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Joseph v. Bryant

United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, Hammond Division

October 25, 2018

JASON C. JOSEPH, Plaintiff,
JONATHAN BRYANT and MATTHEW HASSEL, in his Official Capacity as the Sheriff of Marshall County, Defendants.



         This matter is before the Court on Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment [DE 24], filed on April 6, 2018. For the following reasons, the motion is granted in part and denied in part.

         I. Procedural Background

         On September 16, 2016, Plaintiff Jason C. Joseph filed a Complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging that Defendant Jonathan Bryant used excessive force in arresting him, and that the Marshall County Sheriff's Department deprived him of medical treatment for his injured hand. Plaintiff also made claims for assault and battery under Indiana tort law, arising from the same incident. On April 6, 2018, Defendant filed a Motion for Summary Judgment. Plaintiff filed a response on June 4, 2018, and on June 15, 2018, Defendant filed a reply.

         The parties filed forms of consent to have this case assigned to a United States Magistrate Judge to conduct all further proceedings and to order the entry of a final judgment in this case. Therefore, this Court has jurisdiction to decide this case pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c).

         II. Summary Judgment Standard

         The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure mandate that motions for summary judgment be granted “if 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). Rule 56 further 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) (citing Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)). “[S]ummary judgment is appropriate - in fact, is mandated - where there are no disputed issues of material fact and the movant must prevail as a matter of law. In other words, the record must reveal that no reasonable jury could find for the non-moving party.” Dempsey v. Atchison, Topeka, & Santa Fe Ry. Co., 16 F.3d 832, 836 (7th Cir. 1994) (citations and quotations omitted).

         A party seeking summary judgment bears the initial responsibility of informing the court of the basis for its motion and identifying those portions of the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, that it believes demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of material fact. See Celotex, 477 U.S. at 323; Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c). The moving party may discharge its initial responsibility by simply “‘showing' - that is, pointing out to the district court - that there is an absence of evidence to support the nonmoving party's case.” Celotex, 477 U.S. at 325. When the nonmoving party would have the burden of proof at trial, the moving party is not required to support its motion with affidavits or other similar materials negating the opponent's claim. Id. at 323, 325; Green v. Whiteco Indus., Inc., 17 F.3d 199, 201 n.3 (7th Cir. 1994); Fitzpatrick v. Catholic Bishop of Chi., 916 F.2d 1254, 1256 (7th Cir. 1990). However, the moving party, if it chooses, may support its motion for summary judgment with affidavits or other materials, and, if the moving party has “produced sufficient evidence to support a conclusion that there are no genuine issues for trial, ” then the burden shifts to the nonmoving party to show that an issue of material fact exists. Becker v. Tenenbaum-Hill Assoc., 914 F.2d 107, 110-111 (7th Cir. 1990) (citations omitted); see also Hong v. Children's Mem'l Hosp., 993 F.2d 1257, 1261 (7th Cir. 1993).

         Once a properly supported motion for summary judgment is made, the non-moving party cannot resist the motion and withstand summary judgment by merely resting on its pleadings. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(e); Donovan v. City of Milwaukee, 17 F.3d 944, 947 (7th Cir. 1994). Rule 56(e) provides that “[i]f a party fails to properly support an assertion of fact or fails to properly address another party's assertion of fact as required by Rule 56(c), the court may . . . consider the fact undisputed for purposes of the motion [or] grant summary judgment if the motion and supporting materials - including the facts considered undisputed - show that the movant is entitled to it . . . .” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e)(2), (3); see also Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248-50 (1986). Thus, to demonstrate a genuine issue of fact, the nonmoving party must “do more than simply show that there is some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts, ” but must “come forward with ‘specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial.'” Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586-87 (1986) (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e)) (emphasis in original).

         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 in favor of that party. See Liberty Lobby, 477 U.S. at 255; Srail v. Vill. of Lisle, 588 F.3d 940, 948 (7th Cir. 2009). A court's role is not to evaluate the weight of the evidence, judge witness credibility, or determine the truth of the matter, but to determine whether there is a genuine issue of triable fact. See Liberty Lobby, 477 U.S. at 249-50.

         III. Material Facts

         Plaintiff was a passenger in a truck that was pulled over by officers from the Marshall County Sheriff's Department on September 17, 2014. In the moments before the arrest, the Sheriff's Department's car followed the truck containing Plaintiff into a parking lot, where the truck eventually stopped. Defendant Jonathon Bryant, the Sheriff's Department officer, approached the truck. Bryant opened the door, physically removed Plaintiff from the vehicle, handcuffed him, and placed him face down on the ground. Plaintiff did not resist at any point, and he alleges that Bryant broke his right hand during the arrest. Although Plaintiff maintains that he told Bryant about the injury during the arrest, Bryant denies that.

         After his arrest on September 17, Plaintiff was taken to the Marshall County Jail. Plaintiff alleges that he told various jail employees and a jail nurse about pain in his hand, and that he repeatedly asked for a grievance form, but was refused one. On September 20, 2014, Plaintiff was taken to St. Joseph Regional Medical Center-Plymouth for emergency treatment for deep vein thrombosis in his leg, a condition unrelated to his arrest. Plaintiff was examined at the hospital, and the examination records do not reflect an injury or complaint of pain in Plaintiff's hand. On September 23, 2014, Plaintiff was transferred to the custody of the Indiana Department of Correction (“IDOC”), and was sent to the IDOC's Reception Diagnostic Center (“RDC”). Plaintiff maintains that upon arriving, he told IDOC medical staff that he had hurt his hand during the arrest. The medical records maintained by the IDOC state that Plaintiff reported having injured his right hand in a fight. The intake nurse at the RDC ordered x-rays of Plaintiff's right hand, and Plaintiff's treating physician at the RDC diagnosed a broken hand (a “nondisplaced slightly angulated fracutre through the neck/head of the 4th digit metacarpal”).

         IV. ...

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