Estate of Ahmed M. Guled, by and through Mohamed G. Abdi, Special Administrator for the Estate of Ahmed M. Guled Plaintiff- Appellant
City of Minneapolis; Officer Christopher Garbisch, in his individual and official capacities Defendants - Appellees
Submitted: May 11, 2017
from United States District Court for the District of
Minnesota - Minneapolis
SMITH, Chief Judge, COLLOTON and KELLY, Circuit Judges.
February 5, 2009, Minneapolis Police Officers shot and killed
Ahmed Guled after a short car chase. Guled's father,
Mohamed Abdi, engaged in efforts to acquire legal status to
act on behalf of Guled's estate and next of kin,
culminating in his being appointed Special Administrator (SA)
of Guled's estate pursuant to Minnesota Statute §
524.3-703(b). In his capacity as SA, Abdi filed a complaint
against the City of Minneapolis and the officers involved in
Guled's shooting (collectively, the City),  alleging that the
City used excessive force in violation of 42 U.S.C. §
1983. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of
the City, finding that Abdi lacked standing to bring a §
1983 claim because Abdi was not a trustee under
Minnesota's wrongful death statute. See Minn.
Stat. § 573.02. Having jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C.
§ 1291, we affirm.
early morning hours of February 5, 2009, Guled was driving a
stolen car in North Minneapolis when he came across an
unrelated police investigation that was blocking his path.
Guled attempted to drive through a narrow space between two
parked police vehicles, and officers shot at Guled's car.
After the initial shots, Guled stopped and either stepped or
fell out of his car onto the ground, where Officer
Christopher Garbisch shot him three times. Guled died at the
scene shortly thereafter.
2011, Abdi filed a petition in Minnesota state court to be
appointed trustee for Guled's next of kin in order to
bring an action against the City for, inter alia,
federal constitutional violations and wrongful death pursuant
to Minnesota Statute § 573.02. Abdi listed himself,
Guled's siblings, and Guled's mother as Guled's
next of kin. The Minnesota state court granted Abdi's
petition, and appointed him as trustee to maintain the action
described in the petition.
2012, shortly after his appointment, Abdi filed a pro se
lawsuit in federal court as trustee for Guled's heirs and
next of kin, seeking damages for emotional distress,
pecuniary loss, and the loss of Guled's companionship,
guidance and protection. Abdi v. Garbisch, No.
0:12-cv-00306 (D. Minn. Feb. 6, 2012). After Guled's
brother submitted a statement explaining that he did not
consent to the appointment of Abdi as trustee, and that his
signature on a document purporting to evince his consent had
been forged, the state court vacated its appointment of Abdi
as trustee. The district court later dismissed Abdi's pro
se case without prejudice for failure to prosecute, and we
dismissed Abdi's appeal.
retained current counsel in 2014. Abdi told counsel that he
had been appointed trustee for Guled's next of kin, but
did not tell counsel that his status as trustee had been
revoked. Because the three-year statute of limitations on
Abdi's Minnesota wrongful death claim had expired, Abdi
(through counsel) filed a complaint in federal district court
under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The court asked Abdi to clarify
his legal status and authority to pursue claims on behalf of
Guled, at which point counsel discovered that Abdi's
trustee status had been revoked. Counsel notified the court
and spoke with Abdi, who explained that he was unaware of the
revocation of his trustee status. The complaint was dismissed
without prejudice based on Abdi's lack of standing to
October 16, 2014, Abdi filed a "Petition for Formal
Appointment of Special Administrator" of Guled's
estate pursuant to Minnesota Statute § 524.3-614(2) in
Minnesota state district court, which was approved the
following day. As SA, Abdi filed the instant lawsuit-his
third attempt to bring claims against the City as a result of
Guled's death-naming the Estate of Guled, through Abdi as
SA, as plaintiff. The complaint alleged that Guled suffered
harm as a result of excessive force and unconstitutional
action by the City in violation of § 1983.
discovery, both sides moved for summary judgment. The City
argued that the case should be dismissed for lack of subject
matter jurisdiction because Abdi, acting as SA rather than as
a duly appointed wrongful death trustee, did not have
standing to bring a § 1983 claim. The district court
granted the City's motion, and Abdi appeals. "We
review the district court's grant of summary judgment
based on standing de novo." Oti Kaga, Inc. v. S.D.
Hous. Dev. Auth., 342 F.3d 871, 877 (8th Cir. 2003).
1983 explains that any person who, under color of law,
deprives another of their constitutional rights, is
"liable to the party injured." 42 U.S.C. §
1983. While the "party injured" is generally
self-explanatory, § 1983 does not make clear who
constitutes the injured party when the injured party dies. In
such a situation, Congress has explained that "we look
to state law to determine who is a proper plaintiff, as long
as state law is not inconsistent with the Constitution or
federal law." Andrews v. Neer, 253 F.3d 1052,
1056 (8th Cir. 2001) (citing 42 U.S.C. § 1988(a)).
Therefore, we look to Minnesota's survivorship statute to
determine whether Abdi has standing to bring this § 1983
claim. Robertson v. Wegmann, 436 U.S. 584, 589-90