Ramsey County District Court File No. 62-CV-11-6873 R.
Donald Hawkinson, Minneapolis, Minnesota (for appellants).
Sara Grewing, St. Paul City Attorney, Lawrence J. Hayes, Jr., Assistant City Attorney, St. Paul, Minnesota (for respondents).
Considered and decided by Hooten, Presiding Judge; Cleary, Judge; and Smith, Judge.
We affirm the district court's grant of summary judgment because there are no genuine issues of material fact in dispute and appellants' claims of negligence, involving a "physical confrontation" between police officers and a misidentified domestic assault suspect, are barred by official immunity and vicarious official immunity.
St. Paul Police Officer Ramar Davis was dispatched to investigate an alleged domestic assault at approximately 1:00 a.m. on September 28, 2009. The alleged victim reported that her husband, the suspect, was 25 years old and lived at 510 Cedar Avenue, apartment eight, in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Officer Davis contacted his supervisor, who advised him to attempt to locate and arrest the suspect in collaboration with the Minneapolis Police Department. Officer Davis and two Minneapolis police officers proceeded to 510 Cedar Avenue; however, they were unable to locate apartment eight. Officer Davis requested an address check on the suspect from the St. Paul police department. The search indicated that the suspect lived at 512 Cedar Avenue, apartment five.
The officers proceeded to 512 Cedar Avenue and knocked on the door of apartment five. Appellant Gelle Ali Hussein answered the door. At the time, Hussein's nephew, appellant Ahmed Mohamed Olol, age 21, was sleeping under a blanket on a mattress in the living room. Officer Davis initiated contact with Olol, who failed to comply with various police commands. Olol's noncompliance led to a physical confrontation between the officers and Olol, until Olol was handcuffed. After the officers handcuffed him, Olol produced identification, establishing that he was not the suspect. The officers removed the handcuffs and apologized for the inconvenience of mistaking him for the suspect.
Appellants initiated this lawsuit, alleging, in relevant part, that the City of St. Paul and its police officers "were negligent in not adequately checking whether [appellants] were the suspects for whom they were looking" and that the officers "used excessive and inappropriate force." Respondents moved for summary judgment and appellants opposed the motion. Following a hearing, the district court granted summary judgment in favor of respondents.
Summary judgment shall be granted when "the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that either party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law." Minn. R. Civ. P. 56.03. On appeal from summary judgment, we review de novo whether there are any genuine issues of material fact and whether the district court erred in its application of the law. STAR Ctrs., Inc. v. Faegre & Benson, L.L.P., 644 N.W.2d 72, 77 (Minn. 2002). In doing so, we view the evidence in the light most favorable to the party against whom summary judgment was granted. Fabio v. Bellomo, 504 N.W.2d 758, 761 (Minn. 1993). Mere averments set forth in the pleadings are insufficient to defeat a motion for summary judgment. Minn. R. Civ. P. 56.05. Rather, a party opposing summary judgment "must demonstrate that there are specific fact issues in existence which create a genuine issue for trial." Sphere Drake Ins. Co. v. Tremco, Inc., 513 N.W.2d 473, 477 (Minn.App. 1994), review denied (Minn. Apr. 28, 1994). Evidence that "merely creates a metaphysical doubt as to a factual issue" is not sufficient. DLH, Inc. v. Russ, 566 N.W.2d 60, 71 (Minn. 1997).
Appellants challenge the district court's grant of summary judgment in favor of respondents, arguing that genuine issues of material fact remain in dispute regarding whether (1) Hussein indicated that Olol was the suspect and (2) the police ...