Stillwagon v. City of Delaware, 082418 FED6, 17-3873

Docket Nº:17-3873
Party Name:EFFIE J. STILLWAGON, Executor of the Estate for James R. Stillwagon, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. CITY OF DELAWARE, OHIO; RICHARD O. MATTINGLY, Defendants, ADAM WILLAUER, Officer; JONATHAN RADABAUGH, Detective Sergeant; JAMES AILES, Officer; JASON FLYNN, Officer; BENJAMIN SEGAARD, Detective; PATRICK GERKE, Former Detective, Defendants-Appellants.
Judge Panel:BEFORE: BOGGS and GRIFFIN, Circuit Judges; and HOOD, District Judge.
Case Date:August 24, 2018
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit

EFFIE J. STILLWAGON, Executor of the Estate for James R. Stillwagon, Plaintiff-Appellee,



ADAM WILLAUER, Officer; JONATHAN RADABAUGH, Detective Sergeant; JAMES AILES, Officer; JASON FLYNN, Officer; BENJAMIN SEGAARD, Detective; PATRICK GERKE, Former Detective, Defendants-Appellants.

No. 17-3873

United States Court of Appeals, Sixth Circuit

August 24, 2018



BEFORE: BOGGS and GRIFFIN, Circuit Judges; and HOOD, District Judge. [*]


This is a 42 U.S.C. § 1983 civil-rights case brought by plaintiff-appellee, James R. Stillwagon, against multiple municipal defendants, including the City of Delaware, Ohio, and six Delaware police officers/detectives in their individual capacities-Detective Segaard, former Detective Gerke, Sergeant Detective Radabaugh, and Officers Ailes, Flynn and Willauer-for false arrest, malicious prosecution, excessive force, civil conspiracy, supervisory liability, and related Ohio state-law claims. Defendants moved for summary judgment, arguing they were immune from liability. The district court held that defendants did not have federal or state-law immunity and denied their motions for summary judgment. Defendants appealed. For the reasons set forth below, we affirm the district court's holding that defendants are not entitled to qualified immunity and dismiss defendants' appeal of the district court's denial of statutory immunity as to Stillwagon's related state-law claims.


This case arises from a vehicular assault event that occurred over a 15-mile span on state highways around Delaware, Ohio, in 2012. James Stillwagon1 was one of Ohio State University's most famous and decorated football stars.[2] His celebrity status was relevant to how his case was handled and was included in lead investigator Detective Segaard's incident report submitted to the grand jury, where Segaard noted that this case had garnered national attention because of Stillwagon's fame and the violent nature of his alleged crime.

On Sunday, September 30, 2012, 63-year-old Stillwagon was travelling from Dublin, Ohio to visit his parents' gravesite in North Vernon, Ohio. Stillwagon was riding his BMW motorcycle, heading northeast on U.S. Route 42 toward Delaware, Ohio. About 10 miles south of Delaware, Stillwagon stopped to get gas at a Marathon Station near the intersection of U.S. Route 42 and State Road 33. Richard Mattingly, 41, who was driving a silver 2005 Dodge Ram pickup truck, stopped at the same gas station. Mattingly said he had been drinking beer at home, was continuing to drink in the truck, and had stopped to buy beer and cigarettes. Stillwagon and Mattingly left the gas station at the same time, with Stillwagon leaving first and Mattingly leaving directly behind him. Then, according to the district court and taken in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, the following events occurred.

Just northeast of the gas station, Route 42 narrows from four to two lanes. As Stillwagon approached the merger, Mattingly sped past Stillwagon, laying down rubber and nearly hitting him. After driving two more miles, Mattingly stopped his truck, half on the road and half on the berm. As Stillwagon approached on his motorcycle, Mattingly was waving a blue baseball bat out the driver-side window of his truck, signaling for Stillwagon to go around him. Instead, Stillwagon stopped and waited for Mattingly to leave, which he did. A little further up the road, Mattingly again stopped and did the same thing, waving the bat out his window signaling Stillwagon to go in front of him. Stillwagon again stopped and waited until Mattingly sped off.

After Mattingly left, Stillwagon continued north on Route 42 when he came upon Mattingly who had gotten behind a slow car. Stillwagon passed both vehicles. In response, Mattingly raced north on the southbound lane, pushing at least one car off the road. As they approached the Watkins Road traffic light, Mattingly cut in three times toward Stillwagon's bike, forcing Stillwagon to brake hard and skid off onto the shoulder, and just miss hitting Mattingly. Mattingly ran the red light and sped north on Route 42.

