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Taylor v. Hayes

March 27, 2007

CHRISTOPHER B. TAYLOR, PLAINTIFF,
v.
DAVID HAYES, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Herndon, District Judge

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

I. Introduction

This action is before the Court on the Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. 79), filed by Defendants City of Alton Police Department, Scott Waldrup, Mark Dorsey, David Hayes, and Rory Rathgeb on June 22, 2006, and sua sponte on the question of subject matter jurisdiction. For the reasons set forth below, Count I of Plaintiff's Complaint is DISMISSED WITHOUT PREJUDICE, the Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. 79) is GRANTED with respect to Count II only, and the Clerk of the Court is DIRECTED to dismiss from this action Defendants City of Alton Police Department, Scott Waldrup, Mark Dorsey, David Hayes, and Rory Rathgeb.

II. Background

Plaintiff Christopher Taylor,*fn1 a federal criminal defendant formerly detained in the St. Clair County Jail, brought this action for deprivations of his constitutional rights by persons acting under state authority, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, and by persons acting under the color of federal authority, pursuant to Bivens v. Six Unknown Named Agents, 403 U.S. 388 (1971).

The underlying events outlined in Count I of Plaintiff's Amended Complaint*fn2 (Doc. 12) center upon a traffic stop that occurred on January 22, 2004. Plaintiff alleges that David Hayes, Scott Waldrup (two of the defendants), and Tony Bumbers (a dismissed defendant), who are City of Alton Police officers, detained him and illegally searched him in connection with a traffic stop (Doc. 12, ¶ 5). He further alleges that the City of Alton Police Department maintained an unconstitutional policy and practice of unreasonable searches and seizures (Doc. 12, ¶ 9).

The underlying events alleged in Count II of Plaintiff's Amended Complaint (Doc. 12) concerns the July 22, 2004, arrest of Plaintiff by federal agents,*fn3 in which Alton Police Department Officers Rory Rathgeb and Mark Dorsey were involved, along with Collinsville Police Officer Eric Zaber. Plaintiff alleges that these defendants employed unreasonable force, or failed to prevent such force, when he was being arrested and interrogated (Doc 12 at ¶¶ 7-14). Specifically, Plaintiff alleges that the defendants forced him to lie on the ground at gunpoint to be handcuffed, that defendants Rorey Rathgeb and Jeff Matthews (dismissed) interrogated him while he was handcuffed, and that "physical force and brutality" was used against him in that Defendant Eric Zaber "tazered" him in his lower back, allegedly causing a permanent scar. Plaintiff contends that Defendants thereby deprived him of his rights secured by the Fourth, Fifth, and Fourteenth Amendments. Plaintiff asserts that Defendants Robert Nosbisch (dismissed), Mark Dorsey, Michael Stanfill (dismissed), and Cindy Scott (dismissed) are vicariously liable for the actions of defendants Eric Zaber, Rorey Rathgeb, and Jeff Matthews (dismissed). Plaintiff also contends that the City of Alton Police Department is liable failing to properly and adequately train its officers concerning acceptable limits on use of force.

In the Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. 79), Defendants argue that the undisputed facts show, with regard to Count I, that there was probable cause to stop Plaintiff for trespassing and for the lack of a license plate on the front of his vehicle. They further allege that there was probable cause for the arrest, and the search incident thereto, because Defendants had reason to believe that a crime had been committed by plaintiff, due to "the plaintiff's own compliance with questioning and the circumstances known to the officers." (Doc. 80 at 2). In support, Defendants point out that the Court, in Plaintiff's criminal matter,*fn4 already concluded that probable cause existed with respect to the January 22, 2004, arrest of Plaintiff when it denied Plaintiff's motion to suppress.

With regard to Count II of his Amended Complaint (Doc. 12), Defendants contend that Rathgeb and Dorsey are entitled to summary judgment in their favor because there is no description of the basis for an allegation of excessive force included in the pleadings and, further, there is no evidence to suggest that any excessive force was used by Rathgeb or Dorsey in Plaintiff's July 22, 2004, arrest. They also allege both that there was no underlying constitutional violation from which Rathgeb and Dorsey could be held vicariously liable; even if there were such a violation by Officer Eric Zaber's use of a tazer, they argue, there did not exists a realistic opportunity to intervene and prevent Zaber's alleged unconstitutional conduct..

III. Analysis

A. Count I

In the Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. 79), Defendants argue that the undisputed facts demonstrate, with regard to Count I of Plaintiff's Amended Complaint, that there was probable cause to stop Plaintiff both for trespassing and for the lack of a license plate on the front of his vehicle. They further allege that there was probable cause for the arrest and the search incident thereto because Defendants had reason to believe that a crime had been committed by plaintiff, due to "the plaintiff's own compliance with questioning and the circumstances known to the officers." (Doc. 80 at 2). In support, Defendants point out that the Court, in Plaintiff's criminal matter,*fn5 already concluded that probable cause existed with respect to the January 22, 2004, arrest of Plaintiff when it denied Plaintiff's motion to suppress. In addition, Defendants assert that where there is no underlying constitutional violation, the City of Alton Police Department cannot be held liable for deliberate indifference with respect to training.

Although the Court is under the impression that Defendant's have met their burden of establishing that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact such that Defendant is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law, this Court is precluded from entering summary judgment on this claim under Wallace v. Kato, 127 S.Ct. 1091 (2007) and Heck v. Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477, 114 S.Ct. 2364 (1994). As explained below, we must instead dismiss Count I without prejudice. Although neither party addressed this issue in ...


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