Judge says Backe, others can't sue city and employees in brutality case

John Suayan, Galveston Bureau Apr. 14, 2011, 9:23am

GALVESTON � U.S. District Judge Kenneth M. Hoyt has dismissed part of a lawsuit stemming from alleged police brutality during a wedding reception at a Galveston hotel bar.

On March 29, Hoyt granted the city of Galveston's motions to dismiss claims made by former Houston Astros pitcher Brandon Backe and 11 other complainants against 18 city employees in their official capacities.

As previously reported, Backe and the plaintiffs argue that about 40 police officers subjected them to brutal beatings, excessive force and unlawful confinement.

According to a federal lawsuit filed last Sept. 24 in the Galveston Division of the Southern District of Texas, the incident occurred during the early morning hours of Oct. 5, 2008, when authorities were called to a disturbance at the H2O bar at the San Luis Resort.

Hoyt ruled that the complainants' claims against the city employees are duplicative of the claims asserted directly against the city.

"A lawsuit against a government official in his official capacity is not a lawsuit against the individual, but rather a suit against the official's office and is no different than a suit against the governmental unit that employs the official," the 10-page memorandum opinion and order says.

Although Hoyt denied the remainder of the 19 motions to dismiss, he granted the plaintiffs leave to amend their petition, deleting their withdrawn claims.

He also declined the defendants' requests to sanction the complainants for including the individual defendants' residential addresses in the complaints and proofs of service and signaled the litigation to continue with the remaining claims against the city.

Case No. 3:10-cv-00388

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