United States District Court, E.D. Kentucky, Central Division, Lexington
AT LEXINGTON RONALD L. JONES, JR. PLAINTIFF
TODD LAFFERTY DEFENDANT
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
Candace J. Smith Judge
matter is before the Court on Defendant Todd Lafferty's
Motion for Summary Judgment. (R. 71). Plaintiff Ronald L.
Jones, Jr., by counsel, filed a Response to the Motion on
August 11, 2017. (R. 74). The record reflects that Defendant
Lafferty did not file a Reply in Support of his Motion, and
his time to do so has expired. See Rule 7.1(c) of
the Joint Local Rules of Civil Practice (“LR
7.1(c)”). Defendant's Motion is now ripe for
decision, and has been referred to the undersigned for
preparation of a Report and Recommendation pursuant to 28
U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B). (See R. 43). For the
reasons set forth below, the undersigned
recommends Plaintiff's claims against
Defendant Lafferty be dismissed with
civil action stems from the December 11, 2014 arrest of
Plaintiff Ronald L. Jones, Jr. (“Plaintiff” or
“Jones”) and the attendant search of his
residence led by Defendant, Probation and Parole Officer Todd
Lafferty (“Defendant” or “Lafferty”).
It is undisputed that, at the time of the factual
circumstances giving rise to this action, Plaintiff Jones was
on probation pursuant to KRS § 439.265 following a
conviction in the Circuit Court of Fayette County, Kentucky,
and subject to the supervision of the Kentucky Division of
Probation and Parole. (See R. 71-2; R. 74, at 2).
Among the requirements imposed by the Fayette Circuit
Court's Order granting probation, Plaintiff was ordered
to “comply with the regulations of the Division of
Probation and Parole and the directions of the Probation
Officer” and to “[c]onsent to any search of your
person or of places or property under your control when
requested by your probation officer or police
officer[.]” (R. 71-2, at 2).
December 10, 2014, the Fayette Circuit Court entered an Order
of Contempt based upon Jones's failure to appear before
that court for a probation revocation hearing. (R. 71-3). The
Order of Contempt directed the Clerk of the Fayette Circuit
Court to issue a warrant for Jones's arrest.
(Id.). Defendant Lafferty attests that on December
11, 2014 at approximately 11:30 a.m., he accompanied other
Probation and Parole officers as well as police officers to
Jones's apartment complex to apprehend him pursuant to
the Fayette Circuit Court's arrest warrant. (R. 71-4).
attests that upon arriving at the apartment complex, he
consulted the leasing office and confirmed that Jones was the
current, sole occupant of the apartment on file.
(Id.). Lafferty further attests that based upon
Jones's history of refusing home visits by not answering
when officers knocked on his door, Lafferty asked if a key
was available to allow the officers access to Jones's
apartment in the event he refused to open the door.
(Id.). The leasing office agreed to provide a key to
grant access to the apartment. (Id.). The officers
then approached Jones's apartment door and repeatedly
attempted to make contact with him. Lafferty attests that he
observed someone peer out of the peephole on the
apartment's front door, and then heard sounds of a heavy
object being placed in front of the door. (Id.). The
officers continued knocking and announced their presence, but
no one responded. (Id.).
upon confirmation of Jones's active address and solo
occupancy by the leasing office, combined with Lafferty's
own observations at the front door of the apartment as well
as his knowledge of Jones's history of noncompliance,
Lafferty attests he concluded that Jones was engaging in
efforts to prevent apprehension and did not intend to
surrender. (Id.). Accordingly, Lafferty then used
the key to unlock the door and pushed aside a chair that
partially obstructed the entrance to gain entry to the
apartment. (Id. at 2). Once inside, Defendant
Lafferty observed Jones lying on the couch with his arms and
hands underneath his body. (Id.).
attests that Jones ignored the officers' commands to
stand up and present his hands in the air; consequently, the
officers forcibly removed Jones from the couch to a
handcuffing position, face-down on the floor. (Id.).
Lafferty attests that Jones continued to ignore the
officers' verbal commands. (Id.). Furthermore,
Jones resisted the officers' attempts to place handcuffs
on him, and attempted to push himself up off of the ground
with his hands and feet. (Id.). After this physical
struggle with the officers, Jones was placed in handcuffs and
allowed to sit up; Lafferty attests that officers then noted
two abrasions above Jones's left eye. (Id.). A
subsequent search of the couch revealed a large black-handled
butcher knife hidden inside. (Id.). Lafferty attests
that the arrest proceeded without further incident and Jones
was transported to the Fayette County Detention Center and
processed for the probation violation. (Id. at 3).
