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Luna v. Bell

United States Court of Appeals, Sixth Circuit

April 5, 2018

Jane Luna, as Administratrix of the Estate of Charles Jason Toll, Plaintiff-Appellant (17-5608), Plaintiff-Appellee (17-5675),
v.
Ricky J. Bell; Gaelan Doss; James Horton, Defendants-Appellees, (17-5608), Defendants-Appellants. (17-5675),

          Argued: February 1, 2018

          Appeal from the United States District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee at Nashville. No. 3:11-cv-00093-John T. Nixon, Todd J. Campbell, and Aleta Arthur Trauger, District Judges.

         ARGUED:

          David J. Weissman, RAYBIN & WEISSMAN, P.C., Nashville, Tennessee, for Appellant in 17-5608 and Appellee in 17-5675.

          Leslie Ann Bridges, OFFICE OF THE TENNESSEE ATTORNEY GENERAL, Nashville, Tennessee, for Appellees in 17-5608 and Appellants in 17-5675.

         ON BRIEF:

          David J. Weissman, RAYBIN & WEISSMAN, P.C., Nashville, Tennessee, Jeff Roberts, JEFF ROBERTS & ASSOCIATES, PLLC, Nashville, Tennessee, for Appellant in 17-5608 and Appellee in 17-5675.

          Leslie Ann Bridges, Steven A. Hart, OFFICE OF THE TENNESSEE ATTORNEY GENERAL, Nashville, Tennessee, for Appellees in 17-5608 and Appellants in 17-5675.

          Before: MERRITT, MOORE, and BUSH, Circuit Judges.

          OPINION

          KAREN NELSON MOORE, Circuit Judge.

         Defendants Ricky J. Bell ("Bell"), Gaelan Doss ("Doss"), and James Horton ("Horton") (together, "Defendants") appeal the first district court's[1] order granting Plaintiff Jane Luna ("Luna"), as Administratrix of the Estate of Charles Jason Toll ("Toll"), deceased, relief under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 60(b)(2); additionally, Defendants appeal the second district court's and the third district court's denials of Defendants' requests to reconsider the order granting Luna relief under Rule 60(b)(2). Luna appeals the third district court's order granting summary judgment to Defendants.

         For the reasons discussed below, we AFFIRM the first district court's order granting Luna relief under Rule 60(b)(2) from the judgments and from the order denying a new trial. We also AFFIRM the orders denying Defendants' requests to reconsider. Lastly, we REVERSE the third district court's order granting summary judgment to Defendants, and we REMAND for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.

         I. BACKGROUND

         In August 2010, Toll was in solitary confinement at Riverbend Maximum Security Institution ("Institution"), when he allegedly threw liquid at a correctional officer. R. 52 (Am. Compl. ¶¶ 3, 8, 19, 21) (Page ID #237, 238, 240). Because of this incident, Horton, the shift commander, decided to extract Toll from his cell. Id. ¶¶ 23, 32 (Page ID #240, 241). Once the cell extraction team, which included Doss and Horton, removed Toll from his cell, Toll became unresponsive. Id. ¶¶ 2, 32, 57 (Page ID #237, 241, 246). An ambulance transported Toll to a hospital, where a doctor pronounced him dead. Id. ¶ 65 (Page ID #247).

         Because of Toll's death, Toll's mother, Luna, asserted two claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against Defendants. R. 1 (Compl.) (Page ID #1). Luna sued Horton and Doss in their individual capacities for excessive force. R. 52 (Am. Compl. ¶¶ 2, 94-111) (Page ID #237, 251- 54). She also asserted a failure-to-train claim against Bell, who is or was the warden, in his individual capacity. Id. ¶¶ 4, 112-23 (Page ID #237, 254-56).

         In August 2013, the first district court held a jury trial regarding both claims. R. 157 (Verdict) (Page ID #994); R. 166 (Min. Entry) (Page ID #1010). At the end of this trial, the jury delivered a favorable verdict for Defendants on all counts. R. 157 (Verdict) (Page ID #994); R. 160 (Verdict) (Page ID #1000); R. 161 (Verdict) (Page ID #1002). In light of the jury's findings, the first district court entered judgments in favor of Defendants. R. 162 (J.) (Page ID #1004); R. 163 (J.) (Page ID #1005); R. 164 (J.) (Page ID #1006).

         After the trial, Luna moved for a new trial under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 59 on the grounds that the first district court omitted a jury instruction and included confusing language. R. 168 (Mot.) (Page ID #1012); R. 169 (Mem. at 13) (Page ID #1026). The first district court disagreed, so it denied Luna's motion. See ...


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