Hanson v. Best et al
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER. IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that Defendant Mankato Police Officers' Motion for Summary Judgment 66 is GRANTED in part and DENIED in part as follows: the motion is GRANTED as to Count VII and Count VII is dismissed with prejudice; the remainder of the motion is DENIED. (Written Opinion) Signed by Judge Michael J. Davis on 11/28/17. (GRR)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
DISTRICT OF MINNESOTA
Cherie Marie Hanson, as trustee for the
next of kin of Andrew Derek Layton,
Civ. No. 15‐4578 (MJD/SER)
Daniel Best, Audrey Burgess,
Craig Frericks, Kyley Groby,
Matthew Huettl and Kenneth
Baker, individually and acting
in their official capacities as City
of Mankato Department of Public Safety
Police Officers; Gold Cross Ambulance,
Michael Jason Burt and Thomas John Drews,
James Behrenbrinker and Bryce Miller, Collins, Buckley, Gauntry &
Haugh, PLLP, Counsel for Plaintiff.
Joseph E. Flynn, Pat J. Skoglund and Vicki A. Hruby, Jardine, Logan &
O’Brien, P.L.L.P, Counsel for Defendants Best, Burgess, Frericks, Goby, Huettl
This matter is before the Court on Defendant Mankato Police Officers’
motion for summary judgment.
At 4:40 a.m. on January 1, 2013, Mankato Police Officers Daniel Best and
Kenneth Baker were dispatched to Hy‐Vee to check on a male, later identified as
Andrew Layton, who was sleeping in the unheated foyer. (Hruby Aff., Ex. 1
(Best Dep. at 22‐23); Miller Decl. Ex. O (Best Dep. at 28).) Best arrived at the Hy‐
Vee at 4:45 a.m., and observed Layton curled up in a fetal position. (Miller Decl.
Ex. O (Best Dep. at 32).) He was wearing a winter coat, a hoodie was pulled up
over his head and he was wearing white sneakers. (Id.; Hruby Aff., Ex. 1 (Best
Dep. at 33).) Best assumed Layton was intoxicated and asleep. (Id. at 34.)
Best went over to Layton and tapped him with his left hand, after which he
started to stir and flex his limbs. (Id. at 34.) In his police report, Best wrote that
Layton then leaned into him and attempted to push him into the carts. (Id., Ex.
31 (Best Report at 2).) At his deposition, Best testified that Layton shoved him
into the carts. (Id. Ex. 1 (Best Dep. at 36).) In response to Layton’s reaction, Best
used physical force to put Layton on the ground and on his stomach using a foot
sweep technique. (Id. at 38.) Best then got on top of Layton, with his chest to
Layton’s back, in order to keep Layton down. (Id. at 39.) Layton began to moan,
growl and make other loud noises. (Id. Ex. 7 (Best Squad Video).) Best then
radioed for immediate assistance, airing “16. Fighting.” (Id. Ex. 1 (Best Dep. at
Best then repeatedly ordered Layton to put his hands behind his back, but
Layton instead continued to growl, thrash around, swing his arms and twist
away from Best. (Id. at 39‐40, 57.) Prior to the arrival of additional officers, and
seeing that Best was fatiguing due to Layton’s resistance, Eric Klompenhower,
the Hy‐Vee manager, stepped in and held down Layton’s right arm. (Id. at 51;
Ex. 31 (Best Report at 2); Ex. 6 (Klompenhower Dep. at 36).) Layton continued to
resist and began to violently thrash and kick, striking both Best and
Klompenhower. (Id. Ex. 7 (Best Squad Video); Ex. 8 (Banguara Cell Video); Ex. 6
(Klompenhower Dep. at 58, 63, 68‐69).) Best then told cab driver Christopher Ahl
to sit on Layton’s legs, which he did. (Id. Ex. 7 (Best Squad Video at 4:46:42); Ex.
1 (Best Dep. at 52‐53).) Other Mankato officers arrived and took over for
Klumpenhower and Ahl. (Id. Ex. 31 (Best Report at 3).)
Officer Baker testified that when he arrived, Layton was prone on the floor
lying face down struggling with Best. (Id. Ex. 2 (Baker Dep. at 46); Ex. 16 (Baker
Report ¶ 4).) Baker grabbed Layton’s right upper arm and delivered three to four
knee strikes to Layton’s right shoulder. (Id. Ex. 16 (Baker Report ¶ 10).) He then
knelt on Layton’s back while Layton continued to squirm. (Id. ¶ 12.)
Officer Huettl testified that after he arrived at the Hy‐Vee, he immediately
grabbed Layton’s left arm. (Id. Ex. 4 (Huettl Dep. at 42).) Layton was trying to
pull his arms under him, and to prevent Layton from using his arms to push
himself up, Huettl grabbed his arm and pulled it out from under him. (Id. at 46.)
Baker then punched Layton five or six times in his right arm with a closed fist.
(Id. Ex. 16 (Baker Report ¶ 13).)
