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Davis v. Bone

United States District Court, M.D. Alabama, Northern Division

March 26, 2015

SADAKA DAVIS, Plaintiff,
v.
DERRICK BONE, Defendant.

RECOMMENDATION OF THE MAGISTRATE JUDGE

CHARLES S. COODY, Magistrate Judge.

Plaintiff Sadaka Davis brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. ยง 1983, alleging that Defendant Derrick Bone deprived him of due process during an eviction. Before the court is the motion for summary judgment[1] (Doc. 10) filed by Defendant Bone. Having reviewed the motion for summary judgment, together with the pleadings and evidentiary submissions on file, the court concludes that the motion for summary judgment is due to be granted and that this case is due to be dismissed with prejudice.

I. Standard of Review

"Summary judgment is appropriate if the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show there is no genuine [dispute[2] as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.'" Greenberg v. BellSouth Telecomm., Inc., 498 F.3d 1258, 1263 (11th Cir. 2007) (per curiam) (citation omitted); Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a) ("The court shall 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."). The party moving for summary judgment "always bears the initial responsibility of informing the district court of the basis for its motion, and identifying those portions of the [record, including pleadings, discovery materials and affidavits], which it believes demonstrate the absence of a genuine [dispute] of material fact." Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986). The movant may meet this burden by presenting evidence which would be admissible at trial indicating there is no dispute of material fact or by showing that the nonmoving party has failed to present evidence in support of some element of its case on which it bears the ultimate burden of proof. Id. at 322-324.

Once the movant meets his evidentiary burden and demonstrates the absence of a genuine dispute of material fact, the burden shifts to the non-moving party to establish, with appropriate evidence beyond the pleadings, that a genuine dispute material to his case exists. Celotex, 477 U.S. at 324; Clark v. Coats & Clark, Inc., 929 F.2d 604, 608 (11th Cir. 1991); see also Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c) ("A party asserting that a fact cannot be or is genuinely disputed must support the assertion by: (A) citing to particular parts of materials in the record, including depositions, documents, electronically stored information, affidavits or declarations, stipulations (including those made for purposes of the motion only), admissions, interrogatory answers, or other materials; or (B) showing that the materials cited do not establish the absence or presence of a genuine dispute, or that an adverse party cannot produce admissible evidence to support the fact."). A genuine dispute of material fact exists when the nonmoving party produces evidence that would allow a reasonable fact-finder to return a verdict in its favor. Greenberg, 498 F.3d at 1263.

To survive the movant's properly supported motion for summary judgment, a party is required to produce "sufficient [favorable] evidence" "that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248-49 (1986). "If the evidence [on which the nonmoving party relies] is merely colorable... or is not significantly probative... summary judgment may be granted." Id. at 249-250. "A mere scintilla' of evidence supporting the opposing party's position will not suffice; there must be enough of a showing that the [trier of fact] could reasonably find for that party." Walker v. Darby, 911 F.2d 1573, 1576-1577 (11th Cir. 1990) (quoting Anderson, supra ). Conclusory allegations based on subjective beliefs are likewise insufficient to create a genuine dispute of material fact and, therefore, do not suffice to oppose a motion for summary judgment. Waddell v. Valley Forge Dental Assocs., Inc., 276 F.3d 1275, 1279 (11th Cir. 2001). Hence, when a nonmoving party fails to set forth specific facts supported by appropriate evidence sufficient to establish the existence of an element essential to its case and on which the nonmovant will bear the burden of proof at trial, summary judgment is due to be granted in favor of the moving party. Celotex, 477 U.S. at 322 ("[F]ailure of proof concerning an essential element of the nonmoving party's case necessarily renders all other facts immaterial.").

