Jones v. Lewis

CourtUnited States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (6th Circuit)
Citation874 F.2d 1125
Docket NumberNo. 86-5171,86-5171
PartiesRobert JONES, Jr., Plaintiff-Appellant, v. James E. LEWIS; Gary Ashby; John Higgins; Safety Director of Louisville; William B. Stansbury; James Thornbury; Richard Frey; Mitchell McConnell, Jr.; and Joe Greene, Defendants-Appellees.
Decision Date11 July 1989

Page 1125

874 F.2d 1125
Robert JONES, Jr., Plaintiff-Appellant,
James E. LEWIS; Gary Ashby; John Higgins; Safety Director
of Louisville; William B. Stansbury; James
Thornbury; Richard Frey; Mitchell
McConnell, Jr.; and Joe
Greene, Defendants-Appellees.
No. 86-5171.
United States Court of Appeals,
Sixth Circuit.
Argued Nov. 10, 1987.
Decided May 18, 1989.
Rehearing Denied July 11, 1989.

Page 1126

James D. Lovewell (argued), Lansing, Mich. (Court-appointed), pro bono, for plaintiff-appellant.

George S. Schuhmann (argued), Allen P. Dodd, III, Richard M. Sullivan (argued), Louisville, Ky., for defendants-appellees.

Before KRUPANSKY and RYAN, Circuit Judges, and CONTIE, Senior Circuit Judge.


Robert Jones, Jr. appeals from the district court's summary judgment in favor of named county officials, directed verdict in favor of named city officials, and a jury verdict in favor of named police officers. Jones also appeals the district court's dismissal of his civil rights claim brought pursuant to 42 U.S.C. Sec. 1983. For the following reasons, we affirm the district court's judgment in part, reverse it in part, and remand the case for further proceedings.


This litigation stems from a sequence of events which began on March 11, 1980, at approximately six o'clock in the morning. At that time, Jones enlisted the aid of a friend, John Gilkey, to drive him to a factory where Jones' estranged wife, Betty Jones, worked. Jones had been drinking earlier that morning, and he carried a revolver to the factory.

Upon his arrival at the factory, Jones entered the women's locker room, apparently in search of his wife. In the locker room, Jones recognized Linda Henderson, a friend of his wife whom he believed had intermeddled in the Jones' marital problems. At that point, Jones drew his revolver and fired it. Jones testified that he shot the weapon into the air in an attempt to frighten Henderson. Henderson testified that when she observed Jones with the revolver, she turned away in order to escape and, as a result, could not be certain where Jones was aiming the gun when he fired the shot. She testified further, however, that Jones pointed the gun in her direction immediately before she turned to flee.

After firing one shot, Jones threw the revolver and the remaining ammunition into a garbage can and started to leave the factory. Jones then seemingly revised his plan because, when Gilkey rejoined him, he instructed Gilkey to recover the weapon from the garbage can and directed that they depart from the factory separately. Jones then left the premises.

The police were summoned to the scene. Two police officers, James Lewis and Gary Ashby, arrived at the factory and briefly questioned Henderson and Mrs. Jones. The two women described the events which had transpired. Mrs. Jones added that Jones recently had discharged a shotgun into the back of her automobile while her children were in the back seat.

When the officers observed Gilkey attempting to leave the scene, they placed him under arrest. At that point, Gilkey informed the officers that Jones was living with Gilkey's aunt, Peggy Coffey. Gilkey directed the officers to Coffey's residence.

Officers Lewis and Ashby arrived at the Coffey residence approximately twenty-five to thirty minutes after Jones had returned to the home. Lewis, who had had several previous contacts with Jones, noticed him peering from a second story window. Both officers approached the residence and knocked on the door. Coffey and a young child answered the knock. Coffey falsely advised the officers at the door that Jones was not present. The officers then entered the house without permission and without obtaining an arrest warrant. 1 The officers proceeded to the bedroom where Lewis had observed Jones at the window, and they arrested him for an attempted homicide. 2 The officers testified that Jones struggled with them when they attempted to arrest him, and that Jones' behavior required them to force his head against a wall in

Page 1127

order to secure him in handcuffs. Jones testified that the officers repeatedly knocked his head against the wall, kicked him, and threw him down a flight of stairs. Jones also testified that the officers shackled his feet. Lewis and Ashby denied these charges, particularly the allegation that they shackled Jones' feet.

