United States District Court, S.D. Ohio, Eastern Division
OPINION AND ORDER
C. SMITH, JUDGE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT.
matter is before the Court on Defendants Officer Michael
Shippitka and Police Chief Dennis Murphy's Motion for
Summary Judgment (Doc. 23). Plaintiff has filed her response
and this Motion is now ripe for review. For the reasons that
follow, the Court GRANTS Defendants'
Motion for Summary Judgment.
Lois Ferguson is a citizen of the State of Ohio and is
employed as a community health worker with Celebrate One. She
is 58 years old. (Doc. 22, Pl. Dep. at 13). During the
timeframe relevant to this case, Plaintiff was employed as a
packer at The Limited. (Id. at 17).
the relevant time frame, Defendant Dennis Murphy was the
Police Chief for the City of Gahanna. (Doc. 1, Compl. ¶
5). Defendant Michael Shippitka was a police officer with the
City of Gahanna. (Id.).
case arises out of an incident that occurred in the early
morning hours on February 25, 2014. Ferguson was driving home
after working the second shift (5 p.m. to 2 a.m.) at The
Limited despite having a restriction on her Ohio driver's
license to only drive during the daytime hours. (See
Doc. 22, Pl. Dep. at 20 - 21). Plaintiff does not dispute
that she should not have been driving outside of her license
restriction. (Id. at 24). She further admits that
both her front and rear license plates was not properly
mounted on her car. (Id. at ¶ 25-26).
Police Officer Gary Lawrence was on routine patrol, traveling
northbound on I-270 at approximately 2:30 a.m. when he
observed Plaintiff's vehicle. Specifically, he observed
that the rear license plate was not property displayed and
therefore he initiated a traffic stop. (Doc. 23-3, Lawrence
Aff. ¶¶ 3-5). Officer Lawrence checked
Plaintiff's identification through the Law Enforcement
Automated Data System (“LEADS”) and learned that
her driver's license was restricted to only daytime
driving. When Officer Lawrence questioned Plaintiff about the
restriction and the improper display of the license plates,
she did not dispute either issue. (Id., Lawrence
Statement of Facts). At this time, Officer Michael Shippitka
arrived at the scene. (Id.). Officer Lawrence then
told Plaintiff that she was being issued a traffic citation,
and her vehicle would be towed. (Id.). Plaintiff then
became very agitated. (Id.).
Shippitka described that he was standing at the driver's
side door and Officer Lawrence was on the passenger's
side. (Doc. 21, Shippitka Dep. at 19). Ferguson told Officer
Shippitka she was not going to allow her car to be towed,
locked the doors, and refused to get out of the vehicle.
(Id.; see also Doc. 23-3, Lawrence Statement of
Facts). Officer Lawrence told Ferguson she was not allowed to
continue driving the vehicle because it was nighttime, and
her vehicle had to be towed and impounded. (Id.).
Plaintiff called her brother to explain the situation and
asked if someone could drive out and pick up her and her car.
(Doc. 22, Pl. Dep. at 30). Plaintiff maintains that she had
arranged for her brother and his wife to drive thirty minutes
across town and pick up her car, rather than having it towed.
(Id. at 29 - 31). However, thirty minutes was too
long to wait along side of a major interstate at 3
o'clock in the morning. (Id. at 29-31, 34).
Officer Shippitka asked Plaintiff to get out of her vehicle,
but she refused. (Doc. 21, Shippitka Dep. at 21). He then
ordered her out, but she refused. (Doc. 22, Pl. Dep. at 34).
Plaintiff did not want her car towed and impounded because
“that is extra money.” (Id. at 37).
Shippitka explained to Plaintiff that she could be charged
with Obstructing Official Business if she continued to remain
in her vehicle. (Doc. 21, Shippitka Dep. at 22). When the tow
truck arrived and backed in front of Plaintiff's vehicle,
she finally got out of her vehicle. (Id. at 23-24).
Officer Shippitka then explained to Plaintiff that he needed
her car keys and she responded, “I'm not giving you
my F'ing car keys.” (Id. at 24). Plaintiff
admits to being frustrated. (Doc. 22, Pl. Dep. at 37). She
said that the City of Gahanna was “thirsty” and
they needed her money. (Id. at 40).
Shippitka again asked Plaintiff for her keys. (Doc. 21,
Shippitka Dep. at 26-27). Shippitka describes that Plaintiff
was becoming increasingly aggravated and again said, “I
am not giving you my F'ing keys.” (Id.).
Plaintiff admits that she said, “I'm not giving you
all my keys. You're taking my car, I will not be locked
out of my house. I'll take the car key off.” (Doc.
22, Pl. Dep. at 40). At that time, according to Plaintiff,
Officer Shippitka “grabs her hands and starts
squeezing.” (Id.). Officer Shippitka describes
that he told Plaintiff, “I need your keys. Once again
you are obstructing official business. We need the key to
finish up the impound process and the inventory of your
vehicle.” (Doc. 21, Shippitka Dep. at 27). Shippitka
described that the whole incident with his hand on Plaintiff
lasted 15 seconds. “At some point Ms. Ferguson said,
“You're hurting me. I will give you my F'ing
keys.” (Id.). And Officer Shippitka remembers
Officer Lawrence say “Okay, you're hurting
her.” (Id.). Officer Shippitka immediately let
go of Plaintiff's hands and he put his hands in his coat.
(Id. at 29-30). Plaintiff then removed her car key
and the officers began the vehicle inventory process.
(Id.). Officer Lawrence ultimately drove Plaintiff
to the Speedway in Gahanna where she could wait for a ride
home. (Doc. 23-3). Officer Lawrence issued Plaintiff a
citation for Driving Outside Her License Restriction (in
violation of Gahanna Code Section 335.07(B)), and Improper
Display (in violation of Gahanna Code Section 335.09(A)). The
morning following the incident, Plaintiff went to the BMV and
received a new driver's license without the day time
driving restriction. (Doc. 22, Pl. Dep. at 22).
February 25, 2016, Plaintiff initiated this case against
Defendants Shippitka and Murphy alleging claims of violation
of her Fourth, Eighth and Fourteenth Amendment rights under
the Constitution of the United States and 42 U.S.C. §
1983 claims for failure to supervise, control and discipline,
and for punitive damages.
SUMMARY JUDGMENT STANDARD
standard governing summary judgment is set forth in Rule 56
of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, which provides that
“[t]he court shall grant summary judgment if the movant
shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material