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Case Name White v. Jackson PN-MO-0003
Docket / Court 4:14-cv-01490-HEA ( E.D. Mo. )
State/Territory Missouri
Case Type(s) Policing
Case Summary
On August 28, 2014, six Missouri residents filed this lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution against individual police officers of the City of Ferguson, Missouri and the ... read more >
On August 28, 2014, six Missouri residents filed this lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution against individual police officers of the City of Ferguson, Missouri and the County of St. Louis, Missouri, the City of Ferguson, and the County of St. Louis. The plaintiffs, represented by private and public interest counsel, sought compensatory and punitive damages, alleging that the City of Ferguson and the County of St. Louis, through their police forces, violated the plaintiffs' rights by subjecting them to unnecessary and unwarranted force and arresting them without probable cause. Specifically, the plaintiffs alleged claims of false arrest, intentional infliction of emotional distress, negligent supervision, failure to train, supervise, and discipline, as well as assault and battery.

This suit was filed in the wake of the August 2014 shooting of Michael Brown. Brown, a black male, was fatally shot on August 9, 2014, by Darren Wilson, a Caucasian police officer with the Ferguson Police Department. The circumstances surrounding the shooting are disputed, but it is undisputed that Brown was unarmed at the time. The shooting sparked protests and general civil unrest in the City of Ferguson, caused in part by racial tension between the majority-black community and the majority-white city government and police. The plaintiffs allege that during this time of civil unrest, Ferguson police officers used wanton and excessive force under color of law.

Specifically, one plaintiff alleged that she and her son were arrested on August 13 at a fast-food restaurant in Ferguson. The complaint states that they had attended a peace rally and were arrested for supposedly failing to follow police instructions to leave the establishment. Another plaintiff claimed he was shot with rubber bullets, assaulted, and sprayed with pepper-spray by police while heading to his mother's house on August 13. According to the complaint, this plaintiff was never charged with a crime. Another plaintiff claimed he was photographing protests from his vehicle when police began moving down the street where he was parked, firing tear gas and ordering people to disperse. The plaintiff was allegedly blocked in by a police vehicle and therefore unable to comply. According to the complaint, police seized his camera and pulled the memory chip from it before arresting him. The final two plaintiffs claimed they were also arrested for failing to disperse while filming the protests on August 11.

On October 2, 2014, the plaintiffs filed an amended complaint, adding four plaintiffs to the suit. The City of Ferguson and its police chief and officer (the "Ferguson defendants") filed a motion to dismiss on October 24, 2014, and St. Louis County and its chief of police (the "St. Louis defendants") filed motions to dismiss party plaintiffs on November 26, 2014. The plaintiffs filed a second amended complaint on December 1, 2014.

On March 16, 2015, the court (Judge Henry Edward Autrey) dismissed the plaintiffs' claims for intentional infliction of emotional distress and negligent supervision against the St. Louis County defendants, and dismissed one of the plaintiff's claims for assault and battery. The court denied the Ferguson defendants' motion to dismiss.

The plaintiffs filed a third amended complaint on May 27, 2015. This amended complaint includes claims of six sets of plaintiffs. The Ferguson defendants filed a motion to dismiss the plaintiffs' claims for intentional infliction of emotional distress and negligent supervision in the third amended complaint, and the court granted the motion to dismiss on June 25, 2015, using the same rationale under which those claims were dismissed as against the County defendants from the second amended complaint.

The case was referred to alternative dispute resolution on August 28, 2015, and after a conference on December 1, 2015, the neutral reported that the parties participated in good faith but did not reach a settlement. The parties continued discovery and began to prepare for a trial scheduled in September 2016.

The Ferguson defendants filed a motion for summary judgment on April 7, 2016, and shortly after, the St. Louis defendants filed a motion for summary judgment. Judge Autrey granted the defendants' motions for summary judgment on September 30, 2016.
The court found that the individual police defendants were entitled to official and qualified immunity from suit, and as the plaintiffs failed to establish that qualified immunity did not apply, the supervisory defendants and St. Louis County were also entitled to summary judgment. 2016 WL 8674192. A judgment in the case was entered in favor of the defendants and against the plaintiffs.

The plaintiffs appealed the decision to the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit. Meanwhile in the district court, the parties engaged in some litigation regarding costs, which Judge Autrey awarded to the defendants on June 28, 2017.

