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Harden v. Hillman

United States District Court, W.D. Kentucky, Louisville Division

August 24, 2017

OFFICER KEITH HILLMAN, individually and in his official capacity as a police officer of Heritage Creek, et al., DEFENDANTS



         This matter is before the Court on defendant Thorntons, Inc.'s motion for summary judgment (DN 58), as well as plaintiff John K. Harden's motion to amend his complaint. (DN 64.) Fully briefed, these matters are ripe for decision.

         I. Background

         In the early morning hours of August 2, 2014, Harden entered the Thorntons gas station and convenience store at 100 West Broadway in Louisville. Harden was attempting to buy beer but was refused service by the cashier, as he appeared intoxicated. Defendant Hillman was working inside the store providing security, outside of his regular hours as an officer for the City of Heritage Creek. Hillman intervened in the situation and directed Harden to leave the store. Harden did leave but returned a short time thereafter. Hillman verbally directed Harden to leave the premises, but Harden refused. Hillman then physically removed Harden from the store and placed Harden under arrest.

         Once under arrest, Harden complained about being in pain. Hillman called for emergency medical services, who arrived and transported Harden to University of Louisville Hospital. At the hospital, Hillman issued a citation to Harden for disorderly conduct, resisting arrest, and public intoxication.

         Harden filed this action against Hillman, the City of Heritage Creek, and Thorntons in this Court on July 8, 2015. (DN 1.) Harden asserts claims against Hillman for deprivation of constitutional rights (Count I), assault (Count II), false arrest and unlawful imprisonment (Count III), and arrest without probable cause (Count IV). The complaint asserts that the City of Heritage Creek is liable on all counts for the actions of Hillman, and it asserts that Thorntons is liable on Counts I, III, and IV for his actions as well. Thorntons has now moved for summary judgment on all counts. (DN 58.) Hillman has also moved to amend his complaint so as to hold Thorntons liable on Count II. (DN 64.)

         II. Standard of Review

         A. Summary Judgment

         Before the Court may grant a motion for summary judgment, it must find that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). The moving party bears the initial burden of specifying the basis for its motion and identifying that portion of the record that demonstrates the absence of a genuine issue of material fact. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986). Once the moving party satisfies this burden, the non-moving party thereafter must produce specific facts demonstrating a genuine issue of fact for trial. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 252 (1986).

         Although the Court must review the evidence in the light most favorable to the non-moving party, the non-moving party must do more than merely show that there is some “metaphysical doubt as to the material facts.” Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co., Ltd. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986). Instead, the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure require the non- moving party to present specific facts showing that a genuine factual issue exists by “citing to particular parts of materials in the record” or by “showing that the materials cited do not establish the absence . . . of a genuine dispute[.]” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(1). “The mere existence of a scintilla of evidence in support of the [non-moving party's] position will be insufficient; there must be evidence on which the jury could reasonably find for the [non-moving party].” Anderson, 477 U.S. at 252.

         B. Motion for Leave to Amend

         A motion for leave to file an amended complaint is governed by Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a)(2), which states that “a party may amend its pleading only with the opposing party's written consent or the court's leave.” A district court should freely grant leave “when justice so requires.” Id. However, a district court may deny a motion to amend where there is “undue delay, bad faith or dilatory motive on the part of the movant, repeated failure to cure deficiencies by amendments previously allowed, undue prejudice to the opposing party by virtue of allowance of the amendment, [or] futility of amendment.” Foman v. Davis, 371 U.S. 178, 182 (1962). “A proposed amendment is futile if the amendment could not withstand a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss.” Riverview Health Inst. LLC v. Med. Mut. of Ohio, 601 F.3d 505, 520 (6th Cir. 2010) (quoting Rose v. Hartford Underwriters Ins. Co., 203 F.3d 417, 420 (6th Cir. 2000)) (internal quotation marks omitted).

         III. Discussion

         The Court will first address Thorntons motion for summary judgment as it pertains to Counts I, III, and IV. Count II will then be addressed in conjunction with Hillman's motion to amend that count.

         A. Count I - Deprivation of Constitutional Rights

         Count I asserts that Hillman acted under color of state law when he physically removed Harden from the convenience store and placed him under arrest, thus depriving him of various constitutional rights. Count I also asserts that, “at the time of the incidents complained of herein, Defendant Hillman was an employee of Thorntons, Inc. and was acting within the scope of his employment, thereby making Thorntons, Inc. vicariously liable for the injuries and damages sustained by Plaintiff.” (Pl.'s Compl. [DN 1] ¶ 13.) Thorntons argues that summary judgment is appropriate ...

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