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Staszakk v. United States

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

October 31, 2017



          Michael J. Reagan United States District Judge.


         Plaintiff brought his complaint against the United States of America pursuant to the Federal Tort Claims Act, 28 U.S.C. §§ 1346(b), 2671 et seq. (hereinafter "FTCA"), alleging that Deputy U.S. Marshal Clark Meadows used excessive force against him (Count 1) and that Deputy U.S. Marshals Kevin Castleman and James Robertson failed to prevent the assault (Count 2). This matter is before the Court on Defendant's partial motion for summary judgment on Count 2 of Plaintiff's complaint (Doc. 47). Plaintiff has filed a response (Doc. 50). Defendant has filed a reply (Doc. 51). Based on the following, the Court GRANTS IN PART AND DENIES IN PART Defendant's partial motion for summary judgment.

         Factual Background

         This case, which was initially filed in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas, was transferred to this Court on April 6, 2015 (Doc. 1). Plaintiffs complaint was filed pursuant to the FTC A against the United States of America. Plaintiff alleges that U.S. Marshal Clark Meadows committed an assault and battery against Plaintiff when he handcuffed Plaintiff and then punched him in the face. Plaintiff further alleges that U.S. Marshals Kevin Castleman and James Robertson failed to prevent the alleged assault and battery. The summary judgment motion focuses solely on Castleman's and Robertson's failure to prevent the attack by Meadows.

         At the time the events at issue took place, Plaintiff was on an ankle monitoring system issued by District Judge J. Phil Gilbert as a part of Plaintiff's bond. See United States v. Staszak, Case No. 12-cr-40064-JPG, at Doc. 15 (June 28, 2012). That bond was later revoked because Plaintiff removed his ankle monitoring system with a pair of bolt cutters (Doc. 47-2, p. 4). Additionally, Plaintiff failed to appear at the revocation hearing so an arrest warrant was issued (Id.). See also Case No. 12-cr-40064 at Docs. 39, 40, and 41. Plaintiff removed the ankle monitor on October 2, 2012 and an arrest warrant was issued on October 4, 2012 (Id.).

         Plaintiff was arrested in the early morning hours of June 2, 2013 by Meadows, Castleman, and Robertson at the Rameses Bar (Doc. 47-2, p. 8). Plaintiff testified that he was sitting on a barstool when the Marshals came in to arrest him (Id. at p. 10). Meadows approached Plaintiff in the lead with the other two Marshals following behind (Id.). Plaintiff testified that Meadows approached him and he felt Meadows' hands slam down on his shoulders (Id.). Plaintiff testified that Meadows then threw him from the barstool onto the ground, with Plaintiff lying face down on the ground (Id.). Castleman testified that both he and Meadows placed Plaintiff on the ground from the barstool (Doc. 47-3, p. 2). He also testified that he assisted Meadows in handcuffing Plaintiff (Id. at p. 3). Robertson acknowledged that he assisted in making sure that no patrons interfered with Plaintiff's arrest (Doc. 47-4, p. 3). Robertson testified that he did not see Plaintiff being taken down or handcuffed because his back faced them while he faced the patrons (Id. at p. 3-4).

         Plaintiff testified that after Meadows put Plaintiff on the ground, chaos broke out in the bar (Doc. 47-2, p. 11). He heard one of his friends, who he came to the bar with, arguing with one of the Marshals and he could hear Castleman and Robertson telling everyone in the bar to stand back (Id.). Meadows cuffed Plaintiff and flipped him over (Id.). Plaintiff testified that Meadows then punched him in the face four times (Id.). At the time the incident occurred, Plaintiff testified that Robertson and Castleman were worried about crowd control and that they were not helping Meadows with the arrest (Id.). The other two Marshals did not help until after Meadows and another Marshal lifted Plaintiff off of the ground, although he does not recall which Marshal helped Meadows (Id.). Plaintiff testified that he believed the other two Marshals should have intervened by arresting Meadows after he punched Plaintiff (Id. at p. 12). But Plaintiff testified that Castleman and Robertson were controlling the crowd at the time that Meadows punched Plaintiff and that the punches happened in quick succession, one after the other (Id.). Plaintiff testified that he did not believe that Castleman or Robertson could have stopped the actual punches as they were conducting crowd control and the timing of the punches was very quick (Id.).

         Legal Standards

         A. Summary Judgment Standard

         Summary Judgment is proper only "if the admissible evidence considered as a whole shows there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Dynegy Mktg. & Trade v. Multi Corp., 648 F.3d 506, 517 (7th Cir. 2011) (internal quotation marks omitted) (citing FED. R. CIV. P. 56(a)). See also Ruffin-Thompkins v. Experian Info. Solutions, Inc., 422 F.3d 603, 607 (7th Cir. 2005). The party seeking summary judgment bears the initial burden of demonstrating - based on the pleadings, affidavits, and/or information obtained via discovery-the lack of any genuine issue of material fact. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986).

         After a properly supported motion for summary judgment is made, the adverse party "must set forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 250 (1986) (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e)(2)). A fact is material if it is outcome determinative under applicable law. Id. at 248; Ballance v. City of Springfield, III. Police Dep't, 424 F.3d 614, 616 (7th Cir. 2005); Hottenroth v. Vill. of Slinger, 388 F.3d 1015, 1027 (7th Cir. 2004). A genuine issue of material fact exists if "the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party." Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248. "A mere scintilla of evidence in support of the nonmovant's petition is insufficient; a party will be successful in opposing summary judgment only when it presents definite, competent evidence to rebut the motion." Harris N.A. v. Hershey, 711 F.3d 794, 798 (7th Cir. 2013).

         On summary judgment, the Court considers the facts in the light most favorable to the non-movant. Srail v. Will, of Lisle,588 F.3d 940, 948 (7th Cir. 2009). The Court adopts reasonable inferences and resolves doubts in the nonmovant's favor. Id.; Natl Athletic Sportswear, Inc. v. Westfield Ins. Co.,528 F.3d 508, 512 (7th Cir. 2008). Even if the facts are not in dispute, summary judgment is inappropriate when the information before the court reveals that "alternate inferences can be drawn from the available evidence." Spiegla v. Hull, 371 F.3d 928, 935 (7th Cir. ...

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