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Thurman v. Hawkins

United States District Court, E.D. Kentucky, Central Division, Frankfort

January 7, 2015




This case arises from an encounter between Paul Demaree, the intoxicated subject of a domestic violence call, and Kentucky State Police Troopers Derran Broyles, John Hawkins, and William Lindon. After he refused to lay down his handgun, Demaree was shot and killed in the incident. Demaree's Estate[1]brought this § 1983 action alleging that the Troopers' use of deadly force constituted an unlawful seizure; the Estate also advances state law claims of wrongful death, battery, negligence and gross negligence, inadequate supervision, and loss of parental consortium against the Troopers in their individual capacities. This Court previously granted Sergeant Derran Broyles' 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss on the grounds that he was shielded from suit by the doctrines of qualified immunity and qualified official immunity, and the claims against Broyles were dismissed. [R. 27]. Now Troopers John Hawkins and William Lindon, who reported to Sergeant Broyles, have moved for summary judgment on the same grounds. [R. 29, 31].

In this context, qualified immunity on the Estate's federal claims turns on whether an officer's conduct violated a constitutional right that was "clearly established" at the time of the alleged violation. See Saucier v. Katz, 533 U.S. 194, 201 (2001); Pearson v. Callahan, 555 U.S. 223, 231 (2009). The Sixth Circuit holds that, although the defendant must raise the defense, ultimately "the burden of proof is on the plaintiff to show that the defendants are not entitled to qualified immunity." Stoudemire v. Mich. Dep't of Corr., 705 F.3d 560, 568 (6th Cir. 2013).

Demaree's Estate, however, has conceded that Hawkins and Lindon are entitled to qualified immunity. It does not contest the substance of the Troopers' qualified immunity arguments and admits that it is "unable to describe any significant distinction" from the qualified immunity analysis this Court undertook for Sergeant Broyles. [Pl.'s Resp. to Def.'s Mot. Summ. J., R. 35 at 1.] While Sergeant Broyles was the superior who authorized the actions of Troopers Hawkins and Lindon during the incident, the Troopers' conduct is - as the Estate admits - nearly identical under the lens of the qualified immunity analysis. [ See id. ] In accordance with the Estate's concession, Troopers Hawkins and Lindon are entitled to qualified immunity, and the federal claims against them must be dismissed.[2]

Demaree's Estate also advances several state law claims against Troopers Hawkins and Lindon in their individual capacities. The Troopers claim they are protected by qualified official immunity under Kentucky law for these claims as well. [Def. Lindon's Mem. in Supp. Mot. Summ. J., R. 29-1 at 3; Def. Hawkins' Mem. in Supp. Mot. Summ. J., R. 31-3 at 7]. The Estate argues that even if the federal claims are dismissed on qualified immunity grounds, this Court should decline to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over the state law claims. [Pl.'s Resp. to Def.'s Mot. Summ. J., R. 35 at 1-2]. A district court may, in its discretion, decline to exercise jurisdiction over state law claims after it "has dismissed all claims over which it has original jurisdiction...." 28 U.S.C. § 1367(c)(3) (2012); e.g., Robert N. Clemens Trust v. Morgan Stanley DW, Inc., 485 F.3d 840, 853 (6th Cir. 2007). In determining whether to "retain jurisdiction over state-law claims, a district court should consider and weigh several factors, including the values of judicial economy, convenience, fairness, and comity.'" Gamel v. City of Cincinnati, 625 F.3d 949, 951-52 (6th Cir. 2010) (citing Carnegie-Mellon Univ. v. Cohill, 484 U.S. 343, 350 (1988)). Generally, "[w]hen all federal claims are dismissed before trial, the balance of considerations usually will point to dismissing the state law claims, or remanding them to state court if the action was removed." Gamel, 625 F.3d at 952 (quoting Musson Theatrical, Inc. v. Fed. Exp. Corp., 89 F.3d 1244, 1254-55 (6th Cir. 1996)).

Since the Estate's concessions rendered an analysis on the merits of the qualified immunity issue unnecessary, it would be inappropriate for this Court to consider the Troopers' qualified official immunity defense on these state law claims. In the interests of comity, the state law claims will be dismissed without prejudice.

Accordingly, it is hereby ORDERED as follows:

(1) The summary judgment motions of Troopers William Lindon and John Hawkins [R. 29, 31] are GRANTED;
(2) Plaintiffs' federal claims are hereby DISMISSED WITH PREJUDICE;
(3) The Court declines to exercise supplemental jurisdiction; therefore, the state law claims against Troopers Lindon and Hawkins are hereby DISMISSED WITHOUT PREJUDICE;
(4) This case is hereby STRICKEN from the active docket of ...

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