United States District Court, D. Oregon
OPINION AND ORDER
A. Russo, United States Magistrate Judge
Lafayette Toney filed this action against defendants City of
Medford, Detective Cory Schwab, and Detective James Williams
alleging excessive force in violation of 42 U.S.C. §
1983. Defendants move for summary judgment pursuant
to Fed. R. Civ. P. 56. All parties have consented to
allow a Magistrate Judge enter final orders and judgment in
this case in accordance with Fed.R.Civ.P. 73 and U.S.C.
§ 636(c). For the reasons set forth below,
defendants' motion is granted.
evening of May 19, 2017, the Medford Area Drug and Gang
Enforcement team was executing a prostitution sting, during
which plaintiff was observed at the Courtyard Marriott
(“the hotel”) in Medford, Oregon, around 9:15
p.m. by Schwab. Mitton Decl. Ex. 1, at 16 (doc.
30-1). Specifically, plaintiff was observed entering the
hotel with another individual, where he stayed for a short
period of time and then returned to his car and left.
Defs.' Mot. Summ. J. 3 (doc. 29). Schwab and
another officer followed plaintiff and made a traffic stop.
Mitton Decl. Ex. 1, at 16 (doc. 30-1).
the traffic stop, plaintiff was taken into custody for
promoting prostitution. Id. at 26. Instead of being
transported to the Medford Police Department, plaintiff was
returned to the hotel for questioning. Id. All
interviews of individuals connected to the sting were
conducted at the hotel to “minimize the number of
police vehicles coming and going.” Id.
Plaintiff was placed in Room 111, a standard two bed hotel
room, and seated on a bed with his hands cuffed behind him.
Id. at 31, 34. At that time, detectives attempted to
obtain consent to search a cell phone that was seized from
the car plaintiff was driving. Mitton Decl. Ex. 6, at 38
(doc. 30-6); Mitton Decl. Ex. 2, at 27 (doc.
30-2). Plaintiff did not provide consent, so another
detective switched the phone into “airplane” mode
and Williams placed it on a nearby nightstand. Mitton Decl.
Ex. 2, at 27 (doc. 30-2).
point, plaintiff stood up and reached for the cell phone on
the nightstand. Mitton Decl. Ex. 1, at 34 (doc.
30-1); Mitton Decl. Ex. 2, at 31-32 (doc.
30-2). After lunging for the cell phone, Schwab tackled
plaintiff onto the bed, which he described as “just a
push back on the bed with my arms on him.” Mitton Decl.
Ex. 1, at 44 (doc. 30-1). Williams likewise stated Schwab had
plaintiff in a headlock and was restraining him on the bed.
Mitton Decl. Ex. 2, at 35 (doc. 30-2). Once
sufficiently restrained, Williams removed the phone from
plaintiff's hands. Id. at 37-38.
alleges the incident was sparked not from reaching for the
cell phone, but from calling defendants derogatory names.
Mitton Decl. Ex. 6, at 42-43 (doc. 30-6). Plaintiff testified
Schwab wrapped his arm around his neck, brought him down to
the bed, and punched him repeatedly in the “face, jaw,
neck, face, ear.” Id. at 41. Next, Williams
jumped on plaintiff from behind where he kicked, punched, and
yanked his wrist. Id. at 42. According to plaintiff,
he possibly lost consciousness. Id. at 41-42.
the cell phone was removed from plaintiff's possession,
plaintiff was again seated on the bed; Schwab called his
supervisors and reported that plaintiff did not complain of
injuries, was not out of breath, and was responsive. Mitton
Decl. Ex. 1, at 48 (doc. 30-1). Officer William Dode
arrived at the hotel shortly thereafter to transport
plaintiff to Jackson County Jail (“the jail”).
Mitton Decl. Ex. 4, at 10 (doc. 30-4). Plaintiff was
brought out to Dode's car and began to complain of wrist
pain, so Dode instead transported plaintiff to a local
hospital for evaluation. Id. at 10-11.
arrived in the emergency room at 11:49 p.m. with a chief
complaint of neck and hand pain. Mitton Decl. Ex. 7, at 1, 3
(doc. 30-7). Plaintiff told the nurse “that
his right hand went numb and [was] broken.”
Id. at 3. Plaintiff received a physical exam during
which the doctor noted “no evidence of fracture of his
right hand [and] no evidence of neck injury.”
Id. at 5. The doctor gave plaintiff medical
clearance for incarceration. Id. at 3. After being
discharged, plaintiff was taken to the jail. Mitton Decl. Ex.
4, at 15 (doc. 30-4).
19, 2018, plaintiff filed a complaint in this Court. See
generally Compl. (doc. 2). On October 1, 2018,
an amended complaint was filed, alleging a single claim for
excessive force. See generally Am. Compl. (doc.
14). On October 14, 2019, defendants filed the present
judgement is appropriate if the pleadings, depositions,
answers to interrogatories, affidavits, and admissions on
file, if any, show “that there is no genuine dispute as
to any material fact and the [moving party] is entitled to
judgment as a matter of law.” Fed. R. Civ. P.
56(a). Substantive law on an issue determines the
materiality of a fact. T. W. Elec. Servs., Inc. v. Pac.
Elec. Contractors Ass'n, 809 F.2d 626, 630 (9th Cir.
1987). Whether the evidence is such that a reasonable jury
could return a verdict for the nonmoving party determines the
authenticity of the dispute. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby,
Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986).
moving party has the burden of establishing the absence of a
genuine issue of material fact. Celotex Corp. v.
Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986). If the moving party
shows the absence of a genuine issue of material fact, the
nonmoving party must go beyond the pleadings and identify
facts which show a genuine issue for trial. Id. at
rules of construction apply when evaluating a summary
judgment motion: (1) all reasonable doubts as to the
existence of genuine issues of material fact should be
resolved against the moving party; and (2) all inferences to
be drawn from the underlying facts must be viewed in ...