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Stockton v. Auren: USDC : 1983 - sufficient evidence of excessive force; no qualified immty;

15
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
DISTRICT OF MINNESOTA
RODDIE K. STOCKTON,
Plaintiff,
v.
JEREMY AUREN and DUANE
SIEDSCHLAG, acting in their individual
capacity as officers of the White Bear
Lake Police Department,
Defendants.
Civil No. 07-556 (JRT/FLN)
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND
ORDER DENYING DEFENDANTS
MOTION FOR SUMMARY
JUDGMENT
Robert Bennett and Ryan O. Vettleson, FLYNN GASKINS &
BENNETT, LLP, 333 South Seventh Street, Suite 2900, Minneapolis,
MN 55402, for plaintiff.
Joseph E. Flynn and Leonard J. Schweich, JARDINE LOGAN &
OBRIEN PLLP, 8519 Eagle Point Boulevard, Suite 100, Lake Elmo, MN
55042, for defendants.
Plaintiff Roddie Stockton brought this lawsuit against White Bear Lake Police
Officers Jeremy Auren and Duane Siedschlag, alleging the officers used excessive force
against him in violation of his Fourth Amendment rights. This case is before the Court
on defendants motion for summary judgment. For the reasons discussed below, the
Court denies defendants motion.
BACKGROUND
At the time of the alleged incident, plaintiff was fifty-seven years old and resided
in a condominium unit located in a six-building complex in White Bear Lake, Minnesota.
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On the evening of December 5, 2006, plaintiff received a telephone call advising him that
his monthly condominium association fees were due. Condominium residents typically
pay their dues by bringing a check to the treasurers condominium unit and depositing the
check in a black drop-box. Shortly after receiving the phone call, plaintiff left his home
with his checkbook to make his monthly payment.
At some point, plaintiff who suffers from periodic episodes of confusion and
seizures, some of which have required hospital stays became disoriented. Plaintiff
ultimately arrived at the back door of the wrong unit behind one of the condominium
buildings, still wearing his slippers. The rear area behind the building is a common area
for condominium residents. The area is not frequently used, however, as it is not
accessible by pathway from the front or sides of the condominium building, does not
have lights, and is relatively secluded.
Plaintiff knocked on the back door of eighty-two year old resident Ruth OConnor.
OConnor came to the door and saw plaintiff waving a piece of paper in his hand, which
OConnor assumed was a check. OConnor told plaintiff he was in the wrong place to
pay his rent and told him to go away. A short time later, plaintiff knocked once again on
OConnors back door. OConnor became concerned for her safety, apparently realizing
that she might be alone in that particular condominium building. She called 911 at
approximately 7:03 p.m. to report that someone was trying to get in [her] back door.
(Vettleson Aff., Ex. F.) A few moments later OConnor told the dispatcher that [h]es
knocking on the door now, and that hes been here a half hour ago, and I sent him
away. (Id.) The sound of knocking was audible on the 911 call, and the dispatcher
- 3 -
asked OConnor if the man was trying to sell something. OConnor responded that the
man looked kinda skuzzy, and described him as white, wearing a blue jacket, and in his
forties or fifties.
Sergeant Siedschlag was in the dispatch center at the time the 911 call came in.
However, Siedschlag testified in deposition that he left the dispatch center before
OConnor told the dispatcher that the suspect was knocking on her back door.1
Siedschlag directed White Bear Police Officer Auren to respond, and broadcast over the
police radio that it sounds like a burglary in progress. White Bear Lake Police Officer
Curtis Pappoovaong also responded to the call. A short time later, the dispatcher
broadcast to the officers that the party is now knocking at the door, and later broadcast
a description of the suspect.
Several minutes after the 911 call was received, Siedschlag and Auren arrived at
the scene in separate vehicles, with Auren arriving just after Siedschlag. Siedschlag went
to OConnors front door. Auren went around the condominium building to the rear area,
where he saw plaintiff standing near OConnors back door. Auren stated in deposition
testimony that when he first saw plaintiff, he thought plaintiff was an old guy who was
helping to look for the suspect, and that he was expecting to find a much younger
suspect.2 However, Auren then heard the dispatchers description of the suspect, which
substantially matched plaintiffs appearance. Auren shined a flashlight at plaintiff,
1 It is unclear from the record whether the sound of knocking was audible on the 911 call
prior to the time Siedschlag left the dispatch center.
