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Vondrak v. City of Las Cruces

United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit

August 5, 2008, Filed

Nos. 07-2148 and 07-2159


 [*1200]  BRISCOE, Circuit Judge.

This is an action brought by plaintiff John Vondrak under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against Officer Cindy McCants, Officer Nathan Krause, and the City of Las Cruces, New Mexico (collectively, "Defendants"). Vondrak has alleged claims against McCants and Krause for illegal arrest, excessive force, and inadequate medical attention, and Vondrak has included similar claims against the City for its failure to train its police officers adequately. The district court granted summary judgment to all Defendants on the inadequate medical attention claim, and to Krause on the illegal arrest claim. The district court denied summary judgment to Defendants on Vondrak's other claims, holding that McCants was not entitled to qualified immunity on either the  [**2] illegal arrest or the excessive force claim, and Krause was not entitled to qualified immunity on the excessive force claim. All Defendants appeal, and Vondrak has filed a cross-appeal. We have jurisdiction over McCants' appeal and Krause's appeal pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1291, and we reverse the denial of qualified immunity on the illegal arrest claim and affirm the denial of qualified immunity on the excessive force claim. We dismiss the City's appeal and Vondrak's cross-appeal for lack of appellate jurisdiction.

On August 18, 2003, the Las Cruces Police Department established a sobriety  [*1201]  checkpoint at the corner of Valley Drive and Hayner Avenue in Las Cruces, New Mexico. At approximately 10:10 p.m., John Vondrak approached the checkpoint in his 1994 Mercury Cougar, and an unidentified police officer asked Vondrak if he had consumed any alcohol that evening. Vondrak responded that he bought a beer about three or four hours earlier, and consumed approximately one-third of it. The officer directed Vondrak to pull his car over to the side of the road.

Officer McCants approached Vondrak's car and asked, "You've admitted to drinking today?" Transcript, Def. ROA, at 56. 1 

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535 F.3d 1198 *; 2008 U.S. App. LEXIS 16543 **

JOHN VONDRAK, Plaintiff-Appellee/Cross-Appellant, v. CITY OF LAS CRUCES; CINDY McCANTS and NATHAN KRAUSE, individuals and employees of the Las Cruces Police Department, Defendants-Appellants/Cross-Appellees.

Subsequent History: US Supreme Court certiorari denied by City of Las Cruces v. Vondrak, 129 S. Ct. 1003, 173 L. Ed. 2d 293, 2009 U.S. LEXIS 661 (U.S., 2009)

Motion granted by, in part, Motion denied by, in part Vondrak v. City of Las Cruces, 2009 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 43712 (D.N.M., Mar. 26, 2009)


Vondrak v. City of Las Cruces, 2007 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 55677 (D.N.M., May 14, 2007)


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Civil Procedure, Appeals, Summary Judgment Review, Appealability, Civil Rights Law, Protection of Rights, Immunity From Liability, Defenses, Appellate Jurisdiction, Interlocutory Orders, Appellate Briefs, Reviewability of Lower Court Decisions, Preservation for Review, Standards of Review, Standards of Review, De Novo Review, Judgments, Summary Judgment, Evidentiary Considerations, Entitlement as Matter of Law, Genuine Disputes, Legal Entitlement, General Overview, Torts, Public Entity Liability, Excessive Force, Prisoner Rights, Medical Treatment, Criminal Law & Procedure, Search & Seizure, Seizure of Persons, Driving Under the Influence, Blood Alcohol & Field Sobriety Testing, Vehicular Crimes