Crawford v. City of Muncie

Decision Date28 September 1995
Docket NumberNo. 18A05-9403-CV-125,18A05-9403-CV-125
Citation655 N.E.2d 614
PartiesAlbert CRAWFORD, Executor of the Estate of Donald L. Crawford, Deceased, Appellant-Plaintiff. v. CITY OF MUNCIE, Donald R. Scroggins, Chief of Police, Larry Hammond, Police Officer, as police officers of the Muncie Police Department, Gary Carmichael, Sheriff, John Doe, Deputy Sheriff, John Doe, I, Deputy Sheriff, as Sheriffs of the Delaware County Sheriff's Department, Don Elliott, Sheriff, Delaware County, Appellees-Defendants.
CourtIndiana Appellate Court
OPINION

BARTEAU, Judge.

Albert Crawford, Executor of the Estate of Donald L. Crawford (Crawford), appeals the dismissal of his action against the defendants, City of Muncie, Muncie Police Chief Donald R. Scroggins, Muncie Police Officer Larry Hammond, Delaware County Sheriff Gary Carmichael, 1 and unnamed Delaware County Sheriff's deputies, in this action alleging damages sustained by Donald Crawford while being arrested by Muncie police and held in the Delaware County jail. 2 We heard oral argument on August 21, 1995, and now affirm the decisions of the trial court.

FACTS

Muncie Police Officer Larry Hammond arrested Donald Crawford on April 23, 1985. Crawford brought suit, alleging that Officer Hammond inflicted injuries on Crawford by striking Crawford's hands with a flashlight while Crawford was made to place his hands palms-down on the hood of Hammond's police vehicle, and by using harsh language towards him. Crawford also alleged that Delaware County Sheriff Gary Carmichael and his deputies denied Crawford necessary medical attention while he was detained in the Delaware County jail.

ISSUES

Crawford raises seven issues on appeal, which we consolidate and restate as:

(1) Whether the trial court erred in granting Summary Judgment in favor of the City of Muncie and granting Police Chief Scroggins's Motion to Dismiss.

(2) Whether the trial court erred in dismissing the § 1983 action against Officer Hammond.

(3) Whether the trial court erred in dismissing Crawford's common law tort claims against Officer Hammond.

(4) Whether the trial court erred in denying Crawford's Motion to Amend his complaint.

(5) Whether the trial court erred in dismissing the action against Sheriff Carmichael.

CITY OF MUNCIE AND POLICE CHIEF SCROGGINS

Crawford brought this action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging excessive force and denial of medical treatment in violation of his rights under the First, 3 Fourth, Fifth, 4 Eighth 5 and Fourteenth Amendments of the United States Constitution. 6 "Local governing bodies ... can be sued directly under § 1983 for monetary, declaratory, or injunctive relief where ... the action that is alleged to be unconstitutional implements or executes a policy statement, ordinance, regulation, or decision officially adopted and promulgated by the body's officers." Monell v. New York City Dep't of Social Services (1978), 436 U.S. 658, 690, 98 S.Ct. 2018, 2035-36, 56 L.Ed.2d 611. When execution of a government's policy or custom inflicts injury, the government as an entity is responsible under § 1983. Id. at 694, 98 S.Ct. at 2037-38. Thus, to hold the City of Muncie liable for the alleged constitutional deprivations, Crawford was required to plead and prove that his injuries resulted from a policy or custom of the City of Muncie or its police department.

Crawford sued Chief Scroggins in his official capacity only, and does not contest this fact on appeal. Appellant's Brief 19. By suing Chief Scroggins in his official capacity, Crawford merely stated, or actually re-stated, a claim against the City of Muncie. Official capacity suits generally represent only another way of pleading an action against an entity of which an officer is an agent. Kentucky v. Graham (1985), 473 U.S. 159, 165, 105 S.Ct. 3099, 3105, 87 L.Ed.2d 114 (citing Monell, 436 U.S. at 690 n. 55, 98 S.Ct. at 2035 n. 55). "As long as the government entity receives notice and an opportunity to respond, an official-capacity suit is, in all respects other than name, to be treated as a suit against the entity." Id. at 166, 105 S.Ct. at 3105 (citing Brandon v. Holt (1985), 469 U.S. 464, 471-72, 105 S.Ct. 873, 878, 83 L.Ed.2d 878). In an official capacity suit, the entity's policy or custom must have played a part in the violation in order to impose liability. Id.

Municipal liability under § 1983 can be imposed for a single decision by a municipal policymaker under appropriate circumstances. Pembaur v. City of Cincinnati (1986), 475 U.S. 469, 480, 106 S.Ct. 1292, 1298, 89 L.Ed.2d 452. But, this is not without limitation.

[N]ot every decision by municipal officers automatically subjects the municipality to § 1983 liability. Municipal liability attaches only where the decision-maker possesses final authority to establish municipal policy with respect to the action ordered. The fact that a particular official--even a policymaking official--has discretion in the exercise of particular functions does not, without more, give rise to municipal liability based on an exercise of that discretion.... The official must also be responsible for establishing final government policy respecting such activity before the municipality can be held liable.

475 U.S. at 481-83, 106 S.Ct. at 1299-1300 (citing Oklahoma City v. Tuttle (1985), 471 U.S. 808, 822-24, 105 S.Ct. 2427, 2435-36, 85 L.Ed.2d 791).

The City of Muncie contends that the undisputed facts demonstrated no policy or custom of the City of Muncie or the Muncie police department that caused Crawford's alleged constitutional deprivation. In summary judgment proceedings, the party moving for summary judgment must show that there are no genuine issues of material fact and that the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Once the movant establishes that no genuine issue of fact exists, the party opposing summary judgment must set forth specific facts indicating that there is a genuine issue in dispute. If the non-moving party fails to meet this burden, summary judgment in favor of the moving party is appropriate. Pierce v. Bank One-Franklin, NA (1993), Ind.App., 618 N.E.2d 16, 18, trans. denied.

Further, the party moving for summary judgment must designate to the trial court all parts of the matters included in the record that it relies on for the motion. The opposing party likewise must designate to the trial court "each material issue of fact which that party asserts precludes entry of summary judgment and the evidence relevant thereto." Ind.Trial Rule 56(C). Any doubt as to the existence of a factual issue should be resolved against the moving party, construing all properly asserted facts and reasonable inferences in favor of the non-movant. Cowe v. Forum Group, Inc. (1991), Ind., 575 N.E.2d 630, 633.

The City of Muncie argues that Crawford has failed to produce any evidence of a formal written policy or an informal custom that caused the alleged constitutional violations, and that Crawford cannot point to any action or decision by a City of Muncie or Muncie police department policymaker as the cause of his alleged injuries. In the absence of any evidence of policy or custom, the City of Muncie and Chief Scroggins conclude that the City and Chief Scroggins are entitled to judgment as a matter of law. We agree.

On appeal, Crawford cites this Court to his "Supplemental Reply to Motion for Summary Judgment of City of Muncie and Defendant Larry Hammond," R. 307-08, for his designation of factual issues which preclude the grant of summary judgment. The factual allegations included at that record cite reassert the injuries set forth in Crawford's Complaint arising from the constitutional deprivations Crawford contends he sustained. To survive summary judgment, the nonmoving party may not merely rely upon the allegations in his complaint, but must come forward with sufficient factual allegations to establish the existence of genuine issues. Tippecanoe Sanitary Landfill, Inc. v. Board of County Commissioners (1983), Ind.App., 455 N.E.2d 971, 974. At the designated point in the record, there is no evidence of a City of Muncie policy or custom, or any decision made by a City of Muncie official with policymaking authority. In fact, our review of the entire record reveals that Crawford has failed to adduce any evidence of such a policy or custom whatsoever.

In the absence of any evidence of policy or custom, there is no genuine issue of material fact and the City of Muncie and Police Chief Scroggins are entitled to judgment as a matter of law.

SECTION 1983 CLAIM AGAINST OFFICER HAMMOND
7

Crawford's initial argument concerning Officer Hammond centers upon whether Crawford sued Officer Hammond only in his official capacity, or if Crawford also stated an action against Officer Hammond in his individual capacity. We find that the cause of action set forth in Crawford's original Complaint and First Amended Complaint stated a claim against Officer Hammond only in his official capacity, and therefore affirm the trial court's order dismissing the action against him.

As with the claim against Police Chief Scroggins, an action against Officer Hammond in his official capacity as a Muncie police officer is the same as bringing an action against the municipality itself. In order to impose liability, Crawford must demonstrate that the alleged constitutional deprivation resulted from a municipal policy or custom. 8 As we noted in our discussion above, Crawford has failed to adduce any evidence of a policy or custom, and therefore the trial court properly dismissed the claim against Officer Hammond in his official capacity.

However, Crawford contends that he also stated a § 1983 claim against Officer Hammond in his individual capacity. A...

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