Justin Schaefer & Christopher Jacovitch Obtain Dismissal of Civil Rights Suit – 2019
In October 2019, Justin Schaefer and Christopher Jacovitch obtained a dismissal with prejudice of a plaintiff’s 28 U.S.C. § 1983 excessive force and failure to intervene claims brought against the City of Henderson, Kentucky, Sergeant Stuart O’Nan, Officer Kyle Stone, and Officer Cody Griffith. The claims arose after the plaintiff was shot by an officer after engaging in an armed stand-off in a residential area. The plaintiff brought his claims in federal court in the Western District of Kentucky – Owensboro Division.
Mr. Schaefer and Mr. Jacovitch filed a Motion to Dismiss shortly after the plaintiff filed his Complaint, successfully arguing that all of the plaintiff’s claims were barred by the Heck doctrine. The Heck doctrine acts to prevent a civil rights plaintiff from pursuing claims that, if successful, would undermine a related criminal conviction. In this case, the plaintiff had plead guilty to third-degree assault, and if he were to succeed on his claims, his assault conviction would have been invalidated. Pursuant to Heck, the court dismissed the plaintiff’s claims with prejudice.
This case demonstrates how the Heck doctrine can lead to a quick dismissal of a plaintiff’s claims when he or she has a related criminal conviction.