PADULA v. LEIMBACH (August 29, 2011)

Jerome Clement experienced a hypoglycemic episode while driving to work one day. He turned into a parking lot and stopped near a truck scale. A 911 call triggered a police response. The responding officers were told to respond to an intoxicated man in a car. The officers tried to wake Clement. Clement did not comply with police orders, spoke in angry tones, and even swung at an officer. The officers physically removed him from the car and attempted to handcuff him. He continued to resist. The officers continued to use force, including hitting him with a baton, kneeling on his head, and spraying him with Mace. Eventually, a paramedic arrived and transported him to the hospital. He died two weeks later of unrelated causes. His estate brought suit under § 1983 for wrongful arrest and excessive force against the officers and for failure to train and supervise against the City of East Chicago, Indiana and its Police Department. Judge Van Bokkelen (N.D. Ind.) granted summary judgment to the defendants. The estate appeals.

In their opinion, Seventh Circuit Chief Judge Easterbrook and Judges Flaum and Sykes affirmed. The Court first addressed the wrongful arrest charge and found ample evidence to support probable cause. Clement drove off the road, was slouched over in his car, was unkempt, and had bloodshot eyes. Furthermore, there was no indication, such as a necklace or bracelet, that he suffered from diabetes. Summary judgment on the unlawful arrest claim was appropriate. The Court turned to the excessive force claim and applied the objectively reasonable standard. Again, the Court found ample evidence in the record to support the conclusion that the officers responded reasonably. Clement refused to comply with police orders and resisted their attempts to handcuff him. The officers' response was commensurate with the situation. With respect to the inadequate training and supervision counts, the Court concluded that they were waived or, if not waived, they failed because the underlying arrest and excessive force counts failed.