United States District Court, N.D. Texas, Fort Worth Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
O'CONNOR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
the Court are Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment
(ECF No. 243), filed June 26, 2019; Plaintiff's Response
(ECF No. 247), filed July 17, 2019; and Defendants' Reply
(ECF No. 251), filed July 31, 2019. Having considered the
motion, briefing, evidence, record, and applicable law, the
Court DENIES Defendants' Motion for
Summary Judgment (ECF No. 243).
October 30, 2018, the United States Court of Appeals for the
Fifth Circuit issued its mandate in this case, affirming in
part, dismissing in part, and reversing and remanding in part
the Court's entry of summary judgment in favor of
Defendants on all claims brought by Plaintiff Constance
Westfall (“Plaintiff” or
“Westfall”). See Fifth Cir. Judgment, ECF
No. 132. The Fifth Circuit concluded that genuine fact issues
exist as to whether certain of the officers' actions were
objectively reasonable, and reversed the Court's entry of
summary judgment (1) to Defendants Anderson, Luna, and
Trevino on Plaintiff's false-arrest claims, and (2) to
Luna on her excessive-force claim. See Westfall v.
Luna, 903 F.3d. 534, 546 (5th Cir. 2018). The Fifth
Circuit remanded the case for further proceedings on these
remand, this Court entered a final judgment with prejudice
pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 54(b) as to all
claims by all parties on the claims that had been dismissed
by this Court and affirmed by the Fifth Circuit. See
Final J., ECF No. 190. The remaining Defendants, Anderson,
Luna, and Trevino, now assert that additional information,
obtained following the remand, establishes their entitlement
to qualified immunity. See Mot. for Leave, ECF No.
212. In its discretion, the Court granted Defendants'
Motion for Leave to file a Motion for Summary Judgment. The
Motion for Summary Judgment (ECF No. 243) is fully briefed
and ripe for review. The Court adopts the Fifth Circuit's
recitation of the facts as detailed below:
In the middle of the night in January 2014, the Southlake
Police Department received a call reporting a trespass. The
call was from a young woman. She reported that two teenage
boys, one later identified as A.A., had entered her home
without permission. She told the boys that they did not have
permission to be in the house, and the boys left and walked
toward the house next door. The caller was the older sister
of one of A.A.'s friends. According to the caller, the
boys were looking for a marijuana grinder.
Shortly thereafter, Trevino and Anderson arrived at the house
to which the boys had returned. The house belonged to
Westfall and her husband, Monte Westfall. Anderson and
Trevino knocked on the front door of the house, and Westfall
opened it. Trevino identified herself, asked for A.A., and
relayed the allegations against A.A. Westfall responded by
explaining that A.A. is her son and that his best friend
lived in the house next door. Trevino asked Westfall to go
get her son. Westfall went inside the house and closed the
door because it was cold outside. She began looking for her
glasses, without which she is legally blind.
While Westfall was inside the house, the Southlake Police
Department dispatcher called Westfall's home phone
number. Monte answered the call. Monte believed it was a
prank call and hung up the phone. By this time, Luna had
arrived at the Westfall residence and began knocking loudly
on the front door. The dispatcher called the house number
again. A.A. answered. The dispatcher told A.A. to meet the
A.A. and another teenage boy exited the house, with a third
boy joining them soon afterwards. Trevino and Anderson began
questioning the three minor boys outside. During the
questioning, Trevino allegedly smelled marijuana on
A.A.'s hands and asked the boys about the presence of
marijuana. Then, Westfall exited the house, wearing boots and
a coat over her nightgown.
While outside, Westfall complained about her inability to see
the officers without her glasses and, in response to
accusations that she had slammed the door in their faces,
explained that she had only closed the door when the police
first arrived because it was cold outside. Following this
exchange, the officers stopped addressing Westfall, despite
repeated requests that they identify themselves, and
continued to question the minor boys.
Monte brought Westfall her glasses. Because it was cold,
Westfall asked the officers to move inside of the house. The
officers declined. Luna then asked Westfall to move to the
side with him, so he could explain the situation to her.
Westfall declined, and Luna said that was okay but asked her
to stop talking. Westfall asked Luna why he was being so
rude. A short while later, when Westfall spoke in response to
a question by Trevino directed at the boys, Luna again
instructed Westfall to stop talking.
Eventually, the boys admitted to the officers that there was
marijuana in the house. After learning this from Anderson,
Luna proclaimed that the officers could either wait for a
search warrant or one of the boys could go into the house and
retrieve the marijuana. Addressing Monte, Anderson explained
to him that there was marijuana in the house and that, with
Monte's permission, the officers would go upstairs and
confiscate it. Anderson suggested that one of the boys take
them upstairs. Westfall then said, “[A.A.], go get
it.” A.A. went inside of the house. Anderson told Monte
to also go inside, and Anderson followed him.