Stillwagon stopped at the red light and, after it turned green, pulled off the side of the road immediately north of the Watkins Road intersection. His intent was to distance himself from Mattingly. Stillwagon, who was carrying a licensed firearm, removed it from his bag and put it in his jacket for protection if Mattingly came back and tried to run him over. A witness, Ruth Sayre, stated she saw Mattingly chase and cut in on Stillwagon near Watkins Road. Another witness, Lois Reninger, stated that she saw Mattingly pass and then "brake check" Stillwagon and that she and an unidentified man stopped to check on Stillwagon when he pulled off the road.

Stillwagon asked the man to call the police, which he did. The police said that Stillwagon could wait by the side of the road for an officer to come take a report, but they did not know how soon they could get there. After several minutes, and not having any idea how long the wait would be, Stillwagon got back on his motorcycle and continued on his way, north on Route 42.

Stillwagon drove nearly 4 miles without incident. But as Stillwagon crossed the intersection of Section Line Road, Stillwagon saw Mattingly pull back onto Route 42, about five to six cars behind him. Mattingly proceeded to pass all the cars, going north on the southbound lane, forcing two southbound cars off the road. Kevin Cogan testified that he and his young son were forced to drive off the road to avoid a head-on collision with Mattingly's truck. Mattingly pulled in behind Stillwagon and tried to ram the back of his motorcycle. Stillwagon accelerated to 85 miles per hour to avoid being hit. Mattingly again approached the bike from the southbound lane, cutting in front of Stillwagon, who had to brake hard to avoid crashing. Both vehicles came to a stop and then Mattingly drove away.

About 2 ½ miles north of Section Line Road, U.S. Route 42 merges with U.S. Route 23, becoming Columbus Pike. As Stillwagon approached Columbus Pike, he saw Mattingly stopped at a green traffic light and then saw Mattingly eventually continue onto Columbus Pike. Stillwagon stayed back 2 traffic lights and waited before continuing onto Columbus Pike. About 1 mile later, Stillwagon got in the right exit lane for the William Street exit. This exit lane forms its own mile- long lane on Columbus Pike. Stillwagon then spotted Mattingly, who was driving very slowly, approximately 10 mph, in the left through lane. At the last moment, Mattingly swerved from the left lane just in front of the concrete barrier at the top of the exit ramp. He was in front of Stillwagon, again. As Stillwagon exited, he saw Mattingly stopped at the bottom of the exit ramp. Stillwagon stopped about 50 yards back from the truck. Mattingly then put his truck in reverse, backing his truck directly toward Stillwagon. Stopped on the exit ramp between a concrete wall on the left and a rocky ledge on the right, Stillwagon took out his gun and fired three shots at the truck's tailgate. Mattingly stopped and raced away, turning right onto William Street.

After again waiting, Stillwagon eventually continued and turned right off the exit ramp. He immediately saw Mattingly's truck parked on the Olentangy River bridge, straddling both eastbound lanes. At the near end of the bridge, Stillwagon saw an Auto Zone parking lot with a concrete pillar near the front of the parking lot. Stillwagon drove toward the parking lot, hoping to use the pillar for protection. Mattingly sped his truck into the parking lot, revving his engine. Stillwagon feared that Mattingly was going to try to maneuver around to the other side of the pillar where Stillwagon was unprotected. Stillwagon fired two rounds at the truck's rear driver-side tire.

Mattingly then exited the Auto Zone parking lot, but instead of leaving, he circled back into the lot and drove directly at Stillwagon. Stillwagon fired a shot into the truck's engine. The truck came to a stop about 10 feet from Stillwagon. Stillwagon walked toward the truck and approached as Mattingly jumped out of his truck. Stillwagon grabbed Mattingly by the shoulder, kicked him in the knee, and then hit him on the back of his head with his pistol, at which point the pistol discharged upward into the sky. Stillwagon put his gun down and asked a bystander to call the police.


Dispatch reported shots fired. The first officer to arrive on scene was Delaware County Deputy Sheriff Pitts. He saw Mattingly lying on the ground with blood on his head. Pitts asked who had fired the weapon and Stillwagon acknowledged that he had fired the weapon but explained that Mattingly had just tried to kill him six times. Stillwagon was arrested without incident. He complied with Deputy Pitts's instructions to lie on the ground and did not resist when he was double cuffed behind his back. Delaware Police Department Detective Ailes then took charge of Stillwagon and physically pushed him into the back seat of a police cruiser, slamming the door on his feet, leaving him lying on his stomach in the back of the cruiser for nearly half an hour. Stillwagon's excessive force claim against Detective Ailes arises from this incident, which will be discussed in greater detail when we address this claim.

The officers attending Mattingly at the scene reported that he was talking and that he had only suffered a grazing head wound. Per shot-fired protocol, a medical helicopter already had been dispatched, so it transported Mattingly...

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