United States District Court, N.D. Indiana
MICHELLE HAMILTON, for next friend and minor son, J.H., Plaintiff,
CITY OF FORT WAYNE, et al., Defendants.
OPINION AND ORDER
THERESA L. SPRINGMANN CHIEF JUDGE
Plaintiff, Michelle Hamilton, on behalf of her minor son
J.H., sued the City of Fort Wayne and six of its police
officer for events that occurred at her residence in October
2015 after she called police for assistance with J.H., who is
an autistic teenager. According to the allegations in the
First Amended Complaint [ECF No. 21], the City discriminated
against J.H. under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and
under Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act when it
denied him the benefits and protections afforded to
individuals without disabilities. The Plaintiff also alleged
that the officers, Manny Aguilar, Timothy Bobay, Shane
Carrier, Anthony Green, James Haupert, and Michael Sierks,
violated the Fourth Amendment when they either subjected J.H.
to an unreasonable seizure involving excessive force or
failed to intervene in such a seizure. Lastly, the Plaintiff
asserted a state tort claim for assault and battery against
the officers and, under a theory of respondent superior,
against the City.
August 28, 2017, the Defendants requested summary judgment on
all the Plaintiff's claims. (Defs.' Mot. for Summ.
J., ECF No. 47.) The Plaintiff, in response, dismissed her
claims against Officers Aguilar, Bobay, Carrier, Haupert, and
Sierks (Pf.'s Resp., ECF No. 49), but opposed summary
judgment on her claims against the City for violations of the
Rehabilitation Act and Title II of the Americans with
Disabilities Act, as well as her claim that Officer Green
violated the Fourth Amendment and committed assault and
battery. On October 11, 2017, the Defendants filed a Reply
Brief [ECF No. 53], and the matter became ripe for this
time of the events at issue, J.H., at fifteen years old, was
nearly 5'11", and 200 pounds. He has a variety of
psychological disorders, including conduct disorder,
borderline personality disorder, ADHD, and autism. According
to the Plaintiff, J.H. has the intellectual functioning of
someone who is younger than five, although this would not be
apparent from his general appearance. It would, however,
become evident by his chosen topics of conversation.
J.H.'s history reveals that he is prone to severe
“meltdowns” accompanied by intense physical
aggression. He has hit, kicked, and/or bit numerous people in
a variety of circumstances, including family members and
great concern to the Plaintiff is J.H.'s tendency to try
to run away from his home without regard to his personal
safety. The Plaintiff and J.H., along with J.H.'s
siblings, including his older brother Jaiyvian, live in a
townhouse near Lower Huntington Road. J.H. does not
understand the danger that vehicular traffic presents to his
well being. Therefore, when J.H. attempted to flee from his
house on the evening of October 28, 2015, the Plaintiff asked
Jaiyvian to stop J.H. from running toward Lower Huntington
Road, where he could have been seriously injured.
Additionally, had he succeeded in running away, they would
have been faced with trying to find J.H. in the dark. When
verbal attempts were insufficient to stop J.H., Jaiyvian
physically restrained J.H., who aggressively fought back by
punching, kicking, and biting. The Plaintiff herself was hit
by J.H. when she attempted to separate her two sons.
Plaintiff called 911 to report that J.H. was attempting to
flee the area of the home and to request assistance. Multiple
officers promptly responded to the scene. They arrived to
find J.H. and Jaiyvian punching and kicking each other while
Jaiyvian lay on top of J.H. on the ground. J.H. was yelling,
and the Plaintiff asked the officers to hurry. The officers
struggled to break up the fight, and J.H. continued to roll
around, kick, and resist as Officer Sierks and Officer Green
attempted to control and restrain him. During the events,
Jaiyvian broke away from two other officers, ran to J.H., and
began yelling at Officer Green because he did not like the
way that Officer Green was treating J.H. Jaiyvian and J.H.
were both eventually handcuffed. Jaiyvian was taken to a
squad car. Because efforts to calm J.H. and to convince him
not to flee were not successful, the officers decided the
best course was to take J.H. to a separate squad car parked a
short distance away.
initially refused to walk to the squad car, but then told the
officer that he would walk on his own. However, when the
officers agreed to let him walk, he went limp. On the way to
the car, the Plaintiff kept trying to talk J.H. into calming
down, but J.H. continued to scream while alternating between
making his body go limp and trying to break free.
officers were trying to get J.H. to the squad car, he kicked
Officer Sierks in the shin, causing him to stumble and lower
his hold on J.H. Officer Green saw that Officer Sierks had
been kicked, and thought it might have been a kick to the
groin. According to the Plaintiff, she saw Officer Green
punch J.H. one time in the face in response. Both parties
agree that Officer Green told J.H. that if he did not walk or
if he kicked at officers again, Green would use his taser.
The parties also agree that the Plaintiff objected to
Green's verbal threat, telling Officer Green that J.H.
did not even know what that meant, and that he could not be
tased because he was autistic and had seizures. In the
Plaintiff's version, she also charged at Officer Green
and yelled at him for punching her son, and he started
J.H. was successfully placed in the squad car. Officer
Aguilar, who had Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) training, was
asked to come to the scene to assess the situation. CIT is a
collaborative approach used by the Fort Wayne Police
Department to address the needs of persons with mental
illnesses, link them to appropriate services, and divert them
from the criminal justice system if appropriate. Green, as
well as the other officers who responded to the scene, had
CIT and other mental health training. In 2005, Green had
received forty hours of CIT training, which is the most
detailed training provided. He also received a forty-five
minute autism and CIT update in January 2013 and a thirty
minute mental illness training in October 2014. Aguilar
received the same forty hours of CIT training in 2010, but
also received eight hours of CIT training in each of the
Officer Aguilar talked to J.H., Officer Green transported
J.H. to the hospital, in accordance with standard protocols.
J.H. was not treated for any injuries. Jaiyvian was let out
of the squad car and not charged with any offense because the
officers concluded that he had initially been attempting to
help his mother with J.H.
Summary Judgment Standard
purpose of summary judgment is to avoid unnecessary trials,
and thus summary judgment must be entered where “the
movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any
material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a
matter of law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). If the defendants
satisfy their initial burden upon a properly supported motion
for summary judgment, the plaintiff is required to marshal
and present to the court the evidence upon which a reasonable
jury could rely to find in her favor. Goodman v.
Nat'l Sec. Agency, Inc., 621 F.3d 651, 654 (7th Cir.
2010). Although facts and reasonable inferences are construed
in favor of the nonmoving party, this does not extend to
inferences supported only by speculation or conjecture.
Singer v. Raemisch, 593 F.3d 529, 533 (7th Cir.
2010). Material facts are those that are outcome
determinative under the applicable law. Smith v.
Severn, 129 F.3d 419, 427 (7th Cir. 1997).
Rehabilitation Act and Americans With Disabilities
504 of the Rehabilitation Act and Section 202 of the ADA both
prohibit discrimination against persons with disabilities.
Under Section 504, “[n]o otherwise qualified individual
with a disability in the United States . . . shall, solely by
reason of her or his disability, be excluded from the
participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected
to discrimination under any program or activity receiving
Federal financial assistance.” 29 U.S.C. § 794.
Section 202 similarly provides that “no qualified
individual with a disability shall, by reason of such
disability, be excluded from participation in or be denied
the benefits of the services, programs, or activities of a
public entity, or be subjected to discrimination by any such
entity.” 42 U.S.C. § 12132. Claims under the two
statutes can be considered together. See Wagoner v.
Lemmon, 778 F.3d 586, 592 (7th Cir. ...