When Officer Groby, now Lindholm, arrived at the Hy‐Vee, Layton was on
his stomach and Best was on top of him, and a citizen, Christopher Ahl, was
sitting on his legs. (Id., Ex. 3 (Lindholm Dep. at 28‐29); Ex. 18 (Groby Report).)
Groby told Ahl to move so she could take over. (Id. Ex. 18 (Groby Report).)
Groby then put pressure on his lower back to assist the other officers in getting
Layton’s arms from underneath him. (Id. Ex. 3 (Lindholm Dep. at 36); Ex. 18
(Groby Report).) Layton continued to resist, so Groby applied weight to the
middle of his back and held his head down an applied pressure behind his ear in
an effort to get Layton to comply. (Id. Ex. 3 (Lindholm Dep. at 40); Ex. 18 (Groby
Report).) Layton continued to resist. (Id.)
When Officer Burgess, now Kranz, arrived, she saw four officers on the
floor struggling to handcuff Layton, so she took out her taser and got down with
them on the floor. (Id. Ex. 12 (Kranz Dep. at 27‐28, 33).) She decided to deploy
the taser on her own in the drive‐stun mode to the back of Layton’s thigh. (Id. at
33; Ex. 1 (Best Dep. at 64); Ex. 7 (Best Dash cam at 04:47:43).) Burgess had to stun
him a second time before the officers were able to handcuff Layton’s wrists
behind his back. (Id. Ex. 12 (Kranz Dep. 38‐39); Ex. 1 (Best Dep. at 68‐69); Ex. 32
(Best Report at 3).) Two sets of cuffs were used to restrain Layton’s hands behind
his back due to the fact that Layton continued to resist. (Id., Ex. 12 (Kranz Dep. at
After he was handcuffed, Layton was further restrained with a RIPP
Hobble due to his continued struggles and kicking. (Id., Ex. 1 (Best Dep. at 70);
Ex. 12 (Kranz Dep. 44‐45).) In the process of placing Layton in the Hobble
restraint, Best was kicked two to three times in the chest and Burgess’ hand was
smashed into one of the shopping carts. (Id. Ex. 1 (Best Dep. at 74); Ex. 12 (Kranz
Dep. at 37‐38, 56).) After the Hobble restraint was applied, Layton continued to
struggle, rolling from side to side, in a prone‐like position. (Id. Ex. 1 (Best Dep. at
90‐91); Ex. 12 (Kranz Dep. at 60); Ex. 2 (Baker Dep. at 78‐79).) Best admitted that
after the leg restraints were applied, he said to someone that “we’re getting the
anger out of him first. Then we’re taking him to jail.” (Id. Ex. 1 (Best Dep. at 82).)
After the Hobble was applied, Best was able to locate Layton’s wallet. (Id.
Ex. 2 (Baker Dep. at 94).) When he heard Layton’s name, Baker recognized it
from previous contacts he had with Layton involving narcotics. (Id. at 95.) Best
also had prior contacts with Layton, but did not recognize him that night. (Id.
Ex. 1 (Best Dep. at 84).)
Because Layton continued to resist and spit on the officers, a spit mask was
put over his head. (Id. Ex. 4 (Huettl Dep. at 63‐64); Ex. 2 (Baker Dep. at 127); Ex. 3
(Lindholm Dep. at 71).) At 4:54 a.m., Best is heard on the squad video stating
that he believed Layton was “methed out.” (Id. Ex. 1 (Best Dep. at 80).)
Commander Frericks also admitted that he thought Layton was intoxicated on
methamphetamine. (Id. Ex. 13 (Frericks Dep. at 69).) Frericks requested that
Layton be transported to the jail by Gold Cross ambulance because he did not
believe officers could safely transport Layton in a squad, which would require
the removal of his restraints, which was not viewed as a viable option at that
time. (Id. Ex. 13 (Frericks Dep. at 38, 49, 69); Ex. 1 (Best Dep. at 84, 93‐94, 106).)
Frericks further wanted to prevent positional asphyxia. (Id. Ex. 19 (Frericks
While waiting for the ambulance, both Baker and Huettl remained on
either side of Layton to ensure he would not harm himself. (Id. Ex. 2 (Baker Dep.
at 88, 184).) Layton continued to fight the restraints and yell in an unintelligible
manner, although his resistance would stop intermittently. (Id. at 75, 94.) In his
report, Huettl wrote that “[w]hile waiting for Gold Cross to arrive, Layton
displayed a fluxuation [sp] in moods by being calm at time but then immediately
would display ‘raging behavior’ by tensing his muscle, yelling and groaning,
pushing his body to the point of exhaustion, rocking his head back and forth, and
violently flexing and shaking.” (Id. Ex. 17 (Huettl Report at 1).) The officers
believed that given Layton’s continued resistance, it was best to keep him on his
stomach, and Baker used his hands to press Layton’s shoulders to the ground.
(Id. Ex. 2 (Baker Dep. at 84‐86, 184).) At the same time, Groby held Layton’s
thighs to the ground, as Layton was trying to rise to a kneeling position. (Id. Ex.
3 (Lindholm Dep. at 72‐73, 75).)
