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Jackson v. District of Columbia

United States District Court, D. Columbia.

March 17, 2015

DEON JACKSON, Plaintiff,
v.
DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, et al, Defendants

For DEON JACKSON, Plaintiff: Khadijah R. Ali, LAW OFFICES OF KHADIJAH R. ALI, P.C., Washington, DC.

For METROPOLITAN POLICE DEPARTMENT DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, MICHAEL WEISS, JOSHUA BOUTAUGH, Defendants: Stephanie Litos, LEAD ATTORNEY, OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, Washington, DC.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

COLLEEN KOLLAR-KOTELLY, United States District Judge.

Plaintiff Deon Jackson filed suit against the District of Columbia and Metropolitan Police Department Officers Joshua Boutaugh and Michael Weiss, asserting violations of Plaintiff's civil rights, in addition to common law tort claims in connection with a traffic stop during which Plaintiff alleges his arm was broken. Presently before the Court is Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment. Upon consideration of the pleadings,[1] the relevant legal authorities, and the record as a whole, the Court finds Defendants are entitled to qualified immunity from Plaintiff's 42 U.S.C. § 1983 unlawful arrest and excessive force claims. The Court declines, however, to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over Plaintiff's common law assault and battery, false arrest/false imprisonment, and intentional infliction of emotional distress claims and, therefore, dismisses without prejudice these claims. Accordingly, Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment is GRANTED.

I. BACKGROUND

At the outset, the Court notes that Plaintiff has failed to comply with the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and the Local Civil Rules in submitting his Statement of Material Facts. Pursuant to the Rules, the non-moving party must respond to each of the opposing party's alleged facts with an indication of whether the non-moving party admits or denies the fact. See LCvR 7(h)(1); Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c). Plaintiff has provided the Court with a Statement of Material Facts, but Plaintiff's Statement does not respond to each of Defendant's alleged facts as required by the Federal and Local Rules. Accordingly, the Court could treat Defendants' Statement of Material Facts as conceded to the extent Plaintiff has failed to respond to certain factual allegations. See LCvR 7(h)(1) (" In determining a motion for summary judgment, the court may assume that facts identified by the moving party in its statement of material facts are admitted, unless such a fact is controverted in the statement of genuine issues filed in opposition to the motion." ); Fed. R. Civ. P 56(e) (" If a party 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" ).

Although Plaintiff's noncompliance with the Rules has made resolution of Defendants' Motion more complicated, Defendants have relied primarily on the undisputed facts as presented by Plaintiff in Plaintiff's Statement of Material Facts and Opposition. Accordingly, the Court will take Defendants' lead and rely on the facts as stated by Plaintiff. For the purposes of setting forth the factual background of this case, the Court will cite to the facts in Defendants' Statement of Facts since it provides a fuller exposition of the facts in this case than Plaintiff's Statement. The Court will cite to Plaintiff's Statement of Facts or Opposition when a fact is disputed or further explicated by Plaintiff.

A. Factual Background

On or about February 18, 2012, Defendants Boutaugh and Weiss observed Plaintiff driving along Brentwood Road, Northeast, in Washington, D.C. Defs.' Stmt. ¶ 2. Defendants Weiss and Boutaugh " believed Plaintiff was driving erratically, and observed him commit traffic infractions, including crossing the double line." Id. ¶ 3. As a result, Defendants initiated a stop of Plaintiff's vehicle. Id. ¶ 5. Plaintiff disputes that he committed any traffic violations and claims that " he did not swerve out of his lane and had no problems maintaining control of his vehicle at all times." Pl.'s Stmt. ¶ 1. Plaintiff " submits the most that Defendants could have observed on that evening as they were driving behind him, was his car hesitating on a couple of occasions due to a transmission problem." Pl.'s Opp'n at 13 (citing Pl.'s Ex. A (Jackson Depo.), ECF No. [53-1], at 182:10-183:9); Defs.' Stmt. ¶ 4 (citing to Defs.' Ex. C (Jackson Depo.), ECF No. [52-4], at 23:19-24:5).

After initiating a stop of Plaintiff's vehicle, Defendant Weiss approached Plaintiff's vehicle on the driver side, while Defendant Boutaugh approached the vehicle on the passenger side. Defs.' Stmt. ¶ 7. Plaintiff was asked to roll down his driver side window, but Plaintiff explained to the officers that he was unable to do so because his window was broken. Id. ¶ 8. Instead, Plaintiff opened his driver side door to give Defendant Weiss his license and registration. Id. ¶ ¶ 9-10. Defendant Weiss then returned to the squad car and called for a field sobriety officer while Defendant Boutaugh remained at the passenger side of Plaintiff's vehicle. Id. ¶ ¶ 10-12. Defendant Boutaugh " believed that Plaintiff's words were slurred as he spoke and he was slow to respond to questions." Id. ¶ 13. Plaintiff contends that his " speech was not slurred and he was not slow to respond to the officers' questions." Pl.'s Stmt. ¶ 3. Defendant Boutaugh explained to Plaintiff that a field sobriety officer had been contacted and would administer a field sobriety test to Plaintiff, but Plaintiff " indicated that he would not submit to a field sobriety test." Defs.' Stmt. ¶ ¶ 14-15. Plaintiff alleges that he was asked if he would take a breathalyzer test and that he refused to submit to a breathalyzer test, not a field sobriety test. Pl.'s Stmt. ¶ 13; Pl.'s Opp'n at 6 (citing Pl.'s Ex. A (Jackson Depo.), at 50:2-51:2; 68:7-20; Pl.'s Ex. C (Jackson Decl.), ECF No. [53-3]. The Court finds this dispute to be of no moment as what is ultimately material from this fact is Plaintiff's refusal to submit to an evaluation of his sobriety.[2]

