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Love v. City of South Bend

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

December 1, 2017

ROYCE LOVE, Plaintiff,
THE CITY OF SOUTH BEND, et al., Defendants.


          Michael G. Gotsch, Sr. United States Magistrate Judge

         On July 12, 2017, Defendants filed their Renewed Motion for Summary Judgment. [DE 32]. In their motion, Defendants seek summary judgment as to all claims raised by Love in this case. Love's claims arise from the alleged use of excessive force against him during an arrest following a multi-vehicle police chase through the streets of South Bend, Indiana in the early morning hours of August 4, 2013. Through the instant action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, Love has raised Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments claims of excessive and unreasonable use of force against the South Bend police officers involved in the arrest. For the reasons stated below, the Court DENIES Defendants' motion.

          I. Procedure

         On November 12, 2015, Love was convicted in the St. Joseph Superior Court for resisting law enforcement (Ind. Code § 35-44.1-3-1(a)(1)) and mistreatment of a law enforcement animal (Ind. Code § 35-46-3-11(a)(1)). See State of Indiana v. Royce Love, 71D03-1308-FD-000653. These are both class A misdemeanors. Love filed a notice of appeal on November 18, 2015. During the pendency of Mr. Love's appeal before the Indiana Court of Appeals, the Defendant Officers filed a motion for summary judgment in this Court. [DE 13]. Defendants' first motion for summary judgment was granted in part and denied in part. [DE 20]. Subsequent to this Court's ruling on the Defendant Officers' Motion, Mr. Love's criminal convictions were overturned by the Indiana Court of Appeals. See Love v. State, 61 N.E.3d 290 (Ind.Ct.App. 2016). The Indiana Supreme Court granted transfer, vacated the Court of Appeals' opinion, and affirmed Mr. Love's misdemeanor convictions. Love v. State, 73 N.E.3d 693, 700 (Ind. 2017).

         On the basis of the Indiana Supreme Court's decision, Defendants filed their Renewed Motion for Summary Judgment on July 12, 2017. [DE 32]. On July 24, 2017, Plaintiff, Royce Love, filed his response in opposition. [DE 34]. On July 31, 2017, Defendants filed their reply. [DE 36]. The Court issues the following opinion resolving Defendants' motion as discussed below pursuant to the consent of the parties and 28 U.S.C. §636(c).

         II. Relevant Background

         In its order on Defendants' original motion for summary judgment, this Court recited the facts of this case, which have not changed and need not be repeated here. [See DE 20 at 1-4]. Generally, however, Love was arrested after his vehicle was pursued by police. The contested facts, relevant here, involve what happened in the immediate aftermath of Love's vehicle coming to a stop. Additionally, and at the heart of this case, the parties contest the meaning of Love's November 12, 2015, convictions for resisting law enforcement and mistreatment of a law enforcement animal.

         In general, Love contends that “[u]pon exiting his vehicle, [he] complied with police commands to get down on the ground and extend his hands” and “[t]here was no legal cause to justify [Defendants'] violent assault upon [him] after he voluntarily went to the ground and extended his hands in surrender.” [DE 2 at 2, 3]. Defendants characterize Love's complaint as alleging Love to have been passive and compliant the entire duration of the arrest. Defendants further allege it is not logically possible for both (1) Love to be correct in these factual allegations and for (2) the conviction to be sustained. [DE 36 at 4].

         In their competing version of the facts, Defendants allege that Mr. Love never fully complied with the officers' commands. Rather, he attacked a police dog, shouted at officers, and pulled Taser wires from his body. The force officers used was not excessive, Defendants claim, because if it were, the conviction for resisting law enforcement would necessarily be invalid. In other words, Defendants allege a finder of fact has made determinations specific enough to logically preclude Love's version of events. [DE 33 at 7].

         In opposition to Defendants' argument that his version of events is precluded, Love contends that the state court verdict is not dispositive to the issue of whether he resisted only prior to the use of excessive force by the police. [DE 35 at 3]. Additionally, according to Love, the criminal charge for resisting law enforcement by force only charged that he resisted Officer Jonathan Gray. [Id. at 4].

         III. Summary Judgment Standard of Review

         A renewed motion for summary judgment is appropriate if there is the availability of new evidence or an expanded factual record. Whitford v. Boglino, 63 F.3d 527, 530 (7th Cir. 1995). “[T]he district court may, in its discretion, allow a party to renew a previously denied summary judgment motion or file successive motions, particularly if good reason exists.” Id. Summary judgment is proper where the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c); Lawson v. CSX Transp., Inc., 245 F.3d 916, 922 (7th Cir. 2001). In determining whether a genuine issue of material fact exists, this Court must construe all facts in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party as well to draw all reasonable and justifiable inferences in favor of that party. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 255 (1986); King v. Preferred Technical Group, 166 F.3d 887, 890 (7th Cir. 1999).

         To overcome a motion for summary judgment, the nonmoving party cannot rest on the mere allegations or denials contained in its pleadings. Rather, the nonmoving party must present sufficient evidence to show the existence of each element of its case on which it will bear the burden at trial. Celotex v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322-23 (1986); Robin v. Espo Eng'g Corp., 200 F.3d 1081, 1088 (7th Cir. 2000). Where a factual record taken as a whole could not lead a rational trier of fact to find for the nonmoving party, there is no genuine issue for trial. Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986). In other words, “[s]ummary 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 the events.” Hammel v. Eau Galle Cheese Factory, 407 F.3d 852, 859 (7th Cir. 2005) (quotations omitted).

         IV. ...

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