Gold Cross arrived at the scene at 5:05 a.m. (Id. Ex. 24 (Gold Cross
Report).) Paramedics Michael Burt and Thomas Drews were advised by Baker
that Layton was a known meth abuser and an alcoholic. (Id. Ex. 23 (Drews Dep.
at 73, 103).) Thereafter the paramedics assessed Layton’s medical needs and
concluded his behavior did not present a medical emergency, that he did not
need emergency treatment and could be transported safely to jail. (Id. Ex. 24
(Gold Cross Report); Ex. 22 (Burt Dep. at 95‐96, 134‐36, 138); Ex. 23 (Drews Dep.
at 125‐27).) “He had an adequate rate, he was breathing, a patent airway,
circulation, no gross major bleeds, no life‐threatening signs.” (Id. Ex. 22 (Burt
Dep. at 135‐36).) The paramedics also took into consideration information
provided by the officers that Layton’s reaction was consistent with his behavior
in prior police contacts. (Id. at 136.)
Officers Baker, Huettl, Groby and Frericks lifted Layton onto a cot, and his
leg restraints were unhooked from the handcuffs. (Id. Ex. 2 (Baker Dep. at 81);
Ex. 4 (Huettl Dep. at 83); Ex. 3 (Lindholm Dep. at 91‐92); Ex. 13 (Frericks Dep. at
46); Ex. 25.) The paramedics then tried to position Layton on his side, but Layton
kept rolling to the prone position. (Id. Ex. 24 (Gold Cross Report at 2); Ex. 23
(Drews Dep. at 163); Ex. 2 (Baker Dep. at 154‐55).) They also placed a pillow
under his shoulder, with his head turned to the left, so he wasn’t lying flat on his
stomach in the ambulance. (Id. Ex. 22 (Burt Dep. at 114‐15).) Baker knelt on
Layton’s left shoulder to allow application of a velcro wrist restraint. (Id. Ex. 2
(Baker Dep. at 117‐19).) After the wrist restraint was applied, Baker got off the
cot and the paramedics positioned cot straps over Layton. (Id. at 119; Ex. 22 (Burt
Dep. at 118‐19).) One witness testified that once on the gurney, she observed
Layton become “a little less active” but that he continued to move his body.
(Plaintiff Ex. Y (Devens Dep. at 55‐56).)
Best and Baker rode in the ambulance with Layton, given that he continued
to resist his restraints. (Hruby Aff. Ex. 1 (Best Dep. at 118‐19); Ex. 2 (Baker Dep.
at 113) Ex. 24 (Gold Cross Report at 2); Ex. 22 (Burt Dep. at 127); Ex. 28 (Drews
BCA Statement at 7).) During transport, Layton continued to struggle on the cot
so Baker guided his shoulder back to the cot so he would not fall off or get
wrapped up on the loose cot straps. (Id. Ex. 2 (Baker Dep. at 122‐27).) At the
same time, Burt kept one hand on Layton’s wrist to feel his pulse and the other
on his back to make sure he was breathing. (Id. Ex. 24 (Gold Cross Report); Ex.
27 (Burt BCA Statement at 6).) He kept fighting until shortly before entering the
jail Sally Port, when he stopped moving, but he was still breathing and had a
pulse. (Id. Ex. 24 (Gold Cross Report at 2); Ex. 27 (Burt BCA Statement at 6.).)
Burt checked his pulse and reported that he had a radial pulse. (Id. Ex. 24 (Gold
Cross Report at 2); Ex. 2 (Baker Dep. at 133, 135‐36); Ex. 27 (Burt BCA Statement
Once at the jail, Layton was rolled into the booking area, where it was
discovered that he was in cardiac arrest. (Id. Ex. 23 (Drews Dep. at 122); Ex. 2
(Baker Dep. at 137).) Officers removed his handcuffs and CPR was initiated and
after two applications of the AED, a cardiac rhythm was restored. (Id. Ex. 29
(Gold Cross Report at 6); Ex. 32 (Jail Video).) Layton was then transported to the
hospital. (Id. Ex. 29 (Gold Cross Report at 6).)
Layton did not regain consciousness and died on January 5, 2013. (Id. Ex.
30 (Autopsy).) The autopsy report states that Layton suffered from acute
pneumonia due to probable excited delirium; atherosclerotic heart disease,
multiple abrasions and contusions, focal subgaleal hematoma (bleeding between
the skull and scalp), focal acute soft tissue neck hemorrhage, and microvesicular
hepatic steatosis (liver disease commonly caused by tetracycline, Reyes syndrome
and hepatitis C). (Id.) The autopsy further noted that the hospital drug screen
was positive for amphetamine and that he had an ethanol level of 0.143 g/dL.
The autopsy photos show no marks or bruising on Layton’s arm, but his
face was bruised and marked with several contusions. (Plaintiff Ex. B.) The right
side of Layton’s forehead sustained a significant pressure abrasion, and the front
area of Layton’s right shoulder sustained a significant pressure abrasion. (Id.)
Layton also suffered significant neck trauma and a fracture to the hyoid bone.
