United States District Court, E.D. Tennessee
A. VARLAN CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
civil matter is before the Court on defendants' motion
for summary judgment [Doc. 58]. Plaintiff, proceeding pro
se, responded in opposition [Doc. 63], and defendants
replied [Doc. 68]. Plaintiff then filed a motion for leave to
file sur-replies [Doc. 69], which Magistrate Judge H. Bruce
Guyton granted in part [Doc. 78]. Magistrate Judge Guyton
noted that “[t]he District Judge will determine whether
to consider the Plaintiff's [request to file a sur-reply
in response to defendants' motion for summary
judgment]” [Id. at 5-6]. The Court will grant
in part plaintiff's motion to file sur-replies [Doc. 69],
and will consider plaintiff's sur-reply [Doc. 72] in
deciding the motion for summary judgment. For the reasons set
forth below, the Court will then grant defendants' motion
for summary judgment.
24, 2015, plaintiff was traveling on Highway 27 near the
Tennessee/Kentucky border [Doc. 24 ¶ 7]. As plaintiff
and his companions crossed from Kentucky into Scott County,
Tennessee, defendant Keith Hawkins of the Scott County
Sheriff's Department began to follow plaintiff's
vehicle in a marked police car [Id.]. Defendant
Hawkins followed plaintiff's vehicle for several miles
before turning on his blue lights and pulling plaintiff over
[Id. ¶ 9]. At the time, plaintiff was traveling
over the speed limit [See Doc. 59 p. 2; 59-2 p.
Hawkins asked plaintiff if there were any drugs in the
vehicle and stated that a K9 unit was on its way [Doc. 24
¶ 24]. When the unit arrived, the dog sniffed around the
perimeter of his vehicle [Doc. 59-2 p. 24]. During the
traffic stop, defendant Hawkins learned that a warrant had
been issued for plaintiff's arrest [Id.at
26-27]. Defendant Hawkins asked plaintiff to step out of the
vehicle, and plaintiff complied [Doc. 24 ¶¶ 26-
right leg is amputated above his knee [Id. ¶
27]. When he stepped out of the vehicle, defendant Hawkins
asked if he could stand without the aid of his crutches [Doc.
59-2 pp. 9-10]. Plaintiff responded that he “probably
could” [Id. at 10]. Plaintiff stood outside
his vehicle, without his crutches, for two or three minutes
while Hawkins searched plaintiff's person and told
plaintiff that he was under arrest [Id.]. Plaintiff
then grabbed his crutches and walked to Hawkins's truck,
which was about twenty feet away, with Hawkins walking
directly behind him [Id. at 11]. When he arrived at
Hawkins's truck, he had to get himself in the backseat,
which took a couple of minutes [Id. at 12-13].
Plaintiff was not handcuffed during this time, and after he
got into defendant Hawkins's vehicle, he was transported
to the Scott County jail [Id. at 13].
asserts that the traffic stop, vehicle search, and arrest
were unlawful. The Court construes these claims as an
unreasonable search and seizure claim under 42 U.S.C. §
1983. Plaintiff also asserts that he was discriminated
against because of his physical handicap. The Court construes
this claim as both a claim under the Americans with
Disabilities Act (“ADA”) for discrimination based
on disability and a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for
unreasonable seizure. See City & County of San
Francisco v. Sheehan, 135 S.Ct. 1765, 1773 (2015)
(considering whether officers violated the Fourth Amendment
when they failed to accommodate an individual's
disability). As a result, plaintiff asserts that he suffered
physical, mental, and emotional distress, and he therefore
brings these claims against defendant Hawkins and Mayor Dale
Standard of Review
is proceeding pro se, and the Court must
“liberally construe the briefs of pro se
litigants and apply less stringent standards to parties
proceeding pro se than to parties represented by
counsel.” Bouyer v. Simon, 22 Fed.Appx. 611,
612 (6th Cir. 2001). At the same time, however, “the
lenient treatment generally accorded to pro se
litigants has limits, ” Pilgrim v.
Littlefield, 92 F.3d 413, 416 (6th Cir. 1996), and
courts have not “been willing to abrogate basic
pleading essentials in pro se suits, ”
Wells v. Brown, 891 F.2d 591, 594 (6th Cir. 1989).
judgment is proper where there is “no genuine issue as
to any material fact and . . . the movant is entitled to
judgment as a matter of law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(2).
The Court may consider the pleadings, discovery, affidavits,
and other evidence on the record. Id. In the Sixth
Circuit, there is a genuine issue of fact “if the
evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a
verdict for the non-moving party.” Hedrick v. W.
Reserve Care Sys., 355 F.3d 444, 451 (6th Cir. 2004).
“A fact is material only if its resolution will affect
the outcome of the lawsuit.” Id. at 451-52.
The Court must view the evidence in the light most favorable
to the non-movant, and draw all reasonable inferences in the
non-movant's favor. See Sutherland v. Mich. Dep't
of Treasury, 344 F.3d 603, 613 (6th Cir. 2003). Thus,
“the moving party has the initial burden of showing the
absence of a genuine issue of material fact.”
Hedrick, 355 F.3d at 451 (citing Celotex Corp.
v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986)). On a motion for
summary judgment by a defendant asserting a sovereign
immunity defense, the Court must adopt the plaintiff's
version of the facts. Campbell v. City of
Springboro, 700 F.3d 779, 786 (6th Cir. 2012).
officials are shielded from liability under the doctrine of
qualified immunity so long as their “conduct does not
violate clearly established statutory or constitutional
rights of which a reasonable person would have known.”
Pearson v. Callahan, 555 U.S. 223, 231 (2009)
(internal quotation marks omitted). Plaintiffs, therefore,
have the burden of showing that each individual defendant
violated a constitutional right that was “clearly
established” at the time of the defendant's alleged
misconduct. Id. at 232.
determining whether defendant Hawkins is entitled to
qualified immunity, the Court must first define the right and
determine whether that right was clearly established.
Pearson, 555 U.S. at 231. Under the Fourth
Amendment, individuals have a right to be free from
unreasonable seizures, so the Court must determine whether
the seizure in this case was reasonable. See Graham v.
Connor, 490 U.S. 386, 394 (1989); see also White v.
Pauly, 137 S.Ct. 548, 552 (2017) (holding that the
“clearly established law should not be defined at a
high level of generality[;] . . . [it] must be particularized
to the facts of the case” (internal quotation marks
omitted)). In evaluating the reasonableness of the seizure,
the Court weighs the intrusion on an individual's Fourth
Amendment interests against the governmental interests.
Graham, 490 U.S. at 396. Plaintiff claims that the
traffic stop, vehicular search, and arrest ...