Wilson v. City of Hazelwood, Mo., Case No. 4:06CV1292MLM.

CourtUnited States District Courts. 8th Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of Missouri)
Citation530 F.Supp.2d 1059
Docket NumberCase No. 4:06CV1292MLM.
PartiesDavid WILSON, Plaintiff, v. CITY OF HAZELWOOD, MISSOURI, Todd Greeves, Defendants.
Decision Date22 October 2007
530 F.Supp.2d 1059
David WILSON, Plaintiff,
CITY OF HAZELWOOD, MISSOURI, Todd Greeves, Defendants.
Case No. 4:06CV1292MLM.
United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Eastern Division.
October 22, 2007.

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Stephen M. Ryals, Ryals & Breed, P.C., W. Bevis Schock, Schock Law, St. Louis, MO, for Plaintiff.

Peter J. Dunne, Peter M. Rohrich III, Rabbitt, Pitzer & Snodgrass, P.C., St. Louis, MO, for Defendants.


MARY ANN L. MEDLER, United States Magistrate Judge.

Before the court is the Motion for Summary Judgment filed by Defendants the City of Hazelwood (the "City") and Officer Todd Greeves ("Officer Greeves"). Doc. 11. Plaintiff David Wilson ("Captain Wilson") has filed a Response. Doc. 25. Defendant has filed a Reply. Doc. 29. The parties have consented to the jurisdiction of the undersigned United States Magistrate Judge pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c). Doc. 6.


At all times relevant to the matter under consideration, Officer Greeves was employed by the City as a Public Safety Officer and Captain Wilson was employed by the Robertson Fire Protection District. On May 12, 2003, Officer Greeves responded to a two-vehicle accident at Interstate 270 and McDonnell Boulevard. When Officer Greeves arrived at the accident location, lane two2 of the two-lane exit ramp for McDonnell Boulevard was blocked by a Robertson Emergency Medical Service Ambulance, the two vehicles involved in the accident, and the police vehicle of Officer Mars. Also, Officer Kristo's police vehicle was parked in lane one of, Interstate 270, which is a four-lane highway, in order to block this lane of traffic for emergency personnel to attend to the drivers in the vehicles. Officer Greeves parked his vehicle approximately 200 feet behind Officer Kristo's vehicle in lane one of Interstate 270, to create a buffer zone. After Officer Greeves arrived at the scene and prior to Captain Wilson's arrival, traffic in lanes two, three, and four of Interstate 270 was traveling "pretty close" to the speed limit of 60 m.p.h. according to Officer Greeves' testimony. After Officer Greeves was on the scene, Fire Engine 5020, operated by Engineer Roy Zeier ("Engineer Zeier") and occupied by Captain Wilson, arrived and parked in lane two of Interstate 270. Captain. Wilson then exited the fire engine and proceeded to one of the vehicles involved in the accident. Officer Greeves approached the passenger side of the fire engine and instructed Engineer Zeier to move the fire engine to lane one of Interstate 270. Officer Greeves believed that the additional blockage of lane two of Interstate 270 would impeded the flow of traffic creating an additional and unnecessary risk to approaching motorists. Captain Wilson instructed Engineer Zeier to ignore Officer Greeves' order and to not move the fire engine to lane one. In his deposition, Officer Greeves testified that he told Captain Wilson and Engineer Zeier that "somebody is going to jail if you don't move the truck." Pl. Ex. 4, Greeves Dep. at 76. Engineer Zeier disregarded Officer

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Graves request to move the fire engine. Officer Greeves then arrested Captain Wilson. The arrest report filed by Officer Greeves states that he arrested Captain Wilson for failing to obey the direction of a police official and "parking-illegal parking/stopping" pursuant to the City's municipal code. Def. Ex. D. Officer Greeves' understanding at the time he arrested Officer Wilson was that City ordinances must comply with State law.

In his deposition, Captain Wilson described his arrest as follows: Officer Greeves grabbed Captain Wilson's right arm; Captain Wilson had "no idea" who grabbed his arm and he "jerked away out of reflex"; at the time his arm was grabbed, Captain Wilson's back was to Officer Greeves; Captain Wilson used a jerking motion with his right arm at, which time he was "probably telling [Officer Greeves] that [he] was in the middle of an auto extrication, that we probably should do this at another time or something of that nature"; somewhere in this time frame Officer Greeves told Captain Wilson he was under arrest and handcuffed him; Officer Greeves then either pulled on the handcuffs or on Captain Wilson's arm; Officer Greeves' pulling on Captain Wilson's arm put stress on the handcuffs; and Officer Greeves pulled the chain of the handcuffs.

