Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Greer-El v. Ala. Dept. of Corrections

United States District Court, M.D. Alabama, Northern Division

July 6, 2018

JEROME GREER-EL, #185535, a.k.a., Jerome Greer, #185535, Plaintiff,
v.
ALA. DEPT. OF CORRECTIONS, et al., Defendants.

          RECOMMENDATION OF THE MAGISTRATE JUDGE

          Susan Russ Walker United States Magistrate Judge.

         I. INTRODUCTION AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY [1]

         This 42 U.S.C. § 1983 action is pending before the court on a complaint filed by Jerome Greer-El, a state inmate, against the Alabama Department of Corrections, Leon Forniss, Anthony Jones, Hunter Futral, Christopher Arrington and Chauncey Caldwell. In this cause of action, Greer-El alleges that defendants Arrington and Caldwell used excessive force against him on June 2, 2014 at the Staton Correctional Facility. Doc. 1 at 5. He further complains that defendants Forniss, Jones and Futral failed to protect him from the force used by Arrington and Caldwell. Doc. 1 at 6-7, 9. Finally, Greer-El asserts that the actions of these officers resulted from the failure of defendant Forniss to train and supervise his staff adequately. Doc. 1 at 7. Greer-El seeks issuance of a declaratory judgment, injunctive relief and monetary damages for the alleged violations of his constitutional rights. Doc. 1 at 8.

         The defendants filed a special report, supplemental special report and relevant evidentiary materials addressing the claims for relief raised by Greer-El. In these filings, the defendants deny they violated Greer-El's constitutional rights. The defendants further assert they are entitled to summary judgment as res judicata bars Greer-El from litigating his claims before this court because of a prior judgment entered on these same claims by the Circuit Court of Montgomery County, Alabama in favor of all the defendants named in this case and other additional defendants in Greer v. Corrections Dept. State of Alabama, et al., No. CV-2015-259-GOG, Circuit Court of Montgomery County, Alabama (Mar. 8, 2016). Doc. 45 at 1-5.

         After reviewing the defendants' initial special report, Doc. 17, the court issued an order on July 30, 2015 directing Greer-El to file a response, supported by affidavits or statements made under penalty of perjury and other evidentiary materials, to each of the arguments set forth by the defendants in their report. Doc. 18 at 1-2. The order specifically cautioned that “unless within fifteen (15) days from the date of this order a party … presents sufficient legal cause why such action should not be undertaken … the court may at any time [after expiration of the time for the plaintiff filing a response to this order] and without further notice to the parties (1) treat the special report and any supporting evidentiary materials as a motion for summary judgment and (2) after considering any response as allowed by this order, rule on the motion for summary judgment in accordance with the law.” Doc. 18 at 2-3. On August 11, 2015, the defendants supplemented their special report with a signed declaration from defendant Arrington. Doc. 19-1. Greer-El filed a response to the defendants' reports on September 10, 2015. Doc. 24. The court required submission of an additional special report from the defendants, Doc. 44, and the defendants filed the requisite supplemental special report on February 5, 2018. Doc. 45. Upon receipt of the supplemental special report, the court provided Greer-El an opportunity to file a response to this report. Doc. 48. Greer-El filed a response to this order on February 20, 2018. Doc. 50.

         In this response, Greer-El argues that the order entered on June 30, 2015 denying the defendants leave to file a motion to dismiss based on abatement forecloses their res judicata defense. Doc. 50 at 2. Greer-El further alleges that in the aforementioned order this court determined that he had dismissed his state case prior to any ruling by the state court on his claims. Doc. 50 at 2. These arguments are without factual basis and refuted by the record. Denying the defendants leave to file a motion to dismiss based on abatement during the early stages of this case in no way precluded their ability to raise the bar of res judicata later on. In addition, contrary to Greer-El's allegation, the order at issue did not find that Greer-El had dismissed his state case. Instead, the order merely noted that Greer-El stated “he would ‘elect to have the state claim dismissed' so that he may proceed before this court on his claims.” Doc. 15 at 1 (citation to record omitted). The order therefore advised Greer-El “that if he seeks to dismiss his state civil action he should file an appropriate motion with [the] Circuit Court of Montgomery County, Alabama.” Doc. 15 at 2.

         A review of the record of the state court proceedings demonstrates that Greer-El did not file a motion to dismiss his state case.[2] The state record further shows that on March 8, 2016 the trial court granted the defendants' motion for summary judgment and “entered [judgment] in favor of Defendants on all claims.” Doc. 45-3 at 1-2.[3] Finally, at the time this court entered the June 30, 2015 order, the record did not contain a copy of the actual complaint filed by Greer-El in the state civil action. Instead, the exhibit filed by Greer-El in support of his motion to strike the defendants' motion for leave to file a dispositive motion, Doc. 14-1, which Greer-El indicated represented the complaint filed in the Circuit Court of Montgomery County, Alabama in No. CV-2015-259, is not a copy of the complaint filed in that case. The actual complaint filed in the state case is contained in Doc. 45-1 at 1-7. Thus, the finding by this court in the June 30, 2015 order “that . . . [Greer-El's] state complaint requests relief solely provided by state law[, ]” Doc. 15 at 1, a finding based on the contents of the complaint submitted by Greer-El in opposition to the defendants' motion for leave to file a dispositive motion and erroneously identified by Greer-El as the actual state complaint, is contradicted by the record now before the court. Specifically, the current record before the court demonstrates that the complaint filed by Greer-El in the state civil action presents claims for relief under state law and concomitant claims alleging violations of Greer-El's federal constitutional rights, all arising from the force used against him on June 2, 2014. Doc. 45-1 at 1-7. Thus, the arguments presented by Greer-El in response to the defendants' assertion of res judicata as a bar to this court's review of his claims entitle him to no relief from the preclusive effect of res judicata.

