United States District Court, N.D. Alabama, Northwestern Division
MAGISTRATE JUDGE'S REPORT AND
H. ENGLAND, III UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
plaintiff filed a pro se complaint pursuant to 42
U.S.C. § 1983, alleging violations of his civil rights.
(Doc. 1). The plaintiff names the following defendants in the
complaint: Sergeant Tim Ray of the Lauderdale County
Sheriff's Department; Dr. Laura Lindsey and Nurse Myra
Brown of the Lauderdale County Detention Center medical
staff. (Id. at 3). The plaintiff seeks compensatory
damages and injunctive relief. (Id. at 4). In
accordance with the usual practices of this court and 28
U.S.C. § 636(b)(1), the complaint was referred to the
undersigned magistrate judge for a preliminary report and
recommendation. See McCarthy v. Bronson, 500 U.S.
January 17, 2017, the undersigned entered an Order for
Special Report, directing the Clerk to forward copies of the
complaint to each of the named defendants and directing the
defendants to file a special report addressing the
plaintiff's factual allegations. (Doc. 8). The
undersigned advised the defendants that the special report
could be submitted under oath or accompanied by affidavits
and, if appropriate, the court would consider it as a motion
for summary judgment filed pursuant to Rule 56 of the Federal
Rules of Civil Procedure. (Id.).
March 14, 2017, defendant Tim Ray filed a special report,
supplemented by affidavits, a video purporting to be of the
incident made the basis of the plaintiff's claims, and
other evidence. (Docs. 24 & 25). Defendants Dr. Lindsey
and Nurse Brown (the “medical defendants”) filed
their special report on May 1, 2017. (Doc. 32). In response
to the medical defendants' special report, the plaintiff
filed a pleading titled “Motion to Enter Evidence,
” wherein he sought to submit certain documents he
contends “show proof of diabetes before [his] date of
incarceration.” (Doc. 33). By order entered May 17,
2017, the undersigned allowed the plaintiff to submit the
documents, but made no ruling as to the relevancy or
admissibility of the documents. (Doc. 34).
May 17, 2017, the undersigned notified the parties that the
court would construe the special reports collectively as a
motion for summary judgment and notified the plaintiff that
he had twenty-one days to respond to the motion by filing
affidavits or other material. (Doc. 35). The undersigned also
advised the plaintiff of the consequences of any default or
failure to comply with Fed.R.Civ.P. 56. (Id.)
(citing Griffith v. Wainwright, 772 F.2d 822, 825
(11th Cir. 1985)). On June 9, 2017, the plaintiff filed an
unsworn response to the motion for summary judgment (doc.
41), and on October 2, 2017, he submitted a pleading titled
“Motion for Summary Judgment.” (Doc. 42).
Standard of Review
the court has construed the defendants' special reports
as a motion for summary judgment, Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 56 governs the resolution of the motion. Under Rule
56(a), summary judgment is proper “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.”
In making that assessment, the court must view the evidence
in a light most favorable to the non-moving party and must
draw all reasonable inferences against the moving party.
Chapman v. AI Transport, 229 F.3d 1012, 1023 (11th
Cir. 2000). The burden of proof is upon the moving party to
establish his prima facie entitlement to summary judgment by
showing the absence of genuine issues of material fact and
that he is due to prevail as a matter of law. See Clark
v. Coats & Clark, Inc., 929 F.2d 604, 608 (11th Cir.
1991). Unless the plaintiff, who carries the ultimate burden
of proving his action, is able to show some evidence with
respect to each element of his claim, all other issues of
fact become immaterial, and the moving party is entitled to
judgment as a matter of law. See Celotex Corp.
v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322-23 (1986); Bennett v.
Parker, 898 F.2d 1530, 1532-33 (11th Cir. 1990). As the
Eleventh Circuit has explained:
Facts in dispute cease to be “material” facts
when the plaintiff fails to establish a prima facie case.
“In such a situation, there can be ‘no genuine
issue as to any material fact, ' since a complete failure
of proof concerning an essential element of the non-moving
party's case necessarily renders all other facts
immaterial.” [citations omitted]. Thus, under such
circumstances, the public official is entitled to judgment as
a matter of law, because the plaintiff has failed to carry
the burden of proof. This rule facilitates the dismissal of
factually unsupported claims prior to trial.
Bennett, 898 F.2d at 1532.
any “specific facts” pled in a pro se
plaintiff's sworn complaint must be considered in
opposition to summary judgment. See Caldwell v. Warden,
FCI Talladega, 748 F.3d 1090, 1098 (11th Cir. 2014)
(citing Perry v. Thompson, 786 F.2d 1093, 1095 (11th
because the plaintiff is pro se, the court must
construe the complaint more liberally than it would pleadings
drafted by lawyers. Hughes v. Rowe, 449 U.S. 5, 9
(1980). “Pro se pleading are held to a less
stringent standard than pleadings drafted by attorneys and
will, therefore, be liberally construed.” Boxer X
v. Harris, 437 F.3d 1107, 1110 (11th Cir. 2006).
Summary Judgment Facts
evening of February 17, 2016, the plaintiff led law
enforcement officers on a highspeed chase through Alabama and
Tennessee. (Doc. 24-2 at 2, ¶ 3). The chase began in
Alabama, when the plaintiff failed to stop for Alabama State
Troopers on Lauderdale County Road 8. (Id. at 3,
¶ 5). After being notified of the incident, defendant
Sergeant Tim Ray of the Lauderdale County Sheriff's
Office joined in the pursuit on County Roads 7 and 139, and
continued to chase the plaintiff as he crossed into
Tennessee. (Id. at 3, ¶¶ 6-7). The
plaintiff eventually turned south onto the Natchez Trace
Parkway and crossed back into Alabama, at which point spike
strips were placed in his path, damaging his front tires.
(Id. at 3, ¶¶ 8-10). The plaintiff rammed
a State Trooper's vehicle “multiple times”
until a “pit maneuver” by another State Trooper
ended the chase. (Id. at 3, ¶ 11-12).
plaintiff's vehicle came to a stop with the back half
hanging off the side of a hill, and when defendant Sergeant
Ray and other officers went to arrest the plaintiff, they all
(including the plaintiff) fell down the embankment. (Doc.
24-2 at 5, ¶¶ 13-14) A video of the incident, although
at times difficult to see, appears to confirm that the
plaintiff and officers rolled down an embankment, and that
the plaintiff complained immediately about having a broken
leg. (Doc. 24-3). During the initial struggle to apprehend
the plaintiff the video is too dark to see the events taking
place, but there is no audio evidence of the plaintiff being
“assaulted” by the officers. Instead, it appears
they are attempting to gain control of the plaintiff's
arms to apply handcuffs, and all physical force ceases within
approximately one-hundred and fifteen seconds. (Id.
at 2:45 to 4:40 (video minutes)).
plaintiff was taken by ambulance to the Eliza Coffee Memorial
Hospital Emergency Room, accompanied by a State Trooper,
where it was observed he had “multiple facial abrasions
and contusions, ” swelling and tenderness to his nose
and forehead, and where x-rays revealed he had suffered a
“minimally displaced tibial plateau fracture of his
left knee.” (Docs. 32-1 at 5, ¶ 13; 32-4 at
The hospital provided him pain medication, a brace, and
crutches. (Doc. 32-1 at 5, ¶ 13). The plaintiff was
taken to North Alabama Bone and Joint on February 19, 2016,
where he was examined by Dr. Jonathan Wright, who, after
reviewing the emergency room x-rays, determined the fracture