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Friday, June 14, 2013

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

In JASON FINDLAY v. JONATHAN LENDERMON (ND Ind., Springmann), an 11-page opinion, Judge Flaum writes:

In September 2009, Deputy Sheriff Jonathan Lendermon found himself in the middle of a long-running family squabble between Jason Findlay and Findlay’s uncle, Clark Howey. Neighbors as well as family, the two lived next door to each other. Howey suspected Findlay of trespass and vandalism, giving rise to the bickering that ensnared Deputy Lendermon. When Findlay found a surveillance camera set up at the property line, he called the Sheriff’s Office to file an abandoned property report, and Lendermon responded to the call. With video running, Findlay ultimately made comments suggesting he had, in fact, trespassed, and Lendermon decided to confiscate as evidence the memory chip containing these statements. At some point, the memory chip separated from the camera and fell to the floor. Findlay says Lendermon tackled him as he reached to pick up the chip. Lendermon says he simply grabbed Findlay’s arm to prevent him from picking up the chip before Lendermon could seize it. A lawsuit followed, in which Findlay alleged the excessive use of force. The district court denied Lendermon’s motion for summary judgment on the excessive force claim. We reverse. Because Findlay has not carried his burden of showing the violation of a clearly established right, Lendermon is entitled to qualified immunity. * * *

[ILB: The incident takes place in Lafayette, the facts are set out in detail at pp. 2-4]

Because Findlay has not identified any sufficiently analogous case clearly establishing the constitutional right he accuses Lendermon of violating, and because Findlay offers no adequate explanation for how Lendermon used force “so plainly excessive” that it proved clearly established notwithstanding the absence of such a case, we REVERSE the district court’s denial of Lendermon’s motion for summary judgment on qualified immunity grounds.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on June 14, 2013 04:38 PM
Posted to Ind. (7th Cir.) Decisions