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Pritt v. Brandou

United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Indianapolis Division

November 13, 2018

STEVEN W. PRITT, Plaintiff,
v.
BRANDOU, Defendant.

          ENTRY GRANTING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT AND DENYING DEFENDANT'S CROSS-MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

          HON. JANE MAGNUS-STINSON JUDGE

         I. INTRODUCTION

         Plaintiff Steven Pritt is currently incarcerated at the New Castle Correctional Facility (New Castle). He filed a civil rights complaint alleging he was subjected to excessive force by defendant Deputy Brandau while being escorted to medical at the Marion County Jail.[1] The Court screened his complaint and determined that Mr. Pritt adequately stated an excessive force claim pursuant to the Fourth Amendment against Deputy Brandau. Dkt. 23.

         Presently pending before the Court are the plaintiff's motion for summary judgment and the defendant's cross-motion for summary judgment.

         The plaintiff's motion argues that there is sufficient evidence to show that the defendant committed excessive force against him. Dkt. 76.[2] The defendant's motion argues that the plaintiff's constitutional claim is without merit because the defendant only placed the plaintiff in handcuffs and such conduct does not amount to a constitutional violation. Dkt. 86. The defendant also argues he is entitled to qualified immunity. For the reasons set forth below, the plaintiff's motion for summary judgment, dkt. [74], is granted and the defendant's cross-motion for summary judgment, dkt. [86], is denied.

         II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

         Summary judgment is appropriate when the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and that the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. See Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). A “material fact” is one that “might affect the outcome of the suit.” Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). To survive a motion for summary judgment, the non-moving party must set forth specific, admissible evidence showing that there is a material issue for trial. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986). The Court views the record in the light most favorable to the non-moving party and draws all reasonable inferences in that party's favor. Darst v. Interstate Brands Corp., 512 F.3d 903, 907 (7th Cir. 2008). It cannot weigh evidence or make credibility determinations on summary judgment because those tasks are left to the fact-finder. O'Leary v. Accretive Health, Inc., 657 F.3d 625, 630 (7th Cir. 2011).

         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).

         The existence of cross-motions for summary judgment does not imply that there are no genuine issues of material fact. R.J. Corman Derailment Servs., LLC v. Int'l Union of Operating Engineers, Local Union 150, AFL-CIO, 335 F.3d 643, 647 (7th Cir. 2003). Local Rule 56-1(e) requires that facts asserted in a brief must be supported “with a citation to a discovery response, a deposition, an affidavit, or other admissible evidence.” Id. The Court “has no duty to search or consider any part of the record not specifically cited in the manner described in subdivision (e).” Local Rule 56-1(h); see Kaszuk v. Bakery and Confectionery Union and Indus. Int'l. Pension Fund, 791 F.2d 548, 558 (7th Cir. 1986).

         Here, Mr. Pritt's motion for summary judgment includes an appendix and entry of exhibits, dkt. 75, a statement of undisputed facts, dkt. 77, and a declaration, dkt. 78. Only the declaration is signed under penalty of perjury. His statement of undisputed facts is the only submission in which each fact is supported with a citation to a discovery response, deposition, affidavit, or other admissible evidence as required by Local Rule 56-1(e). However, taken together, these documents sufficiently comply with Local Rule 56-1 because courts are not required to hold pro se litigants to the potential consequences of their failure to comply with the local rules and can instead take “a more flexible approach, ” including by ignoring the deficiencies in their filings and considering the evidence they submit. See Gray v. Hardy, 826 F.3d 1000, 1004-05 (7th Cir. 2016). Such flexibility is particularly warranted when a pro se litigant is proceeding without the benefit of counsel and where such flexibility allows the case to be considered on the merits. See Robinson v. Sweeny, 794 F.3d 782, 784 (7th Cir. 2015) (“[i]f the courts intend not to excuse procedural mistakes by pro se litigants, the spirit of legal justice would seem to require that someone inform those litigants of the rudiments of federal procedure . . . .”).

         III. STATEMENT OF UNDISPUTED MATERIAL FACTS

         Consistent with the foregoing, the following facts were evaluated pursuant to the standards set forth above.

         Mr. Pritt was transferred to the Marion County Jail on July 13, 2016, for post-conviction proceedings.[3] He stayed there for nine days until July 22, 2016. Dkt. 78, ¶ 3. On or about July 22, 2016, [4] while at the Jail, Deputy Brandau escorted Mr. Pritt to the nurse for an examination. Dkt. 77, ¶ 1; dkt. 75, p. 32. Deputy Brandau placed Mr. Pritt in handcuffs before he escorted him to the nurse. Dkt. 77, ¶ 4. According to Mr. Pritt, as they were walking, Deputy Brandau stated to Mr. Pritt “we're going up here to the elevator around the corner and down to the nurse.” Dkt. 75, p. 20. As they rounded the corner, Deputy Brandau jerked Mr. Pritt to the side by his elbow, turned Mr. Pritt to face him, and used his forearm to slam Mr. Pritt's chest into the wall, while stating “you don't listen.” Id. Deputy Brandau then took his right foot and stomped on Mr. Pritt's left foot and then kneed Mr. Pritt in his right thigh. Id. They arrived at medical and the nurse asked Mr. Pritt if he had any wounds or scratches. Deputy Brandau glared at Mr. Pritt and Mr. Pritt responded, “no, not yet.” Id. The nurse did not examine Mr. Pritt for any bruises and the rest of the examination focused on Mr. Pritt's heart condition. Id. Mr. Pritt sustained a large bruise on his thigh. Id., p. 21. Officer Brandau has no recollection of this incident. Dkt. 75, p. 44.[5]

         IV. ...


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