United States District Court, N.D. Ohio, Eastern Division
Haydn Zeis, Administrator of The Estate of Jordn Miller Plaintiff,
Springfield Township, Ohio, et al. Defendants.
MEMORANDUM OF OPINION
R. ADAMS U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE
matter comes before the Court on a motion for summary
judgment filed by Defendants Springfield Township, Ohio, John
Smith, Robert Scherer, Joe Holsopple, and Denise More
(“Defendants”). Doc. 16. Also pending before the
Court is a partial motion for summary judgment filed by
Plaintiff Haydn Zeis. For the reasons that follow, both
motions are DENIED.
Facts & Procedure
after 3 p.m. on September 8, 2015, the Springfield Township
Police Department received a call regarding a “mental
health case.” The call reported that an individual
later identified as Jordn Miller was “in the throes of
a mental health crisis.” Officer Robert Scherer and
Officer Joseph Holsopple were the first to respond. Both
officers arrived on scene at roughly 3:21 p.m. Upon arriving,
the officers learned that Miller had entered the Jeep of
another neighborhood resident and was refusing to leave it.
The officers approached the Jeep and ordered Miller to exit.
Miller did not voluntarily exit the Jeep.
parties' views of what transpired next are decidedly
different. The officers contend that they attempted to remove
Miller from the Jeep and Miller forcibly resisted. The
officers contend that both were required to exert force on
Miller to get him to the ground and to get a single handcuff
on him. Officer Scherer asserts that despite both officers
attempting to subdue Miller, Miller raised up, turned his
head, and bit Scherer's calf during the altercation. With
Holsopple's assistance, Scherer then used his taser on
Miller's back to attempt to finish placing Miller in
handcuffs. The use of the taser was effective in that allowed
Miller to be handcuffed. At 3:24 p.m., three minutes after
arriving on scene, Scherer called for an ambulance and
advised that he had deployed his taser.
to the officers, despite being handcuffed, Miller continue to
flail and kick his legs. Sergeant Denise Moore arrived on
scene at 3:25:28 and claims to have observed Moore still
flailing and attempting to bite the officers. Moore also
observed Scherer deploy his taser a second time in the hopes
of protecting Miller from harming himself. Scherer claims
that this second use of the taser had no effect on Miller.
Observing this, Moore approached Miller and put her foot on
Miller's shoulder to help keep him controlled. Shortly
thereafter, Miller became compliant.
to Moore, she then began asking Miller if he was
“okay.” When Miller did not respond, Moore claims
that officers rolled Miller onto his side. Moore also
requested that EMS “step it up” at 3:26:54,
roughly 90 seconds after her arrival on scene. Scherer
asserts that he check Miller's pulse once he was rolled
onto his side and that it was fast and strong. Scherer
asserts that he did not begin to lose Miller's pulse
until EMS paramedics had started up the driveway to
Miller's location. Unfortunately, Miller never regained
consciousness and passed away following the interaction with
presents a markedly different view of the events that
transpired once officers encountered Miller. According to a
neighbor that alleges to have witnessed the encounter,
“the officers threw Jordn face first onto the gravel
driveway” when they removed him from the Jeep. Doc.
36-16 at 4. This neighbor, Rachel Portman, asserts that
“one of the officers simultaneously landed on top of
Jordn's body as Jordn's face and stomach hit the
ground.” Doc. 37-16 at 4. Portman also asserts that
Miller remained on his stomach in a face-down position for
the entirety of the incident until EMS rolled him onto his
back. Portman also contends that while Miller was face down,
both officers pressed their hands and knees into his back.
Portman also asserts that Miller's “head and
shoulders were not rising off the ground” and that his
“legs were not kicking up and down.” Doc. 37-16
at 5. Ostensibly, Portman asserts that Miller became
compliant almost immediately after being forcibly removed
from the Jeep.
noted above, both parties have sought summary judgment on
Zeis' excessive force claim. Defendants have also sought
summary judgment on the remaining claims in the complaint.
The Court now reviews the parties' arguments.
judgment is appropriate only when there is no genuine issue
of material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a
matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c); Celotex Corp. v.
Catrett, 477 U.S. 317 (1986); Anderson v. Liberty
Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242 (1986); Matsushita Elec.
Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574 (1986).
The moving party must demonstrate to the court through
reference to pleadings and discovery responses the absence of
a genuine issue of material fact. Celotex Corp. v.
Catrett, 477 U.S. at 323. This is so that summary
judgment can be used to dispose of claims and defenses which
are factually unsupported. Id. at 324. The burden on
the nonmoving party is to show, through the use of
evidentiary materials, the existence of a material fact which
must be tried. Id. The court's inquiry at the
summary judgment stage is “the threshold inquiry of
determining whether there is the need for a trial - whether,
in other words, there are any genuine factual issues that
properly can be resolved only by a finder of fact because
they may reasonably be resolved in favor of either
party.” Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477
U.S. at 250.
court's treatment of facts and inferences in a light
favorable to the nonmoving party does not relieve that party
of its obligation “to go beyond the pleadings” to
oppose an otherwise properly supported motion for summary
judgment under Rule 56(e). See Celotex Corp. v.
Catrett, 477 U.S. at 324. The nonmoving party must
oppose a proper summary judgment motion “by any kinds
of evidentiary material listed in Rule 56(c), except the mere
pleadings themselves ...” Id. Rule 56(c)
states, “... [t]he judgment sought shall be rendered
forthwith if the pleadings, depositions, answers to
interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the
affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue of
material fact and that the moving party is entitled to a
judgment as a matter of law.” A scintilla of evidence
in favor of the nonmoving party is not sufficient.
Law and Analysis
review of the facts set forth above reveals the parties'
divergent views on the facts. In an attempt to evade the
inevitable denial of their motion for summary judgment based
upon that divergent evidence, Defendants urge this Court to
ignore Portman's declaration because it is
“blatantly contradicted by the evidence in the
record.” Doc. 43 at 2. In support of that position,
Defendants detail all of the witnesses that give a different
account of the interaction between Miller and the officers.
Defendants also assert that the medical examiner found