United States District Court, E.D. Tennessee, Knoxville Division
JUDY HODGE, on behalf of herself and the ESTATE OF LARRY HODGE, Plaintiff,
BLOUNT COUNTY, TENNESSEE; and HENRY VAUGHN, in his individual capacity, Defendants.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
10, 2015, Larry Hodge, a 67-year-old man with dementia, was
driving his truck on a narrow road in Blount County,
Tennessee. At one point, the side mirror on Hodge's truck
made contact with the side mirror of an oncoming SUV driven
by Robin Bailey. Both vehicles were damaged to varying
degrees. Bailey called 911, and a dispatch went out alerting
law enforcement to an alleged hit-and-run.
Vaughn, an off-duty property and evidence technician employed
by the Blount County Sheriff's Department (BCSD),
responded to the call. When Vaughn spotted a vehicle matching
the description from dispatch, he activated his lights and
sirens, and proceeded to conduct a traffic stop. The parties
dispute the details of the ensuing encounter. But under
either version of the facts, Hodge ended up handcuffed,
arrested, and transported to Blount County Jail, where he was
charged with leaving the scene of an accident and resisting
arrest. He suffered a road rash to his forehead, among other
injuries. Larry Hodge's already poor health declined in
the months following the incident, and he died on December
10, 2016, Judy R. Hodge (“Plaintiff) initiated this
civil-rights suit on behalf of herself and the estate of
Larry Hodge, her late husband. In February 2017, an amended
complaint was entered, and all defendants moved to dismiss
the claims against them. The motions were granted in part and
denied in part, and all defendants except Blount County,
Tennessee, and Henry Vaughn were dismissed [D. 84].
before the Court is Vaughn's motion for summary judgment
[D. 71], in which he moves for summary judgment on the five
remaining claims against him:
• Wrongful seizure or use of excessive force in pointing
a gun at Hodge, in violation of the Fourth Amendment (Count
• Use of excessive force in removing Hodge from his
vehicle, in violation of the Fourth Amendment (Count 2);
• Assault and battery (Count 6);
• Intentional infliction of emotional distress (Count
• Loss of consortium (Count 9).
responded [D. 99] to the motion, and Vaughn replied [D. 101].
For the reasons that follow, Vaughn's motion for summary
judgment will be granted in part and denied in part.
judgment is proper only “if the movant shows that there
is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant
is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.”
Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). A dispute is genuine if a reasonable jury
could return a verdict in favor of the nonmoving party.
Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986).
A fact is material if it “might affect the outcome of
the suit under the governing law.” Id.
moving party bears the initial burden of showing that there
is no genuine issue of material fact on any element of the
other party's claim or defense. Stiles ex rel. D.S.
v. Grainger Cty., 819 F.3d 834, 847 (6th Cir. 2016). In
determining whether this burden is satisfied, the Court must
consider “the pleadings, depositions, answers to
interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the
affidavits, if any, ” in the light most favorable to
the nonmovant, drawing all justifiable inferences in that
party's favor. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477
U.S. 317, 323 (1986); Adams v. Metiva, 31 F.3d 375,
378-79 (6th Cir. 1994). Once the movant has satisfied its
initial burden, the other party must show that a genuine
issue of material fact still exists. Stiles, 819
F.3d at 847. In doing so, the non-moving party may not rely
on the pleadings alone, but must instead point to
“specific facts” in the record that create a
genuine issue for trial. Metiva, 31 F.3d at 378-79.
ruling on a motion for summary judgment, the Court's
function is limited to determining “whether the
evidence presents a sufficient disagreement to require
submission to a jury or whether it is so one-sided that one
party must prevail as a matter of law.”
Anderson, 477 U.S. at 251-52. The Court need not
scour the record “to establish that it is bereft of a
genuine issue of fact.” Street v. J.C. Bradford
& Co., 886 F.2d 1472, 1479 (6th Cir. 1989). But the
Court does not weigh evidence, judge witnesses'
credibility, or decide the truth of the matter, and any
genuine disputes of fact that do exist must be resolved in
favor of the nonmovant. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 249;
Tolan v. Cotton, 134 S.Ct. 1861, 1863 (2014).
motion for summary judgment, Vaughn levels four primary
arguments against Plaintiff's suit: (1) Vaughn is
entitled to qualified immunity for Plaintiff's
constitutional claims, because the undisputed material facts
demonstrate that he did not violate any constitutional right
of Plaintiff, and/or he did not violate any “clearly
established” right based on the particular facts of the
case; (2) Plaintiff cannot satisfy the elements of assault
and battery; (3) Plaintiff cannot satisfy the elements of
intentional infliction of emotional distress; and (4) ...