United States District Court, E.D. Wisconsin
STADTMUELLER U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE.
litigation arises from events surrounding and following a 911
call placed by the plaintiff, Bryan McDermott
(“McDermott”), in the early morning hours of
April 6, 2015. He alleges that his civil rights were violated
when a dispatcher for Waukesha County (the
“County”) sent both medical responders and
sheriff's deputies to his home in response to his call,
despite his request that only medical responders be sent.
McDermott further alleges that the responding deputies
entered and searched his home without probable cause, used
excessive force by employing a taser on him and kicking him
in the head, and wrongfully arrested him by handcuffing and
transporting him to a nearby hospital, where he was evaluated
and eventually released.
case was originally assigned to Judge Charles N. Clevert, and
upon his retirement, was reassigned to Magistrate Judge Nancy
Joseph. Then, upon non-consent to magistrate judge
jurisdiction, the case was again reassigned, this time to
this branch of the Court. The defendants thereafter filed a
motion for summary judgment, and that motion is now fully
briefed and ripe for adjudication. (Docket #37-62).
reasons explained below, the defendants' motion will be
granted and this case will be dismissed.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
Rule of Civil Procedure 56 states that the “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(a); Boss v. Castro, 816 F.3d 910, 916 (7th Cir.
2016). “Material facts” are those facts which
“might affect the outcome of the suit, ” and
“summary judgment will not lie if the dispute about a
material fact is ‘genuine, ' that is, if the
evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a
verdict for the nonmoving party.” Anderson v.
Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). Thus, to
demonstrate a genuine dispute about a material fact, 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). Rather, the non-moving
party “must set forth specific facts showing that there
is a genuine issue for trial.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e). The
Court construes all facts and reasonable inferences in a
light most favorable to the non-movant. Bridge v. New
Holland Logansport, Inc., 815 F.3d 356, 360 (7th Cir.
2016). In assessing the parties' proposed facts, the
Court must not weigh the evidence or determine witness
credibility; the Seventh Circuit instructs that “we
leave those tasks to factfinders.” Berry v. Chicago
Transit Auth., 618 F.3d 688, 691 (7th Cir. 2010).
with the standard of review, the following facts are taken
from the evidence when viewed in a light most favorable to
McDermott. Many of these facts are not necessary to the
resolution of the defendants' motion, but their
recitation is helpful to place the Court's analysis in
lives alone in Pewaukee, Wisconsin. (Docket #55 at 1-2). A
car accident left him disabled, and he suffers from some
significant health conditions, including a traumatic brain
injury, chronic pain, and migraine headaches. Id. at
3. He takes several prescription medications to help control
his medical conditions. Id.
evening of April 5, 2015, McDermott felt a migraine coming
on. Id. at 4. He tried to weather it without taking
medication, but as night fell and he could not sleep, he took
some diazepam. Id. The diazepam proved insufficient,
so in the early morning hours of April 6, McDermott took a
nasal spray narcotic painkiller which, in the past, had
provided quick relief and allowed him to sleep. Id.
Unfortunately, the nasal spray had expired and caused him to
feel acutely ill. Id. at 4-5. His vision blurred and
he had difficulty moving and speaking. Id. at 5.
then called 911 several times, beginning just before 4:30
a.m. Id. at 6. The parties dispute how many times he
called; the defendants produced recordings of three calls,
but McDermott says he remembers conversations with dispatch
that are not on the recordings. (Docket #48 at 3). On his
first call, McDermott told the dispatcher he was having a
reaction to medication and wanted to know how to reverse the
medication's effects. (Docket #55 at 6). He was asked for
and gave his address, but when asked for his phone number, he
expressed frustration that the dispatcher was not using
Caller ID and cursed at her. Id. at 7. McDermott
states that, at this point, the dispatcher hung up on him.
Id. at 8. The dispatcher called McDermott back and
McDermott, again using profanity, insisted that he did not
want police officers dispatched to his home because he was
afraid they would be violent and he did not want to go to
prison. Id. at 8.
