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Manuel v. City of Elkhart

United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, South Bend Division

March 1, 2017

CITY OF ELKHART, et al., Defendant s



         Wendell Manuel was injured when two Elkhart police officers tried to restrain and arrest him. He brought an excessive force claim against the officers under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and a state law battery claim against the officers and the City of Elkhart, alleging that the City was liable for the officers' actions under a respondeat superior theory. The defendants moved for summary judgment and the court heard arguments on defendants' motion on January 11. For the following reasons, the court grants the defendants' motion

          I. Standard of Review

         Summary judgment is appropriate when there are no genuine issues of material fact and that 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, 322 (1986); Protective Life Ins. Co. v. Hansen, 632 F.3d 388, 391-92 (7th Cir. 2011). The court construes the evidence and all inferences that reasonably can be drawn from the evidence in the light most favorable to the non-moving party. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 255 (1986). The moving party bears the burden of informing the court of the basis for its motion and identifying the parts of the record that demonstrate the absence of any genuine issue of material fact. Celotex Corp. V. Catrett, 477 U.S. at 323. It can meet that burden by showing that there's no evidence to support the non-moving party's case. Id. at 325. Once the moving party has met its burden, the opposing party can't rest upon the allegations in the pleadings, but must “point to evidence that can be put in admissible form at trial, and that, if believed by the fact-finder, could support judgment in his favor.” Marr v. Bank of America, N, A., 662 F.3d 963, 966 (7th Cir. 2011); see also Hastings Mut. Ins. Co. v. LaFollette, No. 1:07-cv-1085, 2009 WL 348769, at *2 (S.D. Ind. Feb. 6, 2009) (“It is not the duty of the court to scour the record in search of evidence to defeat a motion for summary judgment; rather, the nonmoving party bears the responsibility of identifying the evidence upon which he relies.”); Hammel v. Eau Galle Cheese Factory, 407 F.3d 852, 859 (7th Cir. 2005) (summary judgment is “not a dress rehearsal or practice run; it is the put up or shut up moment in a lawsuit, when a party must show what evidence it has that would convince a trier of fact to accept its version of events”).

         II. Background

         The evidence submitted in support of, and opposition to, the defendants' motion for summary judgment was minimal, making it difficult to ascertain what actually happened. But the following facts appear to be undisputed.

         Wendell Manual was staying with his friend, Nicole Williams, when they got in an argument that culminated in Ms. Williams calling the police. When Officers Ryan Weis and Jacqueline Davis arrived at the scene, Ms. Williams told them that Mr. Manuel had “punched her in the eye” and that she wanted him out of her house. The officers entered the house, asked Mr. Manuel to leave, and offered to take him wherever he wanted to go. Mr. Manual refused, became increasingly agitated and confrontational with the officers and Ms. Williams, and ignored Officer Weis's directives to sit down and stay “out of [his] face”. The parties disagree about what happened next.

         Ms. Williams says that Mr. Manuel became aggressive toward the officers, who told him he was under arrest, pushed him up against the wall, and tried to put his arms behind his back. Ms. Williams says she told the officers that his left arm wouldn't bend because he had “cerebral palsy in that arm”, so the officers stopped trying to force Mr. Manuel's arms together, but held them in place while they considered what to do next. It was at that point, according to Ms. Williams, that Mr. Manuel began to resist. Ms. Williams says Mr. Manual's arm broke when he tried to pull away from the officers.

         Relying solely on his responses to interrogatories propounded by the defendants, Mr. Manuel asserts that:

• “[He] told the officers that he was retiring to his bedroom, ” and was walking toward his bedroom when Officer Weis, “without reasonable cause, pushed [him] so forcefully that [he] was propelled forward and made to catch himself from falling”;
• Officer Davis “violently grabbed [his] right arm which, due to a congenital abnormality, is smaller than [his] left and allows for only a limited range of movement”, and “bent and contorted [it] in such a way to cause the fracture”; and
• “It is visibly apparent to a reasonable officer that [his] right are is disabled.” The defendants moved for summary judgment, contending that the force used by the officers was objectively reasonable under the circumstances, that the officers are entitled to qualified immunity, and that Mr. Manuel hasn't established a viable claim against the City under § 1983.[1]

         III. Discussion

         A. Secti ...

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