(Plaintiff Ex. A (Baden Report at 5).) The autopsy report states that “[t]he hyoid
bone and thyroid cartilage are intact.” (Hruby Aff. Ex. 30 (Autopsy at 7).)
Plaintiff, Layton’s mother, has brought a number of claims against the
defendant officers: Count I asserts a Fourth Amendment claim under 42 U.S.C. §
1983; Count II asserts a Deliberate Indifference to Serious Medical Needs claim
under 42 U.S.C. § 1983; Count III, Punitive Damages under Federal Law; and
Count VII, asserts a Wrongful Death claim in violation of Minn. Stat. § 573.02.
Standard for Summary Judgment
Summary judgment is appropriate if, viewing all facts in the light most
favorable to the non‐moving party, 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); Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322‐23 (1986). The party seeking
summary judgment bears the burden of showing that there is no disputed issue
of material fact. Celotex, 477 U.S. at 323. “A dispute is genuine if the evidence is
such that it could cause a reasonable jury to return a verdict for either party; a
fact is material if its resolution affects the outcome of the case.” Amini v. City of
Minneapolis, 643 F.3d 1068, 1074 (8th Cir. 2011) (citing Anderson v. Liberty
Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248, 252 (1986)). The party opposing summary
judgment may not rest upon mere allegations or denials, but must set forth
specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial. Krenik v. County of
Le Sueur, 47 F.3d 953, 957 (8th Cir. 1995).
Defendants Mankato Police Officers’ Motion for Summary Judgment
When bringing a Section 1983 claim a plaintiff must establish (1) a
deprivation of a right secured by the Constitution or laws of the United States
and (2) that the deprivation was committed under color of state law. Lugar v.
Edmondson Oil Co., 457 U.S. 922, 931 (1982). A government official that is sued
under Section 1983 in his/her individual capacity may raise the defense of
qualified immunity. Sisney v. Reisch, 674 F.3d 839, 844 (8th Cir. 2012).
“Qualified immunity protects government officials from liability for civil
damages insofar as their conduct does not violate clearly established statutory or
constitutional rights of which a reasonable person would have known.” Id.
To determine whether the defendant officers are entitled to qualified
immunity, the Court must conduct the following inquiry: “(1) whether the facts
that a plaintiff has alleged ... make out a violation of a constitutional right and (2)
whether the constitutional right violated was clearly established at the time of
defendantʹs alleged misconduct.” Id.
In Count I, Plaintiff claims that Layton’s right to be free from unreasonable
searches and seizures and the use of excessive force in violation of the Fourth
Amendment was violated when he was restrained in a prone position at a time
when he no longer posed a threat, and as a result, he was unable to breathe and
later died. The defendant officers move for summary judgment on this claim on
the basis that Layton was not subjected to excessive force, and that under the
totality of the circumstances, the defendant officers are entitled to qualified
A claim that law enforcement officers used excessive force is analyzed
under the Fourth Amendment and its reasonableness standard. Foster v.
Metropolitan Airports Comm’n, 914 F.2d 1076, 1081 (8th Cir. 1990) (quoting
Graham v. Connor, 490 U.S. 386 (1989)). The actions of law enforcement are to be
judged from the perspective of a reasonable officer at the scene of the arrest, and
whether the totality of the circumstances justified the level of the force used. Id.
Circumstances such as the severity of the crime, whether the suspect posed
a threat to the safety of the officers or others, and whether the suspect was
resisting arrest are all relevant to the reasonableness of the officer’s
conduct. “‘Not every push or shove, even if it may later seem unnecessary
in the peace of a judgeʹs chambers,’ violates the Fourth Amendment.”
Id. at 1081‐82 (citations omitted).
Other factors relevant to assessing the objective reasonableness of force
used by officers include the extent of the plaintiffʹs injury or any effort made by
the officer to temper or to limit the amount of force used and the severity of the
security problem at issue. Ryan v. Armstrong, 850 F.3d 419, 427 (8th Cir. 2017)
(quoting Kingsley v. Hendrickson, __ U.S. __, 135 S. Ct. 2466, 2473 (2015)).
To ensure the safety of the public and individuals, “police officers are not
only permitted, but expected, to exercise what the Supreme Court has termed
‘community caretaking functions.’” Winters v. Adams, 254 F.3d 758, 763 (8th Cir.
2001) (quoting United States v. King, 990 F.2d 1552, 1560 (10th Cir. 1993));
Meehan v. Thompson, 763 F.3d 936, 941 (8th Cir. 2014). When exercising this
function, an officer may seize a person if there is reason to believe the person is
impaired, presents a danger to themselves or others. Meehan, 763 F.3d at 941.
“Police officers are often constitutionally obligated to care for [intoxicated]
individuals, and because alcohol can have disparate effects on different people,
police officers must be given some latitude in evaluating whether an intoxicated
individual can properly care for herself.” Id. at 944.
