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Lewis v. City of Diaz

October 23, 2006

JOHN AND NANCY LEWIS PLAINTIFFS
v.
CITY OF DIAZ; OFFICER CHARLES W. MOSS, INDIVIDUALLY AND IN HIS OFFICIAL CAPACITY AS A CHIEF OF POLICE FOR THE DIAZ POLICE DEPARTMENT; JACKSON COUNTY - JACKSON COUNTY SHERIFF'S DEPARTMENTAND JIM BISHOP, INDIVIDUALLY AND IN HIS OFFICIAL CAPACITY AS SHERIFF OF JACKSON COUNTY;STACEY SULLIVAN, INDIVIDUALLY AND IN HIS OFFICIAL CAPACITY AS DEPUTY FOR THE SHERIFF'S OFFICE OF JACKSON COUNTY DEFENDANTS



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Garnett Thomas Eisele United States District Judge

ORDER ON MOTION FOR PARTIAL SUMMARY JUDGMENT

Presently before the Court is a motion for Partial Summary Judgment filed by Separate Defendants' Jackson County, Jackson County Sheriff's Department and Jim Bishop, individually and in his official capacity, and Stacey Sullivan, in his official capacity only.

I. Background

The Court views the facts in a light most favorable to the non-movant. On May 18, 2004, Mr. Lewis was outside his home visiting with his friend Randolph Jiles, when Deputy Sheriff Sullivan and Diaz Police Chief, Charles Moss, arrived in separate police units at the front of Mr. Lewis' home in Diaz, Arkansas.*fn1 After Deputy Sullivan identified Mr. Lewis, he informed Mr. Lewis that his bull was out, and Mr. Lewis replied that he would get the bull back in.*fn2 Deputy Sullivan told Mr. Lewis that this had happened every day for the last two weeks, which Mr. Lewis denied, and that Deputy Sullivan had been to his house six or eight times, but that Mr. Lewis would not come to the door.*fn3 Mr. Lewis replied, "That's a damn lie."*fn4 Chief Moss, who was three to four feet behind Mr. Lewis at this point, said something.*fn5 Mr. Lewis turned around, pointing his finger, and told Chief Moss, "Hey, I'm getting hard of hearing. I can't hear you, and I can't talk to but one of y'all at a time anyhow, so you'll have to get back around here."*fn6 As Mr. Lewis turned back around and dropped his hand down, Chief Moss grabbed his hand, "jerked" his left hand up, and handcuffed his left arm.*fn7 Then, Deputy Sullivan jumped on his shoulders and jerked his right arm up behind him.*fn8 Mr. Lewis asked, "What in the world are you doing?," and Chief Moss replied, "We're going to teach you that you can't shake your finger in my face."*fn9

Chief Moss turned Mr. Lewis around, and Mr. Lewis told him, "I've had neck surgery about ten years ago, and I don't want you to push down on my neck now."*fn10 Chief Moss said, "I've heard that before."*fn11 Mr. Lewis then told Chief Moss, "I've got to go to the bathroom. Please let me go to the bathroom. I promise, you can go in there with me. I've got my hands handcuffed behind me, you know, I can't do anything. Just let me go in there. I don't want to go in my pants."*fn12

Chief Moss stated once again, "I've heard that before," and pushed Mr. Lewis toward the squad car.*fn13

At this point, Mr. Lewis did not know where Deputy Sullivan was standing, but knew that Deputy Sullivan was behind him somewhere.*fn14 Either Deputy Sullivan or Chief Moss pushed down the back of Mr. Lewis' head, Mr. Lewis lost bowel control, felt a pop, and everything "went black."*fn15 Mr. Lewis could no longer see anything, but could still hear.*fn16 Mr. Lewis nearly fell down, but "they grabbed [him] and jerked [him] up and went to shoving [him] on to the squad car."*fn17 Mr. Lewis told Chief Moss that he had lost bowel control, and Moss stated, "You done that on purpose."*fn18 When Mr. Lewis got to the squad car, "They opened the door, and one of them, as they was pushing [him] down in that squad car, kicked [him] in."*fn19

Mr. Lewis was transported to the Jackson County Sheriff's Department. Mr. Lewis was later released and taken home by his wife. Subsequently, the charges that were filed against Mr. Lewis, which were filed by Chief Moss of the Diaz Police Department for resisting arrest, disorderly conduct and allowing livestock to run at large, were all dismissed at the request of the prosecution in the Diaz City Court. On April 18, 2005, Plaintiffs filed their Complaint alleging violations of their civil rights pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, the tort of outrage, violations of the Arkansas Civil Rights Act, and assault and battery.

II. Summary Judgment Standard

Summary judgment is appropriate only when, in reviewing the evidence in the light most favorable to the non-moving party, there is no genuine issue as to any material fact, so that the dispute may be decided solely on legal grounds. Holloway v. Lockhart, 813 F.2d 874 (8th Cir. 1987); Fed. R. Civ. P. 56. The Supreme Court has established guidelines to assist trial courts in determining whether this standard has been met:

The inquiry performed is the threshold inquiry of determining whether there is a need for trial-- whether, in other words, there are genuine factual issues that properly can be resolved only by a finder of fact because they may reasonably be resolved in favor of either party.

Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 250 (1986).

The Eighth Circuit set out the burdens of the parties in connection with a summary judgment motion in Counts v. M.K. Ferguson Co., 862 F.2d 1338 (8th Cir. 1988):

[T]he burden on the party moving for summary judgment is only to demonstrate, i.e., '[to] point[] out to the District Court,'that the record does not disclose a genuine dispute on a material fact. It is enough for the movant to bring up the fact that the record does not contain such an issue and to identify that part of the record which bears out his assertion. Once this is done, his burden is discharged, and, if the record in fact bears out the claim that no genuine dispute exists on any material fact, it is then the respondent's burden to set forth affirmative evidence, ...


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