United States District Court, D. Minnesota
TROY K. SCHEFFLER, Plaintiff,
MARK McDONOUGH, in his individual capacity acting under color of law as a Coon Rapids Police Officer, JOE PRICE, in his individual capacity acting under color of law as a Coon Rapids Police Officer, and CITY OF COON RAPIDS, MINNESOTA, a government entity and political subdivision of the State of Minnesota, Defendants.
J. Nickitas, PETER J. NICKITAS LAW OFFICE, L.L.C., and Paul
Applebaum, APPLEBAUM LAW FIRM, for plaintiff.
M. Zipf, LEAGUE OF MINNESOTA CITIES, for defendants.
Patrick J. Schiltz, United States District Judge.
after midnight on July 10, 2014, plaintiff Troy Scheffler
approached defendant Mark McDonough-a police officer who was
sitting in a blacked-out squad car surveilling the scene of a
possible crime-and accused McDonough of following him. The
two men got into an argument, and McDonough handcuffed,
arrested, and allegedly assaulted Scheffler. Scheffler
contends that McDonough did not have probable cause to arrest
him and that McDonough used excessive force against him.
should have brought two claims against McDonough under 42
U.S.C. § 1983: one for unlawful arrest and the other for
excessive force. Instead, Scheffler filed a 17-count
complaint, including not only claims for unlawful arrest and
excessive force, but 15 other claims that seem to have no
real purpose. If the jury believes Scheffler's testimony,
then his unlawful-arrest and excessive-force claims will
allow him to recover every penny to which he is entitled
(including attorney's fees and costs); the other 15
claims will result in no additional recovery. And if the jury
does not believe Scheffler's testimony, then he is highly
unlikely to be awarded damages on any of his claims. Most
likely, then, the 15 additional claims will accomplish
nothing but to create a great deal of needless work for the
parties and the Court.
Court has repeatedly criticized the filing of
‘kitchen-sink' or ‘shotgun'
complaints-complaints in which a plaintiff brings every
conceivable claim against every conceivable defendant.”
Gurman v. Metro Hous. & Redev. Auth., 842
F.Supp.2d 1151, 1153 & n.2 (D. Minn. 2011) (collecting
cases). One reason why kitchen-sink complaints are so often
criticized is that they “unfairly burden defendants and
courts” by “shift[ing] onto the defendant and the
court the burden of identifying the plaintiff's genuine
claims and determining which of those claims might have legal
true in this case. Both sides have moved for partial summary
judgment, and thus the defendants and the Court must now
trudge through 17 claims to separate the wheat from the
July 10, 2014
after midnight on July 10, 2014, police officers employed by
defendant City of Coon Rapids (“Coon Rapids”)
were dispatched to a car dealership based on a report of a
prowler or other disturbance. Zipf Aff. Ex. 1 at 16;
McDonough Aff. Ex. 12. Scheffler was biking home when he was
passed by one or two of the squad cars that had been
dispatched to the scene. Zipf Aff. Ex. 1 at 76:2-20;
Scheffler Dep. 80:6-81:10, 82:5-8. The first squad car shined
a light on Scheffler as it passed by him heading in the
opposite direction. Scheffler Dep. 80:6-18. As Scheffler
continued biking home, he came upon a parked squad car that
was blacked out and facing against traffic. Scheffler Dep.
81:16-82:12; see also McDonough Aff. Ex. 12.
McDonough was alone in the car, surveilling the car
dealership in case a suspect tried to escape. Zipf. Aff. Ex.
1 at 16:4-11; McDonough Aff. Ex. 12; Scheffler Dep. 88:22-24.
seeing McDonough's squad car, Scheffler called 911, told
the dispatcher that a police officer was following him and
had stopped in front of him, and asked the dispatcher to tell
the police officer to leave. Zipf Aff. Ex. 1 at 29:9-16;
Scheffler Dep. 82:16-25. The dispatcher suggested that
Scheffler approach the police officer and ask him what he was
doing. Zipf Aff. Ex. 1 at 30:9-18; Scheffler Dep. 91:21-92:9.
