Schlothauer v. Robinson

Decision Date14 March 1985
Docket NumberNo. 84-1256,84-1256
Citation757 F.2d 196
PartiesSteven SCHLOTHAUER, Appellant, v. Jack G. ROBINSON, individually and as an officer of the Nebraska State Patrol; Gary Renner, individually and as an officer of the Nebraska State Patrol; and Richard Yeager, individually and as a member of the Scotts Bluff County Nebraska Sheriff's office, Appellees.
CourtU.S. Court of Appeals — Eighth Circuit

Steven Schlothauer, pro se.

Gary D. Denton, Scottsbluff, Neb., and Patrick T. O'Brien, Asst. Atty. Gen., Lincoln, Neb., for appellees.

Before BRIGHT, JOHN R. GIBSON and FAGG, Circuit Judges.

PER CURIAM.

Steven Schlothauer appeals from the district court's grant of a directed verdict in favor of Gary Renner, Jack Robinson and Richard Yeager. Schlothauer brought this 42 U.S.C. Sec. 1983 action against Renner and Robinson, criminal investigators with the Nebraska State Patrol, and Yeager, a detective from the Scotts Bluff County sheriff's office, claiming that they violated his fourth amendment rights when they arrested him in his home without a warrant. The district court directed a verdict at the close of Schlothauer's case, after determining that the officers were immune from liability. We affirm.

In determining whether a directed verdict is proper, "the evidence, together with all reasonable inferences to be drawn therefrom, must be viewed in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party," SCNO Barge Lines, Inc. v. Anderson Clayton & Co., 745 F.2d 1188, 1192 (8th Cir.1984) (footnote omitted), and the directed verdict should be granted only when this evidence points one way and is susceptible of no reasonable inferences sustaining the nonmoving party's position, id. at 1192-93; Decker-Ruhl Ford Sales, Inc. v. Ford Motor Credit Co., 523 F.2d 833, 836 (8th Cir.1975).

Viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to Schlothauer, the record shows that on August 28, 1979, the officers went to Schlothauer's home to arrest him after receiving a complaint that Schlothauer had abducted and raped a woman. Officer Robinson, accompanied by the other officers, knocked on the front door of the home, and when Schlothauer answered, Robinson announced that Schlothauer was under arrest for kidnapping and rape. Schlothauer asked to see Robinson's identification, and Robinson showed Schlothauer his badge. Schlothauer asked whether the officers had an arrest or search warrant, and when they told him they did not, Schlothauer closed the door. The officers then forced open the door, entered Schlothauer's home, and completed the arrest.

It is now clearly established that the fourth amendment prohibits a warrantless entry into a suspect's home to make a routine felony arrest absent consent or exigent circumstances. Steagald v. United States, 451 U.S. 204, 211-12, 101 S.Ct. 1642, 1647, 68 L.Ed.2d 38 (1981); Payton v. New York, 445 U.S. 573, 586-90, 100 S.Ct. 1371, 1380-82, 63 L.Ed.2d 639 (1980). Further, 42 U.S.C. Sec. 1983 provides a civil remedy for deprivation of a federally protected right caused by a person acting under color of state law. Parratt v. Taylor, 451 U.S. 527, 535, 101 S.Ct. 1908, 1912, 68 L.Ed.2d 420 (1981); Baker v. McCollan, 443 U.S. 137, 140, 99 S.Ct. 2689, 2692, 61 L.Ed.2d 433 (1979).

Police officers, however, are afforded qualified immunity from liability in suits brought under 42 U.S.C. Sec. 1983. Pierson v. Ray, 386 U.S. 547, 557, 87 S.Ct. 1213, 1219, 18 L.Ed.2d 288 (1967). They "generally are shielded from liability for civil damages insofar as their conduct does not violate clearly established statutory or constitutional rights of which a reasonable person would have known." Harlow v. Fitzgerald, 457 U.S. 800, 818, 102 S.Ct. 2727, 2738, 73 L.Ed.2d 396 (1982). See also Procunier v. Navarette, 434 U.S. 555, 562, 98 S.Ct. 855, 859, 55 L.Ed.2d 24 (1978); Garmon v. Foust, 741 F.2d 1069, 1071 (8th Cir.1984).

[T]he judge appropriately may determine, not only the currently applicable law, but whether that law was clearly established at the time an action occurred. If the law at that time was not clearly established, an official could not reasonably be expected to anticipate subsequent legal developments, nor could he fairly be said to "know" that the law forbade conduct not previously identified as unlawful.

Harlow, 457 U.S. at 818, 102 S.Ct. at 2739 (footnote omitted). Although Harlow did not involve an action under 42 U.S.C. Sec. 1983, we have recognized that the immunity standards announced in that case also apply to ...

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  • Bryan v. United States
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Virgin Islands
    • February 28, 2017
    ...817 F.2d 650, 657 n.10 (10th Cir. 1987) (five months sufficient time to be aware of Tenth Circuit decision); Schlothauer v. Robinson, 757 F.2d 196, 197-98 (8th Cir. 1985) (officers immune from liability despite on-point Eighth Circuit decision decided eleven days prior to defendant's action......
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    ...whether a "legitimate question" as to the legality of the arrest existed. The defendants rely upon our decision in Schlothauer v. Robinson, 757 F.2d 196, 197-98 (8th Cir.1985), which held that at the time of a warrantless arrest in the home in 1979 there was still a legitimate question whet......
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    ...be viewed in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party." Cason v. Cook, 810 F.2d 188, 189 (8th Cir.1987); accord Schlothauer v. Robinson, 757 F.2d 196 (8th Cir.1985). We "may not consider the credibility of the witnesses or the weight of the evidence." McKnelly v. Sperry Corp., 642 F.......
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