710 P.2d 566 (Idaho 1985), 15604, Sprague v. City of Burley

Docket Nº:15604.
Citation:710 P.2d 566, 109 Idaho 656
Opinion Judge:HUNTLEY,
Party Name:Frank M. SPRAGUE, Plaintiff-Appellant, v. CITY OF BURLEY In the State of Idaho, Richard Thompson, Mike Schiers and Les Steube, Defendants-Respondents.
Attorney:Gara Louise Newman, Rupert, for plaintiff-appellant. William Parsons, Burley, for defendant-respondent City of Burley. Richard C. Boardman, Boise, for defendants-respondents Thompson, Schiers and Steube.
Case Date:November 19, 1985
Court:Supreme Court of Idaho
 
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Page 566

710 P.2d 566 (Idaho 1985)

109 Idaho 656

Frank M. SPRAGUE, Plaintiff-Appellant,

v.

CITY OF BURLEY In the State of Idaho, Richard Thompson, Mike Schiers and Les Steube, Defendants-Respondents.

No. 15604.

Supreme Court of Idaho.

November 19, 1985

Page 567

[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

Page 568

[109 Idaho 658] Gara Louise Newman, Rupert, for plaintiff-appellant.

William Parsons, Burley, for defendant-respondent City of Burley.

Richard C. Boardman, Boise, for defendants-respondents Thompson, Schiers and Steube.

HUNTLEY, Justice.

  1. INTRODUCTION

    This case presents the question of whether the district court erred when it granted final summary judgment for the City of Burley and three of its police officers in a civil suit for false arrest, false imprisonment, assault and battery, and civil rights violations.

    Frank Sprague brought this action against the City of Burley and three of its police officers after being stopped and arrested by the officers for driving under the influence of intoxicating beverages. Sprague alleged that the officers falsely arrested and physically assaulted and battered him in order to extricate him from his vehicle. He further claimed they delayed in providing him with requested medical treatment all in violation of his civil rights. As a result of the police conduct he suffered abrasions, contusions, a fractured hand, nerve damage and other serious injuries. Sprague also included a state law claim against the officers, alleging that the officers willfully and maliciously assaulted and battered him and wrongfully arrested him. He further alleged that the City of Burley failed to adequately train its officers and to instruct them as to the rights of the citizens and that this constituted a "policy" on the part of the City which deprived him of certain constitutional rights in violation of 42 U.S. C. § 1983 (1982). The City of Burley and the officers moved for summary judgment, which motion was granted as to all claims except for the claim regarding the denial of medical assistance. We conclude that the district court properly entered the order of summary judgment as to the City of Burley as to the § 1983 claim and the claim under state law; however, we also decide that as to the § 1983 claim against the individual officers, there remain questions of fact which should be submitted to the jury and, hence, the partial summary judgment order as to the officers was improper. We further hold that the district court erred in determining that Sprague had failed to state a claim against the officers under state law and reverse the order of partial summary judgment in that regard as well.

  2. STATEMENT OF THE FACTS

    On August 5, 1982, at approximately 1:30 a.m., Burley police officers Richard Thompson and Mike Schiers, while on patrol in the City of Burley, stopped a vehicle driven by Frank M. Sprague. In their affidavits in support of the motion for summary judgment Officers Thompson and Schiers stated that they stopped Sprague because he was driving erratically. In his complaint, Sprague alleged that he was driving lawfully prior to the time of the stop, but the complaint was not verified and Sprague's affidavit in opposition to the motion for summary judgment did not rebut the officers' assertion that he had been driving erratically. After the stop, the officers requested Sprague to produce his driver's license and vehicle registration, and Sprague complied with that request. The officers then asked Sprague to exit his vehicle in order to take field dexterity tests. In his affidavit, Sprague asserted that he asked the officers to explain the purpose of the tests and received no response, but was instead again instructed to exit his vehicle. According to affidavits of both officers, when Sprague refused to exit the vehicle they repeatedly attempted to persuade him to exit prior to resorting to the use of physical force. Sprague, on the other hand, insists that upon his first refusal to exit his vehicle, Officer Thompson immediately began attempting to pull him from the vehicle. Officer Thompson asserted that he advised Sprague that Sprague was under arrest before Thompson used any physical force to extricate

