United States District Court, M.D. Alabama, Eastern Division
MARY LEE DAVIS, as Administrator of the Estate of Fletcher Ray Stewart, deceased, Plaintiff,
BRYAN EDWARDS, et al., Defendants.
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
A. BAKER, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
Mary Lee Davis, as administrator of the Estate of Fletcher
Ray Stewart, alleges constitutional violations and a state
law wrongful death claim against Defendants, Bryan Edwards,
Rico Hardnett, Christopher Fenn, and the City of Dadeville in
connection with an alleged unlawful
Terrystop and seizure which resulted in the
fatal shooting of Fletcher Ray Stewart.
the Court are cross motions for summary judgment. (Docs. 89,
97, 107, 129). The parties have been afforded an opportunity
to fully brief the matters, and the court heard argument on
February 6, 2017. For the reasons stated herein, it is the
RECOMMENDATION of the undersigned that the
Plaintiff's Motions for Partial Summary Judgment (Docs.
89, 97) be denied; Defendants' Motion
for Summary Judgment (Doc. 129) be granted
as to counts I, II, III, and VII, and denied as
moot as to counts V and VI; and Defendant Bryan
Edwards' Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. 107) be
granted in part as to Plaintiff's claim
of an unlawful arrest in count II, and i n all ot her r
espects, it is recommended Bryan Edwards' motion for
summary judgment be denied.
matter jurisdiction is conferred by 28 U.S.C. § 1343(3)
as to Plaintiff's federal causes of action, and the court
has supplemental jurisdiction over state law claims pursuant
to 28 U.S.C. § 1367(a). The parties do not contest
personal jurisdiction or venue, and the court finds
sufficient information of record to support both.
See 28 U.S.C. § 1391. On January 5, 2017, this
matter was referred to the undersigned by the Honorable Clay
D. Land for disposition or recommendation on all pretrial
matters. (Doc. 35); see also 28 U.S.C. §
636(b); Rule 72, Fed. R. Civ. P.; United States v.
Raddatz, 447 U.S. 667 (1980); Jeffrey S. v. State
Bd. of Educ. of State of Georgia, 896 F.2d 507 (11th
STANDARD OF REVIEW
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.”
Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). In ruling on a motion for summary
judgment, the Court construes the facts and all reasonable
inferences therefrom in the light most favorable to the
nonmoving party. Reeves v. Sanderson Plumbing Prods.,
Inc., 530 U.S. 133, 150 (2000). However, when faced with
a “properly supported motion for summary judgment, [the
nonmoving 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).
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. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986).
“Summary judgment may be granted if the non-moving
party's evidence is merely colorable or is not
significantly probative.” Sawyer v. Southwest
Airlines Co., 243 F.Supp.2d 1257, 1262 (D. Kan. 2003)
(citing Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S.
242, 250-51 (1986)).
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 1263 (quoting
Anderson, 477 U.S. at 251-52).
PROCEDURAL AND FACTUAL BACKGROUND
Mary Lee Davis (“Davis”) is the niece and
appointed administrator of the Estate of Fletcher Ray
Stewart, deceased (“Stewart”). (Doc. 27, ¶
4). She initiated this action in October 2016 against
numerous Defendants alleging constitutional violations and
state law claims. (Doc. 1). Davis sought and was granted
leave to amend her complaint. (Docs. 25, 26). The First
Amended Complaint is the operative complaint. (Doc. 27).
Counts IV, V, VI, VIII, and part of VII of the Amended
Complaint have been dismissed. (Doc. 142). The Defendants
that remain are Bryan Edwards (“Edwards”), Rico
Hardnett (“Hardnett”), Christopher Fenn
(“Fenn”), and the City of Dadeville. Counts I,
II, and III of the First Amended Complaint assert claims for
constitutional violations against Edwards, Hardnett, and Fenn
for liability pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. (Doc. 27).
Count I alleges these Defendants conducted an unlawful
Terry stop in violation of the Fourth Amendment.
Id., ¶¶ 34-37. Count II alleges these
Defendants are liable for an unlawful seizure or arrest.
Id., ¶¶ 38-41. Count III claims Edwards,
Hardnett, and Fenn used unlawful and excessive force.
Id., ¶¶ 42-45.
claims remaining in Count VII seek to hold Hardnett, Fenn,
and the City of Dadeville liable for non-negligent state law
claims of wrongful death under Ala. Code §6-5-410
(1975). Id., ¶¶ 72-74. These claims were
dismissed without prejudice, but Plaintiff was given the
opportunity to amend. (Doc. 142 at 2). If she chose to amend
her wrongful death claims against these Defendants, Davis was
to file her amended pleading no later than January 15, 2018.
See (Doc. 150). No amended pleading was filed.
February 11, 2015, Stewart's nephew, Bennie Welch, saw
Stewart walking alone on Booger Hollow Road at approximately
11:30 a.m. (Doc. 109-5, ¶ 3). According to Welch,
Stewart was angry and said he was going home to get his gun.
Id. About fifteen minutes later, he saw Stewart on
Booger Hollow Road with “what appeared to be a 9 mm or
40 caliber pistol.” Id., ¶ 4. Because he
was concerned that Stewart might hurt someone, Welch called
911 to report Stewart's actions. Id., ¶ 5.
When Welch was driving home, he saw Stewart again waving the
pistol. Id. When Welch arrived home, he heard six
gunshots. Id. Stanley Cameron was with Welch at the
time and provided an affidavit filed by Edwards which is
consistent with Welch's statement. (Doc. 109-6).
excerpts of the 911 call by Welch consisted of the following
911 Operator: Tallapoosa 911. Where's your emergency?
Welch: It's on Booger Hollow Road.
911 Operator: Where at on Booger Hollow Road, sir?
Welch: Yes, ma'am. My Uncle Fletcher. He just -you know
Fletcher Ray-- don't you- Stewart?
911 Operator: Yes, sir.
Welch: Okay. Well, he just - he just walked past us, and
he's rasing [sic] all kind of Cain, and he's got a
pistol in his pocket.
Male Speaker: He flashed it. I seen it.
Welch: Yeah. He showed it -you know, pulled it out when he
walked by. You hear me?
911 Operator: Yes, sir. I'm listening. What's the
address that you're at?
Welch: What's this address? 78 Hollow Springs Road.
911 Operator: Okay. I'm not showing a 78 Hollow Springs
Road. Oh, here it is. All right. And what's your name,
Welch: My name is Benny Welch.
911 Operator: All right. So we'll send someone out there.
Welch: Okay. I don't want to see him get hurt or nothing.
You know what I'm saying?
911 Operator: Yeah, I understand. When was the last time you
Welch: A couple of days ago. He was fine then.
911 Operator: When was the last time you saw him holding the
Welch: I just now seen him. He's walking down ...