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Reeners v. Troup

United States District Court, M.D. Tennessee, Nashville Division

May 1, 2018

RICKY TROUP et al., Defendants.



         Magistrate Judge Joe Brown entered a Report and Recommendation (“R&R”) (Doc. No. 177) recommending that the defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. No. 121) be granted in part and denied in part. Now before the court are the defendants' Motion for Review (Doc. No. 184) of that portion of the R&R recommending denial of summary judgment and the plaintiff's Partial Objection (Doc. No. 185) to that portion of the R&R recommending that summary judgment be granted in part. The court stayed the filing and briefing of objections while the parties attempted to reach a settlement agreement. Those attempts were ultimately unfruitful, and both parties' objections to the R&R have now been fully briefed and are ripe for review.

         Having reviewed the parties' objections in light of the record as a whole and the governing legal standards, for the reasons set forth herein, the court will overrule both parties' objections and adopt the findings and recommendations set forth in the R&R in their entirety.

         I. Procedural Background and Factual Overview

         In the Fifth Amended Complaint (Doc. No. 169), plaintiff Patrick Reeners brings claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and state law against four individual officers with the Gallatin Police Department (“GPD”), including defendants Rickey Troup, Lamar Ballard, Bradley Jones, and Jamie Helson (collectively, the “individual defendants” or “officer defendants”), the GPD Chief of Police Donald Bandy, and the City of Gallatin. More specifically, he asserts claims of false arrest under § 1983 and Tennessee common law against the individual defendants (Counts I and II), a claim under § 1983 against defendants Jones and Helson based on the alleged use of excessive force (Count III), a § 1983 false arrest claim against Chief Bandy and the City of Gallatin (Count IV), and a Tennessee common law false imprisonment claim against Bandy only (Count V). The claims all stem from an incident that took place on June 12, 2014, when Reeners was forcibly taken into custody, transported first to Sumner Regional Medical Center (“SRMC”) and later to the Middle Tennessee Mental Health Institute (“MTMHI”), where he was involuntarily committed until June 18, 2014.

         On August 3, 2016, the defendants filed their Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. No. 121), asserting that the individual defendants and Chief Bandy were entitled to qualified immunity from suit and that the City of Gallatin was entitled to summary judgment because the plaintiff could not show that a constitutional violation occurred. The defendants later agreed to withdraw from the motion any argument that the municipal liability claims against the City of Gallatin should be dismissed, leaving for resolution only the issue of whether the claims against the officer defendants and Chief Bandy should be dismissed. (See Doc. No. 174.) Although discovery was partially stayed pending disposition of the qualified-immunity issue, the motion was fully briefed, and both parties submitted a substantial amount of evidence in support of their positions, including affidavits, medical records, transcripts of the recordings of various conversations, and other documents.

         The R&R, issued on August 11, 2017, includes a detailed summary of the factual record, which the court adopts in full and will not reiterate here. The R&R ultimately recommends that:

(1) summary judgment on the basis of qualified immunity to Counts I and II be denied because (a) the plaintiff had a clearly established right not to be seized and detained for a psychiatric evaluation unless the seizing officers had probable cause to believe that he posed a danger to himself or others; and (b) a reasonable factfinder, construing the facts in the plaintiff's favor, could find that the officer defendants lacked probable cause to seize the plaintiff;
(2) summary judgment on the basis of qualified immunity to Count III be denied because (a) “unduly tight or excessively forceful handcuffing is a clearly established violation of the Fourth Amendment, ” Baynes v. Cleland, 799 F.3d 600, 613 (6th Cir. 2015); and (b) a reasonable finder of fact could conclude defendants Jones and Helson subjected Reeners to excessive force when they handcuffed him for transportation to SRMC and thereafter kept him in handcuffs; and
(3) summary judgment as to Counts IV and V against Bandy be granted on qualified immunity grounds, as the plaintiff failed to point to evidence in the record to support his claim that Bandy had any input in the decision to commit Reeners at MTMHI or keep him there until June 18, 2014.

         The defendants thereafter filed objections only to the recommendation that summary judgment be denied as to Counts I and II. They do not expressly object to the recommendation that summary judgment on the excessive force claim be denied. For his part, the plaintiff objects to the recommendation that the claims against Bandy be dismissed.

         II. Standard of Review

         Generally, unless an extension is granted, any party has fourteen days after being served with a report and recommendation to “serve and file specific written objections to the proposed findings and recommendations.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b)(2). When reviewing an R&R on a dispositive motion, as here, the district court must review de novo any portion of the “magistrate judge's disposition that has been properly objected to.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b)(3). In conducting its review, the district court “may accept, reject, or modify the recommended disposition; receive further evidence; or return the matter to the magistrate judge with instructions.” Id.

         The court may decline to review any objections that are not sufficiently specific “to enable the district court to discern those issues that are dispositive and contentious.” Miller v. Currie, 50 F.3d 373, 380 (6th Cir. 1995). “The filing of vague, general, or conclusory objections does not meet the requirement of specific objections and is tantamount to a complete failure to object.” Cole v. Yukins, 7 Fed.Appx. 354, 356 (6th Cir. 2001) (citing Miller, 50 F.3d at 380).

         Further, several circuits have held that “arguments not made before a magistrate judge are normally waived.” United States v. Melgar, 227 F.3d 1038, 1040 (7th Cir. 2000); see also, e.g., Williams v. McNeil, 557 F.3d 1287, 1288 (11th Cir. 2009) (holding that the district court has the discretion to not consider an argument not presented to the magistrate judge); United States v. Howell, 231 F.3d 615, 621-22 (9th Cir. 2000) (same); Madol v. Dan Nelson Auto. Group, 372 F.3d 997, 1000 (8th Cir. 2004) (a party must present all claims to the magistrate judge to preserve them for review); Marshall v. Chater, 75 F.3d 1421, 1426 (10th Cir. 1996) (“Issues raised for the first time in objections to the magistrate judge's recommendation are deemed waived.”); Paterson-Leitch Co. v. Mass. Mun. Wholesale Elec. Co., 840 F.2d 985 (1st Cir. 1988) (same). Although the Sixth Circuit has not squarely addressed this issue, it has “indicated that a party's failure to raise an argument before the magistrate judge constitutes a waiver.” The Glidden Co. v. Kinsella, 386 Fed.Appx. 535, 544 n.2 (6th Cir. 2010) (citing Murr v. United States, 200 F.3d 895, 902 n.1 (6th Cir. 2000)).

         III. The ...

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