2 Plaintiff is 56 tall and weighed approximately 118 pounds at the time of the incident.
- 4 -
identified himself as a police officer, and pointed his gun at plaintiff. Auren stated that
the plaintiff appeared intoxicated and disoriented. There were no signs of any forced
entry at OConnors rear door.
Auren kept his gun trained on plaintiff and yelled four or five times for plaintiff to
raise his hands. Plaintiffs hands were at his sides along his waistband and were visible
to Auren. Auren testified that he was concerned that plaintiff might have a weapon.
Plaintiff did not comply with Aurens orders. Auren then ordered plaintiff to turn around
so that he could see plaintiffs waistline to check for weapons. Auren told plaintiff to
turn around four or five times. Plaintiff did not comply with these commands, but
remained motionless with his hands at his sides. Auren testified that he considered
plaintiffs failure to comply with his orders to be an aggressive action, and that he was
concerned that plaintiff might run away or use a weapon against him.
At this time, Siedschlag arrived in the rear area and yelled at plaintiff in rapid
sequence to get down, get down, get down on the ground. Siedschlang approached
plaintiff, grabbed him by his left wrist, and placed his hand on plaintiffs left shoulder.
Plaintiff did not pull his wrist away, did not try to escape from Siedschlags grip, and did
not make any aggressive moves toward the officers at any time. Siedschlag then
executed an arm-bar takedown, pulling plaintiff down to the ground on his left side.
Auren testified that he pointed his flashlight at the ground and holstered his gun at the
moment Siedschlag took plaintiff to the ground, so that he did not actually witness the
takedown. According to Auren, he pointed his flashlight at the ground so that
- 5 -
Siedschlags vision would not be obstructed during the maneuver. Following the
takedown, Siedschlag and Auren handcuffed plaintiff.
Aurens police report indicated that both he and Siedschlag had taken plaintiff to
the ground. Auren admitted during deposition testimony, however, that only Siedschlag
had taken plaintiff down.
Plaintiff testified that he was taken down very roughly. As a result of the
takedown, plaintiff severely broke and displaced his hip, resulting in a left displaced
Garden IV femoral neck fracture. It is undisputed that plaintiff suffers from osteoporosis
and is prescribed calcium supplements. Following Siedschlags takedown, plaintiff could
not stand or walk. Auren ordered plaintiff to stand. Siedschlag yelled at plaintiff, You
walked here, youre going to walk to the squad car, do you understand that, one foot in
front of the other. (Siedschlag Dep. at 32.) Auren stated [a]re you that drunk that you
cant stand up on your own? (Id. at 33.) Auren and Siedschlag forced plaintiff to his
feet and, with each officer holding one side of plaintiff, walked him to the squad car.
Plaintiff said ow repeatedly as the officers walked him to the car. Plaintiff was unable
to get into the squad car, and left his feet hanging outside the vehicle. Auren told
plaintiff to [g]et your feet in the car. Youre not that drunk. Get your foot in the car.
Auren then moved plaintiffs feet into the car.
Auren administered a breathalyzer test to plaintiff, which showed plaintiff had no
alcohol in his system. Auren then called a paramedic for plaintiff. According to
Siedschlag, they called a paramedic because they thought plaintiff had a diminished
mental capacity. However, plaintiff had to be transferred to the ambulance with a
- 6 -
stretcher because plaintiff was unable to stand. Plaintiff alleges that the officers called
the paramedic because they realized plaintiff was severely injured and could not walk.
Siedschlag did not complete an incident report or a use of force report following
the incident, and did not notify his supervisor of plaintiffs injury. Plaintiff alleges that
Siedschlags failure to report the incident violated written White Bear Lake Police
Department policies.3 Plaintiff also notes that Siedschlag filed a false police report in
2003 resulting in a thirty-day suspension. Siedschlag testified in deposition that he did
not believe it was pertinent to prepare any such reports, and that he did not notify his
superiors of plaintiffs injury because [plaintiff] gave us no indication that he was
injured. (Siedschlag Dep. at 52.) Auren, on the other hand, did complete an incident
report and a use of force report. Aurens use of force report stated that both he and
Siedschlag had taken plaintiff to the ground, when in fact only Siedschlag had taken
plaintiff down.
The takedown resulted in a complete fracture of plaintiffs hip, requiring full hip
replacement surgery. Plaintiff has incurred more than ,000 in medical bills as a result
of his injury. Plaintiff was never charged with a crime as a result of this incident.
