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Roberts v. Malone

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

March 28, 2018

GARY MALONE, et al., Defendants.



         Before the Court is Defendants' Motion for Partial Judgment on the Pleadings. (Doc. 35.) In their Motion, Defendants contend that Counts A and B of Plaintiff Jessie Lee Roberts (“Plaintiff”)'s First Amended Complaint are due to be dismissed for failure to state a claim. On January 2, 2018, the Court ordered the parties to brief the Motion. (Doc. 37.) Plaintiff responded to Defendants' Motion, stating that there were genuine issues of material fact that preclude judgment on the pleadings. He also asked for leave to amend certain “clerical errors” identified in his First Amended Complaint. (See Doc. 38.) For the following reasons, Defendants' Motion for Partial Judgment on the Pleadings is due to be granted.

         I. Facts and Procedural History [[1]]

         On September 11, 2015, there was an inmate riot in the segregation unit D-2 at the St. Clair Correctional facility where Plaintiff was incarcerated. During the riot, certain inmates, not including the Plaintiff, set fires and filled the D-2 unit with smoke. The smoke became thick, and correctional officers approached Plaintiffs' cell and asked whether he would like to “cuff-up” so that Plaintiff could be taken outside of the unit and away from the riot. Plaintiff agreed and allowed himself to be handcuffed by the officers, who then searched Plaintiff and his cell for weapons and matches. Finding nothing, the officers escorted Plaintiff down the DE hallway where Plaintiff was placed in leg restraints before being led into the D-E walk yard with other inmates.

         In the D-E walk yard, Plaintiff was instructed to wait in a certain location. While waiting, Plaintiff observed Defendant Gerald A. McMillian (“Defendant McMillian”) and Defendant Gregory W. Malone (“Defendant Malone”) walk into the yard. Plaintiff alleges Defendant Malone approached Plaintiff and began to beat him with a flashlight. According to Plaintiff, Defendant Malone, while hitting Plaintiff, yelled for him to “get down on the ground now.” (Doc. 14 ¶ 18.) Plaintiff was at this point still cuffed and shackled.

         Plaintiff then alleges that as he fell to the ground, Defendant McMillian began to beat Plaintiff with his officer stick. According to Plaintiff, Warden Karen Carter (“Defendant Carter”) stood and watched Defendants McMillian and Malone beat Plaintiff and other inmates for a time, then stated “alright that's enough get them to the infirmary.” (Id. ¶ 20.) Another officer took Plaintiff to the infirmary, where as a result of the Defendants' alleged strikes Plaintiff received several medical staples in his head to close his wounds.

         Plaintiff thereafter instituted this action on October 22, 2015. (Doc. 1.) Counsel for the Plaintiff appeared on December 29, 2015. (See Doc. 11.) Plaintiff then took no further action at that time and did not serve the Defendants nor amend the original, pro se complaint. Over a year later, the Court directed him to refile an amended complaint and to serve the Defendants. Plaintiff filed his First Amended Complaint on March 25, 2016, and filed certificates of service of the Defendants over five months later on August 31, 2016, showing Defendants had been served on August 24 or 27, 2016. (Docs. 14-18.)

         No further motions practice followed until a telephone conference set by the Court on May 12, 2017. The Court reminded the parties that the case had been pending for almost two years without action. Defendants answered on May 18, 2017, and following the parties 26(f) planning meeting the Court entered a scheduling order which provided a deadline for Plaintiff to add new parties on October 9, 2017, and a deadline for adding causes of action on October 23, 2017. (Doc. 26.)

         Defendants filed the present Motion for Partial Judgment on the Pleadings on December 28, 2017. In the Motion, Defendants argue that Plaintiff's First Amended Complaint fails to state a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the Defendants for a violation of Plaintiff's Fourth Amendment rights and that Defendants are entitled to qualified immunity on those claims.

         II. Standard of Review

         Rule 12(c) provides that “[a]fter the pleadings are closed-but early enough not to delay trial-a party may move for judgment on the pleadings.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(c). “Judgment on the pleadings is appropriate where there are no material facts in dispute and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Perez v. Wells Fargo, N.A., 774 F.3d 1329, 1335 (11th Cir. 2014). “In determining whether a party is entitled to judgment on the pleadings, [the court] accept[s] as true all material facts alleged in the non-moving party's pleading, and . . . view[s] those facts in the light most favorable to the non-moving party.” Id. Courts adjudicate a motion for judgment on the pleadings by the same standard applied to a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim. Hawthorne v. Mac Adjustment, Inc., 140 F.3d 1367, 1370 (11th Cir. 1998).

         III. Plaintiff's Motion to Amend

         Plaintiff originally alleged that Defendants committed § 1983 violations under the Eighth Amendment by use of cruel and unusual punishments, or failed to stop such violations from occurring. (Doc. 1 at 3 “Claim-8th amendment constitutional violation of my right to be free from assault.”). In his First Amended Complaint, Plaintiff changed these allegations to the following:

         CAUSES ...

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