After handcuffing Captain Wilson Officer Greeves placed him in the back seat, passenger side, of his police vehicle, which was running with the air conditioning going. Officer Greeves testified in his deposition that there was a plexiglass divider between the front and back of the police vehicle; that there were no vents for the air conditioning in the back; and that he rolled up the window. Greeves Dep. at 92. Captain Wilson testified that it was "extremely hot" in the police vehicle. Wilson Dep. at 58.

Officer Greeves asked other firemen on the scene for their names and these fireman refused to give their names. Defendant alleges, and plaintiff denies, that Officer Greeves then requested that a supervisor respond to the scene given the lack of cooperation he was receiving from the Robertson Fire Protection District. A supervisor from the Hazelwood Police Department, Lieutenant Brian McKenna, arrived on the scene. Lieutenant McKenna testified in his deposition that after his arrival he made the decision that Captain Wilson should be released. McKenna Dep. at 16. Captain Wilson was released after being in the police car for twenty-three minutes and forty-two seconds. Captain Wilson testified in his deposition that as a result of his being placed in the police vehicle he suffered injury to both wrists and that as a result of his being confined to the police vehicle he was "hot and sore." Wilson Dep. at 59.3

In Count I of his Complaint, Captain Wilson alleges that Officer Greeves arrested and seized Captain Wilson without probable cause and therefore violated Captain. Wilson's constitutional rights.4 Captain Wilson brings Count I pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. In Count II Captain Wilson seeks attorney's fees and costs pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1988. In Count III Captain Wilson alleges that the City is liable pursuant to respondeat superior under § 1983. In Count IV Captain Wilson

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alleges battery against Officer Greeves based on State law. In Count V Captain Wilson alleges false arrest and imprisonment against Officer Greeves based on State law. In Count VI Captain Wilson alleges respondeat superior liability against the City based on State law.5


The court may grant a motion for summary judgment if "the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c); see also Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322, 106 S.Ct. 2548, 91 L.Ed.2d 265 (1986). The substantive law determines which facts are critical and which are irrelevant. Only disputes over facts that might affect the outcome will properly preclude summary judgment. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248, 106 S.Ct. 2505, 91 L.Ed.2d 202 (1986). Summary judgment is not proper if the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party. Id. See also Fenney v. Dakota, Minn. & E.R.R. Co., 327 F.3d 707, 711 (8th Cir.2003) (holding that an issue is genuine "if the evidence is sufficient to allow a reasonable jury to return a verdict for the non-moving part").

A moving party always bears the burden of informing the court of the basis of its motion. Celotex, 477 U.S. at 323, 106 S.Ct. 2548. Once the moving party discharges this burden, the nonmoving party must set forth specific facts demonstrating that there is a dispute as to a genuine issue of material fact, not the "mere existence of some alleged factual dispute." Fed. R.Civ.P. 56(e); Anderson, 477 U.S. at 247, 106 S.Ct. 2505. The nonmoving party may not rest upon mere allegations or denials of his pleading. Id. at 256, 106 S.Ct. 2505.

In passing on a motion for summary judgment, the court must view the facts in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party and all justifiable inferences are to be drawn in its favor. Id. at 255, 106 S.Ct. 2505; Raschick v. Prudent Supply, Inc., 830 F.2d 1497, 1499 (8th Cir.1987). The court's function is not to weigh the evidence, but to determine whether there is a genuine issue for trial. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 249, 106 S.Ct. 2505. However, "[t]he mere existence of a scintilla of evidence in support of the [nonmoving party's] position will be insufficient." Id. at 252, 106 S.Ct. 2505. "Factual disputes that are irrelevant or unnecessary" will not preclude summary judgment. Id. at 248, 106 S.Ct. 2505. With these principles in mind, the court turns to an analysis of Defendants' motion.


A. Count I — Violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1983 by Officer Greeves:

In Count I Captain Wilson alleges that by arresting him and placing him in the back seat of his police vehicle Officer Greeves violated his constitutional rights. As stated above, Captain Wilson brings Count I pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. In the Motion for Summary Judgment Defendants allege that Captain Wilson's seizure, arrest, and being placed in the police vehicle were lawful; that Captain Wilson's constitutional rights were not violated; and that Officer Greeves is entitled to qualified immunity.

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42 U.S.C. § 1983 "subjects to liability `[e]very person' who, acting under color of state law, commits" a constitutional violation. Buckley v. Fitzsimmons, 509 U.S. 259, 268, 113 S.Ct. 2606, 125 L.Ed.2d 209 (1993). The Supreme Court has recognized there are two types of immunities which may apply to public officials sued pursuant to § 1983, absolute immunity and...

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