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Fancher v. Klann

United States District Court, D. Minnesota

August 28, 2014

Daniel L. Fancher, Plaintiff,
v.
Sokhom Klann and Andrew Allen, in their individual capacities as officers of the Minneapolis Police Department and City of Minneapolis, Defendants.

Robert Bennett, Esq. and Gaskins, Bennett, Birrell and Schupp, LLP, counsel for plaintiff.

Sarah C.S. McLaren, Esq., Office of the Minneapolis City Attorney, counsel for defendants.

ORDER

DAVID S. DOTY, District Judge.

This matter is before the court upon the motion by plaintiff Daniel L. Fancher to exclude expert testimony and the motion for partial summary judgment by defendants Sokhom Klann, Andrew Allen and the City of Minneapolis (City). Based on a review of the file, record and proceedings herein, and for the following reasons, the court grants in part the motion to exclude and grants the motion for summary judgment.

BACKGROUND

This excessive-force dispute arises out of a June 7, 2012, incident between Fancher and Minneapolis police officers Klann and Allen. At approximately 3:30 that morning, the officers responded to a 911 call of individuals throwing objects at vehicles. McLaren Decl. Ex. A at 1, ECF No. 22. Two of Fancher's friends were outside his apartment smoking cigarettes at the time police responded to the incident. Fancher Dep. 20:20-22. The friends subsequently reentered Fancher's apartment. Id. at 21:11-25. Thereafter, the officers entered Fancher's apartment through a bedroom window. Id. at 26:17-24.

Fancher alleges that, as he walked down his hallway, Klann grabbed him by the neck, pushed him against the wall and struck him on the head with his flashlight. Id. at 26:21-27:2. The officers then proceeded down the hallway to speak to Fancher's friends. Id. at 30:16-24. Fancher alleges that the officers also destroyed several items of personal property in the apartment, including a television and laptop. Id. at 35:15-25.

All three individuals were placed in the squad car. Vettleson Aff. Ex. B, at 9. The officers radioed an "all-clear" signal and requested an ambulance for Fancher. Id . Fancher was taken by ambulance to the hospital, where he was diagnosed with a scalp laceration that required four sutures. Id . Ex. E at 3, 5. Fancher was charged with misdemeanor obstruction of legal process, a charge that was later dropped. Bennett Aff. ¶ 3. After the charges were initially dropped, Fancher was again charged with misdemeanor and gross misdemeanor obstructing legal process relating to the same incident. Id . That second set of charges was also dropped. Id.

On February 22, 2013, Fancher filed this action, alleging unreasonable seizure and excessive force under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and a claim for false arrest. Fancher moves to exclude the expert testimony of Joshua Lego. Defendants move for partial summary judgment on Fancher's claims of municipal liability against the City.

DISCUSSION

I. Expert Testimony[1]

Fancher moves to exclude the expert testimony of Joshua Lego. Federal Rule of Evidence 702 provides that:

[a] witness who is qualified as an expert by knowledge, skill, experience, training, or education may testify in the form of an opinion or otherwise if: (a) the expert's scientific, technical, or other specialized knowledge will help the trier of fact to understand the evidence or to determine a fact in issue; (b) the testimony is based on sufficient facts or data; (c) the testimony is the product of reliable principles and methods; and (d) the expert has reliably applied the principles and methods to the facts of the case.

Under Rule 702, the court acts as a gatekeeper to determine "whether the witness is qualified to offer expert testimony." Schmidt v. City of Bella Villa , 557 F.3d 564, 570 (8th Cir. 2009) (citing Daubert ...


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