Faulkner v. Mattina, CIVIL ACTION NO. 3:11-CV-250-KKC

CourtUnited States District Courts. 6th Circuit. Eastern District of Tennessee
Writing for the CourtKAREN K. CALDWELL
PartiesERIC BENJAMIN FAULKNER, Plaintiff v. JOSEPH P MATTINA, In his individual and official capacity, And BENJAMIN MCVAY, In his individual and official capacity, And STERLING P. OWEN, IV. In his official capacity, And CITY OF KNOXVILLE, TENNESSEE, Defendants.
Docket NumberCIVIL ACTION NO. 3:11-CV-250-KKC
Decision Date17 January 2014

JOSEPH P MATTINA, In his individual and official capacity,
And BENJAMIN MCVAY, In his individual and official capacity,
In his official capacity,



January 17, 2014


This matter is before the Court on Defendants Joseph P. Mattina's and Benjamin McVay's joint motion for summary judgment (DE 20) and Plaintiff Eric Benjamin Faulkner's motion to deny that motion. (DE 28). For the reasons stated below, both motions are granted in part and denied in part.


Defendants McVay and Mattina are officers at the Knoxville Police Department. (DE 1). On June 13, 2010 at approximately 3:00 A.M., Officers McVay and Mattina were conducting routine patrol duties in the Old City district of Knoxville, Tennessee. (DE 34). The officers observed an altercation near the entrance of a restaurant called Southbound, which had been airing "UFC Fight Night" for the entertainment of its patrons. (DE 34). The officers approached the scene, and began arresting two individuals involved in the fight on the sidewalk. (DE 34).

Page 2

At least fifty to sixty disorderly individuals, who had previously been inside Southbound, were on the sidewalk near where the arrests were taking place. (DE 34). Plaintiff Faulkner was in the crowd. (DE 34). At some point, Officer McVay and an unknown male who had stopped to assist the officers ordered the crowd to back away from Officer McVay as he was arresting one of the offenders under arrest. (DE 34). From this point forward, the facts are in dispute.

Although the events were captured on video, the parties' versions of the events differ. (DE 23). Faulkner claims that he was walking away from the scene when Officer McVay arrested him for no apparent reason. (DE 1). Faulkner further claims that, for no reason, Officer McVay put pressure on Faulkner's throat and Officer Mattina delivered two knee strikes to his body. (DE 1). In contrast, the officers assert that Faulkner not only defied their orders to back away from the scene, but that he also walked behind Officer McVay and tossed his hands repeatedly. (DE 22). The officers further allege that when McVay tried to arrest Faulkner for disorderly conduct, Faulkner resisted arrest, which led Officer Mattina to assist by delivering a single knee strike to Faulkner's body. (DE 22).

The Officers assert that Faulkner was intoxicated, was possibly a danger to himself and others, and was behaving in a threatening manner.1 (DE 20-1). The arrest report charged Faulkner with public intoxication and resisting arrest. (DE 34; DE 14-1). A General Sessions court found probable cause existed to arrest Faulkner on charges of public intoxication and resisting arrest. (DE 1, DE 34). The grand jury indicted Faulkner on the public intoxication charge, but not on the resisting arrest charge. (DE 1). Faulkner was tried on the public intoxication charge and was acquitted. (DE 1).

Page 3

In his complaint, Faulkner asserts several federal and state law claims against Officers McVay and Mattina, as well as claims against two other named defendants, who did not take part in the motions at issue. The officers have moved for summary judgment as to all of Faulkner's claims against them. (DE 20). In support of their summary judgment motion, the officers have offered the criminal trial testimony of both officers, an affidavit of Officer Mattina, the DVD evidence, the arrest report, and the indictment on the public intoxication charge. (DE 14-1, DE 20-1, DE 20-2, DE 23). Faulkner moved to deny the officers' summary judgment motion or, in the alternative, to stay the proceedings to permit discovery.2 (DE 28). In support of Faulkner's motion and complaint, he has submitted his complaint, his affidavit generally affirming the complaint, evidence that a grand jury refused to indict him on the charge of resisting arrest, and the not guilty verdict at his criminal trial for public intoxication. (DE 1, DE 34-1, DE 34-2, DE 34-3).