Plaintiff asserts she is not challenging the force used on Layton prior to
him being handcuffed and hobbled. Rather, Plaintiff challenges whether the
defendant officers’ conduct after Layton was restrained was objectively
reasonable, because once Layton was restrained, the record demonstrates that he
was subdued and controlled, and that he no longer posed a threat to defendant
officers or anyone else. As such, it was objectively unreasonable for the
defendant officers to keep him hobbled and on his stomach, or tied down to the
stretcher with force or weight on his back for over thirty minutes, instead of
moving him into a recovery position or on his back and transporting him to the
hospital. See Morrison v. Bd. of Trustees of Green T.P., 583 F.3d 394, 404‐05 (6th
Cir. 2009); Henderson v. Munn, 439 F.3d 497, 502‐03 (8th Cir. 2006) (when
viewing facts in light most favorable to plaintiff, after plaintiff was handcuffed
and lying face down, a reasonable jury could decide plaintiff no longer posed a
threat based on the record as a whole). Plaintiff further argues that Layton’s
squirming or attempts to lean to his left or lean to his right while pressed down
on his stomach should be viewed as attempts to breathe rather than resisting
In support of her claim that keeping Layton in a prone position after he
was placed in a four point restraint constitutes excessive force, Plaintiff has
submitted an expert report from John Ryan. Ryan was a police officer for twenty
years, and thereafter became a consultant regarding law enforcement practices.
(Plaintiff Ex. G (Ryan Rpt at 1).) He has a Bachelor’s Degree in the
Administration of Justice from Roger Williams University, a Master of Science
Degree in the Administration of Justice from Salve Regina University and a Juris
Doctor from Suffolk University Law School. (Id. at 1‐2.) He has served as an
adjunct professor in the graduate Administration of Justice program at Salve
Regina University and has written several manuals on police practices. (Id. at 2.)
Based on his specialized background, education, experience and training, Ryan
has provided an opinion that once Layton was restrained, keeping him in a prone
position for a prolonged period of time “was contrary to all generally accepted
policies, practices, training and legal mandates.” (Id. at 46.) Ryan noted that
after Layton was handcuffed and hobbled:
Officer Huettl and Officer Baker remained with Layton while awaiting the
ambulance. It is also clear based on testimony and the various recordings
that other officers left the immediate area. Officer Huettl testified that he
stood up at points leaving just Baker down by Layton’s side. Clearly any
arguable danger with respect to moving Mr. Layton to his side, rather than
leaving him on his stomach had passed.
(Id. at 47.)
Ryan further noted that the record shows that Layton was taken to the
floor and positioned on his stomach from 4:45 a.m to approximately 5:25 a.m.
(Id. at 49.) He opined that officers are well‐trained to recognize the need to move
Layton to a position that facilitated breathing and to monitor his well being while
in maximum restraint, and failure to do so “was contrary to all generally
accepted policies, practices, training and legal mandates.” (Id. at 51.)
The defendant officers argue that the record is undisputed that after
Layton was handcuffed and hobbled, he continued to actively fight against his
restraints at intervals. (Hruby Aff., Ex. 3 (Lindholm Dep. at 57 “he would
continue to put his legs towards his butt and then try to kick them back the other
way (indicating). He continued to move, again, from side to side, he’d rub his
head side to side on the carpet. He continued to tense his muscles, try to pull
away from the handcuffs.”); Ex. 2 (Baker Dep. at 125); Ex. 22 (Burt Dep. at 149,
one of the paramedics, testifying that when they tried to talk to Layton to obtain a
medical history, he would become agitated and fight against the restraints); Ex.
23 (Drews Dep. at 47‐48 “When he walked in and first saw him he was laying
down handcuffed and fighting against resist – or restraints. So, that tells me he’s
a threat to others.”); Ex. 25 (Gorby Squad Video).)
Although there is no video depicting exactly what Layton was doing at
that time, the squad car videos include audio in which Layton can heard
groaning and yelling unintelligibly after the time he was restrained. (Id. Ex. 8
(Best Squad Car Video); Ex. 25 (Gorby Squad Car Video).)
The defendant officers further argue the record supports their position that
Layton posed a threat to himself and was kept on his stomach while still in the
Hy‐Vee in order to ensure he did not strike his head on the adjacent wall or the
shopping carts. (Id. Ex. 3 (Lindholm Dep. at 65, testifying that it wasn’t safe to
move Layton on his side because of the lack of space in the foyer, and the
placement of the carts, the officers were afraid he would hit his face); Ex. 13
(Frericks Dep. at 33, testifying that it was “too dangerous” to place Layton on his
side); Ex. 2 (Baker Dep. at 84, “I mean, he would, again, try to fight against the
restraints and try to roll. And I was concerned that if he was acting like that and
he was – he would roll maybe onto his – the way he was positioned, onto his
wrists. I mean, he could cause injury to himself. So I mean, the best position to
keep control over him and make sure that nothing else escalated was to his him
in the position he was in”).)
The record further shows that the officers continued to monitor Layton
while awaiting the paramedics. The Gorby squad car video shows that three
officers remained by Layton during this time. (Id. Ex. 25 (Gorby Squad Video).)
The officers can be heard pleading with Layton to relax or calm down, and in
response, Layton continued his verbal outbursts which consisted of unintelligible
yelling, moaning or groaning. (Id.) When the paramedics arrived, the officers
claim they deferred to them regarding whether Layton required immediate
medical treatment. (Id. Ex. 2 (Baker Dep. at 184); Ex. 22 (Burt Dep. at 128‐49).)