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    [109 Idaho 659] him from his vehicle. Sprague contends that at no time did any officer inform him that he was under arrest. Sprague claims that at no point during this incident did he attempt to strike or harm the officers; however, he does not refute the officers' assertion that he resisted their efforts to remove him from the vehicle by wedging himself in the car, by placing his feet against the floor board and his hands on the wheel and by bracing his body against the seat. The officers called a third officer, Officer Les Steube, to assist in removing Sprague from his vehicle. As a result of what Sprague alleges was the excessive use of force by the officers, Sprague sustained numerous physical injuries. He was placed in a patrol car and taken to the Burley police station, where he was charged with driving under the influence of alcohol. Sprague maintains that upon arriving at the police station he requested medical assistance but was informed by the attending officers that such services were not available. In their affidavits, Officer Schiers and Steube stated that at no time did Sprague complain of any injury or request medical care or treatment and Schiers noticed no visible injury to Sprague.

  3. SPRAGUE'S § 1983 CLAIM AGAINST THE CITY

    The district court set forth two reasons in support of its conclusion that Sprague had failed to set out a cause of action under 42 U.S. C. § 1983 (1982) against the City. First, it held that Sprague's claim against the City was grounded on the theory of respondeat superior. Also, it held that a municipality could not be held liable for the actions of its police officers pursuant to 42 U.S. C. § 1983 (1982) where the complaint alleged but a single incident of misconduct. We affirm the district court's ruling because it reached the correct result despite the fact we do not adopt the reasons advanced in support of its conclusion.

    The statute, 42 U.S. C. § 1983 (1982) provides in pertinent part:

    Every person who, under color of any statute, ordinance, regulation, custom, or usage, of any State ... subjects, or causes to be subjected, any citizen of the United States or other person within the jurisdiction thereof to the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution and laws, shall be liable to the party injured in an action at law, suit in equity, or other proper proceeding for redress.

    Sprague alleged:

    This claim arises under the Constitution of the United States, particularly the 4th, 5th, 6th and 14th Amendments to the Constitution of the United States and under Federal law, particularly, Title 42 of the U.S. Code, Section 1983, and under the Constitution and statutes of the State of Idaho, particularly Article I, Section 13 and Section 17 of the Constitution of the State of Idaho.

    Sprague's allegations which implicate the City read:

    That at all times material to this Complaint, the City of Burley knew, or should have known, that the defendants, Richard Thompson, Mike Shears [sic] and Les Stube [sic] were under the color of their official capacity and of the laws of the state of Idaho and the City of Burley acting in such a manner to deprive the citizens of the City of Burley of their constitutional rights, and the City of Burley negligently and carelessly failed and refused to give said defendant employees, Richard Thompson, Mike Shears [sic] and Les Stube [sic] proper instructions under the law as to the rights of the citizens of the City of Burley and negligently and carelessly continued to employ said defendant employees, Richard Thompson, Mike Shears [sic] and Les Stube, [sic] to enforce the laws of the state of Idaho and city of Burley knowing that said defendant employees were not sufficiently trained or schooled to perform the functions of a police officer in the city of Burley, state of Idaho.

    We affirm the district court's ruling granting partial summary judgment to the City because "a party defending a motion for summary judgment may not rest on its

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    [109 Idaho 660] pleadings, but must offer affidavits or other evidentiary materials which demonstrate that an issue of fact remains." Theriault v. A.H. Robins Co., 108 Idaho 303, 698 P.2d 365, 368 (1985); First Piedmont Bank and Trust Co. v. Doyle, 97 Idaho 700, 703, 551 P.2d 1336, 1339 (1976). I.R.C.P. 56(e) states:

    When a motion for summary judgment is made and supported as provided in this rule, an adverse party may not rest upon the mere allegations or denials of his pleadings, but his response, by affidavits or as otherwise provided in this rule, must set forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial. If he does not so respond, summary judgment, if appropriate, shall be entered against him.

    The City submitted an affidavit by Burley Police Chief W. Leman Messley in support of the motion for summary judgment, reading in part:

    1. Your affiant is presently employed by the City of Burley as Chief of Police for the Burley Police Department and has been employed as such at all times material to the Complaint in the instant Case No. 13665 6 83.

    2. As the Chief of Police for the City of Burley your affiant is responsible for the implementation, execution and review of all policies and procedures promulgated and adopted by the Burley Police Department.

    3. The Burley Police Department has adopted policies and procedures in regard to the use of force by its officers in the fulfillment of their employment duties and responsibilities.

    4. Officers of the Burley Police Force are authorized by the Department policies and procedures to use physical force in limited circumstances...

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