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Todd v. Moore

January 23, 2007


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge Gregory L. Frost

Magistrate Judge Mark R. Abel


This matter is before the Court for consideration of Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. # 50), Plaintiff's memorandum in opposition (Doc. # 55), and Defendants' reply memorandum (Doc. # 59). For the reasons that follow, the Court findsDefendants' motion for summary judgment well taken but denies various related motions filed by Plaintiff.

I. Background

Defendants Patrolman Gary Moore, Sergeant Christopher Rice, Patrolman Jeremy Barnhart, Detective Mark Lenhart, Lieutenant William Shaw, Patrolman Sean Beck, and Patrolman Christopher Phipps were all police officers with the City of Zanesville on November 23, 2003, when Plaintiff, Tracy Todd, was the subject of a Delaware County arrest warrant. While in Zanesville, Rice had identified Todd as the target of the warrant and informed Moore of the sighting. They returned to the house where Rice had seen Todd, accompanied by other officers. Todd fled from the house's porch, but was apprehended approximately fifty yards away. He resisted arrest, and during the struggle Todd was struck one or more times in the brachial plexus area in an attempt to numb his arm so that Todd could be handcuffed. Todd continued to resist against multiple officers, despite being repeatedly told to place his hands behind his back. Shaw used a Taser on Todd's neck/shoulder area three times, and Todd was subdued and handcuffed.

Todd subsequently initiated the instant action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging excessive force and that he incurred injuries requiring medical care. (Doc. # 3.) Defendants filed an Answer (Doc. # 7) and then moved for judgment on the pleadings (Doc. # 8). Todd in turn moved for summary judgment (Doc. # 9). The Court issued an April 19, 2006 Opinion and Order (Doc. # 19, with correction in Doc. # 21) in which the Court granted in part and denied in part Defendants' motion for judgment on the pleadings (Doc. # 8) and denied Todd's motion for summary judgment (Doc. # 9). The Court concluded that although Todd had failed to assert a proper excessive force claim under the Eighth Amendment, he has asserted a § 1983 excessive force claim under the Fourth Amendment.

Defendants have now moved for summary judgment on this excessive force claim. (Doc. # 50.) The parties have completed briefing the issues involved, and the motion is now ripe for disposition.

II. Discussion

A. Standard Involved

Summary judgment is appropriate "if the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c). The Court may therefore grant a motion for summary judgment if the nonmoving party who has the burden of proof at trial fails to make a showing sufficient to establish the existence of an element that is essential to that party's case. See Muncie Power Products, Inc. v. United Tech. Auto., Inc., 328 F.3d 870, 873 (6th Cir. 2003) (citing Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986)).

In viewing the evidence, the Court must draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the nonmoving party, who must set forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue of material fact for trial. Id. (citing Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co., Ltd. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986)); Hamad v. Woodcrest Condo. Ass'n, 328 F.3d 224, 234 (6th Cir. 2003). A genuine issue of material fact exists "if the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party." Muncie, 328 F.3d at 873 (quoting Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986)). Consequently, the central issue is " '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.' " Hamad, 328 F.3d at 234-35 (quoting Anderson, 477 U.S. at 251-52).

B. Analysis

As noted, Defendants move for summary judgment on Todd's 42 U.S.C. § 1983 claims. Section 1983 provides:

Every person who, under color of any statute, ordinance, regulation, custom, or usage, of any State ... subjects, or causes to be subjected, any citizen of the United States or other person within the jurisdiction thereof to the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution and laws, shall be liable to the party ...

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