Austin v. City of Pasadena, No. 22-20341 (5th Cir. 2023)Annotate this Case
Plaintiffs claimed law enforcement officers violated the Constitution when they responded to a detainee’s epileptic seizure in a jail cell by restraining and tasing him several times. The district court either dismissed or granted summary judgment on all claims in favor of the Defendants.
The Fifth Circuit reversed the grant of qualified immunity for the individual Defendant Officers as to the Section 1983 claims and the grant of summary judgment on the claims for bystander liability. The court affirmed the grant of summary judgment on municipal liability and on the claims under the Americans with Disabilities Act and Rehabilitation Act. The court explained that the record is insufficient to support a jury question that the use-of-force and ECW policies were so vague that they amounted to no policy at all. These policies “may have been inadequate,” and while a jury might conclude that the City was negligent in not requiring Plaintiffs’ specified actions, “that, of course, is not enough under Section 1983.” The court explained that without evidence showing that the higher level of care was obviously necessary, we cannot see how the jury could conclude that the use-of-force and ECW policies were deliberately indifferent. Accordingly, there was no substantial evidence that such a policy would obviously lead to the violation of pre-trial detainees’ constitutional rights. Further, the court found that Plaintiffs cite no binding caselaw in which liability under the ADA and RA has been extended to a context similar to this one.