The Court recognizes that the use of prone restraints is not, in and of itself,
a constitutional deprivation. For example, in Ryan v. Armstrong, the court found
the officers’ use of prone restraints ‐ including the shackling of the inmate’s
ankles with his legs crossed and bent back at the knees and applying body
weight to his back, coupled with two Taser drive‐stuns ‐ to be objectively
reasonable, given the inmate exhibited physical and aggressive resistance to the
officers’ attempts to restrain him. 850 F.3d at 427.
In this case, however, the record demonstrates that once Layton was
restrained by handcuffs and the hobble, he only sporadically resisted the
restraints yet he was forced to remain on his stomach. Both witness testimony
and the squad car videos demonstrate that at times, Layton was quiet and not
resisting the restraints. At other times, he would have outbursts and resist his
restraints. Viewing the facts in the light most favorable to Plaintiff, and
recognizing that the defendant officers do not dispute that when a suspect is
restrained, it is best to keep him on his side or in a recovery (sitting up) position,
a jury could reasonably find that Layton could be safely moved off his stomach
while awaiting the ambulance. Accordingly, the Court finds there is a genuine
issue of material fact as to whether the officers used excessive force by keeping
Layton in a prone position for an extended period of time after he was placed in
In addition, a police officer may be liable for an unreasonable seizure
under the Fourth Amendment if he/she fails to intervene to prevent the
unconstitutional use of excessive force by another officer. Krout v. Goemmer, 583
F.3d 557, 565‐66 (8th Cir. 2009). Taking the facts in the light most favorable to
Plaintiff, a jury could reasonably find the defendant officers failed to intervene
when they had a duty and opportunity to do so.
Clearly Established Constitutional Right
“To determine whether a right is clearly established we ask whether it
would be clear to a reasonable officer that his conduct was unlawful in the
situation he confronted.” White v. McKinley, 519 F.3d 806, 813 (8th Cir. 2008)
(quoting Clemmons v. Armontrout, 477 F.3d 962, 965 (8th Cir. 2007)). “This
inquiry turns on the ‘objective legal reasonableness of the action, assessed in light
of the legal rules that were clearly established at the time it was taken.’” Wilson
v. Layne, 526 U.S. 603, 614 (1999). It is not necessary that the Court identify “a
case directly on point for a right to be clearly established.” White v. Pauly, 137 S.
Ct. 548, 552 (2017). Nonetheless, “existing precedent must have placed the
statutory or constitutional question beyond debate. In other words, immunity
protects all but the plainly incompetent or those who knowingly violate the law.”
With respect to the claim of excessive force, Plaintiff frames the question to
the Court as follows: “Is it clearly established that it was objectively unreasonable
for defendant officers, working as a team, to keep Layton in maximum four‐point
restraint on his stomach for 30 minutes and misuse those restraints by applying
downward force or pressure with their hands, knees, or other body parts to
Layton’s head area, neck, shoulders, back, hips and upper leg areas, after
Layton’s wrists were handcuffed behind his back, his ankles were hobble‐tied
together, and he was subdued and under control.” (Plaintiff’s Brief at 29.)
The law is clear that to overcome qualified immunity, Plaintiff must show
a robust consensus of cases to demonstrate that the particular conduct at issue
violated clearly established law. De La Rosa v. White, 852 F.3d 740, 747 (8th Cir.
2017). As applied here, Plaintiff is required to produce case law which would
have given the defendant officers notice that after they handcuff and hobble a
resisting suspect, failure to move that suspect into a recovery position when it
was possible to do so without subjecting him to further harm violated clearly
In support of her claim that the defendant offices are not entitled to
qualified immunity, Plaintiff has cited multiple published opinions which
provided the defendant officers fair warning that subjecting Layton to prolonged
prone restraint when he no longer posed a danger constitutes excessive force
under the Fourth Amendment. See e.g. McCue v. City of Bangor, 838 F.3d 55 (1st
Cir. 2016) (finding that it was clearly established as of September 2012 that
exerting significant, continued force on a person’s back while the person is in a
face‐down prone position after being subdued and/or incapacitated constitutes
excessive force); Weigel v. Broad, 544 F.3d 1143, 1154 (10th Cir. 2008) (finding it
clearly established law that to a person who is fully restrained and posed no
danger, it is excessive force to continue to use pressure on that person’ upper
torso while he is lying on his stomach); Cruz v. City of Laramie, Wyo., 239 F.3d
1183, 1189 (10th Cir. 2001) (finding that where it is obvious that a person is acting
under diminished capacity, use of hog‐tie restraint may constitute excessive
force); Gutierrez v. City of San Antonio, 139 F.3d 441 (5th Cir. 1998) (same).