According to Westfall, Monte shut the door behind them. As
Westfall turned to follow them into her house, Luna
approached her and told her, “You are not going
anywhere. You slammed the door in our face.” Westfall
explained that she did not slam the door in his face, told
Luna she was going into her house, and reached for the
doorknob of the front door. Then, Luna
“body-slammed” Westfall to the ground.
Defendants describe a more dramatic exchange leading up to
the body-slam. According to Defendants, Westfall began to
follow Anderson, Monte, and A.A. into her house when Anderson
stopped her and told her she had to stay outside with the
other officers. Defendants claim that Westfall insisted on
going inside, and Anderson replied that she was not going to
“walk up on [him]” and that he had already given
her instructions to stay outside. Luna and Trevino asked
Westfall to calm down and “get back over here.”
According to Defendants, Westfall continued to protest,
saying, “Let me go, I don't want you people to go
up there, ” and “stop telling me to calm
down.” Then, Westfall “began to pursue”
Anderson into the home, approaching him from behind “at
a fast pace and in an aggressive manner.” It was only
then, according to Defendants, that Luna “brought
[Westfall] to the ground.”
Luna is 5'9” and weighs 175 pounds. Westfall is
5'5” and “has a small build.” Westfall
landed on the corner of the brick porch on her back. Luna and
Trevino then held Westfall on the ground for about five
minutes. During the time that Westfall was pinned, Anderson
was in the house and retrieved a metal tin containing about
2.5 grams of marijuana from inside of the house.
Luna and Trevino handcuffed Westfall and placed her in a
police car. After Westfall was handcuffed, Officers Chris
Melton and Thomas Roberson arrived at the Westfall residence.
While in the back of the police car, Westfall asked
repeatedly for medical assistance. Roberson and Luna called
for medical assistance shortly after 3:00 a.m., about thirty
minutes after Luna slammed Westfall to the ground. About
fifteen minutes later, medics arrived, and Roberson went with
Westfall to a nearby hospital. In total, less than an hour
elapsed between the time Westfall was pinned and the time she
was taken to the hospital.
The hospital staff noted that Westfall had numerous abrasions
and bruises, bloody urine, high blood pressure, and an
increased heart rate. Westfall was released from the
hospital, taken to the Keller Police Department, and released
on bail later that morning. Westfall was charged with
interference with public duties under Texas Penal Code
section 38.15, though the charges were ultimately dropped. An
MRI later revealed that Westfall suffers from a herniation to
the L5-S1 level of her lumbar, for which Westfall has
received therapy and injections and is currently
Westfall, 903 F.3d. at 534-546. To the extent that
new evidence exists, the Court will set forth the relevant
facts in Section III. When disputed, the facts are viewed in
the light most favorable to Plaintiff, the nonmoving party.
judgment is proper when the pleadings and evidence show
“that there is no genuine dispute as to any material
fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of
law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). “[T]he substantive law
will identify which facts are material.” Anderson
v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248
(1986). A genuine issue of material fact exists “if the
evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a
verdict for the nonmoving party.” Id. The
movant makes a showing that there is no genuine issue of
material fact by informing the court of the basis of its
motion and by identifying the portions of the record that
reveal there are no genuine material fact issues.
See Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c); Celotex Corp.
v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986).
reviewing the evidence on a motion for summary judgment, the
Court must resolve all reasonable doubts and draw all
inferences in the light most favorable to the non-movant.
See Walker v. Sears, Roebuck & Co., 853
F.2d 355, 358 (5th Cir. 1988). The Court cannot make a
credibility determination in light of conflicting evidence or
competing inferences. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 255. As
long as there appears to be some support for the disputed
allegations-such that “reasonable minds could differ as
to the import of the evidence”-the Court must deny the
motion for summary judgment. Id. at 250.
contend they are entitled to summary judgment on
Plaintiff's false-arrest claim under Heck v.
Humphrey because the criminal proceeding related to the
charges against her for interference with public duties did
not terminate in her favor. Defs.' Mot. Summ. J. 1, ECF
No. 243 (citing Heck v. Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477
(1994)). Additionally, Defendants argue they are entitled to
summary judgment based on qualified immunity on
Plaintiff's false-arrest and excessive-force claims.
Id. In response, Plaintiff argues that the
false-arrest claim is not barred by Heck v. Humphrey
and that Defendants are not entitled to qualified immunity on
her false-arrest claims because they did not have consent to
search the Westfall residence. Pl.'s Resp. 1, ECF No.
247. Additionally, Plaintiff maintains that the Law of the
Case Doctrine precludes Defendants from moving for summary
judgment on the excessive-force claim. Id. at. 1.
The Court takes up each issue in turn.
Humphrey The Supreme Court in
Heck v. Humphrey, which involved a