Johnson v. City of Fayetteville, No. 5:12–CV–456–F.

CourtUnited States District Courts. 4th Circuit. Eastern District of North Carolina
Writing for the CourtJAMES C. FOX, Senior District Judge.
Citation91 F.Supp.3d 775
PartiesDarwin JOHNSON, et al., Plaintiffs, v. CITY OF FAYETTEVILLE, et al., Defendants.
Docket NumberNo. 5:12–CV–456–F.
Decision Date04 March 2015

91 F.Supp.3d 775

Darwin JOHNSON, et al., Plaintiffs
v.
CITY OF FAYETTEVILLE, et al., Defendants.

No. 5:12–CV–456–F.

United States District Court, E.D. North Carolina, Western Division.

Signed March 4, 2015.


91 F.Supp.3d 784

James H. Locus, Jr., Locus & Associates, Fayetteville, NC, for Plaintiffs.

Brian S. Cromwell, Collier R. Marsh, Christopher M. Thomas, Parker Poe

91 F.Supp.3d 785

Adams & Bernstein LLP, Raleigh, NC, for Defendants.

ORDER

JAMES C. FOX, Senior District Judge.

This matter is before the court on the Motion for Partial Summary Judgment filed by Defendant Heather St. John [DE–208]; Motion for Partial Summary Judgment [DE–238] filed by Plaintiffs Darwin Johnson, LaTonja D. Johnson, and Brenda Mathis; and the Motion for Summary Judgment [DE–240] filed by Defendants City of Fayetteville, Shane Koehler, Jennifer Rodriguez,1 Phyllis Jernigan, Thomas Bergamine, Dale Iman and Kevin Croyle (collectively, “City Defendants”). All motions have been fully briefed and are ripe for ruling. For the reasons stated below, St. John's Motion for Partial Summary Judgment [DE–208] is ALLOWED; Plaintiffs' Motion for Partial Summary Judgment [DE–238] is DENIED; and the City Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment [DE–240] is ALLOWED IN PART and DENIED IN PART.

I. PROCEDURAL HISTORY

The procedural history of this case was fully set forth in the court's December 11, 2014 Order [DE–317], and the court sees no need to repeat it here, other than to state what claims remain in this action:

1. Claims against Defendant St. John: Plaintiff Darwin Johnson's and Plaintiff Brenda Mathis' § 1985 claim for civil conspiracy. Plaintiff LaTonja Johnson's claim for negligence.
2. Against Officer Koehler in his Individual Capacity: Plaintiff Darwin Johnson's (1) § 1983 claims for false arrest (unreasonable seizure), excessive force, and malicious prosecution; (2) § 1985 claim for civil conspiracy; and (3) state law claims of IIED, assault and battery, and false imprisonment. Plaintiff Mathis' (1) § 1983 claim of excessive force; (2) § 1985 claim for civil conspiracy; and (3) state law claim for assault and battery.
3. Against Officer Rodriguez in her Individual Capacity: Plaintiff Darwin Johnson's and Plaintiff Mathis' § 1985 claim for civil conspiracy.
4. Against Defendant City of Fayetteville: Plaintiffs Darwin Johnson's and Mathis' (1) state law claim of negligent hiring, retention, supervision, training, and discipline and (2) municipal derivative § 1983 claims based on a policy or custom.
5. Against Defendant City of Fayetteville, and Defendants Bergamine and Iman in their Individual Capacity: Plaintiffs Darwin Johnson's and Mathis' municipal and supervisor derivative § 1983 and § 1985 claims based on their negligent hiring of and failure to train Officer Koehler, as well as Plaintiffs Darwin Johnson's and Mathis' municipal and supervisor derivative § 1983 and § 1985 claims based on the institution and maintenance of a widespread discriminatory policy.
6. Against Lt. Croyle. Plaintiffs Darwin Johnson's § 1983 claim for illegal seizure (malicious prosecution). Plaintiffs Darwin Johnson's and Mathis' § 1985 claim for civil conspiracy.
91 F.Supp.3d 786
7. Defendant Sgt. Jernigan. Plaintiff Darwin Johnson's § 1983 claim for illegal seizure (malicious prosecution). Plaintiffs Darwin Johnson's and Mathis' § 1985 claim for civil conspiracy.

II. FACTS

The facts, stated in the light most favorable to the Plaintiffs,2 are as follows.

