United States District Court, N.D. Indiana
OPINION AND ORDER
THERESA L. SPRINGMANN CHIEF JUDGE
Plaintiff, Calvin Dewayne Higdon, sued the City of Geneva,
Indiana, the Geneva Police Department, and Geneva Police
Officer Ronald R. Rasawehr for events that occurred at his
home on June 6, 2014.
Defendants have filed a Motion for Summary Judgment [ECF No.
31], asserting that they are entitled to judgment as a matter
of law because the undisputed evidence establishes that the
individual officer has qualified immunity from the
Plaintiff's claims that he violated the Plaintiff's
Fourth, Fifth, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendment rights, that
the Town of Geneva (including the Geneva Police Department)
cannot be liable as a matter of law pursuant to Monell v.
New York City Department of Social Services, 436 U.S.
658 (1978), and that no civil cause of action exists under 18
U.S.C. § 242. In the Plaintiff's Brief in Opposition
to Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment [ECF No. 34],
the Plaintiff acknowledges the merits of the Defendants'
arguments in favor of summary judgment related to his claims
under the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendment and pursuant to 18
U.S.C. § 242. He further acknowledges that there is no
evidence that his injury was the result of an official policy
or custom, as required for municipal liability.
the only claims that remain in dispute are those against the
individual officer for violations of his constitutional
rights under the Fourth and Fifth Amendments. See
Goodpaster v. City of Indianapolis, 736 F.3d 1060, 1075
(7th Cir. 2013) (holding that the plaintiffs had waived
claims where they did not respond to defendant's
arguments and “did not provide the district court with
any basis to decide” them).
connection with the pending Motion for Summary Judgment, the
Defendant has moved to strike [ECF No. 36] statements that
are contained in the Affidavit of Dewayne Higdon, and written
statements that the Plaintiff attributes to a third party,
Margaret LaPeer. The Defendant argues that the statements do
not comply with Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(c)(4), as
they contain inadmissible hearsay and irrelevant information,
and they lack foundation. Because the Court can distinguish
which statements may properly be considered when deciding
whether summary judgment is appropriate, the Court will not
rule on the Motion to Strike [ECF No. 36] as a separate
motion. The Court has noted the Defendant's objections
and will consider the objections to the extent they arise in
the Court's summary judgment analysis.
6, 2014, at around 10:00 p.m., Deputy Marshal Ronald Rasawehr
(Officer Rasawehr) of the Town of Geneva Police Department
responded to an unwanted party call at a residence located in
Geneva. When Officer Rasawehr arrived, the Plaintiff, Dewayne
Higdon, requested that Officer Rasawehr remove Margaret
LaPeer from his residence. The Plaintiff advised that he
wanted to put her items outside, and was concerned that
LaPeer was attempting to take property that belonged to the
Plaintiff. Officer Rasawehr entered the home to locate
LaPeer. As she packed items from the bedroom, Officer
Rasawehr directed the Plaintiff to stay outside the bedroom.
The Plaintiff continued to claim that LaPeer was taking items
that belonged to him. Officer Rasawehr ignored the
Plaintiff's request that the Plaintiff be allowed to pack
LaPeer had gathered nearly all of her items from the house,
she asked to talk to Officer Rasawehr privately. LaPeer and
Officer Rasawehr went outside, and the Plaintiff shut the
door, believing that LaPeer had all her personal property
packed up and that Officer Rasawehr's assistance in
removing LaPeer was complete. LaPeer then told Officer
Rasawehr that the Plaintiff had marijuana inside one of his
pill bottles that was located next to his computer screen,
along with other paraphernalia that he used to smoke it.
Officer Rasawehr clarified with LaPeer that if he walked by
the computer right then, that is where the marijuana would be
located. Officer Rasawehr followed LaPeer back inside the
residence. While she gathered more belongings from the
bedroom, Officer Rasawehr went to the kitchen where the
computer was located. According to the Plaintiff, he used a
flashlight to look around the dark kitchen, including behind
the Plaintiff's computer and the freezer. Officer
Rasawehr discovered a pill bottle that contained marijuana,
as well as other paraphernalia.
Rasawehr arrested the Plaintiff for possession of
paraphernalia and brought him to jail, where he was detained
for about an hour before he posted bond. On June 9, 2014, the
Plaintiff was charged with Possession of Marijuana and
Possession of Paraphernalia stemming from his June 6, 2014,
arrest and Officer Rasawehr's probable cause affidavit.
The case was dismissed on May 4, 2015.
Court will only grant summary judgment if all the admissible
submissions indicate that there is no genuine issue as to any
material fact and that the moving party is entitled to
judgment as a matter of law. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby,
Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 247 (1986); Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a).
public officers violate the constitutional rights of
citizens, 42 U.S.C. § 1983 provides the vehicle for a
legal claim. Officer Rasawehr has asserted that he is
entitled to qualified immunity, which is a doctrine that
protects government officials “from liability for civil
damages insofar as their conduct does not violate clearly
established statutory or constitutional rights of which a
reasonable person would have known.” Harlow v.
Fitzgerald, 457 U.S. 800, 818 (1982) (citations
omitted). Qualified immunity is intended to strike a balance
between “protect[ing] a government official's
ability to function without the threat of distraction and
liability” and “afford[ing] members of the public
the ability to vindicate constitutional violations by
government officials who abuse their offices.”
Gibbs v. Lomas, 755 F.3d 529, 537 (7th Cir. 2014)
(internal quotation marks and citations omitted).
the Defendant has raised qualified immunity as a defense to
the Plaintiff's constitutional claims, it is the
Plaintiff's burden to defeat it. Archer v.
Chisholm, 870 F.3d 603, 613 (7th Cir. 2017); Wheeler
v. Lawson, 539 F.3d 629, 639 (7th Cir. 2008). The
Plaintiff satisfies this burden if he shows (1) that the
facts, taken in the light most favorable to the Plaintiff,
make out a violation of a constitutional right, and (2) that
constitutional right was clearly established at the time of
the alleged violation, such that it would have been clear to
a reasonable actor that his conduct was unlawful. Pearson
v. Callahan, 555 U.S. 223, 232 (2009); Williams v.
City of Chi., 733 F.3d 749, 758 (7th Cir. 2013)
(citation omitted). “If either inquiry ...