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Santellano v. Johnsen

United States District Court, N.D. California

February 5, 2015

PAUL A. SANTELLANO, Plaintiff,
v.
OFFICER TROY JOHNSEN, Defendant.

ORDER GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN PART DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT; REFERRING CASE TO PRO SE PRISONER SETTLEMENT PROGRAM (DKT NO. 25)

NATHANAEL M. COUSINS, Magistrate Judge.

Plaintiff Paul A. Santellano, a California pretrial arrestee proceeding pro se, filed an amended federal civil rights complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, claiming that Defendant Officer Troy Johnsen used excessive force against him and violated his right against punishment under the Due Process Clause. Defendant has filed a motion for summary judgment on the merits as well as on the basis of qualified immunity. Although given an opportunity, Plaintiff has not filed an opposition. Based on the following reasons, Defendant's motion for summary judgment is GRANTED in part and DENIED in part.

BACKGROUND[1]

On October 23, 2012, Plaintiff was at Macy's Men's Wear store where he was intoxicated. (Am. Compl. at 4.) Plaintiff was headed to the exit when a security guard began to chase him. ( Id. ) As Plaintiff exited a corridor, security guards overtook Plaintiff and forced him to the ground. ( Id. ) While on the ground, the security guards started to kick Plaintiff on his upper torso, stomach and ribs, and then stepped on Plaintiff's lower back. ( Id. ) The security guards threatened Plaintiff with arrest and directed racial slurs toward him. ( Id. )

Defendant was called at 8:17 p.m. on October 23, 2012, about a felony theft that had occurred at Macy's Men's Wear, and when he arrived, he spoke with three loss prevention officers who had detained Plaintiff. (Johnsen Decl. ¶¶ 3-4.) At this time, Plaintiff was already in handcuffs, placed upon Plaintiff by the loss prevention officers. ( Id. ¶ 4.) Pursuant to Santa Clara Police Department procedures, Defendant removed those handcuffs and replace them with handcuffs issued by the police department. ( Id. )

Defendant was told that Plaintiff was observed with another man in the premium denim area of Macy's when both men picked up a stack of jeans and began walking toward the exit. ( Id. ¶ 5.) Defendant was informed that when Plaintiff was about 20 feet from the exit, Plaintiff and the other man began to run out of the store, past the sales registers. ( Id. ¶ 6.) One of the loss prevention officers contacted Plaintiff and tried to detain him, but Plaintiff dropped the jeans and began to run. ( Id. ) Eventually, Plaintiff was caught and brought back to the loss prevention office at Macy's. ( Id. ¶ 7.)

Defendant ran a records check on Plaintiff and discovered that he was required to register as a sex offender and had failed to do so. ( Id. ¶ 9.) Defendant arrested Plaintiff for grand theft, as well as for failure to register as a sex offender. ( Id. ¶ 10.)

At some point, while still at the loss prevention office, Plaintiff began complaining about chest pains, told Defendant that he was suffering a heart attack, and requested immediate medical aid. (Am. Compl. at 4.) Defendant told Plaintiff to stop complaining because Plaintiff would not be receiving any medical aid or treatment. ( Id. at 4-5.) Plaintiff told Defendant that Plaintiff needed water and to use the toilet because Plaintiff had soiled himself. ( Id. at 5.) Plaintiff had lost control of his bowels due to a medical condition that was causing his body to shut down. ( Id. ) Defendant denied his request and tightened Plaintiff's handcuffs. ( Id. ) Defendant then threw Plaintiff into the back of the police car while Plaintiff was still handcuffed behind his back, and still suffering from the heart attack. ( Id. ) Plaintiff was transported to the police station and placed in a holding cell while still having severe chest pains. ( Id. )

Defendant believed that Plaintiff's shortness of breath was caused by his running away from the loss prevention officers and did not think that Plaintiff was suffering from a medical condition. (Johnsen Decl. ¶ 11.) When Plaintiff was in the holding cell, Plaintiff told Defendant that he had suffered a heart attack. ( Id. ¶ 14.) At that time, Defendant called the Fire Department, who arrived at 10:40 p.m. ( Id. ) The Fire Department personnel stated that Plaintiff was suffering from "irregular heart behavior" and transported him to Valley Medical Center, where he stayed until October 31, 2012. ( Id. ¶ 15; Am. Compl. at 7.) While at Valley Medical Center, Plaintiff underwent a cardiovascular heart procedure. (Am. Compl. at 7.)

LEGAL STANDARD

Summary judgment is appropriate if, viewing the evidence and drawing all reasonable inferences in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party, there are no genuine issues of material fact, and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a); Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 321 (1986). At the summary judgment stage, the Court "does not assess credibility or weigh the evidence, but simply determines whether there is a genuine factual issue for trial." House v. Bell, 547 U.S. 518, 559-60 (2006). A fact is "material" if it "might affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law, " and a dispute as to a material fact is "genuine" if there is sufficient evidence for a reasonable trier of fact to decide in favor of the nonmoving party. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). "If the evidence is merely colorable, or is not significantly probative, summary judgment may be granted." Id. (internal citations omitted).

The moving party bears the initial burden of identifying those portions of the pleadings, discovery, and affidavits that demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of material fact. Celotex Corp., 477 U.S. at 323. Where the moving party will have the burden of proof on an issue at trial, it must affirmatively demonstrate that no reasonable trier of fact could find other than for the moving party, but on an issue for which the opposing party will have the burden of proof at trial, the party moving for summary judgment need only point out "that there is an absence of evidence to support the nonmoving party's case." Id. at 325; accord Soremekun v. Thrifty Payless, Inc., 509 F.3d 978, 984 (9th Cir. 2007). Once the moving party meets its initial burden, the nonmoving party must set forth, by affidavit or as otherwise provided in Rule 56, "specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial." Anderson, 477 U.S. at 250.

DISCUSSION

A. Excessive ...


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