Plaintiff filed this action against defendants Auren and Siedschlag under 42 U.S.C.
1983, alleging the officers actions constitute excessive force in violation of the Fourth
Amendment. Specifically, plaintiff alleges that the officers used excessive force by
executing the arm-bar takedown and by forcing plaintiff to walk to the squad car after he
3 White Bear Lake Police Procedures require an officer to complete a use of force report
whenever the officer uses force, and further require an officer to immediately contact his or her
supervisor if injury occurs as a result of the force. (Vettleson Aff. Ex. L, IV.K.1, V.D.6.)
- 7 -
broke his hip. Plaintiff seeks damages for medical expenses and pain and suffering, as
well as an award of punitive damages.
ANALYSIS
I. STANDARD OF REVIEW
Summary judgment is appropriate in the absence of any genuine issue of material
fact and when the moving party can demonstrate that it is entitled to judgment as a matter
of law. Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c). A fact is material if it might affect the outcome of the suit,
and a dispute is genuine if the evidence is such that it could cause a reasonable jury to
return a verdict for either party. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 247
(1986). A court considering a motion for summary judgment must view the facts in the
light most favorable to the non-moving party and give that party the benefit of all
reasonable inferences that can be drawn from the facts. Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v.
Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986).
II. EXCESSIVE FORCE
Plaintiff argues that the officers actions constitute excessive force in violation of
the Fourth Amendments prohibition on unreasonable seizures.4 See U.S. Const. amd.
IV. The use of force is excessive under the Fourth Amendment if it is not objectively
reasonable under the particular circumstances. Greiner v. City of Champlin, 27 F.3d
1346, 1354 (8th Cir. 1994). When considering the circumstances, courts consider factors
4 Plaintiff is not challenging on probably cause grounds the officers initial decision to
seize the plaintiff.
- 8 -
such as the severity of the crime at issue, whether the suspect poses an immediate threat
to the safety of the officers or others, and whether the suspect actively resisted arrest or
attempted to evade arrest by flight. Graham v. Connor, 490 U.S. 386, 396 (1989); Winter
v. Adams, 254 F.3d 758, 765 (8th Cir. 2001). Force that later seems unnecessary does not
violate the Fourth Amendment if it was reasonable at the time, giving consideration to the
fact that officers are often forced to make a split second judgment in a tense,
uncertain, and rapidly evolving situation. Graham, 490 U.S. at 396-97. Reasonableness
is judged from the perspective of a reasonable officer on the scene, rather than with the
20/20 vision of hindsight. Id. at 396.
Defendants first argue that the takedown was reasonable because they were
responding to a burglary in progress call, and burglary is a serious felony. However,
officers called to respond to a serious felony are not thereby entitled to ignore relevant
information that emerges once they arrive on the scene. Cf. Ngo v. Storlie, 495 F.3d 597,
603 (8th Cir. 2007) (finding that even though officer was responding to a severe crime
involving the shooting of a fellow officer, officers observations after arriving on the
scene diminished the perceived threat posed by the plaintiff). Here, several facts, viewed
in a light most favorable to plaintiff, may reasonably be seen to mitigate the seriousness
of the offense in question. Plaintiffs short and stooped stature, his aged appearance, and
his obviously disoriented demeanor might have led a reasonable officer to conclude that
plaintiff was not in fact a burglary suspect. Indeed, Auren testified that he initially
assumed plaintiff was an older resident helping to look for the suspect. It is undisputed
that plaintiff was still wearing his slippers at the time of the incident, and that there were
- 9 -
no signs of forced entry at OConnors back door. Further, the record suggests that
several minutes after the burglary in progress call went out Siedschlag and Auren heard
the 911 dispatcher report that plaintiff was knocking at the door. These facts, coupled
with the fact that plaintiff was still outside OConnors door when the officers arrived on
the scene, may have led a reasonable officer to doubt that plaintiff was committing or had
committed a serious felony.
Defendants next argue that a reasonable officer would have perceived plaintiff as
posing an immediate threat to their safety or the safety of others. Defendants note in
particular that the rear area behind the condominium building was dark, that they did not
know whether plaintiff was carrying a weapon, and that plaintiff refused to comply with
several commands. As noted above, however, plaintiffs stature and appearance, viewed
in a light most favorable to plaintiff, might reasonably be seen to mitigate the perceived
threat to the officers. Cf. Ngo, 495 F.3d at 603. Plaintiff appeared to be a small, stooped,
and older man still in his bed slippers. He also appeared intoxicated and disoriented.
