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Lampkin v. Dean

United States District Court, E.D. Texas, Tyler Division

April 16, 2017




         The Plaintiff Esaw Lampkin, proceeding pro se, filed this civil rights lawsuit under 42 U.S.C.§1983 complaining of alleged violations of his constitutional rights. This Court ordered that the case be referred to the United States Magistrate Judge pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §636(b)(1) and (3) and the Amended Order for the Adoption of Local Rules for the Assignment of Duties to United States Magistrate Judges. As Defendants, Lampkin named Texas Department of Public Safety officer Bobby Dean, Gregg County Sheriff's Deputy Joe Cassin, Good Shepherd Hospital nurse Don Leach, defense attorney Brandon Winn, and forensic lab technician Karen Ream. Of these defendants, Leach, Winn, Ream, and Cassin have previously been dismissed. This Memorandum Opinion concerns the motion for summary judgment filed by the Defendant Bobby Dean.

         I. Background

         Lampkin states that he was stopped by Cassin on the Interstate 20 service road on July 12, 2013, and placed under arrest for driving a stolen pickup truck. Lampkin claims Cassin handcuffed him so tightly that he suffered harm and damage. According to Lampkin, Officer Dean arrived and conducted an illegal interrogation. When Lampkin refused to take DWI tests, the officers took him to Good Shepherd Hospital in Longview. There, Lampkin asserts that he was slammed face down on a hospital bed with his hands cuffed behind his back. His arms were twisted up and a needle forcibly stuck in him for a blood draw. As a result, Lampkin states that he suffered pain and sustained a shoulder injury; he also claimed that he was “smothered to the point of asphyxiation.”

         As a result of the allegedly illegal interrogation, Lampkin states that he was forced to admit he had consumed three Natural Light beers. He was confused because he is a mental health patient and could not add or subtract properly. Lampkin asserts he was denied his right to counsel. Lampkin also argues that he was not involved in an accident, meaning the officers did not meet the requirements for obtaining a warrant. Lampkin claims that Dean left the blood sample in his car for two weeks before it was tested and Dean did not appear in front of a magistrate to obtain a search warrant, nor is there a transcript of any telephone call to the magistrate. The warrant also was not properly signed. Lampkin also claims that his rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act were violated.

         After initial review of the case, the Court dismissed all of Lampkin's claims that could implicate the validity of his conviction, as well as his claims under the Americans with Disabilities Act. The Defendants Nurse Leach, Brandon Winn, and Karen Reams were dismissed from the lawsuit at that time.

         Officers Cassin and Dean were ordered to answer the lawsuit and filed separate motions for summary judgment. Cassin's motion for summary judgment was granted on January 27, 2017, leaving only Lampkin's allegation of excessive force by Officer Dean.

         II. Dean's Motion for Summary Judgment and the Response

         In his motion for summary judgment, Officer Dean invoked his entitlement to qualified immunity and argued that Lampkin did not adequately plead any claim against him. He attached as summary judgment evidence copies of an investigative report from the Texas Department of Public Safety Office of the Inspector General as well as Lampkin's health records from Good Shepherd Hospital.

         The investigative report showed that Dean took Lampkin to the hospital and obtained a blood search warrant. He showed the warrant to Lampkin, who insisted it was not valid. Lampkin refused to cooperate with the blood draw and was placed on a hospital bed, where he was held down by Dean as well as Officers Chris Taylor and Matt Beatty while the nurse drew the blood sample. The investigator concluded that there was no evidence of misconduct by Dean and sufficient evidence to show that Lampkin's complaints were false or greatly exaggerated. Lampkin's medical records showed that prior to his release from the hospital, he was examined by a doctor, who found no trauma suffered that evening, no injuries to Lampkin's arms, normal vital signs, no gross changes to his arms, and no indications for imaging. Nurse's notes showed that Lampkin could move all of his fingers and had positive pulses in both hands, good capillary refill, and no swelling.

         Lampkin filed a response to the motion for summary judgment contending that Dean's actions were outside the course and scope of his employment and Dean is therefore not entitled to claim sovereign immunity. He also maintained that Dean is not entitled to qualified immunity and that Dean forcibly withdrew the blood sample without his consent even though there had not been a car accident, allegedly in violation of Texas law.

         III. The Report of the Magistrate Judge

         The Magistrate Judge issued a Report recommending that Dean's motion for summary judgment be granted. The Magistrate Judge stated first that Lampkin's claims against Dean concerning the legality of the warrant, the legality of the interrogation, and the alleged tampering with the blood sample implicate the legality of his conviction and have previously been dismissed, leaving only the claim of excessive force.

         The Magistrate Judge observed that according to the summary judgment evidence, Lampkin was handcuffed at the scene of the arrest but did not complain that the handcuffs were too tight. Instead, the videotape showed that Lampkin did not react when the handcuffs were applied and his actions and ...

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