Jordan et al v. Liddell et al
Memorandum Opinion and Order granting in part, denying in part 39 MOTION for Summary Judgment . Granted as to plaintiff's claims for excessive force and her state law claim on Liddell's alleged public official bond. The motion is denied as to her claim for false arrest. Signed by District Judge Tom S. Lee on 10/13/17 (LWE)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF MISSISSIPPI
CIVIL ACTION NO. 3:16CV467TSL-RHW
TEDRICK LIDDELL, IN HIS
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
This case arises from plaintiff LaShonda Jordan’s arrest on
June 20, 2013, by defendant Tedrick Liddell, a Noxubee County
Plaintiff’s complaint contains three counts.
Counts one and two are brought under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and charge,
respectively, false arrest and excessive force in violation of
plaintiff’s Fourth Amendment rights.
Count three purports to seek
recovery against defendant Liddell on his public official bond.
As to counts one and two, Liddell has moved for summary judgment
pursuant to Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure on the
basis of qualified immunity.
three on various grounds.
He also seeks dismissal of count
Plaintiff Jordan has responded in
opposition to the motion as to counts one and two.
oppose the motion as to count three.1
She does not
The court, having
Plaintiff initially alleged that Travelers Insurance
Company issued a public official bond covering Liddell. She has
since voluntarily dismissed Travelers, likely because at the time
of the incident, Liddell was not covered by any bond. In response
to Liddell’s motion, Jordan states that just as she is not
asserting any claim against Travelers, she also is not asserting a
claim against Liddell based on his public official bond since he
did not have in place a public official bond at the time of her
considered the memoranda of authorities, together with
attachments, submitted by the parties, concludes that the motion
should be granted in part and denied in part, as set forth herein.
Plaintiff Jordan alleges that on the afternoon of June 20,
2013, she was attacked by a “gang” of girls while she and her
husband were leaving a local convenience store.
this incident, Jordan and several of her family members returned
to the store, purportedly to see if the girls were still there so
they could try to identify them to law enforcement authorities.
Liddell was present at the store when Jordan and her family
According to Jordan, they reported to Liddell
what had transpired, but he refused to take any action, even when
they pointed out the girls to him.
Later that evening, the same
girls, accompanied by several other individuals, appeared at
plaintiff’s home and began to attack Jordan and her family
Jordan called 911 and within minutes, Liddell arrived on
Jordan claims that as Liddell approached her, one of
the girls came toward Jordan and began threatening her.
she says, allowed this to occur and took no action against the
assailant, whereupon Jordan stated she did not want to talk to him
(as she perceived he was friendly with and taking the side of the
assailants); she wanted to speak with a different officer instead
Jordan asserts that at that point, Liddell grabbed
her by both her arms and began pushing her toward her car; he
shoved her up against the car, cuffed her with her hands behind
her back and put her in his patrol car.
She alleges that while
she was handcuffed and unsecured, Liddell “drove around Noxubee
County in a reckless manner” causing her to “get tossed around
in the back seat.”
Eventually, they arrived at the jail.
about thirty minutes,
she was released.
She was never booked and
no charges were brought against her.
In support of his motion, Liddell has presented his own
deposition testimony in which he presents a materially different
version of events.
Liddell claims that when he arrived at
Jordan’s home, having been dispatched there by the Sheriff’s
Department, Jordan charged out of her trailer and began repeatedly
screaming that she was going to “kill the bitches.”
that his efforts to get her to calm down were to no avail, and
that when she persisted in acting in this threatening and
belligerent manner, he arrested her for disorderly conduct and
failing to obey the lawful command of a law enforcement officer.
He handcuffed her, put her in his patrol car and drove directly to
However, she was not charged and was released from
custody after the sheriff expressed that he did not want Jordan to
lose her nursing certificate on account of being arrested.
“Qualified immunity protects ‘government officials performing
discretionary functions ... 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.’”
Lock v. Torres, No. 16-41405, 2017 WL
2643957, at *3 (5th Cir. June 19, 2017) (quoting Harlow v.
Fitzgerald, 457 U.S. 800, 818, 102 S. Ct. 2727, 73 L. Ed. 2d 396
Once a defendant asserts a qualified immunity defense,
the burden is on the plaintiff to show the defense is
Id. (citation omitted).
To determine whether a
defendant is entitled to summary judgment on the basis of
qualified immunity, the court applies a two-step analysis, asking,
first, “whether, viewing the summary judgment evidence in the
light most favorable to the plaintiff, the defendant violated the
plaintiff's constitutional rights[,]” and if so, then
“consider[ing] whether the defendant's actions were objectively
unreasonable in light of clearly established law at the time of
the conduct in question.”
Cantrell v. City of Murphy, 666 F.3d
911, 922 (5th Cir. 2012) (internal quotation marks and citation
“To make this determination, the court applies an
objective standard based on the viewpoint of a reasonable official
in light of the information then available to the defendant and
the law that was clearly established at the time of the
Id. (internal quotation marks and citation
“The right to be free from arrest without probable cause is a
clearly established constitutional right.”
Lock, 2017 WL 2643957,
at *3 (internal quotation marks and citation omitted).
overcome Liddell’s qualified immunity defense, “[Jordan] must show
that [Liddell] could not have reasonably believed that he had
probable cause to arrest [her] for any crime.”
