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Ivey v. Williams

United States District Court, D. Minnesota

February 19, 2019

Christopher Ivey, Plaintiff,
v.
Daniel Williams, Michael Glavan, William Gullickson, Scott Giannini, Tara Halverson, Kevin Dreher, and Matthew Dahl, Defendants.

          ORDER ADOPTING REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          DONOVAN W. FRANK UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         This matter is before the Court upon Defendants Daniel Williams (“Williams”) and Michael Glavan's (“Defendants”) objections (Doc. No. 84) to Magistrate Judge Tony N. Leung's December 12, 2018 Report and Recommendation (Doc. No. 83 (“R&R”)) which recommends that: Defendants' Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff's Complaint (Doc. No. 63) be: (1) denied with respect to Counts 1, 2, 3, 7, and 8 insofar as Plaintiff alleges claims for monetary relief against Defendants in their individual capacities; and (2) granted with respect to Counts 1, 2, 3, 7, and 8 insofar as Plaintiff alleges claims for injunctive relief against Defendants in their individual capacities and dismissing those claims with prejudice. Defendants do not object to the recommendation to dismiss Plaintiff's claims for injunctive relief. Plaintiff filed a response to Defendants' objections on January 7, 2019. (Doc. No. 85.)

         The Court has conducted a de novo review of the record, including a review of the arguments and submissions of counsel, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1) and Local Rule 72.2(b). The factual background for the above-entitled matter is clearly and precisely set forth in the R&R and is incorporated by reference here. To provide context for Defendants' objections, the Court reiterates that Plaintiff asserts four claims of excessive force, punishment, and injury arising under the Fourteenth Amendment; three against Defendant Daniel Williams (“Williams”) and one against Defendant Michael Glavan (“Glavan”).[1] Plaintiff also asserts one claim of battery arising under Minnesota state law against Glavan (Count 8). Plaintiff sues Defendants in their individual capacities and seeks both injunctive and monetary relief.

         The Magistrate Judge determined that Plaintiff fails to state a claim with respect to injunctive relief because 42 U.S.C. § 1983 does not permit such relief against state officials sued in their individual capacity. (R&R at 6.) The R&R recommends that the Court dismiss those claims with prejudice. Defendants do not object to this recommendation. The Magistrate Judge also determined that Plaintiff met his burden to allege facts that show that Defendants' conduct was objectively unreasonable. (R&R at 10.) The R&R recommends that the Court decline to dismiss Counts 1-3 and 7-8 with respect to monetary relief. Finally, the Magistrate Judge determined that Defendants are not entitled to official or qualified immunity. He found that official immunity does not apply because a jury could find that the conduct complained of was performed willfully or maliciously, and that qualified immunity is precluded because the use of force was objectively unreasonable.

         Defendants object to the R&R's recommendation with respect to monetary relief on the grounds that Defendants' alleged actions were reasonable under the circumstances. Defendants argue that: (1) Plaintiff's handcuffs were applied properly and double locked; (2) the R&R failed to address the deference to which Williams was entitled when he decided that use of a “chicken-wing” handcuff position was reasonable in light of the dangerous situation that existed at the time; (3) Plaintiff alleged no facts or authority that the use of hinged handcuffs was not reasonable under the circumstances; and (4) use of a rear wrist lock was not excessive because Plaintiff was acting dangerously and refusing to comply with commands, and because Plaintiff failed to allege injuries from the purported use of force. Defendants also object to the R&R's findings that they are not entitled to official or qualified immunity.

         The Court concludes that Defendants' objections fail to establish any reason to depart from the R&R. With respect to Plaintiff's allegations that Defendants used excessive force, the Magistrate Judge properly identified the relevant standard for analyzing a civilly committed individual's excessive force claim under the Fourteenth Amendment. See Andrews v. Neer, 253 F.3d 1052, 1061 (8th Cir. 2001). Excessive force claims in this context are governed by an objectively unreasonable standard set forth in the Kingsley test. Kingsley v. Hendrickson, 135 S.Ct. 2466, 2472-73 (2015). The Magistrate Judge correctly applied the standard set forth in Kingsley to find that a reasonable factfinder could conclude that both Defendants' alleged actions were objectively unreasonable.

         Defendants argue that the Magistrate Judge failed to consider precedent that dismissed a claim for excessive force related to tight handcuffs when the defendant followed proper handcuffing procedure. See Snyder v. Snyder, No. 06-3072, 2007 WL 8944415, at *7-8 (D. Minn. Mar. 21, 2007). Defendants contend that because the record shows that Plaintiff's handcuffs were applied properly and double locked, Count 1 should be dismissed. In Snyder, though, the decision was largely based on lack of evidence that there was long-term injury resulting from the handcuffs. Here, discovery is still underway. At this stage in the proceedings, there is sufficient evidence to permit Plaintiff's claim to move forward.

