Bowden v. Town of Speedway, Ind., 1:06-cv-1172-DFH-TAB.

Decision Date13 February 2008
Docket NumberNo. 1:06-cv-1172-DFH-TAB.,1:06-cv-1172-DFH-TAB.
Citation539 F.Supp.2d 1092
PartiesEdward BOWDEN, Plaintiff, v. TOWN OF SPEEDWAY, INDIANA, Police Department, Town of Speedway; and Tracey D. Cantrell, individually, Defendants.
CourtU.S. District Court — Southern District of Indiana

Robert M. Kelso, Kightlinger & Gray, Indianapolis, IN, for Plaintiff.

Andrew P. Wirick, Christopher Douglas Cody, Hume Smith Geddes Green & Simmons, Indianapolis, IN, for Defendants.



Plaintiff Edward Bowden has sued the Town of Speedway, its police department, and Officer Tracey Cantrell under state tort law and under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Bowden asserts that (1) Officer Cantrell did not have probable cause and used unreasonable force to arrest Bowden on December, 19, 2004, violating the Fourth Amendment; (2) the Town of Speedway and its police department failed to train, supervise, and discipline its officers appropriately regarding Fourth Amendment requirements; and (3) Officer Cantrell committed the state law torts of assault and battery and false arrest while acting within the scope of his employment. Plaintiff moved for summary judgment as to liability on only the Fourth Amendment claim for lack of probable cause and the state law false arrest claim. Defendants filed a cross-motion for summary judgment on all claims.

As explained below, the court grants summary judgment for plaintiff on defendants' liability for the Fourth Amendment claim for an unreasonable seizure without reasonable suspicion and on both state law false arrest claims. This is (one hopes) a fairly unusual case in which, even under the defense version of the facts, a police officer handcuffed a citizen and locked him in a police car without any basis even approaching probable cause or any reason to believe that he posed a physical threat to anyone. Based on the undisputed facts, Officer Cantrell is not entitled to qualified immunity for the initial detention or alleged use of unreasonable force, but under both sides' version oft the facts, he is entitled to qualified immunity on the federal claim based on his formal arrest of plaintiff for resisting law enforcement. Summary judgment is denied for defendants on all other claims, including the federal municipal liability claim against the Town of Speedway for inadequately training and supervising its police officers.

Summary Judgment Standard

Summary judgment must be granted if the record shows "that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c). A factual issue is genuine if there is sufficient evidence for a reasonable jury to return a verdict in favor of the nonmoving party. See Anderson v. Liberty. Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248, 106 S.Ct. 2505, 91 L.Ed.2d 202 (1986). A factual issue is material if resolving the factual issue might change the suit's outcome under the governing law. Id. The motion should be granted only if no rational fact finder could return a verdict in favor of the non-moving party. Id. at 249, 106 S.Ct. 2505.

When ruling on the motion, the court must view all the evidence in the record in the light most favorable to the non-moving party and resolve all factual disputes in the non-moving party's favor. Id. at 255, 106 S.Ct. 2505. The moving party need not positively disprove the opponent's case; rather, the moving party must establish the lack of evidentiary support for the nonmoving party's position. See Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 325, 106 S.Ct. 2548, 91 L.Ed.2d 265 (1986). The essential question is "whether the evidence presents a sufficient disagreement to require submission to a jury or whether it is so one-sided that one party must prevail as a matter of law." Anderson, 477 U.S. at 251-52, 106 S.Ct. 2505.

The same standard applies even though both sides have filed motions for summary judgment. The court considers each motion independently and will deny both motions if genuine issues of material fact exist. See generally Employers Mutual Casualty Co. v. Skoutaris, 453 F.3d 915, 923 (7th Cir.2006). The court considers the evidence here through two lenses. When evaluating plaintiff Bowden's motion for partial summary judgment, the court resolves all evidentiary conflicts and draws all reasonable inferences in favor of the defendants. When considering the defendants' motion for summary judgment, the roles are reversed.

Facts for Summary Judgment

At approximately 1:00 a.m. on December 19, 2004, plaintiff Edward Bowden and his friend Kirk Dreyfuss were unloading boxes from Dreyfuss's car outside an office building in Speedway, Indiana, which is within the city limits of Indianapolis, Indiana. Bowden owned a bottled water business based in Lafayette, Indiana. He filtered the water at his home and delivered it to his customers at various locations. In December 2004, Bowden had about eight customers in Indianapolis. A friend of Bowden's, Bill Kappus, let Bowden store water bottles for these Indianapolis customers at Kappus's office in Indianapolis. Bowden and Dreyfuss were unloading boxes from Dreyfuss's car outside of Kappus's office to make room for water bottles that Bowden Wanted to deliver later that morning. Bowden Dep. 43-44.