The Eighth Circuit (Judges Diana E. Murphy, James B. Loken, and Michael J. Melloy) issued its opinion on August 1, 2017. 865 F.3d 1064. The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment as to the claims of five of the six sets of plaintiffs. The Eight Circuit did reverse in part the district court's grant of summary judgment as to the excessive force claims of one plaintiff. The circuit court found that the district court erred in granting four individual police defendants qualified immunity with regard to the plaintiff's claims that officers had held his head underwater for three to five seconds, pepper sprayed him, and took turns punching and kicking him for two to three minutes. Though the district court had dismissed the excessive force claim after finding that medical evidence undermined the plaintiff's testimony as to these events, the circuit court found this a mischaracterization of the record and said it was a factual dispute to be resolved by a jury. The Eighth Circuit therefore reversed the grant of summary judgment on that plaintiff's § 1983 excessive force claim, as well as the grant of summary judgment on his § 1983 failure to train, supervise, and discipline claim against the St. Louis defendants as it relates to the remaining excessive force claim. The Eighth Circuit responded to a motion for clarification in an August 9, 2017 order, clarifying that the court affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment in favor of the Ferguson defendants on all claims.

The case was remanded to the district court for further proceedings related to the remaining plaintiff's excessive force claims against four individual County of St. Louis police officers and the corresponding supervisory claims against the County of St. Louis. The plaintiffs filed petitions with the Eighth Circuit for rehearing en banc and rehearing by the panel; the Eighth Circuit denied the petitions for rehearing on September 11, 2017.

In the district court, Judge Autrey scheduled the action for a jury trial on October 29, 2018. The defendants filed a motion to continue for a new trial date which has yet to be ruled on, and as of August 20, 2018, the case is proceeding toward trial.

Greg in den Berken - 10/09/2014
Sarah McDonald - 08/20/2018


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Unreasonable search and seizure
Defendant-type
Law-enforcement
General
Excessive force
Failure to discipline
Failure to supervise
Failure to train
False arrest
Over/Unlawful Detention
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
State law
Defendant(s) City of Ferguson
St. Louis County
Plaintiff Description Plaintiffs are several Missouri residents who are suing the City of Ferguson, Missouri, for acts allegedly perpetrated by Ferguson police officers in the wake of the Michael Brown shooting.
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted No
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party Mixed
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief None
Source of Relief None yet
Filing Year 2014
Case Ongoing Yes
Docket(s)
4:14−cv−01490 (E.D. Mo.)
PN-MO-0003-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 09/04/2018
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Complaint [ECF# 1]
PN-MO-0003-0001.pdf | Detail
Date: 08/28/2014
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Amended Complaint [ECF# 9]
PN-MO-0003-0002.pdf | Detail
Date: 10/02/2014
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Opinion, Memorandum and Order [ECF# 70] (2015 WL 1189963) (E.D. Mo.)
PN-MO-0003-0003.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 03/16/2015
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Third Amended Complaint [ECF# 81]
PN-MO-0003-0004.pdf | Detail
Date: 05/27/2015
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order [ECF# 103] (E.D. Mo.)
PN-MO-0003-0005.pdf | Detail
Date: 06/25/2015
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Opinion, Memorandum and Order [ECF# 255] (2016 WL 8674192) (E.D. Mo.)
PN-MO-0003-0006.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 09/30/2016
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Opinion [Ct. of App. ECF# 56] (865 F.3d 1064)
PN-MO-0003-0007.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 08/01/2017
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judges Autrey, Henry Edward (E.D. Mo.)
PN-MO-0003-0003 | PN-MO-0003-0005 | PN-MO-0003-0006 | PN-MO-0003-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Greene, Reginald A. (Georgia)
PN-MO-0003-0001 | PN-MO-0003-0002 | PN-MO-0003-0004 | PN-MO-0003-9000
Lattimer, Gregory L. (District of Columbia)
PN-MO-0003-0001 | PN-MO-0003-0002 | PN-MO-0003-0004 | PN-MO-0003-9000
Shabazz, Malik Z. (District of Columbia)
PN-MO-0003-0001 | PN-MO-0003-0002 | PN-MO-0003-0004 | PN-MO-0003-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Carey, Aarnarian (Apollo) D. (Missouri)
PN-MO-0003-9000
Dunne, Peter J. (Missouri)
PN-MO-0003-9000
Gunn, Priscilla Frances (Missouri)
PN-MO-0003-9000
Hughes, Michael E. (Missouri)
PN-MO-0003-9000
Norwood, Ronald A. (Missouri)
PN-MO-0003-9000
Plunkert, Robert T. (Missouri)
PN-MO-0003-9000

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