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Todd v. City of Lafayette

United States District Court, M.D. Alabama

December 12, 2017

MERRILL TODD, Plaintiff,
v.
CITY OF LAFAYETTE,, Defendants.

          ORDER

          MYRON H. THOMPSON UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Plaintiff Merrill Todd names the following as defendants in this lawsuit: Officers Jerome Bailey, Larry Clark, Terry Woods, and Steve Smith and the City of LaFayette, Alabama. The first count in his lawsuit claims that Bailey, Clark, and Woods violated his constitutional right by using excessive force against him. The second count claims that the City of LaFayette violated his constitutional right by negligently hiring, retaining, and failing to supervise the individual defendants. For both counts, Todd relies on 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The final count is a state-law battery claim against Bailey, Clark, Woods, and Smith. Jurisdiction for the federal claims is proper under 28 U.S.C. §§ 1331 (federal question) and 1343 (civil rights), and the state-law claim is properly before the court under supplemental jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1367.

         This case is currently before the court on a motion for summary judgment filed by the City of LaFayette. For reasons that will be discussed, the motion will be granted and summary judgment entered in favor of the city.

         I. SUMMARY-JUDGMENT STANDARD

         “A party may move for summary judgment, identifying each claim or defense--or the part of each claim or defense--on which summary judgment is sought. The court shall grant summary judgment if the movant shows that 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). The court must view the admissible evidence in the light most favorable to the non-moving party and draw all reasonable inferences in favor of that party. Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. Ltd. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986). “Where the evidence is circumstantial, a court may grant summary judgment when it concludes that no reasonable jury may infer from the assumed facts the conclusion upon which the non-movant's claim rests.” Mize v. Jefferson City Bd. of Educ., 93 F.3d 739, 743 (11th Cir. 1996).

         II. FACTUAL BACKGROUND

         On August 7, 2010, Todd and family members held a party at Club Blaze in LaFayette. The party was thrown in honor of Todd's deceased sister and also to celebrate a cousin's birthday.

         Todd arrived at the club between four and five o'clock on August 7 to help set up for the party. The event had been advertised on a Facebook page.

         Officers from the enforcement wing of the Alabama Alcoholic Beverage Control Board learned of the party and staged an undercover operation to determine if alcohol was being sold there without a liquor license. That night two undercover agents entered the club and were able to purchase alcohol. Based on this information, law enforcement then decided to sweep the party in a large-scale enforcement action. A joint county-city task force convened, with law enforcement officers from LaFayette and Chambers County.

         According to Todd, he was in the club's parking lot when the officers arrived. As he had two days left on parole, he decided to leave the scene of the raid rather than risk being charged with violating the terms of his parole. He and one of his cousin went towards the back of club. As he went around the corner of the club, he saw the headlights of a truck approaching from the opposite side of the building. He started running in the direction of the woods. There was no one in the back of the club except him, his cousin, and police officers.

         Todd does not, however, remember what occurred between the moment he saw the truck's headlights and woke up in the hospital. He has, however, presented evidence that he contends directly and circumstantially support the conclusion that one of the defendants, Officer Smith, hit him with the truck and that the defendants beat him without provocation. He suffered a number of physical injuries.

         Since the incident Todd has had a marked drop in memory. During his deposition he had difficulty remembering what month during the past year he was married in. He stated that he can remember many things before the incident, but he has to try very hard to remember things that happened after it, and it hurts when he tries to do so. Three months after the incident he underwent surgery to relieve pressure resulting from a “intracranial hemorrhage, ” Med. Records (Doc. No.53-33) at 2, which he described as a brain bleed. He suffers from blurred vision and fears he may go blind in his left eye.

         III. DISCUSSION

         As stated, the City of LaFayette contends that it is entitled to ...


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