Additionally, Aurens gun remained drawn and pointed at plaintiff throughout the
encounter, while plaintiffs hands were visible at his sides. While plaintiffs intoxicated
and disoriented demeanor could be perceived as threatening under certain circumstances,
viewing the facts in a light most favorable to the plaintiff, as the Court must for purposes
of this motion, a jury could find that plaintiffs appearance mitigated the immediate threat
perceived by a reasonable officer on the scene.
Finally, defendants contend that plaintiff actively resisted arrest by refusing to
comply with various commands from Auren and Siedschlag. Defendants argue that the
- 10 -
passive nature of plaintiffs resistance does not obviate the need for force, noting the
Eighth Circuits pronouncement in Wertish v. Krueger that when a suspect is passively
resistant, somewhat more force may reasonably be required. 433 F.3d 1062, 1066-67
(8th Cir. 2006). However, the resistance in cases relied on by defendants is more active
than the resistance here. In Wertish, for example, the plaintiff led defendant-officer on a
five-mile, low-speed car chase. Id. at 1064-65. When plaintiff finally stopped, officers
approached the vehicle with guns drawn and yelled at plaintiff four times to exit the
vehicle. Id. at 1065. When plaintiff failed to respond to these commands, the officers
opened the door, threw plaintiff to the ground, and handcuffed him. Id. The Eighth
Circuit ultimately found that the use of force was reasonable in light of the car chase and
plaintiffs refusal to exit the car. Id. at 1066-67; see also Foster v. Met. Airports
Commn, 914 F.2d 1076, 1082 (8th Cir. 1990) (finding use of force reasonable where
plaintiff refused to exit his car and clung to the cars door frame); Schumacher v.
Halverson, 467 F. Supp. 2d 939, 951 (D. Minn. 2006) (finding use of force reasonable
where plaintiff resisted arrest by pulling away from the arresting officer and then
grabbing a basketball pole and refusing to let go). Further, the use of force in the passive
resistance cases cited by defendants resulted in only de minimis injury. See Schumacher,
467 F. Supp. 2d at 951 (finding use of force reasonable in part because it resulted in no
permanent physical injuries and did not require medical or psychological treatment);
Wertish, 433 F.3d at 1067 (finding that the absence of permanent injury supported the
conclusion that use of force was reasonable).
- 11 -
The Court finds that an individuals refusal to exit a vehicle that may be used as a
dangerous weapon, particularly after leading officers on a five-mile car chase, constitutes
more active resistance than the plaintiffs resistance in this case. See, e.g., Janis v.
Biesheuvel, 728 F.3d 795, 800 (8th Cir. 2005) (finding that force used in pulling plaintiff
out of a vehicle was justified given the potential threat to public safety of an impaired
driver in command of a running vehicle). Here, plaintiff remained docile throughout the
entire encounter with the officers. His hands were visible at his sides, and he made no
movement when Siedschlag grabbed his wrist. Considering plaintiffs disoriented
appearance and the fact that plaintiff was still present at OConnors door when the
officers arrived on the scene, his failure to respond to the officers commands may have
looked more like confusion than active resistance to arrest. Finally, the takedown
resulted in a severe hip fracture requiring full hip replacement surgery, an injury of
greater constitutional magnitude than the de minimis injuries in the cases cited by
defendants. In sum, viewing the facts in a light most favorable to the plaintiff, a
reasonable jury could conclude that Siedschlags use of an arm-bar takedown may not
have been reasonable in light of the severity of the crime, the threat posed by plaintiff,
and plaintiffs wholly passive resistance to the officers commands.
The Court further notes that plaintiff testified that Siedschlag took him down very
roughly. While the record shows that plaintiff suffered from osteoporosis, a reasonable
jury could conclude that Siedschlag misused the takedown technique, taking plaintiff
down so forcefully that he broke plaintiffs hip. See Hagen v. Palmer, No. 02-4318, 2003
WL 22136067, at *3 (D. Minn. Sept. 12, 2003) (stating that the [m]isuse of a valid
- 12 -
policing technique can turn into unreasonable force). Thus, even if the Court were to
decide that the use of a takedown was reasonable under the circumstances, a fact issue
remains as to whether the amount of force used in executing the takedown was
appropriate, and whether Siedschlag misused the takedown technique causing plaintiffs
hip injury.