         Pursuant to the orders entered in this case, the court now treats the defendants' reports collectively as a motion for summary judgment and concludes that summary judgment is due to be granted in favor of the defendants.

         II. SUMMARY JUDGMENT STANDARD

         “Summary judgment is appropriate if the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show there is no genuine [dispute] as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Greenberg v. BellSouth Telecomm., Inc., 498 F.3d 1258, 1263 (11th Cir. 2007) (internal quotation marks omitted); Rule 56(a), Fed.R.Civ.P. (“The 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.”).[4] The party moving for summary judgment “always bears the initial responsibility of informing the district court of the basis for its motion, and identifying those portions of the [record, including pleadings, discovery materials and affidavits], which it believes demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue [dispute] of material fact.” Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986); Jeffery v. Sarasota White Sox, Inc., 64 F.3d 590, 593 (11th Cir. 1995) (holding that moving party has initial burden of showing there is no genuine dispute of material fact for trial). The movant may meet this burden by presenting evidence indicating there is no dispute of material fact or by showing that the nonmoving party has failed to present appropriate evidence in support of some element of its case on which it bears the ultimate burden of proof. Celotex, 477 U.S. at 322-24; Moton v. Cowart, 631 F.3d 1337, 1341 (11th Cir. 2011) (holding that moving party discharges his burden by showing the record lacks evidence to support the nonmoving party's case or the nonmoving party would be unable to prove his case at trial).

         When the defendants meet their evidentiary burden, as they have in this case, the burden shifts to the plaintiff to establish, with appropriate evidence beyond the pleadings, that a genuine dispute material to his case exists. Clark v. Coats & Clark, Inc., 929 F.2d 604, 608 (11th Cir. 1991); Celotex, 477 U.S. at 324; Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e)(3); Jeffery, 64 F.3d at 593-94 (holding that, once a moving party meets its burden, “the non-moving party must then go beyond the pleadings, and by its own affidavits [or statements made under penalty of perjury], or by depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, ” demonstrate that there is a genuine dispute of material fact). In civil actions filed by inmates, federal courts “must distinguish between evidence of disputed facts and disputed matters of professional judgment. In respect to the latter, our inferences must accord deference to the views of prison authorities. Unless a prisoner can point to sufficient evidence regarding such issues of judgment to allow him to prevail on the merits, he cannot prevail at the summary judgment stage.” Beard v. Banks, 548 U.S. 521, 530 (2006) (internal citation omitted). This court will also consider “specific facts” pled in a plaintiff's sworn complaint when considering his opposition to summary judgment. Caldwell v. Warden, FCI Talladega, 748 F.3d 1090, 1098 (11th Cir. 2014). “[M]ere conclusions and unsupported factual allegations are legally insufficient to defeat a summary judgment motion.” Ellis v. England, 432 F.3d 1321, 1326 (11th Cir. 2005). A genuine dispute of material fact exists when the nonmoving party produces evidence that would allow a reasonable fact-finder to return a verdict in its favor such that summary judgment is not warranted. Greenberg, 498 F.3d at 1263; Allen v. Bd. of Pub. Educ. for Bibb Cnty., 495 F.3d 1306, 1313 (11th Cir. 2007). “The mere existence of some factual dispute will not defeat summary judgment unless that factual dispute is material to an issue affecting the outcome of the case.” McCormick v. City of Fort Lauderdale, 333 F.3d 1234, 1243 (11th Cir. 2003) (citation omitted). “[T]here must exist a conflict in substantial evidence to pose a jury question.” Hall v. Sunjoy Indus. Group, Inc., 764 F.Supp.2d 1297, 1301 (M.D. Fla. 2011) (citation omitted). “When opposing parties tell two different stories, one of which is blatantly contradicted by the record, so that no reasonable jury could believe it, a court should not adopt that version of the facts for purposes of ruling on a motion for summary judgment.” Scott v. Harris, 550 U.S. 372, 380 (2007).

         Although factual inferences must be viewed in a light most favorable to the plaintiff and pro se complaints are entitled to liberal interpretation, a pro se litigant does not escape the burden of establishing by sufficient evidence a genuine dispute of material fact. See Beard, 548 U.S. at 525; Brown v. Crawford, 906 F.2d 667, 670 (11th Cir. 1990). Thus, Greer-El's pro se status alone does not compel this court to disregard elementary principles of production and proof in a civil case.

         The court has undertaken a thorough review of all the evidence contained in the record. After this review, the court finds that Greer-El has failed to demonstrate a genuine dispute of material fact in order to preclude entry of summary judgment in favor of the defendants based on res judicata.

         III. ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.