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Coon v. Gober

United States District Court, E.D. Arkansas, Western Division

October 18, 2019



         Summary judgment [Doc. No. 43] is granted on all claims except for Eric Coon's claims that defendants violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) and the Arkansas Civil Rights Act (“ACRA”) by failing to provide him with a wheelchair to get to the toilet while he was incarcerated in the Drew County Jail. Plaintiffs' motion for class certification [Sec. Am. Compl., ¶ ¶ 46, 59, 60] is denied.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Eric Coon and his father, Kim Coon, allege violations of the ADA, the ACRA, and the U.S. Constitution. The facts, taken in the light most favorable to the Coons, are as follows.

         Terran Ward, Eric's girlfriend, was visiting Eric at Kim's house, when a third-party, James Randle, called 911 to report that he saw Eric threatening Ward with a gun and stopping her from leaving the home. Pl. Resp. Def. F. ¶ ¶ 1, 3. Police Officer Allen Edwards and Drew County Sheriff's Deputies Darren McAdoo and Brandon Wright responded to the call. Def. F. ¶ 4. Sheriff Mark Gober and Deputy Timothy Nichols arrived on the scene later. Id. at ¶ 5.

         Kim allowed Edwards, Nichols, and Gober inside the house. Pl. Resp. Opp. Mot. Summ. J., 4, ¶ 2. The parties dispute whether Kim allowed the officers to enter the bedroom where Eric and Ward were; however, it is undisputed that Kim showed them where the bedroom was. Pl. Resp. Def. F. ¶ 8. It is undisputed that Gober, Edwards, and Nichols entered the bedroom and saw Eric pointing a gun at himself. Id. at ¶ 11. Gober instructed Nichols to shoot Eric with his taser, and Nichols did so. Id. at ¶ 12. When Eric was struck by the taser, he shot himself in the head, resulting in a non-lethal wound. Id.

         Eric was arrested and placed in the county jail. Id. at ¶ 15. He made his first court appearance three days later. Id. at ¶ 16. Eric stayed in jail for nine days, during which time he was held in a cell for handicapped detainees. Id. at ¶ 17; Def. Ex. O. Eric later entered guilty pleas to possession of a defaced firearm and felon in possession of a firearm. Pl. Resp. Def. F. ¶ 18.


         Summary judgment is appropriate when there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact, and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(a); Anderson v. Liberty Lobby Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 249-50 (1986). Once the moving party demonstrates that there is no genuine dispute of material fact, the non-moving party may not rest upon the mere allegations or denials in his pleadings. Holden v. Hirner, 663 F.3d 336, 340 (8th Cir. 2011). Instead, the non-moving party must produce admissible evidence demonstrating a genuine factual dispute requiring a trial. Id. All reasonable inferences must be drawn in a light most favorable to the nonmoving party. Holland v. Sam's Club, 487 F.3d 641, 643 (8th Cir. 2007). The evidence is not weighed, and no credibility determinations are made. Jenkins v. Winter, 540 F.3d 742, 750 (8th Cir. 2008).


         A. Qualified Immunity

         Government officials are immune from suit unless they violate clearly established rights. Pearson v. Callahan, 555 U.S. 223, 231 (2009). Immunity attaches even when a government official makes a mistake of law or fact. Id. Summary judgment is proper, based on qualified immunity, if a defendant, as a matter of law, could have reasonably believed that his actions were lawful. See Anderson v. Creighton, 483 U.S. 635, 641 (1987). Reasonableness is judged from the perspective of a reasonable officer on the scene, rather than one with 20/20 hindsight. See Wilson v. Spain, 209 F.3d 713, 716 (8th Cir. 2000).

         B. Search and Seizure

         Summary judgment is granted on the Coons' search and seizure claim because defendants are immune from it. This is true because it was objectively reasonable for the officers to believe their entry into the bedroom was lawful.

         The Fourth Amendment prohibits law enforcement officers from entering a home without a search warrant unless exigent circumstances exist. Exigent circumstances exist when an officer has a reasonable concern for his or someone else's safety. See United States v. Henderson, 553 F.3d 1163, 1164-65 (8th Cir. 2009). The officers responded to a 911 call alleging that Eric was threatening his girlfriend with a gun. When the officers arrived at the house, Kim let them in, and they saw Eric with a gun in a room with Ward. The officers did not violated the Fourth Amendment by entering the house because Kim let them in. See United States v. Uscanga-Ramirez, 475 F.3d 1024, 1027 (8th Cir. 2007). Moreover, in light of the information they had as a result of the 911 call, and as a result of seeing ...

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