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Fischer v. Hoven

United States District Court, D. South Dakota, Northern Division

April 30, 2018

KATHY FISCHER, Plaintiff,
v.
JOSH HOVEN, IN HIS INDIVIDUAL CAPACITY; BARRY HILLESTAD, IN HIS INDIVIDUAL CAPACITY; AND DAY COUNTY, A SOUTH DAKOTA POLITICAL SUBDIVISION, ITS AGENTS, SUBSIDIARIES AND EMPLOYEES; Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          CHARLES B. KORNMANN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Plaintiff filed this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 contending defendant Josh Hoveh violated her Constitutional rights when he used excessive force against her. She claims defendants Barry Hillestad and Day County failed to train or supervise defendant Hoven.

         Defendants filed a motion for summary judgment. Defendant Hoven contends that he is entitled to qualified immunity from damages. Defendant Hillestad and Day County contend that plaintiff's claims against them must be dismissed because defendant Hoven is entitled to qualified immunity from damages. Defendant Hillestad further contends that he is not subject to vicarious liability for the alleged Constitutional deprivation. Finally, defendant Day Comity contends that plaintiff cannot establish her failure to train claim. Defendants contend that plaintiff was injured, not as a result of defendant Hoven's use of force or lack of training, but instead because she was "highly intoxicated" and "fell face first to the ground without attempting to break her fall" When defendant Hoven used force in response to her resisting arrest.

         Summary Judgment.

         Summary judgment is proper where there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(C): Knutson v. Schwan's Home Service. Inc.. 711 F.3d 911, 913 (8th Cir. 2013). The United States Supreme Court has held that:

The plain language of Rule 56(c) mandates the entry of summary judgment. . . against a party who fails to make a showing sufficient to establish the existence of an element essential to that party's case, and on which that party will bear the burden of proof at trial. In such a situation, there can be "no genuine issue as to any material fact, " since a complete failure of proof concerning an essential element of the non-moving party's case necessarily renders all other facts immaterial.

Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322-23, 106 S.Ct. 2548, 2552, 91 L.Ed. 2D 265 (1986).

The party seeking summary judgment must first identify grounds demonstrating the absence of a genuine issue of material fact. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323, 106 S.Ct. 2548, 2553, 91L.Ed.2d265(1986). Such a showing shifts to the non-movant the burden to go beyond the pleadings and present affirmative evidence showing that a genuine issue of material fact exists. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 256-57, 106 S.Ct. 2505, 2514, 91 L.Ed.2d 202 (1986). The non-moving party "must do more than simply show that there is some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts." Matsushita Elec. Ind. Co., 475 U.S. 574, 586, 106 S.Ct. 1348, 1356, 89 L.Ed.2d (1986). The non-movant "must show there is sufficient evidence to support a jury verdict in [its] favor." Nat'l Bank of Commerce v. Dow Chem. Co., 165 F.3d 602, 607 (5th Cir. 1999). "Factual disputes that are irrelevant or unnecessary will not be counted, " Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248, 106 S.Ct. 2505, and a mere scintilla of evidence supporting the nonmovant's position will not - fulfill the non-movant's burden, id. at 252, 106 S.Ct. 2505.

Uhiren v. Bristol-Myers Squibb Co.. Inc., 346 F.3d 824, 827 (Sth Cir. 2003). "The mere existence of a factual dispute is insufficient alone to bar summary judgment; rather, die dispute must be outcome determinative under prevailing law. " Grey v. City of Oak Grove. Mo., 396 F.3d 1031, 1034 (8th Cir. 2005).

         "As to materiality, the substantive law will identify which facts are material. Only disputes over facts that might affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law will properly preclude the entry of summary judgment. Factual disputes that are irrelevant or unnecessary will not be counted." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby. Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248, 106 S.Ct. 2505, 2510, 91 L.Ed.2d 202 (1986). "A material fact dispute is genuine if the evidence is sufficient to allow a reasonable jury to return a verdict for the non-moving party." Landon v. Northwest Airlines. Inc., 72 F.3d 620, 634 (8th Cir. 1995).

         Qualified Immunity.

         Qualified immunity is a doctrine that "shields a government official from liability unless his conduct violates 'clearly established statutory or constitutional rights of which a reasonable person would have known.'" Franklin v. Peterson, 878 F.3d 631, 634-35 (8th Cir. 2017) (quoting Bums v. Eaton, 752 F.3d 1136, 1139 (8th Cir, 2014) (quoting Harlow v. Fitzgerald, 57 U.S. 800, 818, 102 S.Ct. 2727, 2738, 73 L.Ed.2d 396 (1982))).

Qualified immunity protects "all but the plainly incompetent or those who knowingly violate the law." Malley v. Briggs, 475 U.S. 335, 341, 106 S.Ct. 1092, 89 L.Ed.2d 271 (1986). Because it protects officials from the burden of defending insubstantial claims, as well as from damage liability, the Supreme Court has "stressed the importance of resolving immunity questions at the earliest possible stage in litigation." Pearson v. Callahan,555 U.S. 223, 232, 129 S.Ct. 808, 172 L.Ed.2d 565 ...

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