United States District Court, E.D. Kentucky, Central Division, Frankfort
JACK A. WILSON, Plaintiff,
CARROLL COUNTY, CARROLL COUNTY DETENTION CENTER, MICHAEL HUMPHREY, Individually, and in his Official Capacity as Carroll County Jailer, JENNIFER JOHNSON, Individually, and UNNAMED CARROLL COUNTY DETENTION CENTER MEDICAL DIRECTOR, Defendants.
MEMORANDUM OPINION & ORDER
GREGORY F. VAN TATENHOVE, District Judge.
This matter is before the Court upon the Motion for Summary Judgment filed by Defendant Jennifer Johnson, a state trooper who arrested Plaintiff Jack A. Wilson on October 7, 2011. The other Co-Defendants in this case have filed a separate motion for summary judgment, but the Court will address that motion separately, and will only address Trooper Johnson's motion here. For the reasons explained below, Johnson's motion is GRANTED IN PART and DENIED IN PART.
This litigation is the result of an arrest and detention that occurred in Trimble County, Kentucky, on October 7, 2011. Based on the facts presented by the parties, it appears that Trooper Jennifer Johnson responded to a call that came into the Trimble County Sheriff's Office, reporting that a driver who was possibly intoxicated had gone off the road, crashed into a ditch, and hit a fence. [R. 23-1 (October 7, 2011 Uniform Citation) at 1-2.] According to Johnson, when she encountered Plaintiff Jack Wilson, he was driving erratically on the wrong side of the road with a "dry blank stare" and "never looked up or moved, " which caused Johnson to drive off the road into the grass to avoid a head-on collision. [ Id. ] Wilson's truck was damaged "all the way around the vehicle and both the driver's and passenger's side windows were broken out by tree limbs." [ Id. at 5 (Traffic Collision Rept.)]
When Johnson stopped Wilson, she noted that he was "dazed, " expressed confusion as to the day and time, "could not focus or complete thoughts or actions, " was having "facial tremors" and appeared drowsy, had constricted pupils and droopy eyelids, and stated that he was hot and had a dry mouth. [ Id. (Uniform Citation) at 1.] Johnson administered the field sobriety tests, and noted that Wilson failed all of them. [ Id. ] Johnson also noted that Wilson admitted he was taking about ten medications but did not know what they were, and that he exhibited a "lack of cooperation." [ Id. ] Wilson claims that he told Johnson that he was experiencing loss of the use of the left side of his body, but there is no record of that communication in Johnson's report. [R. 31 at 2; R. 31, Ex. B, Wilson Depo. at 102, 111. Johnson arrested Wilson on charges of reckless driving, driving on a license that had been suspended for a previous DUI violation, failure to maintain insurance, speeding, failure to register transfer of a motor vehicle, failure to wear a seat belt, license to be in possession, leaving the scene of an accident, and failure to give an oncoming vehicle the right of way. [R. 23-1 (Uniform Citation) at 1-3.]
Johnson then took Wilson to the Carroll County Memorial Hospital to obtain blood and urine samples, both of which eventually came back negative for illegal drugs or alcohol. [R. 23-1 (Uniform Citation) at 1; R. 31-3 (Rep. of Laboratory Exam.).] Wilson was apparently able to get out of the police car and walk into the hospital, where he states that he told the person drawing his blood that he could not feel his left arm, but did not ask for any medical treatment because he did not realize there was anything wrong with him and did he think he needed medical attention. [R. 31, Ex. B, Wilson Depo. at 116-22.] After the tests were completed, Johnson took Wilson to the Carroll County Detention Center where he was held until his release on October 13, 2011. Shortly after Wilson's release, he was diagnosed as having suffered from a Middle Cerebral Artery Stroke. [R. 31-4.] On July 17, 2012, while represented by counsel, Wilson agreed to stipulate probable cause to the arrest in exchange for the dismissal of all charges against him. [R. 23-2; R. 23-3.]
Wilson filed the instant Complaint on October 9, 2012. [R. 1.] The defendants named in the Complaint included Carroll County, Carroll County Detention Center, the Kentucky State Police, and several employees of Carroll County and the State Police, including Trooper Johnson. The Complaint contained five counts, and except for Count Three, the Complaint did not specify which defendant or defendants were implicated in each count but instead simply referred generally to "the Defendants." Thus, the Court will assume that Wilson intended to bring the following claims against Trooper Johnson: 1) A violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1983, as laid out in Count One; 2) intentional infliction of emotional distress ("IIED"), as alleged in Count Two; 3) gross negligence by exhibiting "a total and reckless disregard for" Wilson's common law and constitutional rights, as alleged in Count Four; and 4) negligence by breaching her duty to keep Wilson safe from harm while in her custody, as alleged in Count Five. [R. 1 at 5-7.]
Johnson and the Kentucky State Police initially responded to Wilson's complaint by filing a motion to dismiss, pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). [R. 3.] By Memorandum Opinion & Order, filed May 31, 2013, the Court dismissed all claims against the Kentucky State Police, based on governmental immunity. [R. 19.] The Court also dismissed all claims against Trooper Johnson in her official capacity, also based on governmental immunity under the Eleventh Amendment. [ Id. at 4.] The motion to dismiss was denied, however, with respect to the claims against Johnson in her individual capacity, and thus the Court will only address Wilson's claims against Johnson in her individual capacity here.
Johnson has moved for summary judgment on all of the claims against her. In support of her motion, Johnson argues that she is entitled to qualified immunity under the federal standard because Wilson has failed "to articulate a cognizable claim involving an established constitutional right, " [R. 23 at 5] and also under Kentucky's qualified immunity standard because she was performing a discretionary function as a public official. [R. 23 at 12.] In the alternative, Johnson argues that Wilson's claims also fail on the merits. [ Id. at 1.]
Summary judgment is appropriate where "the pleadings, discovery and disclosure materials on file, and any affidavits show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(2); Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323-25 (1986). "A genuine dispute exists on a material fact, and thus summary judgment is improper, if the evidence shows that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party.'" Olinger v. Corporation of the President of the Church, 521 F.Supp.2d 577, 582 (E.D. Ky. 2007) (quoting Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 255 (1986)). Stated otherwise, "[t]he mere existence of a scintilla of ...