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Williams v. Hampton

March 27, 2007

LUTHER WILLIAMS, PLAINTIFF,
v.
JOHN HAMPTON, LUCUS ZEIEN, AND DOUGLAS COUNTY JAIL, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Michael P. McCuskey United States District Judge

OPINION

Before the court are John Hampton's*fn1 summary judgment motion [47] and the plaintiff's response [45]. Plaintiff, Luther Williams ("Plaintiff") filed this action pursuant to 42 USC § 1983, alleging deprivation of his Fourteenth Amendment right as a pretrial detainee not to be subjected to excessive force in taking him into custody. Also, Plaintiff alleges that Hampton was deliberately indifferent to the Plaintiff's serious medical needs, in violation of Plaintiff's Eighth Amendment right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment. Plaintiff is currently an inmate at Vienna Correctional Center in Vienna, Illinois. Defendant Hampton is an officer employed by the Lake Land College Department of Public Safety.

Specifically, plaintiff alleges that defendant Hampton was a police officer who deprived the plaintiff of a federal right and Hampton acted under the color of state law to deny the plaintiff such right when Hampton used excessive force against Plaintiff while effecting an arrest on October 14, 2003. Defendant asserts that the plaintiff cannot establish that Hampton applied force maliciously or sadistically to cause harm, or that the force applied by Hampton was excessive or unreasonable under the circumstances. Further, Plaintiff cannot establish that Hampton was deliberately indifferent to Plaintiff's serious injury or medical need and that summary judgment is appropriate and plaintiff's complaint must be dismissed.

Standard

Summary judgment "shall be rendered forthwith if the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine 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); Outlaw v. Newkirk, 259 F.3d 833, 837 (7th Cir. 2001), citing Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986); Herman v. National Broadcasting Co., Inc., 744 F.2d 604, 607 (7th Cir. 1984), cert. denied, 470 U.S. 1028 (1985). In determining whether factual issues exist, the court must view all the evidence in the light most favorable to the non-moving party. Beraha v. Baxter Health Corp., 956 F.2d 1436, 1440 (7th Cir. 1992). Further, this burden can be satisfied by "'showing'--that is, pointing out to the district court--that there is an absence of evidence to support the nonmoving party's case." Celotex, 477 U.S. at 325. If such a showing is made, the burden shifts to the non-movant to "set forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(e); Outlaw, 259 F.3d at 837. A nonmoving party cannot rest on its pleadings, but must demonstrate that there is admissible evidence that will support its position. Tolle v. Carroll Touch, Inc., 23 F.3d 174, 178 (7th Cir. 1994). Credibility questions "defeat summary judgment only '[w]here an issue as to a material fact cannot be resolved without observation of the demeanor of witnesses in order to evaluate their credibility.'" Outlaw, 259 F.3d at 838, citing Advisory Committee Notes, 1963 Amendment to Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(e)(other citations omitted).

Fed. Rule Civ. Pro. Rule 56(c) "mandates the entry of summary judgment, after adequate time for discovery and upon motion, against a party who fails to make a showing sufficient to establish the existence of an element essential to that party's case, and on which that party will bear the burden of proof at trial." Celotex, 477 U.S. at 322. "Where the record taken as a whole could not lead a rational trier of fact to find for the non-moving party there is no 'genuine' issue for trial." Mechnig v. Sears, Roebuck & Co., 864 F.2d 1359 (7th Cir. 1988). A "metaphysical doubt" will not suffice. Matsushita Elec. Industrial Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986). Disputed facts are material only if they might affect the outcome of the suit. First Ind. Bank v. Baker, 957 F.2d 506, 507-08 (7th Cir. 1992). The mere existence of some alleged factual dispute between the parties will not defeat an otherwise properly supported motion for summary judgment. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, *247-248, 106 S.Ct. 2505, 2510 (1986).

U.S.D.C. CDIL L. R. 7.1 provides that all motions for summary judgment and response and replies thereto shall comply with the requirements of this rule. Any filing not in compliance may be stricken by the court. The consequences for failing to comply are discussed thoroughly in Waldridge v. American Hoechst Corp., 24 F. 3d 918 (7th Cir. 1994).

Background

Plaintiff's allegations relate to an incident on October 14, 2003, in which Hampton assisted in the apprehension and arrest of Plaintiff after a high speed car chase on Interstate 57 involving several different law enforcement agencies. Plaintiff's Complaint contains a "Statement of Claim" which alleges, inter alia, that on October 14, 2003, the following occurred:

John Hampton kicked me in my back while I was standing with my hands raised. Knocked me to my knees; put his foot in my back pushing me to the ground. That's when I told him that I think he'd broken my ribs. He told me to shut up, and get up. After I told him that I couldn't get up -- he and Officer Lucus Zeien grabbed me under my armpits and drug me to the squad car, and threw me in the back seat.

Plaintiff's Complaint further states that "I am seeking compensation for police brutality and medical negligence."

Undisputed Material Facts

1. On October 14, 2003, at approximately 8:30 - 9:00 p.m., plaintiff was traveling in a van on Interstate 57 which became involved in a police car chase. The plaintiff's van was traveling at a high rate of speed, and failed to stop despite being chased by police squad cars from several law enforcement agencies with their emergency lights and sirens activated. (See Transcript of plaintiff's deposition, p. 40, l. 6-15; 21-22; p. 43, l. 7-10, attached as part of Group Exhibit 1 [48]).*fn2

2. Plaintiff's vehicle traveled both southbound and northbound on Interestate 57 in a reckless and evasive manner. (See Transcript of Plaintiff's Deposition, p. 44, l. 5-10, 13-14; p. 45, l. ...


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