With respect to officer Auren, plaintiff concedes that Aurens direct actions
including pointing a gun at plaintiff and yelling commands at him do not constitute
excessive force under the circumstances. Plaintiff argues instead that defendant Auren
aided and abetted Siedshlag by failing to prevent the unconstitutional conduct. It is wellsettled
that an officer may be liable for the unconstitutional conduct of another officer for
failing to intervene. Putman v. Gerloff, 639 F.2d 415, 423-24 (8th Cir. 1981); Jones v.
City of Minneapolis, 2007 WL 2249132, at *11 (D. Minn. Aug. 1, 2007). Here, Auren
testified that he pointed his flashlight at the ground when Siedlschlag approached plaintiff
so that Siedschlags vision would not be obstructed. Auren stated that he looked down to
holster his gun at the very moment Siedschlag executed the takedown maneuver. In
addition, Auren testified that at the moment he heard Siedschlag yelling at plaintiff to get
down, [he] knew [they] were going down to the ground with [plaintiff]. (Vettleson
Aff. Ex. C at 62.) Viewing the facts in a light most favorable to plaintiff, a jury could
- 13 -
reasonably conclude that Auren was aware that Siedschlag was about to execute an
unconstitutional takedown of plaintiff and failed to intervene.5
Finally, plaintiff argues that the officers used excessive force by requiring plaintiff
to walk to the squad car despite his obviously severe hip injury. Plaintiff notes that he
was able to stand prior to the takedown, that he was unable to walk or stand after the
takedown, and that he repeatedly said ow as he was walked to the car. Defendants
argue that they mistakenly believed that plaintiff was unable to stand because he was
disoriented and intoxicated, and that they were not aware that plaintiff had severely
injured his hip. The Court finds that, viewing the facts most favorably to plaintiff, a jury
could conclude that a reasonable officer on the scene would have realized the extent of
plaintiffs injury, and would not have forced plaintiff to walk to the squad car with such
an injury. Even if the precise nature and extent of plaintiffs hip injury was not obvious
to defendants at the time, plaintiffs great difficulty walking and standing, as well as his
unequivocal expressions of pain during the walk to the car, support the conclusion that a
reasonable officer would have been aware that plaintiff had suffered a severe leg injury.
Defendants decision to call an ambulance upon reaching the squad car is consistent with
this view of the facts. While the facts may be viewed to support defendants contention
that they believed plaintiff was unable to walk because he was intoxicated, the Court
5 Further, the alleged inconsistencies in Aurens use of force report filed after the
incident including Aurens statement that both he and Siedschlag took the plaintiff down to the
ground along with Siedschlags failure to complete any police reports at all, support a
reasonable inference that Auren was trying to protect Siedschlag, his superior officer, from
possible disciplinary action resulting from the incident. These facts may be consistent with
plaintiffs theory that Auren acted to enable Siedschlags unconstitutional conduct.
- 14 -
must view all of the facts in a light most favorable to plaintiff for purposes of this motion.
So viewed, the Court finds sufficient evidence in the record that would allow a jury to
conclude that a reasonable officer would have been aware of plaintiffs severe injury and
would not have forced him to walk to the squad car despite that severe injury.
In sum, for the reasons discussed above, the Court finds genuine issues of material
fact regarding whether defendants use of force was excessive under the circumstances.
III. QUALIFIED IMMUNITY
Defendants next argue that, even if there is sufficient evidence supporting
plaintiffs excessive force claims, defendants are entitled to qualified immunity.
Qualified immunity is a defense available to government officials who have not violated
clearly established statutory or constitutional rights of which a reasonable person would
have known. Young v. Selk, 508 F.3d 868, 871 (8th Cir. 2007). The defense allows
officers to make reasonable errors so that they do not always err on the side of caution.
Habiger v. City of Fargo, 80 F.3d 289, 295-96 (8th Cir. 1996) (internal quotations and
citations omitted). The Court engages in a two-step analysis to determine whether
qualified immunity is appropriate. The first step is to determine whether the facts
alleged, viewed in a light most favorable to plaintiff, show that the officers conduct
violated a constitutional right. Saucier v. Katz, 533 U.S. 194, 201 (2001). If the Court
finds a constitutional violation, it then asks whether the right was clearly established. Id.
