United States District Court, M.D. Tennessee, Nashville Division
H SHARP UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
before the Court are Defendant Don Godby's
(“Officer Godby”) and Defendant Town of
Smyrna's (“Smyrna”) Motions for Summary
Judgment. (Docket Nos. 33 & 36). Plaintiff Lashawn
Williams (“Williams”) filed a Response to both.
(Docket No. 51). Smyrna and Officer Godby then replied.
(Docket Nos. 58 & 59). Officer Godby further filed a
Supplemental Reply. (Docket No. 67). For the reasons stated
below, the Court will grant Smyrna's Motion for Summary
Judgment and deny Officer Godby's Motion for Summary
October 2013, Lashawn Williams was a 28 year old female
employed by Calsonic, a vendor located within the Nissan
Plant in Smyrna, Tennessee. Williams was a small woman,
weighing approximately 115-120 pounds. She worked the night
shift, and on October 15, 2013, Williams left work at 8:00
am. Although the exact timeline is disputed, all parties
agree that sometime after work, Williams and her friend Kaia
Loving ended up at Williams' apartment and started
drinking. The two women began drinking inside Williams'
apartment but eventually moved outside to Loving's car,
either because Williams' mother and child were sleeping
inside her apartment, or because Loving wanted to smoke-the
exact reason is disputed. Loving and Williams were sitting in
Loving's car and drinking for about ten or fifteen
minutes before Officer Godby arrived on scene.
Godby stated that when he arrived on scene, he heard screams
coming from the direction of Loving's car. (Docket No.
48-5 at 10). Officer Godby approached the car on the
driver's side where Loving was sitting. He asked them if
they had been fighting and the women replied that they were
fine and had just been laughing and being loud. Officer Godby
claims he saw Williams make a sudden hand movement, as if to
hide something between the car door and the passenger's
side seat. (Id. at 27). Officer Godby claims this
action made him suspicious, so he called for backup.
(Id. at 28). Williams disputes that she ever made a
waiting for backup, Officer Godby asked the two women for
identification. Loving handed Officer Godby her driver's
license, but Williams had left hers in her apartment. Officer
Godby refused to allow Williams to go inside and retrieve it
out of safety concerns. Officer Godby offered to call the
apartment complex office to confirm that Williams lived
there, which Officer Godby claims made Williams
“extremely irate.” (Docket No. 54 at 15).
Williams disputes this, saying that she was “insistent
and not irate” but simply did not want a police officer
calling her apartment complex as she did not want a mark on
her record with the apartment complex. (Id.).
point, Officer Godby walked over to the passenger's side
of the car where Williams was sitting. Williams admits that
when he was speaking to her directly, she raised her voice.
Williams admits that she did use curse words “but they
were not directed at Officer Godby[.]” (Docket No. 54
at 17). She admits that she was upset, acting “wild,
” and “getting loud.” She further admitted
that, during the encounter, she stated she “was not
going to be harassed by no fucking police.”
(Id. at 18-19).
Officer Schoon-Officer Godby's backup-arrived on the
scene, Officer Godby asked Williams to step out of the car.
Williams did so voluntarily, and Officer Godby then did a
light pat down of Williams' person. During the pat down,
Officer Godby found an unopened bottle of “99”
brand liquor in Williams' pocket. Officer Godby then
asked Williams to turn around and place her hands behind her
back, which she also did willingly.
point, Officer Godby attempted to handcuff Williams, and the
parties disagree about the exact actions each party took.
Officer Godby claims that Williams became belligerent and
started swinging her arms and kicking him, while Williams
claims that Officer Godby “yanked” her arm and
that she did not kick him. (Id. at 26). The dash-cam
footage does not definitively help either side. During this
situation, Officer Schoon yelled “get on the ground,
” and Williams describes the actions as happening very
quickly like “bam.” (Id. at 27). Officer
Schoon and Officer Godby took Williams to the ground, which
resulted in Williams breaking her clavicle. During this
encounter, Officer Schoon had been on Williams' left side
and Officer Godby had been on Williams' right.
Williams' clavicle was broken on her left side.
Williams was taken to the back of Officer Schoon's car,
Loving consented to Officer Godby searching her car. Officer
Godby found twelve airplane bottles of liquor, but did not
find other drugs or weapons. (Id. at 31; Docket No.
48-5 at 28).
complained of shoulder pain, and the officers called an
ambulance to the scene to evaluate her. The parties dispute
whether Williams was acting too belligerent to be taken to
the hospital by the ambulance; regardless, Williams was
transferred to the hospital in the back of Officer
Schoon's car. At the hospital, Williams was found to have
a blood alcohol content of 0.159 and a broken left clavicle.
was charged with public intoxication, assault, and resisting
arrest. During the course of the state law proceedings
concerning these charges, Williams filed a Motion to Supress,
which was heard in front of Judge David Bragg in Rutherford
County Circuit Court. Judge Bragg determined that
“Officer Godby did not have reasonable suspicion to
continue the encounter with Williams once he ascertained that
Williams and Loving were not fighting.” (Docket No. 54
at 37). He ordered that all the evidence “accumulated
following the illegal seizure” was to be suppressed and
the charges dismissed. (Id.).
has subsequently brought the present case against both
Officer Godby and the Town of Smyrna. She claims that both
Officer Godby and Smyrna violated her Fourth Amendment right
to be free from the use of excessive force. She brings two
state law claims against both Defendants: false imprisonment
and negligent infliction of emotional distress.
judgment is proper if “there is no genuine issue as to
any material fact [such that] the movant is entitled to
judgment as a matter of law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c). But
“summary judgment will not lie if the . . . evidence is
such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the
non-moving party.” Anderson v. Liberty Lobby,
Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). In considering a motion
for summary judgment, the court must construe the evidence in
the light most favorable to the non-moving party.
Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp.,
475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986). The movant therefore has the burden
of establishing that there is no genuine issue of material
fact. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322-23
(1986); Barnhart v. Pickrel, Schaeffer &
Ebeling Co., 12 F.3d 1382, 1388-89 (6th Cir.1993). But
the non-moving party “may not rely merely on
allegations or denials in its own pleading.”
Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e)(2). See Celotex, 477 U.S. at 324;
Searcy v. City of Dayton, 38 F.3d 282, 286 (6th Cir.
1994). The non-moving party must present “significant
probative evidence” to show that there is more than
“some metaphysical doubt as to the material
facts.” Moore v. Philip Morris Co., 8 F.3d
335, 339-40 (6th Cir. 1993).
Excessive Force Claims
has brought this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983
against Officer Godby in his individual capacity and the Town
Section 1983 makes liable only those who, while acting under
color of state law, deprive another of a right secured by the
Constitution or federal law. To establish a claim pursuant to
§ 1983, a plaintiff must demonstrate two elements: (1)
that she was deprived of a right secured by the Constitution
or laws of the United States; and (2) that she was subjected
or caused to be subjected to this deprivation by a person
acting under color of state law. Section ...