United States District Court, M.D. Tennessee, Nashville Division
WAVERLY D. CRENSHAW, JR. CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
David Shearon was rear-ended on Gallatin Road, Officer
Coleman Womack arrested Shearon for driving under the
influence of alcohol or drugs and commenced a criminal
prosecution that was ultimately dismissed when Shearon's
blood alcohol level was confirmed to be 0%. From that
incident, Shearon brings the instant civil rights action
under 28 U.S.C. § 1983 against Womack and the
Metropolitan Government of Nashville, Davidson County,
Tennessee (“Metro”). (Doc. No. 1.) Before the
Court is Womack's Motion for Summary
Judgment. (Doc. No. 52.) For the following reasons,
Womack's Motion is denied.
October 15, 2014, Eric Jennings rear-ended Shearon at the
intersection of Gallatin Road and Seymour Avenue in
Nashville, Tennessee. (Doc. No. 63 at 1.) Shearon called
9-1-1 and the operator asked if there were any injuries
during the accident, to which Shearon responded that there
were not. (Doc. No. 63 at 1; Ex. 32.) The 9-1-1 operator then
instructed Shearon to call the Metro Police Department's
non-emergency phone number. (Doc. No. 63 at 1.) Shearon also
asked if he could move his car to the side of the road, and
the 9-1-1 operator said he could if he could do so safely.
(Ex. 32.) Shearon then moved his car to the Burger King side
of Seymore Avenue next to the grassy area of Gallatin Road,
and Jennings moved his car the opposite side of Seymore
Avenue. (Doc. No. 48-1 at 5-6.) Shearon was in possession of
two firearms, one on his person and another in his car. (Doc.
No. 63 at 3.)
then called the non-emergency phone number. (Doc. No. 63 at
2; Ex. 33.) The operator again asked if there were any
injuries, to which Shearon responded that there were none.
(Doc. No. 63 at 2; Ex. 33.) The operator stated that she
would dispatch an officer to the scene to make a report. (Ex.
waiting for a long period of time, Womack arrived at the
scene of the accident. (Doc. No. 48-1 at 4.) Upon arrival,
Jennings began talking to Womack. (Doc. No. 48-1 at 5.)
Shearon was “stunned and shocked” that the
officer spoke with Jennings before Shearon because he was the
one who was rear-ended. (Doc. No. 48-1 at 6.) He started
walking across Seymore Avenue and told Womack that he should
to talk with Shearon first because he got hit. (Doc. No. 48-1
at 6.) Womack told Shearon to get out of the middle of the
street. (Doc. No. 48-1 at 6.) Womack recorded Jennings'
information and told him that he was free to go. (Doc. No.
48-1 at 7.)
was upset that Womack allowed Jennings to leave without
giving him a ticket, and he felt he could not communicate
with Womack about it because of the officer's attitude.
(Doc. No. 48-1 at 7.) Shearon told Womack that he is the
Master Mason in the Masonic Lodge, Metro Police Department
Sergeant Kevin Shearon is his nephew, and he owns millions of
dollars in real estate around the area. (Doc. No. 48-1 at 7.)
Womack observed that Shearon had dilated pupils and droopy
and watery eyes. (Doc. No. 48-6.) Womack then told Shearon to
go to the Burger King parking lot. (Doc. No. 48-1 at 8.)
asked Shearon if he had taken any drugs that day, to which
Shearon replied that he had not. (Doc. No. 48-1 at 9.) Womack
then had Shearon go through two field sobriety tests for
driving under the influence. (Doc. No. 63 at 2-3.) Shearon
informed Womack that he had an injured foot, but he was
willing to do the tests. (Doc. No. 48-1 at 9.) During the
“Walk and Turn” test, where Shearon had to walk
along a straight line and then turn around and walk back,
Shearon stepped off the line once, maybe twice. (Doc. No.
48-1 at 10.) During the “One Leg Stand” test,
Shearon was able to stand on each leg for twenty seconds.
(Doc. No. 68-19 at 40-41.) He may have raised his arms during
both tests in order to maintain his balance. (Doc. No. 68-19
at 43.) After the tests, Womack arrested Shearon and drove
him to the Nashville General Hospital for a blood draw. (Doc.
No. 68-19 at 55.) Womack then drove Shearon to the Criminal
Justice Center, where Womack charged Shearon with Driving
Under the Influence, in violation of Tennessee Code Annotated
§ 55-10-401, and Possession of a Handgun While Under the
Influence, in violation of Tennessee Code Annotated §
39-17-1321. (Doc. No. 48-8 at 1-2.) After two hours, Shearon
was released for $35 on a Pretrial Release Agreement. (Doc.
attended one or two court hearings per month. (Doc. No. 68-19
at 68.) At each court hearing, the District Attorney would
ask to continue the case until the test results came back
from the blood draw. (Doc. No. 68-19 at 68.) On June 2, 2015,
once the blood results confirmed that Shearon did not have
any drugs in his system, the District Attorney dismissed the
case. (Doc. No. 68-19 at 69.)
QUALIFIED IMMUNITY ANALYSIS
moves for summary judgment on both the false arrest and
malicious prosecution claims on the basis of qualified
immunity. (Doc. No. 54.) Qualified immunity is an
“immunity from suit” available to government
officials performing discretionary functions, Pearson v.
Callahan, 555 U.S. 223, 237 (2009) (quoting Mitchell
v. Forsyth, 472 U.S. 511, 526 (1985)), protecting them
“from liability for civil damages insofar as their
conduct does not violate clearly established statutory or
constitutional rights of which a reasonable person would have
known.” Harlow v. Fitzgerald, 457 U.S. 800,
818 (1982). Womack argues he is entitled to qualified
immunity on both counts because there was probable cause to
arrest Shearon for both charges, and additionally on the
malicious prosecution claim because he was not deprived any
liberty. (Doc. No. 54.)
Supreme Court set forth the standard for qualified immunity
In [Saucier v. Katz, 533 U.S. 194, 121 S.Ct. 2151
(2001)], this Court mandated a two-step sequence for
resolving government officials' qualified immunity
claims. First, a court must decide whether the facts that a
plaintiff has alleged (see Fed. Rules Civ. Proc. 12(b)(6),
(c)) or shown (see Rules 50, 56) make out a violation of a
constitutional right. 533 U.S.___, at 201, 121 S.Ct. 2151.
Second, if the plaintiff has satisfied this first step, the
court must decide whether the right at issue was
“clearly established” at the time of
defendant's alleged misconduct. Ibid. ...