A. Events of April 17, 2011

On April 17, 2011, Plaintiff LaTonja Johnson (“Mrs. Johnson”) was patronizing a local McDonald's Restaurant on Raeford Road via its drive thru. Dep. of LaTonja Johnson [DE–219–5] at 9, 70. Mrs. Johnson's mother-in-law, Plaintiff Brenda Mathis (“Mrs. Mathis”), also was in the vehicle. Id. at 9. This McDonald's franchise offers customers the option of ordering their food at one of two drive-thru lanes. Id. at 70–71. The lanes then merge together after the drive-thru order speaker. See Overhead View of McDonald's [DE–243–4].

Mrs. Johnson lined up in the outside lane (“Lane Two”). Dep. of LaTonja Johnson [DE–219–5] at 71. Defendant St. John was waiting in the inside lane (“Lane One”). Id. at 79. Defendant St. John yelled and screamed at Mrs. Johnson, saying Mrs. Johnson cut in the line. Id. at 80. Mrs. Johnson placed her order in Lane Two and then moved her car forward in the direction of the cashier, and stopped behind the other vehicles waiting in line. Id. 73. Defendant St. John placed her order in Lane One after Mrs. Johnson had placed her order. Id. at 75. Defendant St. John then drove her truck over the curb to the left of her truck, and in the process of doing so, struck Mrs. Johnson's vehicle. Id. at 75–76. While she was driving over the curb and striking Mrs. Johnson's vehicle, Defendant St. John yelled that she had the police on the phone. Id. at 89–90. Defendant St. John then proceeded to the cashier. Id. 90–91. Mrs. Johnson put her vehicle in park, and called her husband, Plaintiff Darwin Johnson (“Mr. Johnson”), and then 911. Id. at 89–90. After purchasing her food at the window, Defendant St. John drove her car around the McDonald's building and parked her car across the parking lot in view of Mrs. Johnson's vehicle. Id. at 92–93. Mrs. Johnson kept her car in the drive-thru while waiting for the police. Id. at 91. She exited her vehicle and stood next to it, along with Mrs. Mathis and the manager of the McDonald's, Elizabeth Johnson.3 Id. at 93.

While Defendant St. John drove through the parking lot and after she parked her truck, she yelled out the window of her truck several times that she knew members of the Fayetteville police department (“FCPD”). Id. at 99. Mrs. Johnson told Manager Elizabeth Johnson that Defendant St. John better not get out of her truck. Id. at 95. Mrs. Johnson also eventually asked Defendant St. John, “What does that mean?” in response to St. John's statements that she knew members of the FCPD. Id. at 95–96. According to Mrs. Johnson, Defendant St. John told her to wait and see, and that they were going to take care of her. Id. at 99, 130–31.

Defendant St. John had three children in her truck with her: her son and daughter, and the son of her fiancee. Dep. of

91 F.Supp.3d 787

Heather St. John [DE–323–1] at 18–19. After her collision with Mrs. Johnson, she called Defendant Officer Jennifer Rodriguez, the mother of her fiancee's son and an officer with the FCPD. Id. at 41, 57–58. Defendant St. John told Officer Rodriguez she had been in accident, and told her that her son was fine. Id. at 58. Defendant St. John also said that the other lady involved in the accident was yelling at her. Dep. of Jennifer Rodriguez [DE–323–2] at 14. Officer Rodriguez told St. John to roll up her windows and call 911. Id. at 14. They ended the phone call, and Defendant St. John called 911. Dep. of Heather St. John [DE–323–1] at 59. St. John told the dispatcher she had been in an accident at McDonald's, she had her children with her, and the other driver was yelling and swearing. Id.

After Mr. Johnson arrived at the scene, he stood with Manager Elizabeth Johnson next to the Plaintiffs' vehicle, while Mrs. Johnson and Mrs. Mathis stood in parking spaces with a family friend, Lillie Shelton, whom Mrs. Johnson had called after the accident. Dep. of LaTonja Johnson [DE–219–5] at 100.

Defendant St. John stayed on the phone with the dispatcher until Officer Rodriguez called again. During their second conversation, Officer Rodriguez could hear the children crying, and could hear background noises of someone yelling. Dep. of Jennifer Rodriguez [DE–323–2] at 16. Defendant St. John told Rodriguez that family members of the other driver had arrived, and they were around her truck. Id. at 20. Officer Rodriguez told St. John not to have any communication with the other driver and to wait for the police. She also told St. John that she was going to call to see if the police had anyone reporting to the scene. Id. at 16. Officer Rodriguez then called the 911 dispatch center, and asked if they had any anybody en route to the McDonald's. Id. at 17. She was told they did not. Id. She then called the watch commander officer's and spoke to Lt. Croyle, telling him that her son's “stepmother” was involved in a wreck at McDonald's and that dispatch had no one to send. Id. at 39. Lt. Croyle told her he didn't have anyone to send, so Officer Rodriguez then called another watch commander's office, and spoke to Lt. Tew. Id. at 40–41. He too indicated he had no one to send to the scene. Id.