As discussed above, plaintiff has set forth sufficient facts to allow a reasonable jury to
conclude that defendants violated plaintiffs Fourth Amendment rights by taking plaintiff
to the ground and forcing him to walk to the squad car with a severe hip injury. Thus, the
- 15 -
Court must now look to whether plaintiffs constitutional right was clearly established at
the time of the incident. See id.
The right to be free from excessive force is a clearly established right under the
Fourth Amendments prohibition against unreasonable seizures of the person. Crumley
v. City of St. Paul, 324 F.3d 1003, 1007 (8th Cir. 2003) (internal quotations and citations
omitted). The salient question is whether the state of the law at the time of the violation
gave the officers fair warning that their alleged conduct was unconstitutional. Hope v.
Pelzer, 536 U.S. 730, 739 (2002). The evidence, viewed in a light most favorable to
plaintiff, shows that Siedschlag executed a forceful arm-bar takedown on a small, frail,
and disoriented suspect who was not actively resisting arrest, and which caused a total
fracture of plaintiffs hip. The evidence also shows that Auren was aware that Siedschlag
was about to execute an unconstitutional takedown of plaintiff and failed to intervene.
The officers then forced plaintiff to walk to the squad car despite the fact that plaintiff
could not stand or walk, plaintiffs clear expressions of pain, and the likely realization
that plaintiff had suffered a severe leg injury as a result of the takedown. The Court finds
that, under these circumstances, a reasonable officer would have known it is unlawful to
execute a forceful arm-bar takedown, and unlawful to fail to intervene to prevent such
conduct. See Hagen, 2003 WL 22136067, at *3 (denying qualified immunity where the
facts suggested defendant had misused an otherwise valid policing technique). The Court
further finds that a reasonable officer would have known it is unlawful to force a plaintiff
to walk to the squad car despite an obviously severe leg injury.
- 16 -
For these reasons, the Court concludes that defendants are not entitled to qualified
immunity on plaintiffs excessive force claims. The Court therefore denies defendants
motion for summary judgment on plaintiffs claims that defendants used excessive force
by taking plaintiff to the ground and by forcing plaintiff to walk to the squad car with an
obviously severe leg injury.
IV. PUNITIVE DAMAGES
Finally, defendants argue that there is insufficient evidence to support plaintiffs
claim for punitive damages. Punitive damages may be awarded in a 1983 action when
the defendants conduct is shown to be motivated by evil motive or intent, or when it
involves reckless or callous indifference to the federally protected rights of others.
Duncan v. Wells, 23 F.3d 1322, 1324 (8th Cir. 1994) (internal quotations and citations
omitted); Hollins v. Powell, 773 F.2d 191, 197-98 (8th Cir. 1985) (stating that punitive
damages may be awarded in 1983 actions to punish a defendant for outrageous conduct
and to deter similar conduct in the future).
The Court finds sufficient evidence in the record to create a genuine issue of
material fact as to whether defendants conduct was motivated by evil intent or involved
reckless or callous indifference to plaintiffs constitutional rights. As discussed above,
the inconsistencies in Aurens use of force reports, and Siedschlags failure to complete
any police reports, support a reasonable inference that Auren was trying to protect his
superior officer from potential disciplinary action arising from the incident. Aurens
claim that he looked down at the very moment Siedschlag executed the takedown, and his
statement that he knew [they] were going down to the ground with [plaintiff] prior to
- 17 -
the takedown, further supports an inference that Auren was aware that Siedschlag was
going to engage in unconstitutional conduct and failed to intervene. Finally, if the jury
finds that the force of the takedown, rather than plaintiffs preexisting osteoporosis, was
the primary cause of the hip fracture, it might reasonably conclude that defendants
conduct is outrageous and award punitive damages to deter similar conduct in the future.
For these reasons, the Court finds that a reasonable jury could find that
defendants conduct supports an award of punitive damages. Accordingly, the Court
denies defendants motion for summary judgment on plaintiffs claim for punitive
damages.
This case will be placed on the Courts next available trial calendar.
ORDER
Based on the foregoing, all the files, records and proceedings herein, IT IS
HEREBY ORDERED that defendants Motion for Summary Judgment [Docket No. 15]
is DENIED.
DATED: May 5, 2008 s/ John R. Tunheim _
at Minneapolis, Minnesota. JOHN R. TUNHEIM
United States District Judge
 

 
 
 

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