United States District Court, E.D. Arkansas, Western Division
FABIAN LEWIS, JR. PLAINTIFF
CLIFFORD MANEK, in his official capacity as City of Sherwood Police Officer, et al. DEFENDANTS
OPINION AND ORDER
LEON HOLMES UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Lewis, Jr., brings this action against six officers of the
Sherwood Police Department in their official capacities,
alleging that his constitutional rights were violated when he
was arrested and charged with four criminal offenses. The
complaint alleges that after his arrest Lewis was jailed for
three days and released only upon posting a $2, 500 surety
bond. The complaint further alleges that he was found not
guilty of all charges at trial. Lewis seeks injunctive and
declaratory relief as well as compensatory and punitive
defendants have moved for summary judgment. They argue,
first, that probable cause existed for the arrest and the
charges, so Lewis's constitutional rights were not
violated. Second, they argue that the City of Sherwood is
entitled to summary judgment for the additional reason that
Lewis has failed to present evidence to show an improper
policy or custom that resulted in a constitutional violation
or that Sherwood inadequately trained or supervised its
police officers. In support of the motion for summary
judgment, the defendants have submitted, among other things,
a copy of the relevant portions of the policies and
procedures manual of the Sherwood Police Department, as well
as records of training of the officers involved. Lewis has
responded by submitting his own affidavit in which he denies
engaging in any illegal activity on the night of his arrest
and in which he states that the police department and chief
did not have sufficient training or adequate policies to
avoid unlawful arrests and that they operated a special task
force aimed at deterring crime, which gave rise to
unconstitutional stops, detentions, and arrests. Document
#26-2 at 2.
should grant summary judgment if the evidence demonstrates
that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and
the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.
Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). The moving party bears the initial burden
of demonstrating the absence of a genuine dispute for trial.
Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323, 106
S.Ct. 2548, 2553, 91 L.Ed.2d 265 (1986). If the moving party
meets that burden, the nonmoving party must come forward with
specific facts that establish a genuine dispute of material
fact. Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co., Ltd. v. Zenith Radio
Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587, 106 S.Ct. 1348, 1356, 89
L.Ed.2d 538 (1986); Torgerson v. City of Rochester,
643 F.3d 1031, 1042 (8th Cir. 2011) (en banc). A genuine
dispute of material fact exists only if the evidence is
sufficient to allow a reasonable jury to return a verdict in
favor of the nonmoving party. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby,
Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248, 106 S.Ct. 2505, 2510, 91
L.Ed.2d 202 (1986). The Court must view the evidence in the
light most favorable to the nonmoving party and must give
that party the benefit of all reasonable inferences that can
be drawn from the record. Pedersen v. Bio-Med.
Applications of Minn., 775 F.3d 1049, 1053 (8th Cir.
2015). If the nonmoving party fails to present evidence
sufficient to establish an essential element of a claim on
which that party bears the burden of proof, then the moving
party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.
individual-capacity suits seek to impose personal liability
upon a government official for action taken under color of
state law, official-capacity suits, in contrast,
“generally represent only another way of pleading an
action against an entity of which an officer is an
agent.” Kentucky v. Graham, 473 U.S. 159, 165,
105 S.Ct. 3099, 2105, 87 L.Ed.2d 114 (1985) (citing
Scheuer v. Rhodes, 416 U.S. 232, 237-38, 94 S.Ct.
1683, 1686-87, 40 L.Ed.2d 90 (1974)) (quoting Monell v.
New York City Dep't of Social Servs., 436 U.S. 658,
690 n.55, 98 S.Ct. 2018, 2035 n.55, 56 L.Ed.2d 611 (1978)).
“It is not a suit against the official
personally, for the real party in interest is the
entity.” Id. at 166, 105 S.Ct. at 3105;
see also Baker v. Chisom, 501 F.3d 920, 925 (8th
Cir. 2007). Here, Lewis has asserted no individual-capacity
claims. All of his claims are against Sherwood police
officers in their official capacities, so all of his claims
are against the City of Sherwood.
can be liable under section 1983 when a constitutional injury
is caused by execution of a government's policy or
custom, whether made by its lawmakers or by those whose
edicts or acts may fairly be said to represent official
policy. Monell, 436 U.S. at 694, 98 S.Ct. at
2037-38. The Eighth Circuit has explained that “a
‘policy' is an official policy, a deliberate choice
of a guiding principle or procedure made by the municipal
official who has final authority regarding such
matters.” Mettler v. Whitledge, 165 F.3d 1197,
1204 (8th Cir. 1999). A city may be liable based on a custom
if evidence establishes (1) the existence of a continuing,
widespread, persistent pattern of unconstitutional misconduct
by the city's officers; (2) deliberate indifference to or
tacit authorization of that misconduct by the city's
policy-making officials after notice to the officials of that
misconduct; and (3) that the unconstitutional action was the
moving force that caused the plaintiff's injury.
Id. at 1204. A single incident usually is
insufficient to show the existence of a municipal custom.
Id. at 1205. A city may be liable based on
inadequate training or supervision if evidence shows that:
(1) the city's training or supervisory practices were
inadequate; (2) the city was deliberately indifferent to the
rights of others in adopting those practices; and (3) the
deficiency in the city's training or supervisory
practices caused the plaintiff's injury. Andrews v.
Fowler, 98 F.3d 1069, 1076 (8th Cir. 1996).
only evidence that Lewis offers in response to the motion for
summary judgment, other than a letter that the defendants
also submitted, is his affidavit. With respect to the issues
of whether Sherwood had an unconstitutional custom or policy
and whether its officers were inadequately trained or
supervised, his affidavit states:
10. The police department and chief did not engage in
sufficient training of the defendants to avoid my unmerited
arrest, etc. by the officer defendants.
11. The city, department, and chief of police did not have
sufficient and adequate policies in place to avoid my
unmerited arrest, etc. by the officer defendants.
12. The city, department, and police chief operated a
‘special task force' aimed at deterring crime which
gave rise to unconstitutional stops, detentions, and arrests
such as what occurred to me.
#26-2 at 2. Lewis's affidavit is conclusory in that it
contains no specific facts as to what training or supervision
the officers received or how it was inadequate, how the
policies were deficient, or what facts show that Sherwood had
a custom of unlawful arrests; such an affidavit is
insufficient to defeat a properly supported motion for
summary judgment. Allen v. Entergy Corp., 181 F.3d
902, 905 (8th Cir. 1999); Marsh v. Hog Slat, Inc.,
79 F.Supp.2d 1068, 1074 (N.D. Iowa 2000). Thus, Lewis has
failed to present evidence sufficient to show a genuine
dispute of material fact as to whether the actions taken
against him were motivated by an unconstitutional custom or
policy of the City of Sherwood, and he has failed to present
evidence to show a genuine dispute of material fact as to
whether the officers who took those actions were inadequately
trained or supervised. Consequently, even if Lewis's
constitutional rights were violated when he was arrested and
charged, he cannot prevail against the City; and his claims
are only against the City because he has sued the officers
only in their official capacities.
the motion for summary judgment must be GRANTED. Document
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