627 F.3d 1254 (8th Cir. 2010), 09-3678, Veatch v. Bartels Lutheran Home

Docket Nº:09-3678.
Citation:627 F.3d 1254
Opinion Judge:COLLOTON, Circuit Judge.
Party Name:Maxine Gail VEATCH; Chris Price, Appellants, v. BARTELS LUTHERAN HOME; Debra K. Schroeder; Brianna Brunner; City of Waverly; Jason Leonard, Appellees.
Attorney:John Joseph Hines, argued, Waterloo, IA, for appellant. Beth E. Hansen, argued, Waterloo, IA, for appellee.
Judge Panel:Before RILEY, Chief Judge, MELLOY and COLLOTON, Circuit Judges.
Case Date:December 28, 2010
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit

Page 1254

627 F.3d 1254 (8th Cir. 2010)

Maxine Gail VEATCH; Chris Price, Appellants,

v.

BARTELS LUTHERAN HOME; Debra K. Schroeder; Brianna Brunner; City of Waverly; Jason Leonard, Appellees.

No. 09-3678.

United States Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit.

December 28, 2010

Submitted: Sept. 20, 2010.

Page 1255

John Joseph Hines, argued, Waterloo, IA, for appellant.

Beth E. Hansen, argued, Waterloo, IA, for appellee.

Page 1256

Before RILEY, Chief Judge, MELLOY and COLLOTON, Circuit Judges.

COLLOTON, Circuit Judge.

Maxine Gail Veatch was arrested and detained by Sergeant Jason Leonard of the City of Waverly, Iowa, Police Department for assaulting her mother, Agnes Bell. The alleged assault occurred at Woodland Terrace, a skilled care residential facility where Bell resided. Veatch and her sister, Chris Price, brought this action under 42 U.S. C. § 1983 and various state-law theories against Leonard, the City, Bartels Lutheran Home, which operates Woodland Terrace, and two Bartels employees. The district court 1 granted summary judgment in favor of Leonard and the City on the § 1983 claim. The court, declining to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over the state-law claims, dismissed the remainder of the complaint without prejudice. Veatch appeals the district court's grant of summary judgment on the § 1983 claim, and we affirm.

I.

On September 27, 2006, Veatch and Price visited Bell at Woodland Terrace. During this visit, Janice Whiteside, a Bartels nurse, observed Veatch shove Bell into her wheelchair. At the direction of her supervisor, Whiteside submitted a written report of the incident to Brianna Brunner, the Director of Nursing for Bartels. After reviewing the report the following day, Brunner informed Debra Schroeder, the President and Chief Executive Officer of Bartels, and directed two Bartels nurses to examine Bell for possible injuries. The nurses discovered bruising on Bell's knee and forearms. Brunner also contacted the Waverly Police Department, relaying the substance of Whiteside's report to Officer Thomas Luebbers. Based on this conversation, Luebbers prepared a report and described the incident to Leonard, who was sent to investigate further. Leonard reported to Bartels and discussed the incident with Brunner, Schroeder, and two additional staff members, but he did not meet with Bell or Whiteside.

The next day, Leonard contacted Veatch and asked her to come to the Waverly Law Center to discuss the alleged incident. The two met, and Leonard described the allegation to Veatch. During the meeting, Veatch informed Leonard that she would like to have an attorney present. At that point, Leonard left the room to retrieve and complete a complaint form. When he returned, Leonard placed Veatch under arrest for assault. Veatch was placed in the Bremer County Jail, where she remained overnight. A magistrate judge later determined that Leonard had probable cause to make the arrest and then released Veatch on her own recognizance. The State of Iowa charged Veatch with simple misdemeanor assault in violation of Iowa Code §§ 708.1 and 708.2(6), and after a trial, a jury returned a verdict of not guilty.

Veatch filed this action against Leonard and the City pursuant to § 1983. As relevant to this appeal, the complaint alleged that Leonard violated Veatch's rights under the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution, and that the City was liable for failing to train Leonard properly. The district court dismissed the § 1983 claim against Leonard because Veatch sued him only in his official capacity, and the allegation was therefore merely a claim against the City. The court also granted the

Page 1257

City's motion for summary judgment on the § 1983 claim, holding that Leonard did not commit a constitutional violation. The court reasoned that because Leonard had probable cause to arrest Veatch, he did not violate the Fourth Amendment.

II.

Although it is unclear whether Veatch appeals the district court's ruling on her § 1983 claim against Leonard, the district court properly dismissed the claim. Because the complaint did not specifically name Leonard in his individual capacity, we presume that he was sued only in his official capacity. See Artis v. Francis Howell N. Band Booster Ass'n, 161 F.3d 1178, 1182 (8th Cir.1998). A suit against a government officer in his official capacity is functionally equivalent to a suit against the employing governmental entity. See Baker v. Chisom, 501 F.3d 920, 925 (8th Cir.2007). Thus, the court properly dismissed the claim against Leonard as redundant of the claim against the City. See Artis, 161 F.3d at 1182.

We review the district court's grant of summary judgment in favor of the City de novo, viewing the record in the light most favorable to Veatch and drawing all reasonable inferences in her favor. Dodd v. Jones, 623 F.3d 563, 566 (8th Cir.2010). Summary judgment is proper if the record presents no genuine issue of material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a).

In Monell v. Department of Social Services, 436 U.S. 658, 98 S.Ct. 2018, 56 L.Ed.2d 611 (1978), the Supreme Court held that a municipality can be liable under § 1983 if an " action pursuant to official municipal policy of some nature caused a constitutional tort." Id. at 691, 98 S.Ct. 2018. To establish municipal liability, a plaintiff must first show that...

To continue reading

FREE SIGN UP