Plaintiff then closed the driver side door. Defs.' Stmt. ¶ 16. Defendant Boutaugh " did not know what Plaintiff might do next and believed he may attempt to drive away." Id. ¶ 17. Plaintiff contends that he informed Defendant Boutaugh that he was going to close his door " because he was cold." Pl.'s Stmt. ¶ 6. Defendant Boutaugh then went to Plaintiff's driver side door to place him under arrest. Defs.' Stmt. ¶ 18. Defendant Boutaugh[3] proceeded to pull Plaintiff out of the vehicle and, in so doing, " applied pressure to Plaintiff's arm." Id. ¶ ¶ 19-20. In Plaintiff's factual recitation, Plaintiff further explains that " as Defendant Boutaugh is pulling Plaintiff out of the car, he bends and twists Plaintiff's arm behind his back while at the same time bending his left hand in towards his forearm in a goose neck position, and at the same time, yanking his arm up towards his shoulder area" and " pushing Plaintiff in towards his car." Pl.'s Opp'n at 7 (citing Pl.'s Ex. A (Jackson Depo.), at 51:11, 53:12-58:1; Pl.'s Ex. B (Boutaugh Depo.), ECF No. [53-2], at 41:17-42:22). Plaintiff's arm broke almost immediately. Defs.' Stmt. ¶ 20.

Once Plaintiff's arm broke and went limp, " Defendant Boutaugh dropped Plaintiff's arm and no additional pressure was applied" and an ambulance was called.[4] Id. ¶ 23. Plaintiff was taken to the hospital by ambulance. Id. ¶ 24. At the hospital, " Plaintiff refused a breathalyzer and blood alcohol test when asked by the District's field sobriety officer." Id. ¶ 25. After his release from the hospital, Plaintiff was transported to the police station where he was charged with Assault on a Police Officer and traffic violations. Id. ¶ 26. The traffic violation charges were dismissed and the charge of Assault on a Police Officer was later dropped for want of prosecution. Id. ¶ ¶ 27-28.

B. Procedural Background

Plaintiff filed suit on February 15, 2013, asserting eight causes of action; specifically, one count of deprivation of civil rights under color of law in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1983 as to all Defendants (Count I), and seven common law tort claims. See generally Compl., ECF No. [1]. The District of Columbia moved to dismiss Count I for failure to state a claim as to Defendant District of Columbia. The Court granted Defendants' Motion to Dismiss and dismissed without prejudice Plaintiff's § 1983 claims against Defendant District of Columbia. See Mem. Op. (June 13, 2013), ECF No. [19]. Plaintiff subsequently sought leave to file an amended complaint which the Court granted except as to Plaintiff's § 1983 claim against the District as it " remain[ed] substantively identical to the Count I that the Court dismissed in its June 13, 2013, Order." Order (Nov. 18, 2013), ECF No. [32].

Plaintiff's Amended Complaint, see ECF No. [33], asserts the same causes of action as Plaintiff's original Complaint. Specifically, Plaintiff asserts the following causes of actions against the following Defendants: (1) deprivation of civil rights under color of law in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1983 as to Defendants Weiss and Boutaugh (Count I); (2) assault/battery against Defendant Boutaugh and the District of Columbia; (3) intentional infliction of emotional distress as to all Defendants; (4) false arrest/false imprisonment as to all Defendants; (5) malicious prosecution as to all Defendants; (6) negligent failure to properly train and supervise against the District of Columbia; (7) negligent hiring/retention as to the District of Columbia; and (8) negligence as to all Defendants.

Presently before the Court is Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment as to all claims in Plaintiff's Amended Complaint. As Plaintiff has filed an Opposition to Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment and Defendants filed a Reply, this Motion is now ripe for the Court's review.

II. LEGAL STANDARD

Summary judgment is appropriate 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). The mere existence of some factual dispute is insufficient on its own to bar summary judgment; the dispute must pertain to a " material" fact. Id. Accordingly, " [o]nly disputes over facts that might affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law will properly preclude the entry of summary judgment." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248, 106 S.Ct. 2505, 91 L.Ed.2d 202 (1986). Nor may summary judgment be avoided based on just any disagreement as to the relevant facts; the dispute ...


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