Myers v. City of Clendenin

Decision Date25 April 2022
Docket NumberCIVIL ACTION NO. 2:21-cv-00365
Citation600 F.Supp.3d 626
Parties Matthew MYERS, Plaintiff, v. CITY OF CLENDENIN, et al., Defendants.
CourtU.S. District Court — Southern District of West Virginia

Faun Cushman, Pritt & Spano, Charleston, WV, for Plaintiff.

Traci L. Wiley, MacCorkle Lavender, Charleston, WV, for Defendants.



Pending before the Court is Defendants Town of Clendenin,1 Officer Pena, Officer Craddock, and Officer Kendall's (collectively "Defendants") Motion for Summary Judgment. (ECF No. 15.) For the reasons stated more fully below, the Court GRANTS IN PART and DENIES IN PART Defendants’ Motion.

A. Factual Background

This dispute arises out of the Defendant officers’ use of force to detain Plaintiff Matthew Myers ("Plaintiff" or "Myers") during an incident in May of 2019. On May 28, 2019, Myers received a call from his brother informing him that Officers Pena, Craddock, and Kendall had pulled him over during a traffic stop. (ECF No. 16 at 2.) Thereafter, Myers—as the apparent owner of the vehicle being operated by his brother—went to the scene of his brother's traffic stop and informed the Defendant officers that he did not consent to a search of the vehicle. (Id. ) The Defendant officers told Myers to leave the area, with one of the officers allegedly using an expletive. (Id. ) Myers then returned to his vehicle and began driving back to his residence. (Id. )

After Myers left the scene, the Defendant officers returned to their squad car and pursued him with their lights and sirens activated. (Id. ) It is unclear what transpired after the Defendant officers instructed Myers to leave the scene and before he actually left. However, Myers claims that the Defendant officers began pursuing him "because he allegedly sprayed gravel on their vehicles as he left." (ECF No. 17 at 3.) Myers maintains that "there is no evidence that this was intentional," and he was not criminally charged for such conduct. (Id. ) On the other hand, Defendants maintain that Myers "attempted to interfere with, and obstruct, the traffic stop the officers were conducting on [Myers’] brother." (ECF No. 16 at 8.) Nevertheless, the parties do not dispute that Myers disobeyed the Defendant officers’ attempts to conduct a traffic stop on him until he arrived at his residence. (Id. at 3; ECF No. 17 at 2.)

As Myers was driving to his residence while being pursued by the Defendant officers, Myers called 9-1-1 and spoke with an operator because he allegedly "feared for his safety." (ECF No. 16 at 2.) Despite being actively pursued by the Defendant officers with their lights and sirens activated, Myers continued to drive to his residence until the 9-1-1 operator told him to pull over. (Id. ) At that time, Myers pulled into his residence and the Defendant officers pulled in behind him. (Id. )

The Defendant officers told Myers to exit his vehicle, and upon doing so he was detained by the officers. (Id. ) Myers alleges that, once detained, the officers pushed him against the window of his vehicle and placed him in handcuffs. (Id. ) Myers then alleges that the Defendant officers took him to the ground and beat him with physical blows to the body and head. (Id. )

Myers alleges that he informed the Defendant officers while being processed that he suffered from a heart condition requiring medication and that he believed he may have suffered a minor heart attack during his arrest. (Id. ) Myers alleges he was denied medical treatment by the Defendant officers, and was instead taken to a holding cell at the Clendenin Police Department. (Id. 2–3.) Myers was released the following morning, and was charged with obstructing an officer and fleeing. (Id. at 3.)

Myers contends that he suffered severe physical injury as a result of the "aggressive and excessive force" used by the Defendant officers. (ECF No. 1-1 at 7, ¶ 16.) Myers also alleges that he suffered physical and mental damages from the Defendant officers’ alleged refusal to provide him with medical treatment. (Id. at 7, ¶ 17.) Lastly, Myers states that he suffered emotional and mental trauma due to the incident, and now has an irrational fear of police officers. (Id. at 7, ¶ 18.)

