United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, South Bend Division
OPINION AND ORDER
T. MOODY, JUDGE
matter is before the court on defendants' motion for
summary judgment. (DE # 21.) For the reasons that follow,
defendants' motion is granted, in part, and denied, in
incident in question began on March 25, 2014, when Officer
Aaron Knepper, an officer with the South Bend Police
Department and a defendant in this case, attempted to pull
over plaintiff Thomas Stevens for a traffic infraction. Thomas
claims that once he saw the lights, he made a left turn (DE #
23-1 at 1) and continued driving a “short
distance” to his home. (DE # 23 at 4.) He exited the
vehicle and told Officer Knepper that he lived at the
residence and was going inside. (DE # 23-1 at 1.)
that, according to Thomas, Officer Knepper began screaming
commands at Thomas; first to get back in his vehicle, then to
get on the ground, and then to put his hands in the air. (DE
# 23-1 at 1-2.) Thomas did not abide by any of the commands.
Instead he asked: “[F]or what?” (Id. at
2.) Officer Knepper then threatened Thomas with the use of a
taser. (Id.) Thomas “decided to go inside my
home.” (Id.) At that point, Officer Knepper
employed the taser. (Id.) Afterwards, Thomas stated
that he “continued towards the house.”
(Id.) As he did so, Officer Knepper began striking
him. (Id.) Officer Knepper claims that he and Thomas
“struggled, exchanging blows” (DE # 22-1 at 2),
though Thomas claims he never struck or attempted to strike
Officer Knepper (DE # 23-1 at 2).
according to Thomas's version of the events, Thomas's
mother, Suzanne, came out of the house and told Officer
Knepper to stop hitting Thomas. (DE # 23-3 at 2.) Next,
Suzanne grabbed Officer Knepper's arm and hit him on the
back. (Id. at 1; DE # 23 at 5.) Officer Knepper
knocked Suzanne to the ground. (DE # 23-3 at 2.) Officer
Knepper then entered the home and continued to repeatedly
punch and choke Thomas on the steps leading into the kitchen.
(Id. at 2.)
Jeffrey Ransberger, another defendant in this case, then
arrived at the scene. Suzanne maintains that she again
“tried to stop” Officer Knepper, and that Officer
Ransberger grabbed her and caused her to fall to the ground
and strike her head. (Id. at 2.) According to
Thomas, Officer Ransberger then pulled Thomas out of the
house, and drove Thomas's head down onto the concrete
driveway. (DE # 23-1 at 2.)
was arrested and transported to a hospital. (Id. at
3.) Thomas suffered brain injuries; doctors induced a coma
and placed Thomas on a ventilator, and he spent several days
in the hospital. (Id. at 2.) Suzanne claims she
suffered bruising and a cut to the head. (DE # 23-3 at 2.)
and Suzanne filed the present lawsuit against Officers
Knepper and Ransberger, as well as the City of South Bend.
(DE ## 2, 10.) The suit alleged the use of excessive force by
the officers in violation of the Fourth Amendment under 42
U.S.C. § 1983, as well as other claims, including a
claim against the City under Monell v. Dep't of
Social Servs., 436 U.S. 658, 694 (1987). (DE ## 2, 10.)
moved for summary judgment, articulating defenses to all of
the claims raised (DE # 21), but plaintiffs responded by
arguing the validity of their excessive force claims against
the officers, only. (DE # 23.) Thus, the court deems
abandoned all of plaintiffs' claims other than their
§ 1983 claim under the Fourth Amendment. Palmer v.
Marion County, 327 F.3d 588, 597-98 (7th Cir. 2003)
(claim not addressed in response to summary judgment motion
is deemed abandoned).
Rule of Civil Procedure 56 requires the entry of summary
judgment, after adequate time for discovery, 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 Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S.
317, 322 (1986). In responding to a motion for summary
judgment, the non-moving party must identify specific facts
establishing that there is a genuine issue of fact for trial.
Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 252
(1986); Palmer, 327 F.3d at 595. In doing so, the
non-moving party cannot rest on the pleadings alone, but must
present fresh proof in support of its position.
Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248; Donovan v. City of
Milwaukee, 17 F.3d 944, 947 (7th Cir. 1994). A dispute
about a material fact is genuine only “if the evidence
is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the
nonmoving party.” Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248.
If no reasonable jury could find for the non-moving party,
then there is no “genuine” dispute. Scott v.
Harris, 550 U.S. 372, 380 (2007).
court's role in deciding a summary judgment motion is not
to evaluate the truth of the matter, but instead to determine
whether there is a genuine issue of triable fact.
Anderson, 477 U.S. at 249-50; Doe v. R.R.
Donnelley & Sons Co., 42 F.3d 439, 443 (7th Cir.
1994). In viewing the facts presented on a motion for summary
judgment, a court must construe all facts in a light most
favorable to the non-moving party and draw all legitimate
inferences and resolve all doubts in favor of that party.
NLFC, Inc. v. Devcom Mid-Am., Inc., 45 F.3d 231, 234
(7th Cir. 1995).