O'Dwyer v. Nelson,
310 Fed. Appx. 741, 745 (5th Cir. 2009) (citing Devenpeck v.
Alford, 543 U.S. 146, 153, 125 S. Ct. 588, 160 L. Ed. 2d 537
“Probable cause exists when the totality of facts and
circumstances within a police officer's knowledge at the moment of
arrest are sufficient for a reasonable person to conclude that the
suspect had committed or was committing an offense.”
Miller, 203 F.3d 902, 903 (5th Cir. 2000) (citation omitted).
In this case, it is clear from the record evidence that there
is a genuine issue of material fact regarding the circumstances of
Jordan’s arrest, and specifically, there is a genuine issue of
material fact as to whether a reasonable officer in Liddell’s
position could have reasonably believed there was probable cause
for Jordan’s arrest.
In direct contradiction to Liddell’s version
of events, Jordan and one or more of her witnesses have testified
that at the time Liddell took Jordan into custody, she was not
acting in a threatening or disorderly manner and did not disobey
any directive of the officer.
According to her witnesses, the
only thing she said before he arrested her was that she wished to
speak to a different officer.2
Accordingly, Liddell’s motion for
summary judgment on Jordan’s false arrest claim will be denied.
Liddell contends he is entitled to qualified immunity with
respect to Jordan’s § 1983 excessive force claim because the
amount of force he used was objectively reasonable in light of her
lawful arrest and conduct and because her injuries were de
The Fourth Amendment’s protection against unreasonable
search and seizure includes the right to be free from the use of
excessive force by law enforcement.
433–34 (5th Cir. 1996).
Ikerd v. Blair, 101 F.3d 430,
At the time of Jordan’s arrest, this
right was clearly established, and it was also clearly established
that “the amount of force that an officer could use depended on
the severity of the crime at issue, whether the suspect posed a
threat to the officer's safety, and whether the suspect was
resisting arrest or attempting to flee.”
567 F.3d 156, 169 (5th Cir. 2009).3
Deville v. Marcantel,
In addition, it was clearly
Liddell points out in his rebuttal brief that Jordan did
not specifically testify in her deposition that she did not say
she was going to “kill the bitches.” However, that was implicit
in her testimony. Moreover, other witnesses testified that Jordan
said nothing other than that she did not want to talk to Liddell
but wanted to speak to a different officer.
Plaintiff asserts that since no probable cause existed
to support her arrest, then any resulting use of force was
inherently unreasonable and any injury she sustained was
unjustified and actionable.
However, the Fifth Circuit has made
established that while a plaintiff need not demonstrate a
“significant injury” to establish her excessive force claim, her
“injury must be more than de minimis.”
marks and citations omitted).
Id. (internal quotation
See Flores v. City of Palacios, 381
F.3d 391, 400 n.7 (5th Cir. 2004) (noting that “[t]he extent of an
injury is an element of an excessive force claim that must be
clearly established in the second prong of the qualified immunity
In the case at bar, the only injury Jordan has asserted is
bruising on her arm and anxiety, for which she did not seek
medical treatment for nearly three weeks.
This is appropriately
categorized as de minimis and thus insufficient to support
Jordan’s claim for excessive force.
See Lockett v. New Orleans
City, 607 F.3d 992, 999 (5th Cir. 2010) (bruising from overly
tight handcuffs a de minimis injury); Glenn v. City of Tyler, 242
F.3d 307. 314 (5th Cir. 2007) (evidence of officers “twisting [the
clear that a plaintiff’s “excessive force claim is separate and
distinct from her unlawful arrest claim, and [the court] must
therefore analyze the excessive force claim without regard to
whether the arrest itself was justified.” Freeman v. Gore, 483
F.3d 404, 416–17 (5th Cir. 2007) (fact that arrest was unlawful on
facts alleged does not mean that any force used by the deputies to
effectuate the arrest was necessarily excessive) (citations
Plaintiff inexplicably argues both that Liddell’s
“assertion of a de minimis injury standard for her excessive force
claim is contrary to precedent” and that “[t]o support a claim for
excessive force, ‘plaintiff's asserted injury must be more than de
minimis.’ Freeman v. Gore, 483 F.3d 404, 416 (5th Cir. 2004).”
The latter is the correct statement.
plaintiff's] arms behind her back while handcuffing her,
‘jerk[ing] her all over the carport,’ and apply[ing] the handcuffs
too tightly” insufficient to make out claim where only bruising
resulted); Freeman v. Gore, 483 F.3d 404, 416 (5th Cir. 2007)
(“[m]inor, incidental injuries that occur in connection with the
use of handcuffs to effectuate an arrest do not give rise to a
constitutional claim for excessive force.”); Barnes v. Corr. Corp.
of Am., No. CIV.A 5:09CV178-MTP, 2010 WL 2090106, at *2 (S.D.
Miss. May 21, 2010) (sore shoulder, anxiety and a bruised ego are
clearly de minimis injury which did not amount to constitutional
Based on the foregoing, it is ordered that Liddell’s motion
for summary judgment is granted as to plaintiff’s claims for
excessive force and her state law claim on Liddell’s alleged
public official bond.
It is ordered that the motion is denied as
to her claim for false arrest.
SO ORDERED this 13th day of October, 2017.
/s/ Tom S. Lee
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
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