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Rinne v. City of Beatrice

United States District Court, D. Nebraska

September 19, 2018

KENT W. RINNE, Plaintiff,
CITY OF BEATRICE, DERRICK HOSICK, Beatrice Police Department Officer #306, ANTHONY CHISANO, Beatrice Police Department Officer #304, and NATASHA NESBITT, Beatrice Police Officer #316, Defendants.


          Richard G. Kopf Senior United States District Judge.

         Plaintiff brings this 42 U.S.C. § 1983 action against the City of Beatrice and three of its police officers, in their individual and official capacities, alleging that the Defendants used excessive force while falsely arresting and imprisoning him in violation of his Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment rights. Plaintiff further claims that the City failed to properly train its officers on various aspects of conducting criminal investigations; maintains policies, customs, and practices that caused the Plaintiff to suffer violations of his constitutional rights; and ratified the officers' unconstitutional conduct by failing to discipline them.[1]

         The Defendants have moved to partially dismiss Plaintiff's Complaint under Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6) (Filing No. 7), asserting that: (1) Plaintiff's section 1983 claims against the City and the police officers in their official capacities must be dismissed because Plaintiff has failed to allege sufficient facts to establish the existence of a municipal policy, custom, or failure to train that caused Plaintiff's injuries; and (2) Plaintiff's false-imprisonment claim must be dismissed as duplicative of Plaintiff's false-arrest claim.

         I. DISCUSSION

         A. Standard of Review

         A complaint must contain “a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a)(2). To survive a motion to dismiss, the factual allegations in a complaint “must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level.” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). A complaint must be dismissed if it does not plead “enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Id. at 570. “A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (stating that the plausibility standard does not require a probability, but asks for more than a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully).

         For the purposes of a motion to dismiss, the court must “assume that well-pleaded factual allegations in the complaint are true and construe the complaint, and all reasonable inferences arising therefrom, most favorably to the pleader.” Westcott v. City of Omaha, 901 F.2d 1486, 1488 (8th Cir. 1990) (internal quotation marks and citation omitted). The court will not, however, “blindly accept the legal conclusions drawn by the pleader from the facts.” Id.“When the allegations in a complaint, however true, could not raise a claim of entitlement to relief, the complaint should be dismissed for failure to [state] a claim under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6).” Hawkins Constr. Co. v. Peterson Contractors, Inc., 970 F.Supp.2d 945, 949 (D. Neb. 2013).

         While a complaint “does not need detailed factual allegations, a plaintiff's obligation to provide the grounds of his entitlement to relief requires more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555 (internal quotation marks, brackets, and citations omitted). “The essential function of a complaint under the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure is to give the opposing party ‘fair notice of the nature and basis or grounds for a claim, and a general indication of the type of litigation involved.'” Topchian v. JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A., 760 F.3d 843, 848 (8th Cir. 2014) (quoting Hopkins v. Saunders, 199 F.3d 968, 973 (8th Cir. 1999)).

         B. Plaintiff's Factual Allegations

         For purposes of ruling on Defendants' Rule 12(b)(6) motion, the court considers the following material facts alleged in Plaintiff's Complaint as true:

17. At or around 7:00 PM on Thursday, August 25, 2016, Plaintiff was at his home located at 1200 South 6th Street in Beatrice, Nebraska.
18. At or about 7:30 PM on Thursday, August 25, 2016, defendant Officer Derrick Hosick was driving northbound in the 900 block of South 6th Street when he allegedly encountered a vehicle driving southbound in the 800 block of South 6th Street that was traveling at 50 miles per hour in a 35 mile per hour speed zone. Officer Hosick made a u-turn to pursue the speeding vehicle, but lost line of sight with the vehicle when it passed over a bridge at the Big Blue River.
19. Plaintiff was not the driver of the vehicle pursued by Officer Hosick. Plaintiff was at home and not driving his vehicle at the time Officer Hosick first saw the vehicle he pursued.
20. Officer Hosick continued south of the bridge where he saw plaintiff leaving his home and walking in the direction of his car. Plaintiff was stopped by Officer Derrick Hosick, armed and in uniform.
21. While Plaintiff was lawfully on his own premises, Officer Derrick Hosick attempted to conduct a field sobriety test without probable cause. Officer Hosick did not mention the speeding vehicle.
22. Without probable cause, Officer Hosick used excessive force to attempt maneuver [sic] Plaintiff to the patrol unit to administer a preliminary breath test. Plaintiff informed Officer Hosick that he was not drunk and stated that he wanted to wait for his wife to get home.
23. At this point, Officer Natasha Nesbitt arrived and began to assist Officer Hosick. Plaintiff was manhandled by the officers while they placed him under arrest, forced his arms behind his back, and put him in the back of the patrol unit. Plaintiff informed the officers that he had a previous surgery on his right shoulder and had trouble putting his hands behind his back. Plaintiff informed the officers that he had recent knee surgery and could not sit in the back of the patrol unit.
24. Officer Anthony Chisano arrived and forcefully attempted to put Plaintiff in the back of the patrol unit.
25. During the altercation, the excessive force used by Officers Hosick, Nesbitt and Chisano caused an acute full tear of Plaintiffs left rotator cuff, a full tear of Plaintiff's previously repaired right rotator cuff, injury to Plaintiffs left wrist, and chronic headaches, among other injuries.
26. Plaintiff was arrested and received a criminal citation for driving under the influence, refusal to submit to a preliminary breath test and failing to obey a police officer. On or about October 4, 2016, Plaintiff was arraigned on only two charges, driving under the influence and refusal to submit to preliminary breath test.
27. After the charges were filed, the Gage County Attorney conducted further review of the evidence and “determined that the facts did not rise to a level of probable cause to support an arrest for these two charges.” On or about November 23, 2016, the charges for driving under the influence and refusal to submit to a preliminary breath test were dropped by the Gage County Attorney.
* * *
31. After posting bond on August 26, 2016, Plaintiff sought medical treatment for the injuries caused by the use of excessive force. Two MRI's at Beatrice Hospital showed an acute full tear of Plaintiff's left rotator cuff and an acute full tear of the previously repaired right rotator cuff as a result of the unreasonable and excessive force inflicted by the Officers. In addition to the torn rotator cuffs, Plaintiff suffered injuries to his left wrist, chronic headaches, ...

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