         The Court also acknowledges Defendants' arguments in respect to circumstances and deference, but observes that when the alleged actions took place, Plaintiff had already been sprayed with a chemical irritant, he had signaled that he was done damaging property, and he had complied with Defendants' commands to lay down on his bed and place his hands behind his back. The Court finds that a reasonable factfinder could conclude that subsequent use of a rear wrist lock, hinged handcuffs, and “chicken wing” positioning was unnecessary and excessive, considering Plaintiff was already subdued and restrained when Defendants entered his room.

         With respect to the argument that Plaintiff failed to allege injury or complain that the purported use of force caused him pain, the Court reiterates that discovery is still underway. While one or more of Plaintiff's claims may ultimately fail following discovery, the R&R correctly observed that Plaintiff has pled facts sufficient to give rise to a plausible claim at this stage in the proceedings. Consequently, the Court agrees with the R&R that Plaintiff has met his burden to allege facts that show that Defendants' conduct was objectively unreasonable with respect to Claims 1-3 and 7-8.

         In Count 8, Plaintiff alleges that Glavan also committed battery under Minnesota state-law. In Minnesota, a claim of battery is defined as an intentional, unpermitted, offensive conduct with another. Paradise City of Minneapolis, 297 N.W.2d 152, 155 (Minn. 1980). Nonetheless, “reasonable force may be used upon or toward the person of another without the other's consent . . . when used by a public or private institution providing custody or treatment against one lawfully committed to compel compliance with reasonable requirements for the control, conduct, or treatment of the committed person.” Minn. Stat. § 609.06, subd. 1(10).

         The Magistrate Judge concluded that because Plaintiff alleged sufficient facts to give rise to a plausible claim for excessive force under the Fourteenth Amendment, he alleged sufficient facts to establish that Glavan's use of force was unreasonable under Minnesota law as well. The Court agrees. A reasonable factfinder could conclude that Glavan's intentional use of force under the circumstances was objectively unreasonable. At this stage in the proceedings, Plaintiff has alleged sufficient facts to permit his claim arising under Minnesota state-law to proceed.

         Defendants argue that even if Glavan's alleged actions were not reasonable, he is entitled to official immunity. Defendants object to the R&R's finding that the doctrine of official immunity does not apply. “Official immunity is a common law doctrine that protects government officials from suit for discretionary actions taken by them in the course of their official duties.” Sletten v. Ramsey Cnty., 675 N.W.2d 291, 299 (Minn. 2004). The arrest and handcuffing of an individual is typically considered a discretionary act that is protected by the doctrine of official immunity. Johnson v. Morris, 453 N.W.2d 31, 41-42 (Minn. 1990). Defendants argue that Glavan's alleged use of a rear-wrist lock to restrain Plaintiff was a discretionary act that entitles him to official immunity.

         Nonetheless, official immunity does not apply if the conduct complained of was performed willfully or maliciously.” Grady v. Becker, 907 F.Supp.2d 975, 985 (D. Minn. 2012). “Whether or not an officer acted maliciously or willfully is usually a question of fact to be resolved by the jury.” Johnson, 453 N.W.2d at 42. The Magistrate Judge found that because there are sufficient claims in the complaint to give rise to an excessive force claim against Glavan, a jury could find that he acted willfully or maliciously. The Court agrees and concludes that official immunity does not apply. See Brown v. City of Golden Valley, 574, F.3d 491, 501 (8th Cir. 2009) (concluding that fact dispute on excessive force claim precluded grant of official immunity at summary judgment).

         Finally, the Court agrees with the Magistrate Judge's determination that Defendants are not entitled to qualified immunity. Qualified immunity protects state actors from civil liability when their “conduct does not violate clearly established statutory or constitutional rights which a reasonable person would have known.” Harlow v. Fitzgerald, 457 U.S. 800, 818 (1982). The defense protects “all but the plainly incompetent or those who knowingly violate the law.” Malley v. Briggs, 475 U.S. 335, 341 (1986). To overcome the defense, a plaintiff must show that: “(1) the facts, viewed in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, demonstrate the deprivation of a constitutional or statutory right; and (2) the right was clearly established at the time of deprivation.” Parrish v. Ball, 594 F.3d 993, ...


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