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Excessive force, discrimination suit over alleged beating advances

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A man who claims he suffered a bone-breaking beating at the hands of school employees providing security at his son’s high school football game may proceed with a federal lawsuit against the school district.

Louis Williams sued Munster schools and employees he claims assaulted him after they asked him to step off a grassy area where Williams was standing and talking on his cellphone. Williams was seen at a hospital the next day for a fractured rib, abdominal bruising, shallow breathing and back pain, according to the record.

Magistrate Judge Andrew P. Rodovich denied most of the defendants’ motions for summary judgment Tuesday in the U.S. District Court, Northern District of Indiana, Hammond Division.

Williams, an African-American, claimed excessive force and racial discrimination in Louis Williams v. School Town of Munster, et al., 2:12-CV-225-APR. Rodovich wrote in an order Tuesday that those claims should be heard by a jury.

 “Williams has submitted sufficient evidence for a reasonable jury to conclude that the School Town of Munster’s failure to provide any training on how to provide security and enforce its policies was the result of its deliberate indifference to the constitutional rights of the attendees,” Rodovich wrote.

“The defendants argue that (employees’) actions were reasonable because Williams was acting aggressively and that the defendants ‘simply attempted to move him off the grass.’ ... However, the facts do not support only the defendants’ description of the events,” Rodovich wrote, noting Williams claims the assault took place after he moved from the grass and was prevented from leaving. “(T)he true course of events and reasonableness of the defendants’ actions should be determined by a jury.

“At this stage, the evidence shows that Williams has a plausible claim for excessive force against the defendants. Accordingly, the defendants’ motion is denied.”

Likewise, evidence in the record suggests summary judgment is improper on Williams’ race discrimination complaint. Defendants didn’t yell at non-minorities to get off the grass, for example, and Williams claims defendants made at least one disparaging racial insult during the confrontation.

“At this stage, Williams has presented sufficient evidence to show that the defendants may have acted with a discriminatory intent,” Rodovich wrote.

Summary judgment was granted in favor of the individual employees who are immune from personal liability under the Indiana Tort Claims Act, I.C. § 34-13-3-5(c).


 

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