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Truong v. Hassan

United States District Court, D. Minnesota

May 14, 2015

Jonathan Alexander Truong, Plaintiff,
v.
Ahmad Aladin Hassan, in his individual capacity and the Metropolitan Council, a public corporation, Defendants.

A.L. Brown, Esq., Capitol City Law Group, LLC, St. Paul, MN, on behalf of Plaintiff.

Jason M. Hiveley, Esq., Iverson Reuvers Condon, Bloomington, MN, on behalf of Defendants.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

ANN D. MONTGOMERY, District Judge.

I. INTRODUCTION

This matter came before the undersigned United States District Judge on January 13, 2015 on Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment [Docket No. 15].[1] For the reasons discussed below, Defendants' Motion is granted.

II. BACKGROUND

On October 7, 2007, Plaintiff Jonathan Truong ("Truong") attempted to board a Metro Transit bus at 11:53 p.m. Brown Aff., [Docket No. 22] Attach. 1, Metro Transit Bus Video ("Video"). The bus was driven by Defendant Ahmad Aladin Hassan ("Hassan"). Truong, a native of Vietnam, grew up during the Vietnam war. Hiveley Aff., [Docket No. 17] Ex. 1 ("Truong Dep.") 6:6-13. At the age of 20, Truong came to the United States and shortly thereafter was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder ("OCD"), and a sleeping disorder. Id . Hassan has worked as a bus driver for Metro Transit for nearly eight years.[2] Hiveley Aff., Ex. 2 ("Hassan Dep.") 6:2. Truong was a frequent rider on Hassan's routes. Hassan Dep. 16:7. Truong claims he had a monthly bus pass, while Hassan believed Truong would often try to ride the bus without paying. Video 11:53:29; Truong Dep. 14:4-10.

On the night of this videotaped incident, Truong attempted to ride a bus driven by Hassan. Before Truong boarded the bus, Hassan said "[d]on't get on my bus." Video 11:53:18. According to Hassan, Truong rode his bus earlier that day and did not pay the $1.50 fare. Id. at 11:53:29. Hassan tried to close the doors before Truong could enter the bus, but Truong put his hands in the door and said "I am going to pay." Id. at 11:54:28. Once on the bus, Truong repeated that he was going to pay. Id . 11:53:45.

Truong shuffled through a plastic bag he was carrying. Truong's OCD leads him to constantly wipe his hands, which is why he claims it was taking him awhile to get his bus pass out of the bag. Truong Dep. 18:13-24. Hassan, growing impatient, repeated "[g]et off my bus." Video 11:54:30. After Truong had been on the bus for about one minute without paying, Hassan stood up, grabbed Truong's plastic bag and threw it off of the bus. Id. at 11:54:50. Trong asked, "are you going to call the police?" Id. at 11:55:00. Hassan then physically grabbed Truong by the shoulders, pushed him out the door and extended his foot in a kicking motion. Id . Truong "believe[s] there was a force on [my back.]" Truong Dep. 50:14. Hassan testified that he kicked toward Truong, but that this foot did not make contact with Truong's body. Hassan Dep. 10:24. While removing Truong from the bus, Hassan said "[i]f I say get off the bus, you get off the bus." Video 11:54:54.

Once off the bus, Truong tried to hold the bus door open. Id. at 11:55:12. Hassan can be heard saying "[h]e does this every fucking day, " "have a good day sir, " and "this guy is a nutcase man." Id. at 11:55:59. Although not shown in the video, Truong states that he then held onto the front of the bus. See Truong Dep. 37-41 ("I want to hang onto the bus to show him that he cannot drive the bus when a passenger is still hanging on the bus... I have to... grab on the front by the windshield wiper and stand on the bumper around the corner of the [headlight], and hanging there, and then I showed my face at the windshield, to let him know that I'm not on the street, away from his view, but I'm right up here on his windshield.").

Over the next two minutes, Hassan accelerated and braked the bus suddenly at least three times. Video 11:58:01. Hassan claims that Truong was not affixed to the bus, but rather would jump in front of the bus when it started moving. Hassan Dep. 22:18; 23-25. The video does not capture a view of the front of the bus, but Hassan can be heard saying "[s]omebody get this guy off of here man, " "[i]s he back on?" and "I've got to get this guy off." Video 11:59:56; 12:00:54; 12:01:00. Truong claims that Hassan drove very close to the curb in an attempt to use trees and street signs to brush him off of the bus. Truong Dep. 46:19-25.

The video also shows a group of young male passengers on the bus who laugh throughout the incident. Video 11:58:01. They asked Hassan if they could get off and "whoop [Truong's] ass." Id. at 11:58:19. Hassan told them not to hurt Truong, but that "it would be great if they could get him off of the bus." Id. at 11:58:21. Hassan opened the back door and several men got off and returned about 20 seconds later. Id. at 11:58:40. Hassan accelerated and braked hard again. Id . The video shows that those standing on the bus were thrown off balance and had to catch themselves. Id. at 11:59:38. Hassan said "somebody get this guy off of here man, I've had it with this fucking guy." Id . 11:59:59. Several passengers again exit the bus. Id . A few seconds later, Hassan told those passengers to get back on the bus because he "has to go." Id . 12:00:48. Hassan accelerated and abruptly stopped the bus again. Id . 12:00:55.

Police who were nearby noticed the incident and came to investigate. Id . 12:01:07. The officers asked Hassan some questions about the incident while he was seated in the driver's seat. Id . At one point, Hassan stated "I don't think [Truong] is alright in the head." Id . 12:05:38.

Truong testified that when Hassan physically removed him from the bus he was "terrified" and had a "numbing feeling" throughout his body. Truong Dep. 32:20-33:4. Truong claims that the passengers who got off the bus pulled him from the bus, threw him on the pavement and punched him. Id. at 55-56. Truong suffered minor physical injuries as a result of the incident, including a bruised thigh, bruised cheek, and bloody scrapes on both hands. Id. at 62: 21-23. He was taken to a hospital where he was examined by a doctor, given pain relief medication, had his hands bandaged, and was administered a tetanus shot. Id . 63-65.

Truong filed this suit on October 27, 2013, alleging four claims: (1) a Section 1983 claim for excessive force under the Fourth Amendment; (2) a Section 1983 claim for substantive due process under the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments; (3) negligence; and (4) vicarious ...


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