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Rockwell v. Rawlins

United States District Court, D. Maryland

October 23, 2014

DANIEL L. ROCKWELL, et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
DETECTIVE CLYDE RAWLINS, et al., Defendants.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

RICHARD D. BENNETT, District Judge.

In this action, Plaintiffs Daniel L. Rockwell ("Rockwell") and his mother, Demetria R. Holden ("Holden"), allege that Defendant Detective Clyde Rawlins ("Detective Rawlins") wrongfully tased[1] Rockwell while he was standing on a second-story ledge.[2] Plaintiffs assert that Detective Rawlins' use of the taser violated the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments of the United States Constitution and Article 26 of the Maryland Declaration of Rights, and further allege that the tasing constituted gross negligence. Currently pending before the Court is Defendant Detective Clyde Rawlins' Motion for Summary Judgment (ECF No. 67). The parties' submissions have been reviewed, and no hearing is necessary. See Local Rule 105.6 (D. Md. 2011). For the reasons that follow, Detective Rawlins' Motion for Summary Judgment (ECF No. 67) is DENIED.

BACKGROUND

This Court reviews the facts and all reasonable inferences in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party. Scott v. Harris, 550 U.S. 372, 378 (2007); see also Hardwick ex rel. Hardwick v. Heyward, 711 F.3d 426, 433 (4th Cir. 2013). This Court has previously summarized the facts of this case, most recently in its Memorandum Opinion & Order on Detective Rawlins' motions to strike, see ECF No. 80; accordingly, this Court draws upon those previous recitations to the extent those facts are not in dispute.

This case arises out of the execution of a warrant to arrest Plaintiff Daniel L. Rockwell ("Rockwell") in Baltimore City, Maryland. On February 8, 2011, Defendant Detective Clyde Rawlins ("Detective Rawlins") along with several other officers[3] arrived at Plaintiffs' home at 4425 Wrenwood Avenue, Baltimore City, Maryland 21212 in order to execute the warrant. At that time, Rockwell was on home detention and was a minor with a known mental condition.[4] The warrant arose from Rockwell's alleged violation of his home detention, and Rockwell's home detention arose from a previous weapons possession related charge. After Detective Rawlins entered the house, Rockwell exited his second story bedroom window and stood on a ledge or overhang of the house. Defendant Rawlins subsequently tasered Rockwell, causing Rockwell to fall from the roof to the ground and fracture his vertebrae.

Plaintiffs[5] filed an action in the Circuit Court for Baltimore City asserting a variety of federal and state claims for money damages against Detective Rawlins, the other individual officers, and the Baltimore City Police Department (ECF No. 2).[6] Thereafter, the Defendants removed the action to this Court pursuant 28 U.S.C. § 1446 and 28 U.S.C. § 1331, and the Defendants filed a number of motions to dismiss.

This Court held a hearing on February 27, 2014, at which Plaintiffs agreed to dismiss numerous counts, including the false arrest, false imprisonment, and negligence claims.[7] Subsequently, this Court dismissed several of the remaining claims against Detective Rawlins and the Baltimore Police Department[8] and all claims against the other named individual officers. The remaining Counts included claims against Detective Rawlins for assault and battery (Counts I and II), gross negligence (Count VII), violation of Article 26 the Maryland Declaration of Rights (Count XI), and violations of the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment and 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (Count XII); Plaintiffs' § 1983 claim against the Baltimore Police Department for violation of the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment (Count XII) survived as well.

Thereafter, upon the Baltimore Police Department's motion, this Court bifurcated the case. Trial as to the claims against Detective Rawlins was scheduled for November 10, 2014, and the case was stayed as to the Baltimore Police Department.[9]

Detective Rawlins filed the pending Motion for Summary Judgment on July 25, 2014. Plaintiffs filed their response brief on August 29, 2014, and attached a declaration made by Plaintiff Rockwell as an exhibit in support. On September 11, 2014, Plaintiffs served their answers to interrogatories and responses to requests for production by email and U.S. Mail-well after the discovery deadline. Detective Rawlins moved to strike both Plaintiff Rockwell's Declaration and Plaintiffs' Answers to Interrogatories and Response to Request for Production of Documents, arguing that Plaintiffs had failed to provide timely discovery and that Plaintiff Rockwell was incapable of providing competent testimony. On October 8, 2014, Detective Rawlins filed an Unopposed Motion to Postpone (ECF No. 79).

After denying Detective Rawlins' motions to strike, this Court held a conference call on October 15, 2014. Ultimately, this Court granted the Unopposed Motion to Postpone, rescheduled the trial date for the week of March 9, 2015, and reopened discovery. The previously filed Motion for Summary Judgment, however, remained pending.

STANDARD OF REVIEW

Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides that a court "shall grant summary judgment if the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." FED. R. CIV. P. 56(c). A material fact is one that "might affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). A genuine issue over a material fact exists "if the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party." Id. In considering a motion for summary judgment, a judge's function is limited to determining whether sufficient evidence exists on a claimed factual dispute to warrant submission of the matter to a jury for resolution at trial. Id. at 249.

In undertaking this inquiry, this Court must consider the facts and all reasonable inferences in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party. Scott v. Harris, 550 U.S. 372, 378 (2007). A party opposing summary judgment must "do more than simply show that there is some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts." Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986); see also In re Apex Express Corp., 190 F.3d 624, 633 (4th Cir. 1999). This Court has previously explained that a "party cannot create a genuine dispute of ...


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