For summary judgment purposes, only disputes involving material facts are relevant. United States v. 5800 SW 74th Ave., 363 F.3d 1099, 1101 (11th Cir. 2004). What is material is determined by the substantive law applicable to the case. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248; Lofton v. Sec'y of Dep't of Children & Family Servs., 358 F.3d 804, 809 (11th Cir. 2004) ("Only factual disputes that are material under the substantive law governing the case will preclude entry of summary judgment."). "The mere existence of some factual dispute will not defeat summary judgment unless that factual dispute is material to an issue affecting the outcome of the case." McCormick v. City of Fort Lauderdale, 333 F.3d 1234, 1243 (11th Cir. 2003) (citation omitted). To demonstrate a genuine dispute of material fact, the party opposing summary judgment "must do more than simply show that there is some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts.... Where the record taken as a whole could not lead a rational trier of fact to find for the nonmoving party, there is no genuine [dispute] for trial.'" Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co, Ltd., v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986). In cases where the evidence before the court which is admissible on its face or which can be reduced to admissible form indicates that there is no genuine dispute of material fact and that the party moving for summary judgment is entitled to it as a matter of law, summary judgment is proper. Celotex, 477 U.S. at 323-324 (summary judgment appropriate where pleadings, evidentiary materials and affidavits before the court show there is no genuine dispute as to a requisite material fact); Waddell, 276 F.3d at 1279 (to establish a genuine dispute of material fact, the nonmoving party must produce evidence such that a reasonable trier of fact could return a verdict in his favor). However, if there is a conflict in the evidence, "the evidence of the non-movant is to be believed, and all justifiable inferences are to be drawn in his favor." Anderson, 477 U.S. at 255; Ruiz de Molina v. Merritt & Furman Ins. Agency, 207 F.3d 1351, 1356 (11th Cir. 2000).

Although factual inferences must be viewed in a light most favorable to the nonmoving party and pro se complaints are entitled to liberal interpretation by the courts, a pro se litigant does not escape the burden of establishing by sufficient evidence a genuine issue of material fact. Beard v. Banks, 548 U.S. 521, 529 (2006); Brown v. Crawford, 906 F.2d 667, 670 (11th Cir. 1990). Thus, the plaintiff's pro se status alone does not mandate this court's disregard of elementary principles of production and proof in a civil case.

II. Facts[3]

On September 29, 2014, Edgar Castleberry filed a complaint in the Chilton County District Court against Sadaka Davis for writ of possession and for writ of unlawful detainer with respect to the house in which Davis and his family were living. (Doc. 11-2). Castleberry alleged that Davis had breached a lease agreement for the property and owed $1, 500 in unpaid rent and late fees. (Doc. 11-2). The complaint was served on September 30, 2014. Castleberry v. Davis, Chilton District Court Case No. DV-2014-900120, Doc. # 7 p. 2.[4]

On October 6, 2014, Davis answered the complaint alleging that he had no "open" lease contract with Castleberry, that he did not "waive [his] right of possession" to the property, and that he did not "waive any of [his] Constitutional or [his] common law rights." (Doc. 11-3). Davis also filed some preprinted forms that appear to have originated from someone in the sovereign citizen movement who makes forms available for use by pro se litigants.[5] On October 15, 2014, Davis filed a motion to dismiss demanding proof of the district court's jurisdiction. Castleberry v. Davis, Chilton District Court Case No. DV-2014-900120, Doc. # 9. In his motion to dismiss, Davis did not deny that he was behind on the rent or in breach of a lease agreement. Id. The district court denied the motion to dismiss. Castleberry v. Davis, Chilton District Court Case No. DV-2014-900120, Doc. # 10.

On October 27, 2014, Davis filed a notice of special appearance again challenging the jurisdiction of the district court and demanding to be paid $500 for lack of compliance with his earlier demand that the court provide him with proof of its jurisdiction. Castleberry v. Davis, Chilton District Court Case No. DV-2014-900120, Doc. # 13. On November 4, 2014, the district court entered the following order:

This matter was called for trial on November 4, 2014. Plaintiff appeared with Counsel. Defendant ...

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