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McGee v. City of Birmingham

United States District Court, N.D. Alabama, Southern Division

January 17, 2018

JARIUS MCGEE, Plaintiff,
CITY OF BIRMINGHAM, et al., Defendants.



         This case is before the court on Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment. (Doc. # 23). Plaintiff has responded to the summary judgment motion (Docs. # 27 & 28), and the motion is under submission. After careful review, and for the reasons explained below, Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment is due to be granted in part. Defendants are due to be granted summary judgment on Plaintiff's federal-law claims, but Plaintiff's state-law claims are due to be remanded to state court for further proceedings.

         I. Factual Summary and Procedural Background[1]

         On May 9, 2014, officers arrested Plaintiff for a municipal court violation and detained him in the Birmingham City Jail. (Doc. # 27-1). On May 11, 2014, Plaintiff suffered a spider bite while detained in the jail. (Id.). Plaintiff told unidentified jail employees that a poisonous spider had bitten him and that his leg was “visibly swollen and red.” (Id.). Plaintiff asked jail employees to transport him to a hospital, but the employees refused to do so because “they had enough people in the hospital.” (Id.). Plaintiff received an unidentified medication at the jail for the bite, but the medication caused an allergic reaction and did not alleviate Plaintiff's symptoms. (Doc. # 24-3).

         On May 13, 2014, Plaintiff went to a municipal court for a hearing and showed his injury to a municipal court judge. (Doc. # 27-1). That judge ordered Plaintiff's release from the jail at 1:30 to 2:00 p.m. (Id.). Nevertheless, Plaintiff was not released from the jail until the morning of January 14, 2014. (Id.). Thereafter, he obtained medical treatment at St. Vincent's Hospital for cellulitis and a staph infection. (Doc. # 24-3). The costs for Plaintiff's medical care from this incident totaled more than $28, 000. (Doc. # 27-1).

         In September 2014, Plaintiff filed a claim affidavit with the City of Birmingham regarding the treatment of his spider bite. (Doc. # 24-3). He complained that the jail's employees denied him access to hospital care, and he described the conditions he suffered following the spider bite. (Id.).

         In May 2016, Plaintiff filed this suit in the Circuit Court of Jefferson County, Alabama against the current Defendants, A.C. Roper (the City of Birmingham's Chief of Police), and fictitious party defendants. (See Doc. # 1-1). Plaintiff raised claims for assault and battery, negligent supervision, inadequate training, and deliberate indifference. (See Id. at ¶¶ 11-24). Plaintiff brought this action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and Alabama state law, but the Complaint fails to specify which claims are brought under federal law and which are brought under state law. (See generally Doc. # 1-1). Moreover, Plaintiff has not specified whether the § 1983 claims against Defendant Kathie Davis are brought in her official capacity or her individual capacity, although he requests compensatory and punitive damages from her in her individual capacity.[2] (See Id. at p. 6). Defendants removed the suit to this court based on the court's federal question jurisdiction over the § 1983 claims. (See Doc. # 1 at 2). By agreement, the court dismissed Plaintiff's claims against A.C. Roper with prejudice. (See Docs. # 10-11).

         II. Summary Judgment Standard

         Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56, summary judgment is proper “if the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986). The party asking for summary judgment always bears the initial responsibility of informing the court of the basis for its motion and identifying those portions of the pleadings or filings which it believes demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of material fact. Id. at 323. Once the moving party has met its burden, Rule 56 requires the non-moving party to go beyond the pleadings and -- by pointing to affidavits, or depositions, answers to interrogatories, and/or admissions on file -- designate specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial. Id. at 324.

         The substantive law will identify which facts are material and which are irrelevant. See Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986) (“Anderson”). All reasonable doubts about the facts and all justifiable inferences are resolved in favor of the non-movant. See Allen v. Bd. of Pub. Educ. for Bibb Cnty., 495 F.3d 1306, 1314 (11th Cir. 2007); Fitzpatrick v. City of Atlanta, 2 F.3d 1112, 1115 (11th Cir. 1993). A dispute is genuine “if the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party.” Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248. If the evidence is merely colorable, or is not significantly probative, summary judgment may be granted. See Id. at 249.

         When faced with a “properly supported motion for summary judgment, [the non-moving party] must come forward with specific factual evidence, presenting more than mere allegations.” Gargiulo v. G.M. Sales, Inc., 131 F.3d 995, 999 (11th Cir. 1997). As Anderson teaches, under Rule 56(c) a plaintiff may not simply rest on his allegations made in the complaint; instead, as the party bearing the burden of proof at trial, he must come forward with at least some evidence to support each element essential to his case at trial. See Anderson, 477 U.S. at 252. “[A] party opposing a properly supported motion for summary judgment ‘may not rest upon the mere allegations or denials of his pleading, but . . . must set forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial.'” Id. at 248 (citations omitted).

         Summary judgment is mandated “against a party who fails to make a showing sufficient to establish the existence of an element essential to that party's case, and on which that party will bear the burden of proof at trial.” Celotex Corp., 477 U.S. at 322. “Summary judgment may be granted if the non-moving party's evidence is merely colorable or is not significantly probative.” Sawyer v. Sw. Airlines Co., 243 F.Supp.2d 1257, 1262 (D. Kan. 2003) (citing Anderson, 477 U.S. at 250-51).

         “[A]t the summary judgment stage the judge's function is not himself to weigh the evidence and determine the truth of the matter but to determine whether there is a genuine issue for trial.” Anderson, 477 U.S. at 249. “Essentially, the inquiry is ‘whether the evidence presents a sufficient disagreement to require submission to the jury or whether it is so one-sided that one party must prevail as a matter of law.'” Sawyer, 243 F.Supp.2d at 1262 (quoting Anderson, 477 U.S. at 251-52); see also LaRoche v. Denny's, Inc., 62 F.Supp.2d 1366, 1371 (S.D. Fla. 1999) (“The law is clear . . . that suspicion, perception, opinion, and belief cannot be used to defeat a motion for summary judgment.”).

         III. ...

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