United States District Court, S.D. Alabama, Southern Division
ORDER ON DEFENDANTS' MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT
CALLIE V.S. GRANADE, District judge.
This matter is before the Court on Chief Jason Dean's ("Defendant Dean") and the City of Atmore's (the "City") (collectively, "Defendants") motion for summary judgment (Doc. 38) and supporting exhibits, along with Plaintiff's response in opposition (Doc. 41) and supporting exhibits, and Defendants' reply (Doc. 53). Upon consideration and for the reasons set forth below, the Court finds that Defendants' motion for summary judgment is due to be GRANTED.
In the early morning hours of June 16, 2011, police officer Orlando Dale ("Officer Dale") picked up Rebecca Tims ("Plaintiff") when her car ran out of gas (Doc. 41, p. 1). After Plaintiff got into Officer Dale's police car, he drove her down a dark dirt road and forced her to perform oral sex on him (Doc. 41, p. 1). This incident formed the basis of Plaintiff's lawsuit, (Doc. 1) which alleges causes of action against Officer Dale, police chief Jason Dean and the City of Atmore. The Court previously entered default judgment against Officer Dale, but Defendant Dean and the City are not bound by that judgment (Doc. 30).
In her complaint, Plaintiff alleges Defendant Dean's deliberate indifference to hiring and lack of supervising Officer Dale directly and proximately caused violations of her First, Fourth, and Fourteenth Amendment rights (Doc. 1, p. 5). Plaintiff alleges the City of Atmore should also be held liable under 42 United States Code Section 1983 for Dale's constitutional violations (Doc. 1, p. 6).
To support her claims, Plaintiff notes that in April 2011 Katie Ruth Tims told two City of Atmore police officers about an incident involving Officer Dale and her daughter, Breona (Doc. 41, p. 3; Exhs. 2, 3). On a separate occasion, also in April 2011, Katie Ruth Tims personally told Defendant Dean that she did not like Officer Dale talking to her daughter (Doc. 41, p. 5). After hearing this complaint, Defendant Dean questioned Officer Dale about his interaction with Breona (Doc. 41, p. 5; Doc. 53, Exh. 1, p. 7). Officer Dale told Defendant Dean that he only spoke with Breona as she walked along the side of the road (Doc. 41, p. 5; Doc. 53, Exh. 1, p. 7). Defendant Dean maintains that he never learned Officer Dale's exchange with Breona was sexual in nature (Doc. 53, Exh. 1, p. 7), while Katie Ruth Tims and Breona contend that they told him Officer Dale propositioned Breona for sex (Doc. 41, Exhs. 2, 3). Katie Ruth Tims and Breona never filed a formal complaint about Officer Dale with the Atmore police department or the City (Doc. 38, Exh. 3; Doc. 53, Exh. 1, pp. 7-8).
On or about June 17, 2011, Plaintiff reported her encounter with Officer Dale to the Atmore police department (Doc. 41, p. 2). After learning about Plaintiff's complaint, Defendant Dean told Officer Dale that he would face disciplinary action (Doc. 53, Exh. 1, p. 8). Officer Dale then resigned from the police force (Doc. 53, Exh. 1, p. 8).
Based on these facts, Defendants now move the Court for summary judgment on Plaintiff's claims, arguing 1) a municipality cannot be held liable for the intentional torts of its employees (Doc. 38, p. 14), 2) Plaintiff failed to identify an official city policy or custom that caused her injuries as required for Section 1983 liability, (Doc. 38, p. 5), 3) Defendant Dean did not act with deliberate indifference or negligently hire, train, or supervise Officer Dale (Doc. 38, p. 17), and 4) the evidence does not show a history of widespread abuse by Defendant Dean or the City (Doc. 53, p. 10).
SUMMARY JUDGMENT STANDARD
The Court must grant summary judgment "if the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). The trial court's function is not "to weigh the evidence and determine the truth of the matter but to determine whether there is a genuine issue for trial." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc. , 477 U.S. 242, 249 (1986). "The mere existence of some evidence to support the non-moving party is not sufficient for denial of summary judgment; there must be sufficient evidence favoring the nonmoving party for a jury to return a verdict for that party.'" Bailey v. Allgas, Inc. , 284 F.3d 1237, 1243 (11th Cir. 2002) (quoting Anderson , 477 U.S. at 249).
The basic issue before the court on a motion for summary judgment is "whether the evidence presents a sufficient disagreement to require submission to a jury or whether it is so one-sided that one party must prevail as a matter of law." Anderson , 477 U.S. at 251-52. The moving party bears the burden of proving that no genuine issue of material fact exists. O'Ferrell United States, 253 F.3d 1257, 1265 (11th Cir. 2001). In evaluating the argument of the moving party, the court must view all evidence in the light most favorable to the non-moving party, and resolve all reasonable doubts about the facts in its favor. Burton v. City of Belle Glade , 178 F.3d 1175, 1187 (11th Cir. 1999). "If reasonable minds might differ on the inferences arising from undisputed facts, then a court should deny summary judgment." Id . (citations omitted).
Once the movant satisfies his initial burden under Rule 56(a), the non-moving party "must make a sufficient showing to establish the existence of each essential element to that party's case, and on which that party will bear the burden of proof at trial." Howard v. BP Oil Co. , 32 F.3d 520, 524 (11th Cir. 1994) (citing Celotex Corp. v. Catrett , 477 U.S. 317, 324 (1986)). The non-moving party may not rely merely on allegations or denials in its own pleading; rather, its response, "by affidavits or as otherwise provided in [Rule 56], must set forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial." Lujan v. Nat'l Wildlife Fed'n , 497 U.S. 871, 884 (1990). "A mere scintilla' of evidence supporting the [non-moving] party's position will not suffice; there must be enough of a showing that the jury could reasonably find for that party." Walker v. Darby , 911 F.2d 1573, 1577 (11th Cir. 1990) (citation omitted).
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