Plaintiff has also cited to numerous decisions which hold that a police
officer may be liable for a Fourth Amendment violation if the officer fails to
intervene to prevent the unconstitutional use of excessive force. See Krout, 583
F.3d at 565‐66; Putman v. Gerloff, 639 F.2d 415 (8th Cir. 1981); see also Torres‐
Rivera v. O’Neill‐Cancel, 406 F.3d 43, 51‐52 (1st Cir. 2005); Priester v. City of
Riviera Beach, 208 F.3d 919, 924‐25 (11th Cir. 2000).
If it is determined that it was not objectively reasonable to leave Layton in
a prone position after he was maximally restrained, and that defendant officers
could have intervened to prevent such use of excessive force, the Court finds that
it is clearly established that such conduct would constitute a violation of Layton’s
constitutional rights. Accordingly, the defendant officers are not entitled to
summary judgment based on qualified immunity.
“[A] pretrial detainee has a constitutional right to adequate medical care
while in custody” and such right may be violated if “officials ‘intentionally
deny or delay access to medical care or intentionally interfere with the
treatment once prescribed.’” Dadd v. Anoka County, 827 F.3d 749, 756 (8th Cir.
2016) (quoting Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 104‐05 (1976)). Such claims are
subject to “the deliberate‐indifference standard that governs claims brought by
convicted inmates under the Eighth Amendment.” Jackson v. Buckman, 756 F.3d
1060, 1065 (8th Cir. 2014).
Deliberate indifference to medical needs “requires both an objective and a
subjective analysis.” Id.
Under the objective prong, [plaintiff] must establish that he suffered from
an objectively serious medical need. To be objectively serious, a medical
need must have been “diagnosed by a physician as requiring treatment” or
must be “so obvious that even a layperson would easily recognize the
necessity for a doctorʹs attention.” Under the subjective prong, [plaintiff]
must show that an official “actually knew of but deliberately disregarded
his serious medical need.” This showing requires a mental state “akin to
criminal recklessness.” Consequently, [plaintiff] must show “more than
negligence, more even than gross negligence” to evince deliberate
Id. (internal citations omitted).
Plaintiff asserts that Layton was clearly suffering from Excited Delirium
Syndrome on the day of his death, and that the officers were aware of this
condition and understood that arrestees displaying signs or symptoms of this
syndrom have a serious medical problem that presents an increased risk of
sudden death. She further asserts it is undisputed that once confronted by
Officer Best and others, Layton began to forcefully resist all attempts to restrain
him and at times exhibited great strength. He was also loudly moaning and
growling and making other unintelligible sounds. These are all symptoms of one
experiencing Excited Delirium Syndrome.
Further, Plaintiff asserts the autopsy report indicates that Layton’s death
was related to Excited Delirium Syndrome. (Hruby Aff., Ex. 301 at 1.) In
addition, Plaintiff’s medical expert, Dr. Michael Baden, concluded that had
Layton been immediately brought to the hospital, he would not have died.
(Plaintiff Ex. A (Baden Report at 6).)
The Court finds there are fact questions as to whether Layton was suffering
from an obvious medical emergency that required immediate medical attention.
While the autopsy report indicates that Layton suffered from acute pneumonia
due to probable excited delirium (Hruby Aff., Ex. 30), Plaintiff’s medical expert
has opined that Layton was not experiencing Excited Delirium Syndrome given
the fact that he “was found sleeping quietly on the store floor after drinking
alcohol New Year’s evening into early morning; no drugs were present in his
blood other than alcohol; and his temperature was normal at Mankato Hospital.”
(Plaintiff Ex. A (Baden Report at 5).)
In addition, Frericks reported that he called for paramedics to transport
Layton, because he did not believe the officers could do so safely. (Hruby Aff.,
Ex. 19 (Frericks Report).) He also reported that before the ambulance left the
scene, he asked Best to ask the paramedics if they thought Layton should go to
the hospital. (Id.) Frericks testified that Best reported that the paramedics could
not evaluate Layton in the state he was in. (Id.) However, both Drews and Burt
deny or do not recall that Best asked whether they thought Layton should go to
the hospital first. (Id. Ex. 22 (Burt Dep. 157); Ex. 23 (Drews Dep. at 167‐68).)
The Court further notes that while it is clear that the decision was made to
transport Layton directly to the jail, it is not clear how that decision was made.
The officers argue that the paramedics conducted a medical assessment and
determined he was not in need of immediate medical attention. However, at his
deposition, Drews testified that when he and his partner arrived at the scene,
they were told their job was to assist the officers in transporting Layton to the jail.
(Plaintiff Aff., Ex. T (Drews Dep. at 69‐71).) Drews further stated that one of the
officers told him that they had dealt with Layton many times, and that Layton
typically acted as he did on the night in question, so Drews assumed the officers
knew what they were doing. (Id. 72.) One of the officers also told Drews that
Layton was either on alcohol or meth. (Hruby Aff., Ex. 23 (Drews Dep. at 73).)
Based on what the officers told him, Drew decided to take him to the jail as
requested by the police. (Id. at 75.) Burt also testified that they went to the Hy‐
Vee to assist police in safely transporting “somebody to their facility.” (Id. Ex. 22
(Burt Dep. at 132).)
