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Jones v. Jackson

United States District Court, E.D. Arkansas, Pine Bluff Division

June 1, 2017

DEDRIC JONES PLAINTIFF
v.
RANDY JACKSON, DEFENDANTS

          ORDER

          BILLY ROY WILSON, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Pending is the Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. No. 34) filed by Separate Defendants Jefferson County, Arkansas (the “Sheriff's Department”) and Sheriff Gerald Robinson.[1] Plaintiff Dedric Jones has responded and Separate Defendants have replied.[2] For the reasons set out below, the Motion is GRANTED.

         I. BACKGROUND[3]

         During the time relevant to this case, Defendant Randy Jackson was employed by the Sheriff's Department as an investigator.[4]

         On June 13, 2014, Jackson got into an argument with his girlfriend and allegedly pulled a gun on her (the “domestic dispute”). The girlfriend's sister, who called 911 to report the domestic dispute, told the dispatcher this wasn't the first time Jackson pulled a gun on his girlfriend, and that she (the girlfriend) was afraid of Jackson because he was a cop.[5]

         Early the morning of July 5, 2014, Jackson drove his personal vehicle to a bar to pickup his girlfriend. He went in the bar, but could not locate his girlfriend, so he went back outside where he got into a dispute with his girlfriend's ex-boyfriend. After the ex-boyfriend left, Jackson got into a dispute with Jones, which ended when Jackson shot Jones in the chest. Jackson then got in his truck and drove home. Once home, Jackson called the Sheriff's Department to report the shooting.

         Jones's Complaint alleges that the Sheriff's Department and Robinson violated his constitutional rights[6] by hiring Jackson and by failing to properly train, instruct, and supervise “Jackson and others on the proper use of force.”[7] Jones also asserts state-law, tort claims against Jackson for battery and outrage, and seeks to hold Separate Defendants “liable under the doctrine of respondeat superior.”[8] The Sheriff's Department and Robinson seek summary judgment on all claims against them.[9] Jones asserts that summary judgment is not appropriate because two facts remain in dispute: (1) whether the Sheriff's Department and Robinson properly investigated the domestic dispute, and (2) whether a proper investigation would have prevented the shooting.[10]

         II. SUMMARY JUDGMENT STANDARD

         Summary judgment is appropriate only when there is no genuine issue of material fact, so that the dispute may be decided on purely legal grounds.[11] 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 the need for a trial -- whether, in other words, there are any 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.[12]

         The Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit has cautioned that summary judgment is an extreme remedy that should be granted only when the movant has established a right to the judgment beyond controversy.[13] Nevertheless, summary judgment promotes judicial economy by preventing trial when no genuine issue of fact remains.[14] A court must view the facts in the light most favorable to the party opposing the motion.[15] The Eighth Circuit has also set out the burden of the parties in connection with a summary judgment motion:

[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, specific facts, showing that there is a genuine dispute on that issue. If the respondent fails to carry that burden, summary judgment should be granted.[16]

         Only disputes over facts that may affect the outcome of the suit under governing law will properly preclude the entry of summary judgment.[17]

         III. DISCUSSION

         Jones attempts to avoid summary judgment by asserting that, after learning about the domestic dispute, the Sheriff's Department and Robinson did nothing to investigate ...


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