ANTHONY MARTIN, next friend and guardian of a minor child, J.M., Plaintiff,
ANDRE PATTERSON, individually and as a MADISON COUNTY DEPUTY SHERIFF, Defendant.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
KAREN K. CALDWELL, District Judge.
This matter is before the Court on Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment (DE 24). Defendant Andre Patterson asks this Court to dismiss the Complaint on the grounds that Plaintiff Anthony Martin's claims are barred by the doctrine of collateral estoppel. In the alternative, Patterson asks this Court to dismiss all claims against him in his official capacity as a Madison County Deputy Sheriff. For the reasons stated below, this Court will deny in part and grant in part the defendant's motion.
On June 14, 2011, Defendant Andre Patterson, a Madison County Deputy Sheriff, arrested J.M. for theft and fraudulent use of credit cards. During the course of the arrest there was a struggle, and J.M. was subsequently found delinquent of resisting arrest in a juvenile adjudication in Madison District Court. (DE 24-4, p. 49-50). J.M denied the charge and testified that Patterson choked and dragged him to his car, causing J.M. to lose consciousness and injure his wrist as he fell. He did not argue that he only acted in self-defense. Rather, J.M. testified that he did not resist at all. (DE 24-4, p. 28-29, 34-35). Despite this testimony, the juvenile court found him delinquent of resisting arrest.
Plaintiff Anthony Martin, as next friend and guardian of J.M., now brings this action against Patterson for excessive force under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, along with state-law claims of battery and intentional infliction of emotional distress. Patterson moves this Court to dismiss the action in its entirety due to collateral estoppel, arguing that the lawfulness of his conduct was necessarily adjudicated in the state court juvenile proceeding where J.M. was found delinquent of resisting arrest. In the alternative, Patterson moves to have all claims dismissed to the extent that they are brought against him in his official capacity as a Madison County Deputy Sheriff.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
Summary judgment is appropriate "if the movant shows 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; Pennington v. State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co., 553 F.3d 447, 450 (6th Cir. 2009). The central issue is "whether the evidence presents a sufficient disagreement to require submission to a jury or whether it is so one-sided that one party must prevail as a matter of law." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 251-52 (1986). "The party bringing the summary judgment motion has the initial burden of informing the [Court] of the basis for its motion and identifying portions of the record that demonstrate the absence of a genuine dispute over material facts." Rodgers v. Banks, 344 F.3d 587, 595 (6th Cir. 2003). The moving party may satisfy this burden by presenting affirmative evidence that negates an element of the non-moving party's claim or by demonstrating an absence of evidence to support the nonmoving party's case.'" Id. (quoting Celotext Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 325 (1986)). The Court must view all of the evidence in the light most favorable to the party opposing summary judgment. See Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986).
I. Collateral Estoppel Claim
Martin's claims against Patterson are not barred by collateral estoppel because the lawfulness of Patterson's conduct was not necessarily adjudicated in the prior juvenile proceeding. Whether a claim is barred by collateral estoppel due to a prior state decision is determined by the relevant state law. See Wicker v. Bd. of Educ. of Knott Cnty., Ky., 826 F.2d 442, 450 (6th Cir. 1987) (citing Kremer v. Chemical Construction Co., 456 U.S. 461 (1982)). In Kentucky, "a judgment in a former action operates as an estoppel only as to matters which were necessarily involved and determined in the former action, and is not conclusive as to matters... which were not necessary to uphold the judgment." See Gossage v. Roberts, 904 S.W.2d 246, 248 (Ky. Ct. App. 1995) (emphasis added) (quoting Sedley v. City of West Buechel, 461 S.W.2d 556, 558-59 (Ky. 1970)). "If a fact was not necessarily determined' in the former trial, the possibility that it may have been decided does not preclude reexamination of the issue." Ordway v. Com., 352 S.W.3d 584, 589 (Ky. 2011) (quoting Benton v. Crittenden, 14 S.W.3d 1, 5 (Ky. 1999)).
Here, Martin brings claims under § 1983 for unreasonable seizure along with state-law tort claims by asserting that Patterson used excessive force in effecting J.M.'s arrest. Patterson contends that the prior state court adjudication-during which J.M. was found delinquent of resisting arrest-precludes these claims because the court necessarily determined that Patterson's conduct was lawful.
Generally, a conviction under KRS § 520.090 for resisting arrest does not, on its own, preclude a subsequent claim against the officer for excessive force. See Donovan v. Thames, 105 F.3d 291, 295 (6th Cir. 1997). This is because "the offense of resisting arrest does not require a finding that the police officers did not use excessive force in effecting the arrest." Id. Patterson argues that the issue of excessive force became necessary to the judgment in this case, however, because J.M. defended the charge by testifying that Patterson choked and dragged him across the parking lot. According to Patterson, the state court could not have found J.M. delinquent of resisting arrest if it did not reject J.M.'s testimony that Patterson used excessive force. Thus, the argument goes, the state court necessarily determined that Patterson's conduct was lawful by finding J.M. delinquent.
For support, Patterson points to Robertson v. Johnson Cnty. Ky., 896 F.Supp. 673 (E.D. Ky. 1995), and Satterly v. Louisville-Jefferson Cnty. Metro Gov't, 2008 WL 4127028 (W.D. Ky. Sept. 4, 2008), two cases where the court found an excessive force claim precluded by prior state-court convictions. Significantly, in both Robertson and Satterly the courts relied on the fact that the plaintiffs claimed self-defense in their underlying criminal trials, which in turn required evaluating whether the officers created a right to self-defense by using unreasonable force. In Robertson, a case where the plaintiff had an underlying conviction for menacing, the court found that "the jury clearly rejected Robertson's defense that [the officers] beat him and that Robertson was acting in self-defense." Robertson, 896 F.Supp. at 688. Similarly, the instructions given to the jury in Satterly expressly required they decide whether the officer "was not using any more force than was reasonably necessary to effect the detention." Satterly, 2008 WL 4127028 at *5. By rejecting the claim of self-defense, the jury unambiguously adjudicated the issue of excessive force.
Unlike the plaintiffs in Robertson and Satterly, J.M. did not claim self-defense in the prior adjudication. Rather, both the hearing transcript and J.M.'s deposition reveal that J.M. repeatedly denied resisting arrest at all. (DE 24-4, p. 28-29, 35-36; DE 24-2, p. 12). This fact is crucial, because without a claim of self-defense it was not necessary for the court to evaluate whether Patterson's conduct was reasonable in order to find that J.M. resisted arrest. This is true even though J.M. testified that Patterson choked and dragged him across the parking lot. Finding that J.M. resisted arrest implies only that the court rejected his testimony that he did not resist; it does necessarily indicate a judgment as to whether Patterson's force was excessive. "[T]he possibility that [an issue] may have been decided" is not sufficient to invoke collateral estoppel. Ordway, 352 S.W.3d ...