. vol. 3, 12:5-11. He drank approximately ten to twelve beers over the course of five to eight hours. Id. at 12:21-13:2. After these drinks, Kidis got behind the wheel of his car and began driving home. Id. at 13:6-7. Kidis was shirtless with jean shorts and running shoes. Id. at 15:6-7.

         On his drive home, Kidis sideswiped another car. Id. at 14:5-10. Kidis “got all excited” and fled the scene. Id. at 14:15-18. Kidis testified that he did not sustain any physical injuries during the car crash. Id. at 14:19-15:1.

         As he was fleeing, Kidis encountered City of Warren Police Officer Jean Reid, who was responding to the scene of the crash. Id. at 15:9-11. Officer Reid asked him to stop and he did. Id. at 15:15-21. Reid questioned him about the crash and began handcuffing him. Id. at 16:2-7. After Reid had secured a handcuff on his left hand, Kidis pulled away from her, momentarily lost his balance, and took off running. Id. at 17:3-8.

         Kidis ran through “the parking structure of a building, ” and jumped two six-foot barbed-wire fences. Id. 18:3-19:16. After the second fence, Kidis continued running “for a minute or two, ” through a wooded area, before his shoes fell off. Id. at19:18-19:21. Tired and unable to bear the loss of his shoes, Kidis “gave up” by laying “on his stomach with [his] hands out.” Id. at 19:23-25. During his flight, Kidis suffered “scratches” on the palms of his hands (from the barbed-wire fences) and on his shirtless chest and stomach (from running through the brush of the wooded area). Id. at 20:6-16.

         At this point, Warren Police Officer John Moran caught up with Kidis. He “got on top” of Kidis and “gave [him] knee thrusts.” Id. at 21:6-7. Moran then “put his hands around [Kidis's] neck and started choking [him].” Id. at 21:7-8. Moran proceeded to punch him in the head and eye and continued to strangle him. Id. at 22:1-2. Kidis estimated that Moran punched him “two to seven times.” Id. at 22:13-15. During the beating, Moran said, “We're going to teach you for running, motherfucker. We're going to get you.” Id. at 23:5-9.

         During the beating, Kidis did not resist or attempt to fight back. Id. at 21:21-24.

         After Moran handcuffed Kidis, two other officers arrived on the scene and escorted Kidis to a police car. Id. at 23:19-21. Kidis's body was “limp” from the beating, so the officers had to drag him to the car. Id. at 21-22.

         After the incident, Kidis went to a chiropractor, complaining of “headaches, shooting head pain, face twitch, depression, dizziness, loss of balance, ringing in ears, blurred vision, muscle spasm in his neck, grinding in his neck, tight shoulders and arms, pins and needles in his arms and hands, numbness in the arm and hand, mid-back pain, nerves, nervousness, sleeping problems, and pain in his leg or feet.” (ECF No. 136-4, PageID 5354). Kidis was diagnosed with cervical segmental dysfunction, thoracic subluxation, lumbar subluxation, and pelvic subluxation. (ECF No. 136-4, PageID 5356). In other words, “there [were] areas throughout the spine that were out of place causing dysfunction.” Id.

         Kidis testified that he continues to suffer pain because of his spinal issues, Trial Tr. vol. 3, 27:22-23, and has psychological problems, “kind of like PTSD.” Id. at 29:8-9.

         On August 24, 2016, Kidis filed this lawsuit against Moran and Reid, alleging one count of excessive force against each officer. On November 20, 2017, Reid and Moran filed a motion for summary judgment. In response to this motion, Kidis asserted an additional claim of deliberate indifference against the officers.

         On April 23, 2018, the Court granted in part, and denied in part, the Defendants' motion for summary judgment. The Court concluded that, because there was no evidence that Reid was present during the arrest, she could not be liable for excessive force. The Court also considered the deliberate indifference claims and concluded that, because there was no evidence that either Reid or Moran knew of Kidis's injuries and declined to assist him, they were entitled to summary judgment on those claims. (ECF No. 57, PageID 1276).

         The Court also concluded that Kidis had offered evidence upon which a reasonable jury could conclude that Moran's use of force was objectively unreasonable. The Court therefore rejected Moran's argument that he was shielded by qualified immunity. Moran did not file an interlocutory appeal on the issue of qualified immunity.

         On October 17, 2018, a jury trial commenced in this case. At the close of Kidis's proofs, Moran did not move for judgment as a matter of law or for a directed verdict. (ECF No. 125-2, PageID 4442).[2] On October 25, 2018, the jury returned a verdict in favor of Kidis. The jury awarded $1 in nominal compensatory damages and $200, 000 in punitive damages. Now, Moran moves for a remittitur or new trial, arguing that the jury's award of $200, 000 in punitive damages is excessive and that he is entitled to qualified immunity.

         ANALYSIS

         I. ...


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