Scheffler followed the dispatcher's advice and approached
the passenger side of the squad car to question McDonough
through the open window. Scheffler Dep. 96-97. The 911
operator stayed on the line, and thus the encounter between
Scheffler and McDonough was recorded.
reached the squad car, Scheffler asked McDonough: “Why
are you here?” Zipf Aff. Ex. 1 at 30:19-23; Scheffler
Dep. 97:5-15. McDonough replied by asking Scheffler what
he was doing. Zipf Aff. Ex. 1 at 30:20; Scheffler
Dep. 97:7-15. Scheffler responded that he was on his way home
and minding his own business. Zipf Aff. Ex. 1 at 30:25;
Scheffler Dep. 98:2-7.
exited his squad car and asked Scheffler for identification.
Zipf Aff. Ex. 1 at 31:1-2; Scheffler Dep. 97-98. According to
McDonough, Scheffler was intoxicated and acting belligerent.
McDonough Aff. Ex. 12; Zipf Aff. Ex. 1 at 22:11-13, 24:17-23.
In fact, Scheffler had taken both Alprazolam (a generic
version of Xanax) and a sleeping pill earlier that day.
Scheffler Dep. 76:10-77:4, 132:12-20. On the 911 recording,
Scheffler sounds intoxicated.
refused to provide any identification or tell McDonough what
he wanted. When McDonough asked “do you have an ID on
you?, ” Scheffler responded, “doesn't
matter.” Zipf Aff. Ex. 7 at 2:31-33. Scheffler's
response seemed to irritate McDonough, who told Scheffler:
“Okay, listen, there's one of two ways this is
going to go. Which way do you want it to go? Let me see your
ID.” Zipf Aff. Ex. 7 at 2:33-39.
some more back and forth, McDonough asked Scheffler for his
name, and Scheffler answered, “I don't have to
respond to that.” Zipf Aff. Ex. 1 at 31:8-19; Zipf Aff.
Ex. 7 at 2:39-3:22. McDonough replied, “Well, then get
the fuck out of here then.” Zipf Aff. Ex. 1 at 31:20;
Zipf Aff. Ex. 7 at 3:23-24. Scheffler refused to leave, but
instead asked that McDonough's supervisor be called to
the scene. Zipf Aff. Ex. 1 at 31:21. McDonough responded,
“Sure.” Zipf Aff. Ex. 1 at 31:22; Zipf Aff. Ex. 7
at 3:29-32. McDonough continued: “Here's what I am
going to do. I am going to put you over here and put your
hands behind you. . . .” Zipf Aff. Ex. 7 at 3:34-37.
Scheffler asked if he was being arrested, and McDonough
responded by again ordering Scheffler to put his hands behind
his back. Zipf Ex. 7 at 3:37-41. Scheffler then asked why he
was getting arrested, and, according to Scheffler, McDonough
responded: “For being a fuck.” (The 911 recording
is not clear.) Zipf Aff. Ex. 1 at 32:5; Scheffler Dep.
105:20-22; see also Zipf Aff. Ex. 7 at 3:42-48.
point, the 911 recording captures what sounds like a physical
altercation between Scheffler and McDonough, but their words
are garbled, and their testimony about what happened
conflicts. McDonough can be heard telling Scheffler-over and
over again-to give McDonough his “other hand.”
Zipf Aff. Ex. 7 at 3:50-59. McDonough says that Scheffler was
flailing his arms and resisting being handcuffed. McDonough
Aff. Ex. 12. Scheffler denies that he resisted handcuffing.
parties agree that Scheffler was then taken to the ground,
but the parties dispute how. McDonough says that, because
Scheffler was resisting handcuffing, McDonough swept
Scheffler's legs from under him to bring Scheffler to the
ground. McDonough Aff. Ex. 12. McDonough maintains that, even
after being taken to the ground, Scheffler continued to
resist handcuffing, so McDonough called for assistance.
