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Bolton v. City of Austin

United States District Court, W.D. Texas, Austin Division

May 25, 2018

GRADY BOLTON, Plaintiff,
v.
CITY OF AUSTIN, RANDY DEAR, MANUEL JIMENEZ, MICHAEL NGUYEN, and ROLANDO RAMIREZ, Defendants.

          ORDER

          SAM SPARKS SENIOR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         BE IT REMEMBERED on this day the Court reviewed the file in the above-styled case, and specifically Defendants Randy Dear, Manuel Jimenez, Michael Nguyen, and Rolando Ramirez (collectively, Officers)' Motion Summary Judgment [#47], Plaintiff Grady Bolton's Response [#48], in opposition, and the Officers' Reply [#49] thereto as well as the Officers' Motion to Strike [#50].[1] Having reviewed the documents, the governing law, and the file as a whole, the Court now enters the following opinion and orders.[2]

         Background

         Plaintiff alleges the Officers are liable under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for unlawful detention and excessive force in violation of the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments.[3]

         On February 9, 2015, Plaintiff was attending a friend's bachelor party. He and a group of male friends visited a variety of bars on Sixth Street in Austin. During the evening, Plaintiff claims he had between five and ten beers. Mot. Summ. J. [#47-2] Ex. 1 (Bolton Dep. at 27:9-17). Just before 2 a.m., employees of the bar the friends were visiting asked everyone to leave, but Plaintiffs group of friends has just ordered another round. Id. at 32:7-33:7. As Plaintiff was finishing his beer, a bar employee hit the beer out of Plaintiff s hand. Id. at 33:12-34:8. Another employee carried Plaintiff from the bar in a bear hug and put Plaintiff out on the sidewalk, about five to ten feet from the bar's door. Id. at 34:9-36:11.

         One of the bar employees reported the group of friends to Austin Police Department Officers who were already present on Sixth Street. Id. at 37:4-39:12. What happened next is disputed. In sum, Plaintiff claims he was attempting to follow orders to leave the area when Officers Jimenez, Johnson, and Nguyen began using force against him without provocation.[4] The Officers claim Plaintiff refused to follow police orders and was intoxicated and aggressive, necessitating the use of force.

         However, it is undisputed the Officers did use force against Plaintiff. Officer Jimenez grabbed Plaintiffs wrist and twisted it behind Plaintiffs back. Officer Jimenez also pushed Plaintiff and attempted to execute a leg sweep. Officer Johnson hit Plaintiff in the neck in an effort to effect a brachial stun. Ultimately, Plaintiff, Officer Jimenez, and Officer Johnson ended up on the ground. Officer Johnson continued to hit Plaintiff, and Officer Nguyen repeatedly kneed Plaintiff in the shoulder.

         Plaintiff claims he lost consciousness, but the Officers claim Plaintiff remained alert. Eventually, Plaintiff was handcuffed, lifted to the curb, and subsequently transported to the Travis County Jail, where the nurse refused to admit him. Plaintiff was then taken to the University Medical Center at Brackenridge for treatment of his injuries. Plaintiff was charged with resisting arrest, but the charge was later dismissed.

         On February 3, 2017, Plaintiff filed this suit. The Officers now move for summary judgment and object to the evidence Plaintiff submitted in opposition to the motion for summary judgment.

         Analysis

         I. Legal Standard-Summary Judgment

         Summary judgment shall be rendered when the pleadings, the discovery and disclosure materials on file, and any affidavits show that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a); Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323-25 (1986); Washburn v. Harvey, 504 F.3d 505, 508 (5th Cir. 2007). A dispute regarding a material fact is "genuine" if the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict in favor of the nonmoving party. Andersonv. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). When ruling on a motion for summary judgment, the court is required to view all inferences drawn from the factual record in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party. Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio, 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986); Washburn, 504 F.3d at 508. Further, a court "may not make credibility determinations or weigh the evidence" in ruling on a motion for summary judgment. Reeves v. Sanderson Plumbing Prods., Inc., 530 U.S. 133, 150 (2000); Anderson, 477 U.S. at 254-55.

         Once the moving party makes an initial showing that there is no evidence to support the nonmoving party's case, the party opposing the motion must come forward with competent summary judgment evidence of the existence of a genuine fact issue. Matsushita, 475 U.S. at 586. Mere conclusory allegations are not competent summary judgment evidence, and thus are insufficient to defeat a motion for summary judgment. Turner v. Baylor Richardson Med. Ctr., 476 F.3d 337, 343 (5th Cir. 2007). Unsubstantiated assertions, improbable inferences, and unsupported speculation are not competent summary judgment evidence. Id. The party opposing summary judgment is required to identify specific evidence in the record and to articulate the precise manner in which that evidence supports his claim. Adams v. Travelers Indent. Co. of Conn., 465 F.3d 156, 164 (5th Cir. 2006). Rule 56 does not impose a duty on the court to "sift through the record in search of evidence" to support the nonmovant's opposition to the motion for summary judgment. Id.

         "Only disputes over facts that might affect the outcome of the suit under the governing laws will properly preclude the entry of summary judgment." Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248. Disputed fact issues that are "irrelevant and unnecessary" will not be considered by a court in ruling on a summary judgment motion. Id. If the nonmoving party fails to make a showing sufficient to establish the existence of an element essential to its case and on which it will bear the burden of proof at trial, summary judgment must be granted. Celotex, 477 U.S. at 322-23.

         II. ...


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