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Hendricks v. Governor's Taskforce for Marijuana Eradication

November 14, 2007

WILLIAM THOMAS HENDRICKS JR., PLAINTIFF,
v.
GOVERNOR'S TASKFORCE FOR MARIJUANA ERADICATION, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Thomas A. Varlan United States District Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION

Plaintiff William Hendricks Jr. alleges that defendants, individuals and agencies involved in law enforcement activities, violated his civil rights during an incident on August 3, 2004. On that date, plaintiff alleges certain defendants trespassed onto his property in Roane County, Tennessee, and when he confronted them and ordered them to leave, they shot, battered, and falsely arrested him. Plaintiff alleges defendants are liable for false arrest, use of excessive force, false imprisonment, conspiracy, illegal search and seizure, criminal trespass, and harassment.

This civil action is before the Court on Tennessee Valley Authority's and Robert Klyce's Motion for Summary Judgment [Doc. 53]. Plaintiff has responded in opposition [Doc. 56]. The Court has carefully considered the pending motion for summary judgment and plaintiff's response in light of the record as a whole and the applicable law. For the reasons set forth herein, Tennessee Valley Authority's and Robert Klyce's Motion for Summary Judgment [Doc. 53] will be granted.

I. Relevant Facts

As the Court is required to do in reviewing a motion for summary judgment, all facts will be viewed in the light most favorable to the non-moving party. Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986).

On August 3, 2004, plaintiff let his dog out of his home, at which point the dog began barking. Believing that the dog was barking at a pack of wild dogs with which plaintiff had been having "problems," [Doc. 1], plaintiff went back inside his home and retrieved a .22-caliber rifle with a scope in order to scare the trespassing dogs. When plaintiff returned outside, he noticed vehicles moving down his driveway, appearing to be leaving his property. Plaintiff took his dog inside, then proceeded to go behind his house toward his tractor shed, where he saw the vehicles stopped. [Id.]

At this point, plaintiff observed three trucks, two of which were unmarked and one of which was partially obscured by his tractor shed hiding any marking. [Id.] Plaintiff then approached the area where the trucks were parked and claims to have heard voices talking and seen people in his tractor shed. [Id. at 5.] After watching these individuals for approximately ten minutes, plaintiff fired four shots into the air. According to plaintiff, he did this so that these individuals would know he "was also armed and was aware of their presence." [Id.] Plaintiff then proceeded to walk toward the men with his rifle across his arms. [Id.] As he got closer to the tractor shed, plaintiff saw four men in camouflage with pistols. Plaintiff claims that these men did not have law enforcement insignias on their clothes. As plaintiff approached, one of the men stated that they were with law enforcement, but plaintiff did not believe him. [Id.]

Plaintiff states that he informed the men they were trespassing and asked them to leave his property. Plaintiff then walked over to porch of his son's mobile home in order to watch the men leave. At this point, plaintiff noticed that the truck which had been previously obscured had Tennessee Valley Authority markings on it, which prompted him to put down his rifle. [Id.] Plaintiff then walked toward the edge of the porch and down the steps, at which point plaintiff states he was fired upon by former defendant Rodriguez, a member of the Governor's Task Force on Marijuana Eradication. Plaintiff also claims that former defendant Poore, also a member of the Governor's Task Force on Marijuana Eradication, then yelled to the other men to get plaintiff. [Id.]As plaintiff moved closer to the men, he claims that he was tackled by Officer Capps and Sergeant Klyce. [Id.] While on the ground, former defendant Rodriguez allegedly kicked plaintiff in the head. Shortly thereafter, plaintiff was taken to jail by former defendant French, a chief deputy with the Roane County Sheriff's Department. [Id.]

On August 18, 2004, plaintiff was charged in a two-count indictment for the conduct arising out of the above-described August 3, 2004 incident. [United States v. Hendricks, Case. No. 3:04-CR-119, Doc. 1.] Specifically, plaintiff was charged with using a firearm to "forcibly assault, oppose, impede, intimidate, and interfere with an officer and employee of the United States" and using a firearm "during and in relation to a crime of violence." [Id.] Plaintiff was found guilty on both counts by a jury verdict on May 31, 2006 [Id. at Doc. 52], and was sentenced to a term of imprisonment of 122 months. [Id. at Doc. 64.] TVA and Sergeant Klyce are the only defendants remaining in this case as all other defendants have been dismissed by previous orders of the Court.*fn1

II. Standard of Review

Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(c), summary judgment is proper if "the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue of material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." The burden of establishing there is no genuine issue of material fact lies upon the moving party. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 330 n.2 (1986). The court must view the facts and all inferences to be drawn therefrom in the light most favorable to the non-moving party. Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986); Burchett v. Kiefer, 310 F.3d 937, 942 (6th Cir. 2002). To establish a genuine issue as to the existence of a particular element, the non-moving party must point to evidence in the record upon which a reasonable jury could find in its favor. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). The genuine issue must also be material; that is, it must involve facts that might affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law. Id.

The judge's function at the point of summary judgment is limited to determining whether sufficient evidence has been presented to make the issue of fact a proper jury question, and not to weigh the evidence, judge the credibility of witnesses, and determine the truth of the matter. Id. at 249. Thus, "[t]he inquiry performed is the threshold inquiry of determining whether there is the need for trial -- whether, in other words, there are any genuine factual issues that properly can be resolved only by a finder of fact because they may reasonably be resolved in favor of either party." Id. at 250.

III. Analysis

A. Plaintiff Cannot Maintain a ยง 1983 Claim Against a Federal Agency ...


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