B. Procedural Background

Based on the above allegations, Myers initiated this action against Defendants on May 28, 2021 in the Circuit Court of Kanawha County, West Virginia. (ECF No. 16 at 1.) Defendants removed this action to this Court on June 24, 2021. (ECF No. 1.) Myers alleges nine causes of action in his Complaint. (ECF No. 1-1.) Count I of Myers’ Complaint alleges claims under Article III, Sections 6 and 10 of the West Virginia Constitution against the Defendant officers. (Id. at 7–8, ¶¶ 19–23.) Count II alleges claims under Article III, Sections 1, 5, 10, and 14 of the West Virginia Constitution against the Town of Clendenin. (Id. at 8–9, ¶¶ 24–28.) Count III alleges a state law negligent hiring, retention, and supervision claim against the Town of Clendenin. (Id. at 9, ¶¶ 29–33.) Count IV alleges a "punitive damages" claim against all Defendants. (Id. at 10, ¶¶ 34–38.) Count V alleges a state law battery claim against the Defendant officers. (Id. at 10–11, ¶¶ 39–43.) Count VI alleges a state law intentional infliction of emotional distress claim against all Defendants. (Id. at 11–12, ¶¶ 44–48.) Count VII alleges an excessive force claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (" Section 1983") against the Defendant officers. (Id. at 12, ¶¶ 49–51.) Count VIII alleges a claim for "unlawful seizure of a person" under Section 1983 against the Defendant officers. (Id. at 13, ¶¶ 52–55.) Finally, Count IX alleges a Monell claim against the Town of Clendenin under Section 1983. (Id. at 13–14, ¶¶ 56–62.)

Defendants filed their Motion for Summary Judgment on January 10, 2022. (ECF No. 15.) Myers timely filed a Response to Defendants’ Motion on January 24, 2022. (ECF No. 17.) Defendants timely replied on January 31, 2022. (ECF No. 18.) Accordingly, DefendantsMotion for Summary Judgment has been fully briefed and is now ripe for adjudication.


Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure governs motions for summary judgment. This rule provides, in relevant part, that summary judgment should be granted if "there is no genuine issue as to any material fact." Summary judgment is inappropriate, however, if there exist factual issues that reasonably may be resolved in favor of either party. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc. , 477 U.S. 242, 250, 106 S.Ct. 2505, 91 L.Ed.2d 202 (1986). "Facts are ‘material’ when they might affect the outcome of the case, and a ‘genuine issue’ exists when the evidence would allow a reasonable jury to return a verdict for the nonmoving party." The News & Observer Publ. Co. v. Raleigh–Durham Airport Auth. , 597 F.3d 570, 576 (4th Cir. 2010). When evaluating such factual issues, the Court must view the evidence "in the light most favorable to the opposing party." Adickes v. S. H. Kress & Co. , 398 U.S. 144, 157, 90 S.Ct. 1598, 26 L.Ed.2d 142 (1970).

The moving party may meet its burden of showing that no genuine issue of fact exists by use of "depositions, answers to interrogatories, answers to requests for admission, and various documents submitted under request for production." Barwick v. Celotex Corp. , 736 F.2d 946, 958 (4th Cir. 1984). Once the moving party has met its burden, the burden shifts to the nonmoving party to "make a showing sufficient to establish the existence of an element essential to that party's case, and on which that party will bear the burden of proof at trial." Celotex Corp. v. Catrett , 477 U.S. 317, 322, 106 S.Ct. 2548, 91 L.Ed.2d 265 (1986). If a party fails to make a sufficient showing on one element of that party's case, the failure of proof "necessarily renders all other facts immaterial." Id. at 323, 106 S.Ct. 2548.

"[A] party opposing a properly supported motion for summary judgment may not rest upon mere allegations or denials of his pleading, but must set forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial." Liberty Lobby , 477 U.S. at 256, 106 S.Ct. 2505. "The mere existence of a scintilla of evidence" in support of the nonmoving party is not enough to withstand summary judgment; the judge must ask whether "the jury could reasonably find for the plaintiff." Id. at 252, 106 S.Ct. 2505.


Defendants move this Court to grant summary judgment in their favor on each of the nine counts alleged in Plaintiff's Complaint. (ECF No. 16.) The Court will examine Myers’ federal Section 1983 claims before assessing his state law claims.

A. Section 1983 Claims

Myers has alleged three claims under Section 1983 in his Complaint. First, Count VII asserts an excessive force claim against the Defendant officers, alleging that the force they employed to detain and arrest Myers was violative of "the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution and its counterparts in the West Virginia Constitution." (ECF No. 1-1 at 12, ¶ 51.) Second, Count VIII asserts a claim for "unlawful seizure of a person" against the Defendant officers, alleging that they "forcibly took Plaintiff to the ground and arrested him with no probable cause that [Myers] had committed a crime." (Id. at 13, ¶ 53.) Finally, Count IX asserts Monell claims against the Town of Clendenin.2 (Id. at 13–14, ¶¶ 56–62.)

Defendants move for summary judgment as to Counts VII and VIII, arguing that they are entitled to qualified immunity because they did not violate any of Myers’ clearly established constitutional rights. In this regard, the Defendant officers contend that their conduct in detaining and arresting Myers was "objectively reasonable" under the factors articulated by the United States Supreme Court in Graham v. Connor , 490 U.S. 386, 109 S.Ct. 1865, 104 L.Ed.2d 443 (1989) and did not violate Myers’ Fourth Amendment rights. (ECF No. 16 at 4–8.)

Section 1983 is not itself the source of any substantive...

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