United States District Court, D. Massachusetts
CARLI A. TAYLOR, Plaintiff,
PATROL OFFICER RYAN MOORE and TOWN OF FALMOUTH, Defendants.
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
PATTI B. SARIS, CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Carli A. Taylor asserts that Patrol Officer Ryan Moore
violated her civil rights under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and the
Massachusetts Civil Rights Act during a traffic stop in
Falmouth, Massachusetts. She alleges that Moore used
excessive force when, after stopping her for suspected drunk
driving, he grabbed her arm, pulled her out of the car, put
her on the ground, placed his knee on her back, and tased
her. She also asserts a claim against the Town of Falmouth
for its failure to discipline, train, or supervise its
officers. Defendants move for summary judgment, arguing that
Moore is protected by qualified immunity and that Taylor
presents no evidence to support an allegation that the Town
was deliberately indifferent to the rights of its citizens.
After hearing, the Court ALLOWS IN PART and
DENIES IN PART Defendants' motion for
summary judgment (Docket No. 56).
parties heavily dispute the facts concerning the night in
question, but at this stage of the litigation, the Court
reviews the record in the light most favorable to the
nonmoving party. Santiago-Ramos v. Centennial P.R.
Wireless Corp., 217 F.3d 46, 52 (1st Cir. 2000).
night of Tuesday, September 9, 2014, Carli A. Taylor met a
friend for dinner at Bobby Byrne's Restaurant and Pub in
Mashpee on Cape Cod. She had a beer and ordered dinner.
Afterwards, Taylor drove to two other bars. Taylor does not
remember the name of the second bar, or how long she stayed
there. She does remember driving to the third location, the
Añejo Mexican Bistro & Tequila Bar in Falmouth,
Massachusetts. At Añejo, Taylor had a margarita. When
Taylor left Añejo to drive home, bar employees took
down her license plate number and called the police to report
suspected drunk driving. Falmouth patrol officers were
subsequently dispatched to find her.
was driving herself home along Route 28 in Falmouth when she
observed two bicyclists on her right and had to
“swerve” to go around them. Almost immediately
afterwards, Taylor saw blue police lights go on behind her.
Docket No. 58-1 at 53:12-18. She pulled over, turned her car
off, and produced her license and registration when the
officer approached her driver-side window. Patrol Officer
Ryan Moore of the Falmouth Police Department asked Taylor if
she knew why he had pulled her over, and she said she did
not. She lied and said that she was coming from work. After
further conversation, Taylor eventually admitted that she had
been at Añejo. Taylor knew she was in trouble at the
time because she had consumed too much alcohol to drive.
asked Taylor to “step out of the car, ” at which
point Taylor said that she “would like to wait for
backup.” Id. at 56:4-13. Moore then went back
to his cruiser. When Moore returned to Taylor's car, he
again requested that she step out of the vehicle and asked
Taylor to perform a field sobriety test. At this point
Moore's demeanor was “forceful” but he was
not “yelling.” Id. at 57:3-6. Taylor
stated again that she “would wait for backup”
before getting out of the car. Id. at 56:4-13;
Docket No. 64-1 at 68:22. Moore continued to tell Taylor that
she needed to take a field sobriety test, or she would be
arrested based on his observations. Taylor continued to
refuse to get out of the car without back-up present. Moore
went back to the rear of the vehicle and called dispatch to
send another police unit. Moore returned to Taylor's
driver-side window and again asked her to get out of the car.
And again, Taylor refused. She does not know exactly how many
times Moore told her to get out the car during their
Use of Force
Without warning, Moore proceeded to reach in through
Taylor's open driver-side window, open the car door, grab
Taylor's arm, and pull her out of the car. Once Taylor
was out of the car, Moore dragged Taylor to the rear of the
vehicle, away from the road. Taylor was not resisting at this
point and her feet barely hit the ground. Moore then put
Taylor on the ground, face first. Taylor describes being
“slammed” into the ground causing her eye to hit
a rock. Docket No. 34 ¶ 19.
Taylor prone on the ground, Moore pressed his knee into her
back, a position he characterizes as a “full body
mount.” Docket No. 34 ¶ 19; Docket No. 64 ¶
101. Moore attempted to get control of Taylor's hands in
order to handcuff her. Taylor was screaming for help at this
point. Moore ordered her to stop resisting and put her hands
behind her back for cuffing. Whenever she attempted to lift
her head off the ground, Moore pushed it back down. Taylor
pleaded for Moore to release her, stating that she would do
whatever he wanted her to do.
his knee still on top of Taylor's back, Moore unholstered
his taser and threatened to deploy it. Taylor asserts that
the “full body mount” position made it impossible
for her to comply with Moore's orders. The only thing she
could move was her head and hear hands were beside her. Moore
told Taylor that if she “didn't shut up he was
going to taze [her].” Docket No. 58-1 at 75:22-24;
Docket No. 64-1 at 81:8-11. Taylor tried to look back at
Moore, but he proceeded to lift her shirt and place the
taser's electrodes directly on her back. Moore then
deployed his taser in “drive-stun” mode. The
parties dispute how many times Moore tased Taylor, with
Taylor asserting that she was tased at least two times.
Taylor screamed out in pain and then went motionless.
stayed with his knee on Taylor's back, using his body
weight to control her until a second officer arrived. At the
time of the incident, Taylor was five feet, five inches tall
and weighed 125 pounds. Officer Walker arrived at the scene,
and the two officers placed Taylor in handcuffs. The officers
lifted Taylor off the ground and placed her in the back of a
police cruiser, with one officer having to fold her legs into
the car in order to close the door because she was unable to
do so at that point due to the taser.
officers transported Taylor back to the police station where
she was booked and charged with several offenses. Sergeant
Cummings made notes regarding Taylor's injuries.
Photographs of her injuries were also taken, which show cuts,
scratches, and abrasions on Taylor's arms, shoulders, and
right hand. Photos also appear to show four marks on
Taylor's back. Taylor refused to take a breathalyzer test
and was ultimately released to her mother and sister at 2:00
AM on September 10, 2014.
on September 10, Taylor appeared in court and then went to
Falmouth Hospital for emergency medical care. Taylor was
diagnosed with facial trauma, with additional diagnoses of
concussion and headache. Since the incident, Taylor has
experienced frequent migraines, headaches, nausea, sound and
light sensitivity. In November of 2016, Dr. Deborah Tepper
diagnosed Taylor with chronic post-traumatic headaches, which
started immediately after her concussion. In March of 2018,
Taylor sought evaluation for what she described as near daily
headaches and was diagnosed by Dr. John Pettinato with
chronic migraines. With respect to the charges against her,
Taylor eventually admitted to facts sufficient to make out
the charge of driving under the influence, which was
continued without a finding.
Plaintiff's Medical Expert
Gary Stanton conducted a physical examination of Taylor on
December 13, 2018 and reviewed her prior medical records,
including notes from Drs. Tepper and Pettinato. After his
physical examination of the Plaintiff, Dr. Stanton diagnosed
her with postconcussion syndrome, migraines,
cough/sneeze-induced headaches, and Chiari I malformation. As
to the causal relationship for Taylor's headaches, Dr.
Station opined: “In my opinion, the incident of
9/09/2014 was causally related to Ms. Taylor's ongoing
complaints of posttraumatic headaches, which in her case is a
symptom of a postconcussion syndrome.” Docket No. 75-5
at 7. He went on to state that Taylor's
“postconcussion syndrome [was] unlikely to