The officers conveyed Jones from the house to their patrol car. Lewis testified that Jones refused to enter the patrol car peaceably and attempted to kick both officers. Lewis testified that he struck Jones while attempting to force him into the vehicle. Eventually, the officers forced Jones into the back seat of the patrol car, next to Gilkey.

The officers testified that as Jones was taken from the patrol car upon arrival at the substation, he again forcefully resisted the officers and attempted to kick them. According to the officers, Jones slipped and fell face down on the concrete parking lot in the melee that followed. Jones testified that the officers beat him, kicked him, and threw him to the ground.

Once inside a holding cell in the substation, Jones asked to be examined by a doctor and to be permitted to consult an attorney. Following normal procedure, the officers summoned an emergency medical technician (EMT), read Jones his Miranda rights, and advised him that he would be allowed to contact an attorney once he was transferred to the county jail. The officers did not interrogate Jones at any time.

The EMT responded but did not treat Jones. He testified that he had no recollection of what transpired at the police substation or of any necessity for medical treatment of Jones. The officers testified that Jones kicked and spit at the EMT, prompting him to refuse treatment and depart. Jones denied this and claimed that, at the time, he was cut and bleeding and his jaw was visibly swollen. The officers testified that they did not recall observing any bleeding or swelling of Jones's jaw.

After the officers booked Jones, he was transported to the county jail, arriving there at approximately 8:30 that same morning. At the county facility, a nurse examined Jones, noted some swelling of his jaw, and administered aspirin. Jones was scheduled to be taken to a hospital for x-rays the next morning; however, he was released from custody shortly before his appointment.

Jones was admitted to a hospital subsequent to his release from the county jail. There, he was treated for a mild concussion and a broken jaw, which was wired for approximately six weeks. Jones testified that these injuries caused intense pain and severe headaches.

On December 2, 1980, Jones filed this civil action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. Sec. 1983, alleging the violation of his constitutional rights. Specifically, he alleges that Lewis and Ashby, the officers who arrested Jones, and various supervisory city officials, 3 violated his fourth amendment rights by arresting him in a private residence without obtaining an arrest warrant and by employing excessive force in the process of arresting him and transporting him to jail. Additionally, Jones alleges that the named officers and city officials, as well as various county officials, 4 consciously denied his medical needs in violation of his eighth amendment rights.

The district court granted the county officials' motion for partial summary judgment, holding that, with respect to them, the complaint alleges at most a claim of negligent medical treatment which did not rise to the level of conscious indifference to Jones' medical needs. The remainder of the case proceeded to trial.

At the conclusion of the plaintiff's case, the district court entered a directed verdict in favor of the city officials, holding that Jones failed to allege or to prove that the

Page 1128

named city officials took any action which warranted submitting the issue of their liability to the jury. Only the claims against Lewis and Ashby remained to be defended and submitted to the jury.

At the conclusion of defendants' case, the district court refused Jones' request to instruct the jury that the police officers violated his fourth amendment rights by arresting him in the Coffey residence without obtaining an arrest warrant. The court concluded as a matter of law that the officers had probable cause to believe that Jones had committed a felony, and that exigent circumstances justified the officers' arrest of Jones inside the residence without first obtaining a warrant.

After the jury deliberated for several hours, the district court discussed with the parties the advisability of accepting a less than unanimous verdict from the six-member jury. The judge queried each of the parties, including Jones and his counsel, individually. The parties agreed to accept a less than unanimous verdict, and the district court entered a stipulation of accord. Subsequently, the jury returned special verdicts with answers to interrogatories in favor of the officers. 5

The district court entered final judgment in accordance with its orders and with the jury verdict. Jones filed a timely notice of appeal from the judgment.



Jones argues on appeal that the district court erred in granting summary judgment to the county officials and in dismissing the cause of action against them charging conscious indifference to his medical needs. The county officials' motion for summary judgment was supported with uncontroverted affidavits demonstrating that appellant would have been able to prove at most only negligent treatment of appellant's medical condition, which is insufficient to state a cause of action under 42 U.S.C. Sec. 1983. See Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 106 n. 14, 97 S.Ct. 285, 292 n. 14, 50 L.Ed.2d 251 (1976); Roberts v. City of Troy, 773 F.2d 720, 724 (6th Cir.1985); Byrd v. Wilson, 701 F.2d 592, 595 n. 2 (6th Cir.1983) (per curiam). We conclude that appellant's factually unsupported allegations of conscious indifference to his medical needs...

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