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Tracy v. Freshwater, No. 08-1769

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By FindLaw Staff on October 14, 2010 3:03 PM

Summary Judgment for Officers in Civil Rights Action Partially Affirmed

In Tracy v. Freshwater, No. 08-1769, a civil rights action alleging excessive force by police, the court affirmed summary judgment for defendants in part where a reasonable officer would have construed plaintiff's conduct as intentional and threatening.  However, the court vacated in part where an issue of material fact remained in dispute with respect to plaintiff's excessive force claim based on defendant's use of pepper spray.


As the court wrote:  "In this appeal, Plaintiff-Counter-Defendant-Appellant Patrick Tracy challenges the decisions of the United States District Court for the Northern District of New York granting the motion for summary judgment filed by Defendants-Counter-Claimants-Appellees on the ground of qualified immunity (Munson, J.) and denying Tracy's motion for reconsideration (McCurn, J.). Tracy primarily argues that the district court erred in concluding that he had not raised a genuine issue of material fact as to whether, in the course of arresting him, Defendant-Counter-Claimant-Appellee Parker Freshwater, a deputy sheriff in the Tompkins County Sheriff's Department, used unreasonable force in violation of the Fourth Amendment. We conclude that the majority of Tracy's claims fail as a matter of law and that summary judgment was properly granted on them. However, because we find that issues of material fact remain in dispute with respect to one claim - Tracy's excessive force claim based on Freshwater's use of pepper spray - and that Freshwater is not entitled to qualified immunity with respect to that claim as stated by appellant, we vacate the district court's grant of summary judgment and remand for further proceedings consistent with this conclusion."

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