United States District Court, S.D. Alabama, Southern Division
ORDER AND MEMORANDUM
V. S. GRANADE SENIOR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
matter is before the Court on Defendants Officers Joshua
Keers and John Rowell's renewed motion for summary
judgment (Docs. 102, 103), Plaintiff's response in
opposition (Doc. 108), and Defendants' reply thereto
(Doc. 111). For the reasons stated below, the Court finds the
Defendants' motion for summary judgment is due to be
Brent Jacoby, at the time relevant to the instant action, was
a pretrial detainee at the Baldwin County Sheriff's
Corrections Center (BCSCC). By April 2012, Plaintiff had
developed a reputation for being “a difficult inmate
who sought to be the center of attention and would regularly
disrupt the orderly running of the BCSCC.” (Doc. 103-1,
p. 2). Based on his disciplinary report and his volatile,
problematic behavior, BCSCC officers and officials used
“extra caution when handling
Jacoby.” Id. at p. 3; see also
April 13, 2012, BSCSS officials removed Plaintiff from his
cell to administrative segregation pending a disciplinary
hearing. (Doc. 103-2, p. 4). Upon realizing that some of his
personal possessions, including a legal book from the
facility's library, had not been transferred to the
segregation cell, Plaintiff became angry and began
“yelling, kicking the door of his cell, and becoming
generally disruptive.” Id. Defendant Rowell
instructed Plaintiff to cease these actions, but Plaintiff
continued his behavior. Id. Defendant Rowell then
informed his supervisor, Staff Sergeant (now Lieutenant) Mark
Wilson, of the incident and received authorization to
“use pepper spray to gain [Plaintiff's]
compliance.” (Doc. 103-1, p. 3). Defendants recorded
the incident on video. (Doc. 103-5).
video shows Defendants, along with a third corrections
officer, standing outside of Plaintiff's cell
door for approximately ten seconds, in which they gave verbal
commands for Plaintiff to lie on the floor. (Doc. 103-5).
Plaintiff failed to comply with the command, and the video
shows he had wrapped his head in a some fabric and was
holding a sheet in front of his body as a protective shield.
Id. at 0:10. After the cell door opened, Defendants
deployed one burst of pepper spray and commanded Plaintiff to
“get on the floor” multiple times. Id.
at 0:12-0:15. Plaintiff failed to comply with these orders,
and Defendant Rowell diffused the pepper spray a second time.
Id. at 0:21. Thereafter, Plaintiff is seen on his
knees and leaning his head against the sheet, which is on the
ground. Id. at 0:28. Defendants placed him in a
supine position and handcuffed his hands behind his back.
Id. at 0:28-0:45. The Defendants led Plaintiff out
of the cell approximately one minute and four seconds after
the recording begins. Id.
being escorted to be decontaminated, Plaintiff began
complaining about his transfer to segregation using foul
language and threatening another lawsuit. (Doc. 103-5 at
1:45). He continued in an aggravated manner and spoke
directly to the camera to report his grievance of being put
in segregation. Id. at 2:17-2:24. During this time,
he made no mention of any pain, discomfort, or other symptom
from the pepper spray. Id. A few seconds later,
Defendants began decontaminating Plaintiff by washing his
head and face with potable water from a sink for
approximately thirty seconds. Id. at 2:35-3:05.
Plaintiff requested water to rinse his mouth, and Defendants
allowed him to take multiple sips from the sink. Id.
at 2:47-2:55. The video shows Defendants rinsed
Plaintiff's face, with particular attention to the eye
area. Id. After washing Plaintiff's head and
face, Defendants continued the decontamination by gently
wiping Plaintiff's face with a paper towel. Id.
at 3:05. More than three minutes after first being sprayed,
Plaintiff had yet to make any complaints about pain or
discomfort. Id. Instead, after being decontaminated,
he resumed his caustic remarks about being “locked
up” in segregation. Id. at 3:10.
Plaintiff was seated in the restraint chair, he lodged two
complaints about his discomfort. He leaned down to wipe his
eyes on his pants leg and then asked to remove his shirt
because it was “soaked from mace.” (Doc. 103-5 at
4:14, 4:33). Over the next thirty or so seconds, he directly
addressed the camera and made the following remarks:
“Leave me like this eight hours. Maced up. Can't
open my eyes.” See Id. at 4:44, 4:55, 5:15.