And despite the paramedics’ claims they were only transporting Layton to
the jail, there is evidence in the record to support the defendant officers’ claims
that the paramedics did conduct some type of medical assessment of Layton
prior to transport, and that they continued to monitor Layton’s medical needs
during transport. (Id. Ex. 24 (Patient Care Report, Run No. 69).) Accordingly, the
Court finds there are fact questions as to whether Layton was suffering from an
obvious medical condition that required immediate medical attention.
The defendant officers argue that they are nonetheless entitled to summary
judgment on this claim because they relied upon the paramedics’ medical
judgment regarding 1) whether Layton required medical treatment and 2) the
appropriate positioning of Layton during transport. See Carpenter v. Gage, 686
F.3d 644, 651 (8th Cir. 2012) (“Where the medical professionals either acquiesced
in Carpenterʹs refusal of medical treatment, or, under Carpenterʹs own version,
never even suggested that treatment was warranted, there is insufficient evidence
that a need for medical treatment was so obvious that the sheriffʹs deputies
exhibited deliberate indifference by taking Carpenter to jail.”); Christian v.
Wagner, 623 F.3d 608, 614 (8th Cir. 2010) (“If trained health care officials could
not find a serious medical need in these circumstances, then we decline to hold
that a reasonable layperson should have done so.”). Based on the assessment of
the paramedics, the defendant officers argue that Plaintiff cannot establish that
Layton’s condition was so obvious to a layperson or that the officers disregarded
a known risk to his health.
As noted above, however, there are fact questions as to who made the
decision to transport Layton to the jail, and whether such decision was
reasonable under the circumstances. Viewing the facts in the light favorable to
Plaintiff ‐ that Layton was struggling to breathe and showed he was in great
discomfort or distress ‐ the officers are not entitled to summary judgment based
on the claim that they could rely on the paramedics’ medical judgment. See
Gordon ex rel. Gordon v. Frank, 454 F.3d 858, 862 (8th Cir. 2006) (affirming
district court decision to deny officers’ motion for summary judgment on
deliberate indifference claim).
Punitive Damages ‐ Section 1983
To be entitled to punitive damages in an action brought under § 1983, a
plaintiff must demonstrate that the defendant was “motivated by evil motive or
intent, or acted with reckless or callous indifference to the federally protected
rights of others.” Smith v. Wade, 461 U.S. 30, 56 (1983). The terms reckless and
callous focus on the actor’s state of mind and whether the defendant knew he
was acting in violation of federal law. Quigley v. Winter, 598 F.3d 938, 953 (8th
Cir. 2010). “Punitive damages are awarded to ‘punish the defendant for his [or
her] willful or malicious conduct and to deter others from similar behavior.”
Coleman Rahija, 114 F.3d 778, 787 (8th Cir. 1997) (quoting Memphis Cmty Sch.
Dist. v. Stachura, 477 U.S. 299, 306, n. 9 (1986)). Whether or not punitive damages
should be imposed is a matter left to the discretion of the trier of fact. Wade v.
Haynes, 663 F.2d 778, 785 (8th Cir. 1981).
The defendant officers argue they are entitled to summary judgment on
Plaintiff’s claim for punitive damages, as the record demonstrates that they did
not intentionally harm Layton and called Gold Cross to transport Layton safely.
The Court finds that based on the record thus far, a jury could find that the
defendant officers acted with reckless or callous indifference to Layton’s
constitutional rights. Accordingly, summary judgment on this claim must be
Wrongful Death ‐ Minn. Stat. § 573.02
In Count VII, Plaintiff alleges that the defendant officers, as well as the
paramedics, have committed wrongful acts and omissions for purposes of Minn.
Stat. § 573.02, and that such wrongful acts and omissions directly and
proximately caused Layton’s death. (Comp. ¶¶ 154‐155.) As a result, Plaintiff
alleges she is entitled to an amount that includes, but is not limited to, medical
and funeral expenses, loss of aid, counsel, guidance, advice, assistance, protection
and support. (Id. ¶ 156.)
In response to the defendant officers’ motion for summary judgment on
this claim, Plaintiff asserts that she has not asserted a stand alone state law claim.
Instead, she asserts that Minn. Stat. § 573.02 was referenced in Count VII since
there is no federal wrongful death statute, and the reference to state law was to
put defendants on notice of the remedies sought through federal claims.
However, Count VII is captioned as “WRONGFUL DEATH ‐ MINN.
STAT. § 573.01.” (Comp. at p. 36.) Under Minnesota law, a wrongful death claim
is a separate and distinct cause of action. Minn. Stat. § 573.02; Smith v. City of
Minneapolis, 754 F.3d 541, 549 (8th Cir. 2014). As Plaintiff has conceded she is
not asserting a stand alone claim under Minnesota’s wrongful death statute, such
claim will be dismissed.
IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that Defendant Mankato Police Officers’ Motion
for Summary Judgment [Doc. No. 66] is GRANTED in part and DENIED in part
as follows: the motion is GRANTED as to Count VII and Count VII is dismissed
with prejudice; the remainder of the motion is DENIED.
Date: November 28, 2017
s/ Michael J. Davis
Michael J. Davis
United States District Court
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