Although Officer Rodriguez denies speaking to anyone else in the FCPD about the situation, Defendant Phyllis Jernigan, a patrol sergeant with the FCPD, contends that Officer Rodriguez called her and told her that Rodriguez's babysitter was involved in an accident, Rodriguez's son was in the car, and people were surrounding the babysitter's...

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17 practice notes
  • Hines v. Johnson, 1:19CV515
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. Middle District of North Carolina
    • March 30, 2020
    ...the supervisor's inaction and the particular constitutional injury suffered by the plaintiff.Page 20 Johnson v. City of Fayetteville, 91 F. Supp. 3d 775, 812 (E.D.N.C. 2015) (quoting Shaw v. Stroud, 13 F.3d 791, 799 (4th Cir. 1994)). To establish the first element, knowledge, a plaintiff mu......
  • Durr v. Slator, 5:20-CV-00662 (MAD/TWD)
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Court of Northern District of New York
    • September 2, 2021
    ...was not threatening anyone, was not actively resisting arrest, and was not attempting to flee"); accord Johnson v. City of Fayetteville, 91 F.Supp.3d 775, 804 (E.D. N.C. 2015). In Frantz, the plaintiff alleged that she was not resisting arrest but refused to cease speaking when the defendan......
  • Durr v. Slator, 5:20-CV-00662 (MAD/TWD)
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Court of Northern District of New York
    • September 2, 2021
    ...not threatening anyone, was not actively resisting arrest, and was not attempting to flee"); accord Johnson v. City of Fayetteville , 91 F. Supp. 3d 775, 804 (E.D.N.C. 2015).In Frantz , the plaintiff alleged that she was not resisting arrest but refused to cease speaking when the defendants......
  • Hyatt v. Miller, CIVIL CASE NO. 1:19-cv-00250-MR-WCM
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. Western District of North Carolina
    • February 12, 2021
    ...claim is properly denied when the defendant has been denied qualified immunity as to that claim. Johnson v. City of Fayetteville, 91 F. Supp. 3d 775, 816 (E.D.N.C. 2015) (citing Bailey, 349 F.3d at 742-45). Because the Court has concluded that Plaintiff Barrett's claims related to her conti......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
17 cases
  • Hines v. Johnson, 1:19CV515
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. Middle District of North Carolina
    • March 30, 2020
    ...the supervisor's inaction and the particular constitutional injury suffered by the plaintiff.Page 20 Johnson v. City of Fayetteville, 91 F. Supp. 3d 775, 812 (E.D.N.C. 2015) (quoting Shaw v. Stroud, 13 F.3d 791, 799 (4th Cir. 1994)). To establish the first element, knowledge, a plaintiff mu......
  • Durr v. Slator, 5:20-CV-00662 (MAD/TWD)
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Court of Northern District of New York
    • September 2, 2021
    ...was not threatening anyone, was not actively resisting arrest, and was not attempting to flee"); accord Johnson v. City of Fayetteville, 91 F.Supp.3d 775, 804 (E.D. N.C. 2015). In Frantz, the plaintiff alleged that she was not resisting arrest but refused to cease speaking when the defendan......
  • Durr v. Slator, 5:20-CV-00662 (MAD/TWD)
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Court of Northern District of New York
    • September 2, 2021
    ...not threatening anyone, was not actively resisting arrest, and was not attempting to flee"); accord Johnson v. City of Fayetteville , 91 F. Supp. 3d 775, 804 (E.D.N.C. 2015).In Frantz , the plaintiff alleged that she was not resisting arrest but refused to cease speaking when the defendants......
  • Hyatt v. Miller, CIVIL CASE NO. 1:19-cv-00250-MR-WCM
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. Western District of North Carolina
    • February 12, 2021
    ...claim is properly denied when the defendant has been denied qualified immunity as to that claim. Johnson v. City of Fayetteville, 91 F. Supp. 3d 775, 816 (E.D.N.C. 2015) (citing Bailey, 349 F.3d at 742-45). Because the Court has concluded that Plaintiff Barrett's claims related to her conti......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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