Under Fed. R. Civ. P. 56, summary judgment is appropriate where the "movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(a). The moving party bears the initial responsibility of "informing the district court of the basis for its motion, and identifying those portions of 'the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any,' which it believes demonstrates the absence of a genuine issue of material fact." Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986). The movant may meet this burden by

Page 4

demonstrating the absence of evidence supporting one or more essential elements of the non-movant's claim. Id. at 322-25. Once the movant meets this burden, the opposing party "must set forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(e).

Once the burden of production has so shifted, the party opposing summary judgment cannot rest on its pleadings or merely reassert its previous allegations. It is not sufficient "simply [to] show that there is some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts." Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986). "The mere existence of a scintilla of evidence in support of the plaintiff's position will be insufficient; there must be evidence on which the jury could reasonably find for the plaintiff." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 252 (1986). Rule 56(e) "requires the nonmoving party to go beyond the pleadings" and present some type of evidentiary material in support of its position. Celotex, 477 U.S. at 324. Ultimately, this Court must determine "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.

A. Federal Law Claims

In count one of his complaint, Faulkner asserts several federal law claims against the officers under 42 U.S.C. Sections 1983, 1985, and 1988. (DE 1). Faulkner pleads that his First, Fourth, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendment rights, as well as his due process and equal protection rights, were violated by the officers' actions. (DE 1).

To the extent Faulkner's claims against the officers rely on 42 U.S.C. § 1985, summary judgment is granted in favor of the officers, as Faulkner has failed to plead any facts to establish a § 1985 claim. 23 U.S.C. § 1985; Bass v. Robinson, 167 F.3d 1041, 1050 (6th Cir. 1999). To successfully assert an action under § 1985, a

Page 5

plaintiff must allege that the defendants (1) conspired together, (2) for the purpose of depriving, directly or indirectly, a person or class of persons of the equal protection of the laws, (3) and committed an act in furtherance of the conspiracy, (4) which caused injury to person or property, or a deprivation of any right or privilege of a citizen of the United States, and (5) and that the conspiracy was motivated by racial, or other class-based, invidiously discriminatory animus.

Bass, 167 F.3d at 1050 (citing Griffin v. Breckenridge, 403 U.S. 88, 102-03 (1971)) (emphasis added). Faulkner has not alleged that the officers conspired together to act, nor alleged that the officers' actions were based on racial or other class discrimination motives. To the extent Faulkner attempts to assert a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1985 in count one of his complaint, summary judgment is granted in favor of the officers.

Further, to the extent that Faulkner's claims against the officers are based on Equal Protection, Due Process, the First Amendment, or the Eighth Amendment, summary judgment is also granted in favor of the officers. As an initial matter, when the use of force occurs during an arrest or the seizure of a plaintiff, "the plaintiff's claim is governed by the Fourth Amendment's reasonableness standard," not the Eighth Amendment or Due Process Clause. Aldini v. Johnson, 609 F.3d 858, 865 (6th Cir. 2010). The Eighth Amendment protects "convicted criminals serving their sentences" from excessive-force. Id. at 864. There is no assertion here that the officers ever used excessive force against Faulkner as a "convicted criminal" serving a sentence. (DE 1). Further, "the Due Process Clause3 protects a pretrial detainee from the use of excessive force that amounts to punishment." Id. at 865. "A pre-trial detainee is one who has had only a judicial determination of probable cause as a prerequisite to the extended restraint of his liberty

Page 6

following arrest." Id. Faulkner fails to provide any facts indicating that the officers used excessive force against him while he was a pretrial detainee.

Faulkner also fails to allege any facts or law to support any claim under the First Amendment. He asserts that the officers' actions violated his right to be free from "fear, danger, and intimidation, as guaranteed by the First [Amendment] . . . ." (DE 1). While, the First Amendment may protect individuals who wish to oppose or challenge police action, Faulkner fails to assert any facts to demonstrate that he was engaged in First Amendment speech or that the officers' actions were adverse and in...

To continue reading

Request your trial

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT