United States District Court, D. Minnesota
N. ERICKSEN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
filed claims against Defendants under 42 U.S.C. § 1983
for alleged violations of his First, Fourth, and Fifth
Amendment rights. The Court dismissed the claims against
Defendant City of Anoka. ECF No. 42. The remaining Defendants
are employees of Metro Transit. They moved for summary
judgment and dismissal with prejudice. ECF No. 56. Pro
se Plaintiff filed no opposition to the motion for
summary judgment and did not appear at the hearing. ECF Nos.
67, 68 at 2. In a Report and Recommendation
(“R&R”) dated September 22, 2017, the
Honorable Franklin L. Noel, United States Magistrate Judge,
recommended that Defendants' motion for summary judgment
be granted. ECF No. 68.
objected to the R&R, stating that he “didn't
have any knowledge of a court date, wasn't properly
served.” ECF No. 69 at 1. The docket contains no record
of a certificate of service as to Defendants' motion for
summary judgment. Because the Court could not conclude that
Plaintiff was properly served with the motion for summary
judgment and the hearing date, the Court gave Plaintiff an
opportunity to file an opposition to Defendants' motion.
ECF No. 73. Plaintiff filed no additional opposition.
the Court conducted a de novo review of the record.
See 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1); Fed.R.Civ.P.
72(b)(3); D. Minn. LR 72.2. For the reasons set for below,
the Court agrees with the R&R that summary judgment is
appropriate, as “there is no genuine dispute as to any
material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a
matter of law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a).
support of their motion, Defendants offered police reports,
the deposition of Plaintiff, and a video that depicts the
encounter giving rise to Plaintiff's claims. ECF Nos. 59,
60. Plaintiff offered no evidence. The record evidence all
substantiates Defendants' factual assertions. As a
result, the Court finds that there is no genuine dispute of
material fact as to the following incident. See Fed.
R. Civ. P. 56(e).
and Qui Lewis entered the Northstar commuter train without
buying tickets. The conductor told them that they had to buy
tickets at the next stop. They purchased reduced disability
fare tickets. The conductor believed they were ineligible for
these tickets and informed Metro Transit police officers of
these events. Defendants Carlson and Yang, both police
officers for Metro Transit, approached Plaintiff and Lewis
and asked to see their tickets and identification. Plaintiff
refused to provide identification and sat down in his seat.
Defendants explained that valid identification is required to
purchase a reduced disability fare ticket.
still refused to provide identification and began to argue
with and yell at Defendants. While continuing to argue,
Plaintiff stood up in an aggressive manner and moved within
approximately six inches of Defendant Carlson's face.
Defendants interpreted this as threatening and
confrontational. Defendant Carlson pushed his hand into
Plaintiff's chest to return Plaintiff to a sitting
position. Defendants informed Plaintiff that he was under
arrest for fare evasion and ordered him to place his hands
behind his back. Plaintiff disregarded the order and
continued arguing. Defendant Carlson reached for
Plaintiff's arm and Lewis blocked Defendant Carlson.
Carlson and Yang then waited with Plaintiff until the arrival
of Defendants Hutchinson, Trammel, and Pruter, all police
officers with Metro Transit. Defendants next escorted
Plaintiff and Lewis off the train without using any force.
Once off the train, Defendants handcuffed and searched
Plaintiff and Lewis, resulting in the seizure of a cell
phone. Defendants transported Plaintiff to the Anoka County
Jail and he was charged with fare evasion and obstruction of
legal process. He later pled guilty to unlawfully obtaining
transit services in violation of Minn. Stat. § 609.855.
on the above facts, Defendants are entitled to summary
judgment on the claims against them, both in their individual
capacities and their official capacities.
are entitled to qualified immunity as to the § 1983
claims against them in their individual capacities.
“The doctrine of qualified immunity protects government
officials ‘from liability for civil damages insofar as
their conduct does not violate clearly established statutory
or constitutional rights of which a reasonable person would
have known.'” Pearson v. Callahan, 555
U.S. 223, 231 (2009) (citation omitted). Defendants did not
violate any clearly established constitutional rights in
their interaction with Plaintiff. Thus, Defendants are immune
from suit in their individual capacities and the Court grants
them summary judgment.
Court construes Plaintiff's claims against Defendants in
their official capacities as claims against Defendants'
employer, Metro Transit. See Johnson v. Outboard Marine
Corp., 172 F.3d 531, 535 (8th Cir. 1999) (“A suit
against a public employee in his or her official capacity is
merely a suit against the public employer.”). A
municipality is liable under § 1983 if a municipal
“custom or policy was the moving force behind . . . an
unconstitutional act by a municipal employee.”
Reasonover v. St. Louis Cty., Mo., 447 F.3d 569, 583
(8th Cir. 2006) (citations omitted). Defendants committed no
unconstitutional acts. Therefore, Metro Transit cannot be
liable under § 1983 and is entitled to summary
short, the Court adopts the recommended disposition.
Accordingly, IT IS ORDERED THAT:
Defendants' motion for summary judgment [ECF ...