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Knight v. Chattanooga Police Dep't

July 7, 2008

DONNA L. KNIGHT, INDIVIDUALLY AND AS MOTHER AND NEXT OF FRIEND AND PERSONAL REPRESENTATIVE OF AISHA LATREESE KNIGHT, DECEASED, AND THE ESTATE OF AISHA LATREESE KNIGHT, PLAINTIFFS,
v.
CHATTANOOGA POLICE DEPARTMENT, CITY OF CHATTANOOGA, TENNESSEE HAMILTON COUNTY, TENNESSEE HAMILTON COUNTY SHERIFF'S DEPARTMENT, JOHN DOES 1 THROUGH 5, JANE DOES 1 THROUGH 5, AND THE ESTATE OF LAVAGAS GRUNDY DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Chief Judge Curtis L. Collier

MEMORANDUM

Before the Court are two motions for summary judgment filed by Defendants City of Chattanooga, Tennessee ("City"), Chattanooga Police Department ("CPD"), Hamilton County, Tennessee ("County"), Hamilton County Sheriff's Department ("Sheriff's Department"), John Does 1 through 5, and Jane Does 1 through 5 (collectively, "Defendants") (Court Files No. 23, 25). Defendants filed memoranda in support of their motions for summary judgment (Court Files No. 24, 26). Over seven weeks have passed, and Plaintiff Donna L. Knight has not filed a response or anything else with the Court. The Local Rules provide 20 days to respond to dispositive motions, and "[f]ailure to respond to a motion may be deemed a waiver of any opposition to the relief sought." E.D.TN. LR 7.1(a), 7.2. Even without the Local Rule, dismissal is almost inevitable when a plaintiff fails to oppose a summary judgment motion. Here, Defendants have produced evidence showing they are entitled to summary judgment and Plaintiff has, of course, not offered evidence to the contrary. Therefore, for the following reasons, Defendants' motions for summary judgment will be GRANTED (Court Files No. 23, 25).

I. RELEVANT FACTS

The events giving rise to this case began over seven years ago when Aisha Knight began dating LaVegas Grundy. During the relationship, Grundy was abusive and controlling of Knight (Knight Depo., p. 17). Throughout the years the couple dated, the police responded many times for domestic violence incidents between Grundy and Knight (Id. at 32-38). However, Knight would never press charges against Grundy (id.).On November 6, 2005, Aisha Knight was beaten so severely that her mother, Donna Knight, took her to the hospital (id. at 39-40). Grundy was arrested on November 7, 2005, and transported to the Hamilton County Jail as a result of this incident (Holoman Depo., Ex. 1 & 5). Grundy was released on bond the same day, and his court date was scheduled for November 16, 2005 (Id.).

On November 7, 2005, an officer of the CPD advised Aisha Knight that Grundy was released on bond and was to have no contact with her pursuant to the conditions of release. Further, the officer advised Knight that she should notify the Police Department if Grundy contacted her in any way (Holoman Depo., Ex. 1). On November 9, 2005, Aisha Knight contacted the CPD and informed them that Grundy had made over twenty telephone calls to her (id.). After an investigation, a magistrate issued an order for Grundy to be arrested and held without bond (id.).A warrant was issued and subsequently delivered to the Hamilton County Sheriff's Office (Affidavit of Lenda Clark, ¶ 5).*fn1 A detective from the Sheriff's Department attempted to serve the warrant on Grundy. However, he was unable to do so and Grundy was never rearrested (id. at ¶ 7).

On December 1, 2005, Grundy came to the home of Donna Knight, where she and her daughter Aisha were both residing. Grundy proceeded to stab Donna Knight in the face and to stab and shoot Aisha Knight causing her death. Grundy then killed himself (Court File No. 1 at ¶ 18).

On November 29, 2006, Donna Knight filed this complaint against Defendants and the Estate of LaVegas Grundy (Court File No. 1) pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution, and the Tennessee Governmental Tort Liability Act.

The complaint asserts Defendants violated Plaintiffs' constitutional rights under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 by failing to provide adequate security and promptly arrest Grundy. The Complaint further asserts that Defendants violated Plaintiffs' rights by failing to promulgate any policy to ensure the prompt arrest of individuals guilty of violating protective orders;*fn2 Defendants had a policy or custom of failing to timely arrest violators of protective orders; Defendants had a custom and practice of failing to adequately train officers concerning the necessity of promptly arresting individuals guilty of violating protective orders; and Defendants had a policy or custom of failing to have safeguards in place to insure that violators of protective orders were timely arrested.

The complaint asserts Defendants failed to adequately provide police protection to victims of domestic violence in violation of the equal protection clause. Plaintiff further asserted that the conduct of Defendants toward Donna and Aisha Knight establishes a special relationship between the parties and that Defendants enhanced or increased the danger to the plaintiffs.

II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

Summary judgment is proper when "the pleadings, the discovery and disclosure materials on file, and any affidavits show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c).

First, the moving party must demonstrate no genuine issue of material fact exists. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986); Leary v. Daeschner, 349 F.3d 888, 897 (6th Cir. 2003). The Court views the evidence, including all reasonable inferences, in the light most favorable to the non-movant. Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co., Ltd. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574 (1986); Nat'l Satellite Sports, Inc. v. Eliadis Inc., 253 F.3d 900, 907 (6th Cir. 2001). However, the non-movant is not entitled to a trial based solely on her allegations, but must submit significant probative evidence to support its claims. Celotex, 477 U.S. at 324; McLean v. Ontario, Ltd., 224 F.3d 797, 800 (6th Cir. 2000). The moving party is entitled to summary judgment if the non-movant fails to make a sufficient showing on an essential element for which it bears the burden of proof. Celotex, 477 U.S. at 323. In short, if the Court concludes a fair-minded jury could not return a verdict in favor of the non-movant based on the record, the Court may enter summary judgment. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 251-52 (1986); Lansing Dairy, Inc. v. Espy, 39 F.3d 1339, 1347 (6th Cir. 1994).

III. DISCUSSION

A. Claims under 42 U.S.C. ...


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