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Monday, March 23, 2009

Ind. Decisions - 7th Circuit decides one Indiana case today

In Trent Marion v. City of Corydon (SD Ind., Chief Judge Hamilton), a 14-page opinion, Judge Flaum writes:

Plaintiff Trent Marion brought this action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the City of Louisville, the City of Corydon, the City of New Albany, the County of Harrison, and several officers from those jurisdictions and from the Indiana State Police. He alleged that the law enforcement officers and government entities violated his Fourth Amendment rights by using excessive force against him in connection with a police pursuit and subsequent shooting. All defendants, except the City of Louisville and its unknown officers, filed motions for summary judgment. Defendants supported their motions with affidavits and with video and audio recordings. Marion offered no counter-affidavit and pointed to no evidence that would call into question defendants’ submissions. Finding no triable issue of fact, the district court granted summary judgment for all named defendants. Marion appealed, and we now affirm the district court’s grant of summary judgment. * * *

We conclude that, under the totality of the circumstances, it was reasonable for the officers to think that Marion seriously endangered officers and innocent bystanders, and it was reasonable for the officers to dis- charge their firearms in Marion’s direction to stop him. Thus, there was no Fourth Amendment violation. Because there was no deprivation of a constitutional right in this case, the police officers are immune from liability. Pearson, 129 S. Ct. at 816; Akande v. Grounds, ___ F.3d ___, 2009 WL 291186 (7th Cir. Feb. 9, 2009) (“If it is clear that there has been no constitutional injury, . . . the officials are entitled to immunity”) (citing Saucier v. Katz, 533 U.S. 194, 201 (2001)). The district court correctly granted summary judgment in favor of all officers.

Furthermore, municipalities or counties cannot be liable under § 1983 absent an underlying constitutional violation by one or more of their officers. City of Los Angeles v. Heller, 475 U.S. 796, 799 (1986)). Because we find no constitutional violation by the police officers, the district court correctly dismissed Marion’s claims against the named municipalities and against the County of Harrison.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on March 23, 2009 02:54 PM
Posted to Ind. (7th Cir.) Decisions