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Encarnacion v. Wade

United States District Court, M.D. Florida, Tampa Division

October 31, 2019

BRYAN ENCARNACION, Plaintiff,
v.
DUSTIN TARROT WADE, Defendant.

          ORDER

          WILLIAM F. JUNG UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Before the Court is Deputy Wade's Motion to Dismiss Fifth Amended Complaint with Supporting Memorandum of Law, Dkt. 21, which Mr. Encarnacion opposes, Dkt. 23. Upon consideration, the motion to dismiss will be granted in part and denied in part.

         I. Allegations of the Fifth Amended Complaint

         Mr. Encarnacion alleges that on September 12, 2017, he was arrested by Deputy Wade. Dkt. 15 at 4. During the arrest, Deputy Wade shot Mr. Encarnacion with a tazer gun and placed him in handcuffs. Id. After Mr. Encarnacion was examined by an emergency medical technician, Deputy Wade yanked Mr. Encarnacion up off the ground by grabbing the handcuffs, which caused fractures to Mr. Encarnacion's wrist and arm. Id. Mr. Encarnacion contends that Deputy Wade violated his rights under the Eighth Amendment by using excessive force when he lifted him off the ground only by the handcuffs.

         II. Standard of Review

         To survive a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, a plaintiff must plead sufficient facts to state a claim that is “plausible on its face.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (citation omitted). In considering the motion, the court accepts all factual allegations of the complaint as true and construes them in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. Pielage v. McConnell, 516 F.3d 1282, 1284 (11th Cir. 2008) (citation omitted).

         III. Summary of the Arguments

         Deputy Wade argues that the Fifth Amended Complaint should be dismissed because: (1) the Eighth Amendment is inapplicable to this case; (2) to the extent it alleges a claim of excessive force in violation of the Fourth Amendment, it fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted; and (3) he is entitled to qualified immunity.

         Mr. Encarnacion argues that the motion to dismiss should be denied “based on medical evidence and witness statements validating [his] claims of excessive force.” Dkt. 23 at 1.

         IV. Analysis

         A. The Eighth Amendment is inapplicable to this case

         At the outset, the Court must “identify the specific constitutional right allegedly infringed by the challenged application of force.” Graham v. Connor, 490 U.S. 386, 394 (1989). The Supreme Court has made clear, “all claims that [governmental authorities] have used excessive force . . . in the course of an arrest, investigatory stop, or other ‘seizure' . . . should be analyzed under the Fourth Amendment and its ‘reasonableness' standard, rather than under a ‘substantive due process' approach.” Graham, 490 U.S. at 395; see also Garrett v. Athens-Clarke County, Georgia, 378 F.3d 1274, 1279 n. 11 (11th Cir.2004) (where “[t]he excessive force claims arise from events happening in the course of the arrest, ” the claims must be analyzed under the Fourth Amendment). Therefore, because Deputy Wade's use of force was in the course of an arrest, Mr. Encarnacion's claim that Deputy Wade used excessive force must be analyzed under the Fourth Amendment. Accordingly, Mr. Encarnacion's claim under the Eighth Amendment will be dismissed.

         B. The Fifth Amended Complaint states a claim for excessive force under the Fourth Amendment

         Deputy Wade argues that Mr. Encarnacion has failed to state a cause of action for a use of excessive force because “[a]s a matter of law, yanking the Plaintiff off the ground is not excessive force.” Dkt. 21 at 4. He contends that he used “ordinary and reasonable force, ” and said force “is not transformed into excessive ...


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