After Bowden and Dreyfuss put the last box into the office, Officer Michelle Cavarrubio, a part-time officer with the Speedway Police Department, drove by. Id. at 45. Dreyfuss's car parked next to the office building and the two men's presence seemed odd at that early hour. Cavarrubio Dep. 5. She radioed for help. Cantrell Dep. 77-78. As he was getting into Dreyfuss's car, Bowden noticed Officer Cavarrubio's car down the street. Using a megaphone, Officer Cavarrubio ordered Bowden and Dreyfuss to stay, where they were. Within a few minutes, two other officers arrived, including defendant Tracey Cantrell — a part-time, volunteer officer for Speedway.

According to Bowden and Officer Cavarrubio, the three officers approached Bowden and Dreyfuss while they were sitting in Dreyfuss's car and asked who they were and what they were doing outside the office building at 1:00 a.m. Bowden Dep. 47-48, 61-62; Cavarrubio Dep. 10-12. The two men explained that they were picking up water bottles to deliver. Bowden Dep. 47-48. At some point during these discussions, Kappus, who lived next to the office building, came outside, talked with the officers, and reported that he was friends with Bowden. Bowden Dep. 63-64; Cavarrubio Dep. 12-13. Kappus verified that Bowden and Dreyfuss were picking up bottled water from his office to deliver. Id. at 13. According to Officer Cantrell, he first encountered Bowden when Bowden and another individual approached him at his police car near the, office building. Cantrell Dep. 83-84.

Both Officers Cantrell and Cavarrubio reported that during their conversations with Bowden, Bowden repeatedly asked why the officers were investigating the situation and loudly asserted that his rights were being violated. Cantrell Dep. 83-85; Cavarrubio Dep. 13-14. Bowden testified, and Officer Cantrell has not disputed, that Officer Cantrell taunted Bowden, accusing him of taking drugs and being high. Bowden Dep. 67-68. At some point, the officers frisked Bowden and Dreyfuss for weapons while the two had their hands on the back of a car. Bowden Dep. 66;. Cavarrubio Dep. 14-16; Cantrell Dep. 85-87. The officers found no weapons or contraband during the frisks.

The parties dispute what happened next, For purposes of defendants' motion, the court accepts the, following facts — as reported by Bowden — as true. Finding no weapons, the officers asked Dreyfuss if they could search his car. Bowden Dep. 73. Dreyfuss agreed and both Dreyfuss and Bowden stepped back from the car to make room for the officers. Id. at 73-74. At that point, Officer Cantrell rushed towards Bowden, grabbed his right arm, and pushed him several feet. Id. at 74-75, 77-78. Bowden testified that Officer Cantrell yelled: "Is this the way it is going to be? Is this the way it is going to go down?" Id. at 77. After pushing Bowden, Officer Cantrell continued yelling at Bowden and pushed him again, causing Bowden to stumble about fifteen feet before falling to the ground. Id. at 78-81. During the fall, Bowden hit his jaw, loosening a filling in his mouth. Id. at 87. As Bowden stood up, Officer Cantrell approached Bowden and placed a handcuff on his right hand. Id. at 96. Officer Cantrell violently forced Bowden, without physically injuring him, onto the hood of the police car to cuff Bowden's hands behind his back. Id. at 97-98.

For purposes of plaintiffs motion, the court accepts as true the following facts as reported by Officer Cantrell. While Officer Cantrell was frisking Bowden, Bowden removed his hands from the back of the car. Cantrell Dep. 87-89. While Officer Cantrell was looking at Bowden's identification, Bowden again removed his hands from the back of the car. Id. at 89. Officer Cantrell then cuffed Bowden's hands behind his back to detain him "because he was just irate, getting upset. . . ." Id. at 90. Officer Cantrell told Bowden he was not under arrest but was detained because Officer Cantrell did not "know what's going on with him." Id.

Officer Cantrell testified that officers normally make sure to leave a finger's width between the cuff and the person's wrist to avoid unnecessary pain. Id. at 99. Officer Cantrell did not check the cuffs around Bowden's wrists because he intended to detain Bowden only long enough for Bowden to calm down. Id. at 99-100. After handcuffing Bowden, Officer Cantrell put Bowden in the back seat of the police car. Officer Cantrell then left Bowden alone in handcuffs in the back of the police car for what Bowden estimated was about twenty to twenty-five minutes. Bowden Dep. 103. During that time, Bowden slid his hands under his...

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