Throughout this exchange, he yelled, used foul language, and
threatened to sue the officers. Id. at 5:15-5:37.
The video then shows Defendants placing Plaintiff in the
restraints and captures Plaintiff's incoherent yells.
Id. (continuing through the end of the video).
placing Plaintiff in the restraint chair, Defendants ordered
him to be on general observation with fifteen-minute checks.
(Doc. 103-2, p. 5). These checks require an officer on duty
to check on Plaintiff approximately every fifteen minutes to
“document the inmate's condition.” (Doc.
103-1, p. 4). Photographs from these checks indicate
Plaintiff was allowed to remove his “soaked”
shirt and pants after about fifteen or twenty minutes. (Doc.
103-7, pp. 2-5). The photographs and accompanying Close
Observation Forms indicate Plaintiff had access to his meal,
had his contaminated clothing removed, and had the restraints
loosed over time as his demeanor became “calm [and]
compliant[.]” (Docs. 103-6, 103-7, 103-1, p. 4).
initially filed this suit with a verified complaint on May
31, 2012. (Doc. 1). This Court dismissed Defendants Baldwin
County and Sergeant Scott before service of process (Docs.
18, 19) and ordered the remaining defendants to file a
Special Report and Answer (Doc. 20). Thereafter, the Court
converted the Special Report to a motion for summary judgment
(Doc. 69). This Court then entered summary judgment in favor
of all Defendants on all counts after a de novo
review of the Magistrate Judge's Report and
Recommendation. (Doc. 76; see also Doc. 71).
appealed, and the Eleventh Circuit reversed the grant of
summary judgment as to Plaintiff's excessive force claim
against Defendants Officers Rowell and Keers and remanded to
this Court for further proceedings. Jacoby v. Baldwin
Cnty., 666 F. App'x 759, 766 (11th Cir. 2016);
see also Doc. 85. Thereafter, this Court entered a
Rule 16(b) Scheduling Order (Doc. 97), allowing both parties
to submit dispositive motions (Docs. 97, 101).
Summary Judgment Standard
Rule of Civil Procedure 56(a) provides that summary judgment
shall be granted “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 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).
“There mere existence of some evidence to support the
nonmoving party is not sufficient for a 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). “If the evidence is merely colorable, or
is not significantly probative, summary judgment may be
granted.” Anderson, 477 U.S. at 249-50
(internal citations omitted).
basic issue before the Court on a motion for summary judgment
is “whether the evidence presents a sufficient
disagreement to require 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 no genuine issue of material fact
exists. O'Ferrell v. 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 nonmoving 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 could differ on the
inferences arising from undisputed facts, then a court should
deny summary judgment.” Miranda v. B & B
Cash Grocery Store, Inc., 975 F.2d 1518, 1534
(11th Cir. 1992) (citing Mercantile Bank & Trust v.
Fidelity & Deposit Co., 750 F.2d 838, 841 (11th Cir.
the movants satisfies their initial burden under Rule 56(c),
the nonmoving 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
Celotext Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 324
(1986)). Otherwise stated, the nonmovant must
“demonstrate that there is indeed a material issue of
fact that precludes summary judgment.” See Clark v.
Coats & Clark, Inc., 929 F.2d 604, 608 (11th Cir.
1991). The nonmoving party “may not rely merely on
allegations or denials in its own pleadings; rather, its
response must . . . set out specific facts showing a genuine
issue for trial.” Vega v. Invsco Group, Ltd.,
432 F. A'ppx 867, 870 (11th Cir. 2011) (quoting
Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e)(2)). “A mere ‘scintilla'
of evidence supporting the [nonmoving] party's position
will not suffice; there must be enough of a showing that the
jury could reasonable find for that party.” Walker
v. Darby, 911 F.2d 1573, 1577 (11th Cir. 1990) (citation
omitted). “[T]he nonmoving party may avail itself of
all facts and justifiable inferences in the record taken as a
whole.” Tipton v. Bergrohr GMBH-Siegen, 965
F.2d 994, 998 (11th Cir. 1992). “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 issue for
trial.” Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co., Ltd. V. Zenith
Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986) (internal
quotation and citation omitted).