United States District Court, N.D. Alabama, Middle Division
MEMORANDUM OF OPINION
SCOTT COOGLER UNITED STATES DISTTRICT JUDGE.
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.
Facts and Procedural History
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.)
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.
Standard of Review
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).
Plaintiff's Motion to Amend
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: