United States District Court, W.D. Kentucky, Louisville Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
J. Hale, Judge
Deeann Sanders initiated a late-night encounter with police
officers at the scene of her husband's DUI arrest, which
was very near her home in Hodgenville, Kentucky. (See Docket
No. 1-2) A police car dashcam recorded the incident, and
police later released the video to the media. (See id.)
Sanders sued the City of Hodgenville and former Hodgenville
Chief of Police Steven Johnson, alleging violations of state
law and seeking relief under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for
violations of her constitutional rights. (Id.)
Defendants have moved for summary judgment, arguing that
there are no genuine issues of material fact remaining. (D.N.
35) The Court agrees. Because Sanders has not established
that Defendants violated her constitutional rights, her
§ 1983 claim fails as a matter of law. The Court will
therefore grant in part Defendants' motion for summary
judgment and decline to exercise supplemental jurisdiction
over Sanders's remaining state-law claims pursuant to 28
U.S.C. § 1367.
March 29, 2014, Sanders's husband Sam Sanders was driving
to his residence after watching a basketball game at his
father-in-law's house. (D.N. 46, PageID # 487) At the
time, Sam Sanders served as the superintendent of the school
system of LaRue County, Kentucky, in which Hodgenville is
located. Within yards of his residence, Hodgenville Police
Officer James Richardson pulled over Sam Sanders on suspicion
of driving under the influence. (D.N. 1-2, PageID # 7) The
stop occurred on a public roadway. (See D.N. 35-3) A second
officer arrived at the scene, and after conducting
field-sobriety tests, the officers placed Sam Sanders under
arrest. (D.N. 35-6) At some point, the dashboard camera in
Richardson's squad car began recording.
thereafter, Deeann Sanders arrived at the scene. Sanders wore
a white housecoat that rested slightly above knee level, a
nightgown underneath, and tennis shoes. (D.N. 46, PageID #
495) The arresting officers later described Sanders as
“upset . . . and condescending” during the
encounter. (D.N. 35-6, PageID # 162; see also D.N. 35-5) The
dashboard camera in Richardson's car captured the entire
interaction with Deeann Sanders. (See D.N. 35-7)
Richardson drove Sam Sanders to the police station for
booking procedures. (D.N. 35-6, PageID # 162) Meanwhile,
Deeann Sanders went to the home of Terry Cruse,
Hodgenville's mayor at the time. (D.N. 35-9, PageID #
175) Cruse, who was asleep, awoke to the sound of
“someone beating on [his] back door.”
(Id., PageID # 175) When he opened the door, he
found Deeann Sanders, who asked him “to personally go
down to tell the police officers to let her husband
go.” (Id.) Cruse declined. Sanders then
arrived at the police station, asked to speak with her
husband, and eventually called the LaRue County District
Court Judge to inform him of the evening's events. (D.N.
46, PageID # 511, 514) Richardson activated his body camera
during the incident. (See D.N. 35-11) The video shows Deeann
Sanders repeatedly knocking on the station's door and
interrupting the officers during booking. (Id.)
next day, Madonna Hornback, who then served as
Hodgenville's City Clerk, allegedly received several
media requests for the dashcam recording that captured Sam
Sanders's arrest. (D.N. 35-14, PageID # 214) She referred
the media to Hodgenville Chief of Police Steven Johnson and
wrongly informed Johnson that the city must comply with the
requests in light of Kentucky's Open-Records Act, Ky.
Rev. Stat. § 61.870 et seq. (Id.) Thereafter,
Johnson raised the matter with Mayor Cruse, who told Johnson
“to comply with the open records laws just as he would
with anyone else and to handle it.” (D.N. 35-9, PageID
# 176) Johnson then invited the media to view the recording
and allowed one cameraman to film the video as it played on a
television monitor. Media outlets eventually aired the
dashcam video on broadcast television. (See D.N. 1-2,
PageID # 8)
fact, Johnson may have violated state law by releasing the
video. An exception to the Open-Records Act, §
189A.100(2)(e), provides that video recordings of DUI arrests
“shall be used for official purposes only.” Any
public official or employee who fails to comply with §
189A.100 “shall be guilty of official misconduct in the
first degree.” Ky. Rev. Stat. § 189A.100(3).
light of § 189A.100, Sam and Deeann Sanders reported
Johnson's actions to the Kentucky State Police. (See D.N.
35-16) The Commonwealth eventually charged Johnson with
official misconduct in the first and second degree for his
release to the media of the dashcam recording. (See D.N.
35-17) A LaRue County jury acquitted Johnson of all charges.
(D.N. 35-14, PageID # 225)
Deeann Sanders brought this action against the City of
Hodgenville and Johnson. (D.N. 1-2) Sanders contends that
Defendants violated various state laws as well as her
constitutional rights by releasing the recording to the
media. (See id.) Specifically, she claims that the release of
the recording caused her “great humiliation,
embarrassment, mental anguish, mental and emotional pain and
suffering, and damages to her reputation and
character.” (Id., PageID # 8) Defendants have
moved for summary judgment. (D.N. 35)
judgment is proper “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(a). On a motion for summary judgment, the movant
“bears the initial responsibility of informing the
district court of the basis for its motion and identifying
those portions of [the record] which it believes demonstrate
the absence of a genuine issue of material fact.”
Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986).
The movant may do so by merely showing that the nonmoving
party lacks evidence to support an essential element of its
case for which it has the burden of proof. See id.
moving party satisfies this burden, the nonmoving party must
point to specific facts in the record demonstrating a genuine
issue of fact for trial. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby,
Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 247-48 (1986). To survive a motion
for summary judgment, the nonmoving party must establish a
genuine issue of material fact with respect to each element
of each of its claims. Celotex Corp., 477 U.S. at
323 (1986) (noting that “a complete failure of proof
concerning an essential element of the nonmoving party's
case necessarily renders all other facts immaterial”).
mere existence of a scintilla of evidence in support of the
nonmoving party's position will be insufficient; instead,
the nonmoving party must present evidence upon which the jury
could reasonably find for it. Hartsel v. Keys, 87
F.3d 795, 799 (6th Cir. 1996) (citing Anderson, 477
U.S. at 252). This “requires the nonmoving party to go
beyond the pleadings and by [its] own affidavits, or by the
‘depositions, answers to interrogatories, and
admissions on file, ' designate specific facts showing
that there is a genuine issue for trial.”
Celotex, 477 U.S. at 324 (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P.
56(e)). For purposes of summary judgment, the Court must view
the evidence in the light most favorable to the nonmoving
party. Loyd v. Saint Joseph Mercy Oakland,
766 F.3d 580, 588 (6th Cir. 2014) (citing Anderson,
477 U.S. at 255).
sole basis for federal jurisdiction in this matter is
Sanders's § 1983 claim. Specifically, Sanders
asserts a failure-to-train claim pursuant to § 1983.
(D.N. 1-2, PageID # 10) “Inadequate training can serve
as the basis for municipal liability under § 1983 where
it ‘amounts to deliberate indifference to the rights of
persons with whom the police come into contact.'”
Roell v.Hamilton Cty., Ohio/Hamilton Cty. Bd.
of Cty. Comm'rs,870 F.3d 471, 487 (6th Cir. 2017)
(quoting City of Canton v.Harris, 489 U.S.
378, 388 (1989)). However, as a threshold matter, to properly
assert a § 1983 claim “[a] plaintiff must allege
the violation of a right secured by the Constitution and laws
of the United States, and must show that the alleged
deprivation was committed by a ...