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Fletcher v. Losh

United States District Court, D. Idaho

September 17, 2019

WILLIAM FLETCHER, Plaintiff,
v.
ADA COUNTY SHERIFF DPUTY LOSH; ADA COUNTY; and ADA COUNTY SHERIFF DEPUTY MARQUARDT, Defendants,

          MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER RE: MOTION TO STAY ORDER SETTING TRIAL (DOCKET NO. 114)

          RONALD E. BUSH CHIEF U.S. MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         Pending before the Court is Defendant Ada County Sheriff Deputy Marquardt's Motion to Stay Order Setting Trial (Dkt. 114). Having carefully considered the record and otherwise being fully advised, the Court enters the following Memorandum Decision and Order:

         BACKGROUND

         1. Plaintiff William Fletcher initiated this action on February 2, 2015, arising out of the undisputed use of force against Mr. Fletcher by Defendant Ada County Sheriff Deputy Marquardt at the Ada County Jail on the evening of August 7, 2013. According to Mr. Fletcher:

Ada County Sheriff Deputy Marquardt harassed, slammed Plaintiff hard on floor face first, as Plaintiff was on ground in handcuffs - Ada County Sheriff Deputy Marquardt punched the Plaintiff in the lower spinal cord area of his back with hard object. Ada County Sheriff Deputy Marquardt choke Plaintiff with his forearm.

Am. Prisoner Compl., p. 2 (Dkt. 9).[1]

         2. Deputy Marquardt's account is unsurprisingly different, claiming that:

Mr. Fletcher became argumentative with Deputy Marquardt after the deputy stopped and questioned him about suspicious movement on the tier. After stepping inside a nearby cell, Mr. Fletcher grew more verbally and physically aggressive. He then ignored instructions to face the wall and actively resisted the deputy's efforts to secure him. When Mr. Fletcher attempted to push off the wall towards Deputy Marquardt, the deputy delivered a leg strike to bring the inmate to the ground. Mr. Fletcher attempted to get up and out of the deputy's control. He continued to actively resist on the ground until Deputy Marquardt delivered a single strike with his fist to the inmate's right side. The deputy was then able to secure Mr. Fletcher in handcuffs and escort him out to a holder cell.

Mem. ISO MSJ, p. 2 (Dkt. 64-1). From this, Deputy Marquardt moved for summary judgment (Dkt. 64), arguing that he is entitled to summary judgment on the basis of qualified immunity.

         3. On September 27, 2017, the Court denied Deputy Marquardt's Motion for Summary Judgment, concluding that, “owing to the disputed material facts that necessarily exist when trying to understand what took place between Mr. Fletcher and Deputy Marquardt in Cell 844, it cannot be said as a matter of law that either (1) no excessive use of force took place, or (2) if so, Deputy Marquardt is entitled to qualified immunity.” 9/27/17 MDO, p. 19 (Dkt. 89). On October 23, 2017, Deputy Marquardt appealed (Dkt. 92).

         4. On February 15, 2019, the Ninth Circuit affirmed the Court's denial of Deputy Marquardt's Motion for Summary Judgment, reasoning in relevant part:

A material dispute of fact exists regarding whether Marquardt gave Fletcher instructions before striking him. Fletcher's subjective complaints of pain from blows are also disputed. These disputes cannot be reconciled by simply adopting Marquardt's contentions. The district court did not err in finding the record presented genuine issues of material fact on whether the force Marquardt purposefully used against Fletcher was objectively unreasonable.
Marquardt argues there is no clearly established law that would inform a reasonable deputy facing these specific facts that he could not employ the force used to obtain compliance. Viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to Fletcher, Fletcher was compliant and did not provoke Marquardt. The law is clearly established that a reasonable correctional officer cannot administer strong blows upon a compliant pretrial detainee without violating the detainee's right under the Fourteenth Amendment's Due Process Clause to be free from objectively unreasonable ...

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