Waukesha County's general practice to dispatch both
Waukesha County Sheriff's Department
(“Sheriff's Department”) deputies and
emergency medical services (“EMS”) personnel when
someone calls the 911 dispatcher seeking medical assistance.
(Docket #50 at 7-8). The County employs this practice in part
because deputies are trained in CPR and may be the first to
arrive and offer assistance to the person in need of care.
Id. at 8. In addition, depending on the nature of
the call and concerns for safety, deputies may have to secure
the scene before EMS can enter a residence. Id. EMS
often stage nearby the scene until deputies determine it is
safe to approach. Id.
keeping with this practice, sheriff's deputies responded
to the dispatcher's radio call and arrived at
McDermott's home shortly after his first 911 call.
Id. at 8-9. EMS also reported to the scene and
staged nearby, waiting for McDermott's home to be deemed
safe for entry. Id. at 8. Deputy Ryan Reinders
(“Reinders”) yelled to McDermott to open his
door. Id. at 10-11. The defendant deputies say that
McDermott, who they could view through front and back
windows, was erratic, had an unsteady gait, had difficulty
walking and balancing, and was agitated and belligerent.
Id. at 10. Deputies Reinders and Bryan Skaar
(“Skaar”) say they believed McDermott was having
a serious medical issue and may have been a danger to
himself. Id. at 13-14.
McDermott called 911 again and told the dispatcher that he
wanted the deputies to leave. (Docket #55 at 10-11). The
dispatcher told McDermott that the deputies were trained
first responders and that they could assist with his
medication issue. Id. According to McDermott, he
then retrieved his nasal spray and attempted to show it to
Reinders through a window, but Reinders refused to
acknowledge McDermott and continued to knock, insisting that
he be let in. Id. at 11.
could see two flashlights in the backyard, belonging to
deputies Skaar and Sean Lenardic (“Lenardic”),
and upon walking to a window in the back of the house, he
could see a deputy's handgun pointed at him. Id.
at 12. McDermott then returned to the front door and told
Reinders that this was all a mistake and that he needed
medical assistance, not law enforcement. Id.
walked through his house to his attached garage to retrieve a
toiletry bag, in which he kept a piece of paper that
contained a list of his constitutional rights. Id.
at 13. He placed the toiletry bag on his kitchen table and
opened it, removing several bottles of medication.
Id. at 13. Skaar says that he believed it was
possible the bag contained a firearm. (Docket #44 at 5).
the deputies at the front door continued to demand to be let
in. Finally, Skaar broke a glass pane on the door, sending
shattered glass into the entryway. (Docket #55 at 14). Skaar,
Reinders, and Deputy Sonya Sahagian (“Sahagian”)
entered through the front door. Id. Skaar instructed
McDermott to come toward him, but because McDermott was not
wearing shoes and did not want to step on broken glass, he
refused to step forward. Id.
several deputies screaming commands at him, McDermott says he
feared for his life, and he retreated to the lighted kitchen
with his hands over his head. Id. at 16. McDermott
states that Skaar ordered him to face the kitchen table, lean
over it with his legs spread, and place his hands apart on
the table, and that he complied; Skaar denies that he gave
these instructions and insists McDermott was noncompliant
with commands to show his hands. Id. at 17.
then deployed his taser, hitting McDermott in the back.
Id. at 18. McDermott fell to the ground.
Id. The deputies who were present claim that
McDermott hit his head on a counter on his way to the ground,
but McDermott says this did not happen. Id. Skaar
then approached McDermott and removed the taser prongs from
his body, and McDermott was handcuffed and searched.
Id. at 18-19. Then, McDermott says he could see a
hand, arm, and boot approaching his face, and he was kicked
hard in the head. Id. at 19. He says he briefly lost
consciousness. Id. The defendants deny that either
of these things happened. Id. at 19-20.
conducted a protective sweep of the home and found no one
else there. Id. at 20. McDermott was then restrained
on a gurney and taken to Waukesha Memorial Hospital.
Id. at 20-21. Meanwhile, a couple of deputies stayed
behind to search McDermott's home. Id. at 23.
They ran the license plate numbers of ...