United States District Court, D. Connecticut
TANYA JACKSON, AS NEXT FRIEND ON BEHALF OF HER MINOR CHILDREN, Z.J. AND Y.J., Plaintiffs,
CITY OF MIDDLETOWN, et al., Defendants.
RULING ON MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT
Jeffrey Alker Meyer United States District Judge
Z.J. and Y.J. were high school students in Middletown,
Connecticut. One day during lunch at the school cafeteria,
Z.J. was accused of stealing a beef patty from the serving
line. After a cafeteria worker complained, one of the
school's “resource officers” tackled Z.J. and
slammed him to the ground. Another resource officer
approached and repeatedly tased Z.J. In the meantime, Y.J.
was in the cafeteria and saw what happened to his brother.
Tanya Jackson, on behalf of her children, Z.J. and Y.J.,
brought this civil action against defendants City of
Middletown, Middletown Police Department, Middletown Public
Schools, and the two school resource officers-Kurt Scrivo,
and Alex Rodriguez. Doc. #1. Defendants move for summary
judgment with respect to plaintiffs' numerous claims. For
the reasons set forth below, I will grant in part and deny in
part defendants' motion for summary judgment. Trial shall
proceed solely as to Z.J.'s claims against defendants
Rodriguez and Scrivo for excessive force, assault and
battery, and intentional and negligent infliction of
emotional distress. All other claims and defendants are
following facts are either agreed upon by both parties or
presented in the light most favorable to plaintiffs as the
non-moving parties. On September 3, 2010, Z.J. and Y.J. were
students at Middletown High School. On that day, Z.J. was at
the school cafeteria and he took a beef patty without paying.
A cashier called Z.J. back and asked him whether he had paid
for the patty. Z.J. said no. When the cashier asked Z.J. to
give the patty back, Z.J. put the patty into her hand. This
provoked an argument between Z.J. and the cashier, and Z.J.
eventually called the cashier a “bitch.” The
cashier called a security officer over and said that Z.J.
needed to go to the security office. But Z.J. protested,
asking why he had to go to the security office if he had
already returned the beef patty.
point, defendant Scrivo-a school resource officer who is a
state-certified police officer employed by a municipal police
department-approached the scene. He told Z.J. to go with the
security officer, but Z.J. continued to question why he had
to go. The security officer then told Z.J. to go with him,
and Z.J. said “okay” and began walking with the
officer. But just as Z.J. and the security officer were
walking away, Scrivo placed his hand on Z.J.'s left
shoulder and right side in order to escort him out of the
cafeteria. In response, Z.J. stated, “You don't
need to touch me. Let me go. I can walk by myself. I'm
not a little boy.” Scrivo let go of Z.J., who continued
walking. Two seconds later, however, Scrivo suddenly used a
bear hug tackle to slam Z.J. to the ground. Z.J. told Scrivo
to get off of him, but Scrivo then attempted to arrest Z.J.
by grabbing his arms from behind and telling Z.J. to
Rodriguez-another school resource officer-saw Scrivo and Z.J.
on the ground and made his way over from about three to five
car lengths away. He believed that Z.J. was being
noncompliant with Scrivo, so he pulled his taser out as he
approached. It can be reasonably inferred from Scrivo's
police report that Scrivo saw Rodriguez approach, and saw
Rodriguez remove his taser and prepare the taser for drive
stun mode. Doc. #101-2 at 2. Rodriguez then deployed his
taser on Z.J.'s chest area without warning, eventually
tasing Z.J. at least six times all over his body, while
saying, “who's the bitch now?” The length of
time from when Z.J. and Scrivo were on the floor and when
Rodriguez deployed his taser was only a few seconds. While he
was being tased, Z.J. blacked out, made involuntary movements
caused from the shock, and was foaming out of his mouth.
officers handcuffed Z.J. on the floor, and they walked him
out of the cafeteria. Rodriguez patted Z.J. down near the
police cruiser, and asked Z.J. to take off his shoes. Z.J.
asked why, but Rodriguez again ordered Z.J. to take his shoes
off, and Z.J. said, “No, I don't need to take them
off. You can just put me in the car.” Rodriguez then
grabbed Z.J., slammed him to the ground, and took off
was eventually charged with larceny in the sixth degree,
Conn. Gen. Stat. § 53a-125b, breach of the peace, Conn.
Gen. Stat. § 53a-181, and interfering with police, Conn.
Gen. Stat. § 53a-167a. After he pled no contest to
interfering with the police, the other charges were
nolled. According to Z.J., he sustained bruises on
his back, stomach, and chest from the encounter, but those
injuries resolved after about a week. He did not seek help
from a mental health professional about the incident.
younger brother, Y.J., witnessed the altercation in the
cafeteria from about 15 feet away. When he saw Rodriguez
deploy his taser, he yelled out “Get off my brother! .
. . Why are you tasing my brother?” Y.J. was pulled
away from the area by security officers, but he did not
sustain injuries or have any physical interactions with
Rodriguez or Scrivo. Y.J. was eventually arrested and brought
to the police station.
his mother-plaintiff Tanya Jackson-picked him up and as they
were walking away from the police station, Y.J. kicked a sign
that was in front of the police station that was advertising
a blood drive. Jackson began to yell at him and pushed him.
Both Y.J. and Jackson were then arrested and charged with
breach of the peace, Conn. Gen. Stat. § 53a-181. Y.J.
was also charged with interfering with police, Conn. Gen.
Stat. § 53a-167a, and possession of four ounces of
marijuana. The charges against Y.J. and Jackson were
nolled after they completed community service.
on behalf of her children Z.J. and Y.J., brought suit against
various defendants for constitutional violations, assault and
battery, false arrest, and infliction of emotional distress.
See Doc. #1. Many of these claims have been
abandoned, and defendants move for summary judgment on any
claims not abandoned by plaintiff. The remaining non-abandoned
claims include Z.J.'s claims against Scrivo and Rodriguez
for excessive force in violation of the Fourth Amendment, as
well as Z.J.'s state law claims for assault and battery,
intentional infliction of emotional distress, and negligent
infliction of emotional distress. Both Z.J. and Y.J. also
claim false arrest.
principles governing a motion for summary judgment are well
established. Summary judgment may be granted only if
“the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as
to any material fact and the movant is entitled to a judgment
as a matter of law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a); see also
Tolan v. Cotton, 134 S.Ct. 1861, 1866 (2014) (per
curiam). “A genuine dispute of material fact
‘exists for summary judgment purposes where the
evidence, viewed in the light most favorable to the nonmoving
party, is such that a reasonable jury could decide in that
party's favor.'” Zann Kwan v. Andalex Grp.
LLC, 737 F.3d 834, 843 (2d Cir. 2013) (quoting
Guilbert v. Gardner, 480 F.3d 140, 145 (2d Cir.
2007)). The evidence adduced at the summary judgment stage
must be viewed in the light most favorable to the non-moving
party and with all ambiguities and reasonable inferences
drawn against the moving party. See, e.g.,
Tolan, 134 S.Ct. at 1866; Caronia v. Philip
Morris USA, Inc., 715 F.3d 417, 427 (2d Cir. 2013). All
in all, “a ‘judge's function' at summary
judgment is not ‘to weigh the evidence and determine
the truth of the matter but to determine whether there is a
genuine issue for trial.'” Tolan, 134
S.Ct. at 1866 (quoting Anderson v. Liberty Lobby,
Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 249 (1986)).