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District Court Grants Summary Judgment in Excessive Force and Bystander Liability Claim Against Municipality and Officer

A federal district judge concluded that the City of Summersville, WV, and one of its individual officers were entitled to judgment as a matter of law on both state and federal claims arising out of the alleged use of excessive force while executing a search warrant.

In granting the City and its employee’s Motion for Summary Judgment, United States District Judge John T. Copenhaver, Jr., found that the individual officer did not engage in the alleged physical misconduct and, therefore, was entitled to judgment as a matter of law. The Court also addressed an alternative theory of liability asserted by Plaintiffs: bystander liability. The Court found that the individual officer was entitled to judgment as a matter of law on this theory; on the grounds that it was undisputed that the individual officer did not have knowledge that Plaintiffs’ constitutional rights were allegedly violated and had no opportunity to intervene. Finally, the Court dismissed all claims against the City on the grounds that there was no evidence that the City was negligent in its hiring of the individual officer or that a policy or custom of the City caused the alleged constitutional violation.

The City of Summersville and its officer were represented by Flaherty attorneys Timothy L. Mayo and Phillip Estep.

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