McDonough Aff. Ex. 12; see also Zipf Aff. Ex. 1 at
33:3-5. Defendant Joe Price-who, like McDonough, was a Coon
Rapids police officer-responded to McDonough's call.
Price arrived, he observed McDonough and Scheffler struggling
on the ground. Price Aff. Ex. 13. Price states that he saw
one handcuff on Scheffler's left hand and McDonough
attempting to handcuff Scheffler's right hand. Price Aff.
Ex. 13. Price then placed his right knee on Scheffler's
shoulder in order to assist McDonough in getting a handcuff
on Scheffler's right hand. Price Aff. Ex. 13. The
officers further allege that, even after being handcuffed,
Scheffler continued to resist, so the officers held him down
and checked him for weapons. Price Aff. Ex. 13. McDonough
testified that he did not strike Scheffler. Zipf. Aff. Ex. 1
at 23:9-13; 24:8-10.
tells a very different story. According to Scheffler,
McDonough shoved Scheffler off his bike and onto the ground,
knocking the wind out of him. Scheffler Dep. 105:14-25.
Scheffler admits that McDonough asked for Scheffler's
“other hand.” Scheffler Dep. 106:25-107:3. But,
according to Scheffler, McDonough was at that point trying to
grab Scheffler's cell phone, which he was holding in that
“other hand.” According to Scheffler, he readily
complied with McDonough's request, saying “it's
right here.” Scheffler Dep. 107:4-8, 107:20-108:7.
Scheffler testified that, after getting Scheffler's cell
phone, McDonough handcuffed Scheffler, dragged him up against
the rear tire of the squad car, and repeatedly banged his
head against the tire while interrogating him. Scheffler Dep.
111:24-112:13. McDonough denies Scheffler's allegations,
but the 911 recording seems consistent with Scheffler's
McDonough: You got an i.d. [on] you? I said do you have an
i.d.? You got an i.d.?
McDonough: Do you have an i.d.? Do you?
Price: Answer him.
McDonough: Answer me. That's what you do. What's your
McDonough: Do you remember your name yet?
McDonough: Hmm? Do you remember your name yet? Hmm? . . . .
Zipf Aff. Ex. 7 at 4:40-5:05. Scheffler testified that Price
not only watched McDonough assault him, but cheered McDonough
on. Scheffler Dep. 109:2-8, 112:14-23.
claims that he was eventually knocked unconscious. Scheffler
Dep. 115:18. The officers dispute this, and say that not only
was Scheffler conscious at all times, but he continued to be
belligerent. McDonough Aff. Ex. 12; Price Aff. Ex. 13.
video captured a conversation between McDonough and another
officer that took place shortly after Scheffler was
handcuffed and placed in the squad car. See Nickitas
Decl. Ex. C; Zipf Aff. Ex. 1 at 38:9-22. On the video,
McDonough is heard saying that Scheffler is “fucking
drunk as shit” and referring to Scheffler as
“fuck face” and as an “asshole.” Zipf
Aff. Ex. 1 at 38:12-16; Nickitas Decl. Ex. C.
cited Scheffler for obstructing the legal process in
violation of Minn. Stat. § 609.50, subd. 1(2), Zipf Aff.
Ex. 10, and transported Scheffler to the Anoka County Jail at
approximately 1:15 am, Zipf Aff. Ex. 1 at 41:8-12; Scheffler
Dep. 124:23- 125:1. No medical care was provided to Scheffler
at the scene. Scheffler Dep. 129:20- 130:16. Scheffler says
that, while he was in jail, he requested a nurse but was not
provided one. Scheffler Dep. 240:15-241:5.
was released from jail at about 2:00 pm on July 10, 2014 and
went to an urgent care facility at about 6:15 pm complaining
of pain and dizziness. Scheffler Dep. 133:1-6, 144:3-13;
Nickitas Ex. J. The doctor diagnosed him with a concussion
and noted scratches and marks on his head and body. Nickitas
Decl. Ex. J. The next day, Scheffler submitted a request to
Coon Rapids under the Minnesota ...