Medical records from the Fayette County Detention Center
produced in discovery indicate that at 7:15 a.m. the
following morning, Jones initiated a sick call visit from the
facility nurse and requested antibiotic ointment for
abrasions on his face and knee. (R. 71-5, at 2).
Jones, proceeding without counsel,  subsequently filed this
action on March 2, 2015. (R. 1). In his Amended Complaint,
Jones alleges that on December 11, 2014, he was sitting on
the sofa in his apartment when Defendant Lafferty and several
Lexington police officers used a key to open the door, and
entered the premises without knocking, without announcing
their presence, and without a warrant. (R. 17, at 3-4).
Plaintiff's Amended Complaint asserts that Defendant
Lafferty arrested him at that time because “violations
of supervision were present in the residence.” (R.
1-1). Jones alleges that he “was assaulted by Todd
Lafferty and others, ” that “Mr. Lafferty use[d]
unnecessary force, ” and that as a result he had to be
treated by medical staff at the Fayette County Detention
Center and prescribed antibiotic ointment. (R. 17, at 7).
Based upon these allegations, the Amended Complaint asserts
that Lafferty violated Jones's Fourth Amendment rights by
entering the apartment without a warrant, as well as
Jones's Eighth and Fourteenth Amendment rights due to the
use of excessive force during the arrest by Lafferty and the
other officers. (R. 17, at 3-4, 7).
the close of discovery in this matter (see R. 67),
Defendant Lafferty submitted the subject Motion for Summary
Judgment on May 10, 2017. (R. 71). Defendant's Motion is
accompanied by the affidavit of Lafferty and additional
documents in support of his arguments that the December 11,
2014 search was reasonable under the Fourth Amendment and
that the use of force during Plaintiff Jones's arrest was
not excessive in violation of the Eighth and Fourteenth
Amendments. (See R. 71-1). In his Response (R. 74)
in opposition to Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment,
Jones expressly abandons his claim that the December 11, 2014
search of his home violated his Fourth Amendment rights. (R.
74, at 3). Jones concedes that “discovery has
established that on December 10, 2014 that the Fayette
Circuit Court issued a warrant of arrest of the Plaintiff
[and] [t]herefore, the search of the Plaintiff's home on
December 11, 2014 was pursuant to [a] validly issued
warrant.” (Id. at 3). Thus, the only issue
remaining in this case is Jones's claim that Lafferty
used excessive force during the subject arrest.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
the federal rules, summary judgment is appropriate if there
is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the moving
party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.
Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). In reviewing motions for summary judgment,
the Court must view all facts and draw all reasonable
inferences in a light most favorable to the nonmoving party.
See Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio
Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587-88 (1986); Dominguez v.
Correctional Med. Servs., 555 F.3d 543, 549 (6th Cir.
2009). However, as Plaintiff's Response brief notes,
“[a] principal purpose of the summary judgment rule is
to isolate and dispose of factually unsupported claims or
defenses.” (R. 74, at 2) (citing Celotex Corp. v.
Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986)). Accordingly, while
the initial burden of showing there is no genuine issue of
material fact is on the moving party, once the moving party
has met its burden, the opposing party must demonstrate that
there is sufficient evidence on which the jury could
reasonably find for the nonmoving party. Dominguez,
555 F.3d at 549.
“the moving party need not support its motion with
evidence disproving the nonmoving party's claim, but need
only show-that is, point out to the district court-that there
is an absence of evidence to support the nonmoving
party's case.” Hartsel v. Keys, 87 F.3d
795, 799 (6th Cir. 1999) (quoting Celotex, 477 U.S.
at 325) (internal quotations omitted). Once the moving party
points out that there is an absence of evidence to support
the nonmoving party's case, the trial court is not
required to scour the entire record to establish that
“it is bereft of a genuine issue of material
fact.” Street v. J.C. Bradford & Co., 886
F.2d 1472, 1479-80 (6th Cir. 1989). Rather, the nonmoving
party must affirmatively come forward with “specific
facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial.”
Matsushita, 475 U.S. at 587. Evidence that is
“merely colorable, or is not significantly probative,
” is not sufficient to avoid summary judgment.
Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 249
(1986)). To determine whether a genuine dispute of material
fact exists, courts “must pierce the pleadings and
assess the proof as presented in depositions, answers to
interrogatories, admissions, and affidavits that are part of
the record.” Brown v. Chapman, 814 F.3d 447,
464 (6th Cir. 2016) (citing Liberty Lobby, 477 U.S.
at 249). The trial court does not “weigh the evidence
and determine the truth of the matter but . . . determine[s]
whether there is a genuine issue for trial.”
Liberty Lobby, 477 U.S. at 249. Summary judgment
should be granted unless a court finds “there is
sufficient evidence favoring the nonmoving party for a jury
to return a verdict for that party.” Brown,
814 F.3d at 464.