United States District Court, M.D. Alabama, Northern Division
RECOMMENDATION OF THE MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Russ Walker, United States Magistrate Judge
case is before the court on a 42 U.S.C. § 1983 complaint
filed by Sherman Antwan Broadhead, a state inmate. In this
complaint, Broadhead challenges the constitutionality of
force used against him on March 5, 2014 by officers at the
Draper Correctional Facility during a cell extraction and the
failure to protect him from this use of force. Broadhead
names Sgt. Kendrick Boyd, Sgt. Paul Sanders, Lt. Michael
Winters, Sgt. Curtis Nolen, Sgt. Edmond Cooper, Sgt. Jackie
Pettway and Officer Dan'Terrio Scullock, correctional
officials employed at Draper at the time of the incident, as
defendants. Broadhead seeks monetary damages for the alleged
violations of his constitutional rights and requests that
criminal charges be brought against the defendants for their
actions. Doc. 1 at 4.
defendants filed an answer, special reports and supporting
evidentiary materials, including affidavits, a digital
recording of the cell extraction and certified prison
records, addressing Broadhead's claims for relief. In
these documents, the defendants deny they acted in violation
of Broadhead's constitutional rights. After receipt of
the defendants' special reports, the court issued an
order directing Broadhead to file a response to the reports,
including affidavits or statements made under penalty of
perjury and other evidentiary materials. Doc. 54 at 2. The
order specifically cautioned Broadhead 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] and without further
notice to the parties (1) treat the special report[s] 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. 54 at 3. Defendant filed
a response in opposition to the special reports. See
Docs. 55, 57. Pursuant to the foregoing order, the court
deems it appropriate to treat the defendants' reports as
a motion for summary judgment.
consideration of the defendants' motion for summary
judgment, the evidentiary materials filed in support thereof,
the sworn complaint, the plaintiff's affidavit in
response to the initial special report and his responses in
opposition to the reports, the court concludes that the
defendants' motion for summary judgment is due to be
denied as to the plaintiff's allegations of excessive
force and failure to protect brought against them in their
individual capacities, and granted in all other respects.
SUMMARY JUDGMENT STANDARD
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); Fed.R.Civ.P. Rule 56(a)
(“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.”). 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); Beard v. Banks, 548 U.S.
521, 529 (2006) (holding that court “must examine the
record to see whether the [party moving for summary
judgment], in depositions, answers to interrogatories,
admissions, affidavits and the like, has demonstrated the
absence of a genuine [dispute] of material fact, and his
entitlement to judgment as a matter of law.”) (internal
citations and quotation marks omitted); 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 that the
record lacks evidence to support the nonmoving party's
case or that the nonmoving party would be unable to prove his
case at trial).
the moving party meets its evidentiary burden, the burden
shifts to the plaintiff to establish, with appropriate
evidence beyond the pleadings, that a genuine dispute
material to his case exists. At this juncture, the court
“must determine whether [the plaintiff], who bears the
burden of persuasion has by affidavits or as otherwise
provided in Rule 56 … set forth specific facts showing
that there is a genuine [dispute of material fact] for
trial.” Beard, 521 U.S. at 529 (internal
citations and quotation marks omitted); 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.). 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). A
genuine dispute of material fact exists when a 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).
[This court] recognize[s] that at this stage [it] must draw
“all justifiable inferences in [the plaintiff's]
“favor.” Anderson v. Liberty Lobby,
Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 255, 106 S.Ct. 2505, 91 L.Ed.2d 202
(1986). In doing so, however, we 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. Overton [v. Bazetta, 539 U.S. 126, 132
(2003)]. 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, 548 U.S. at 530.
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; McKeithen v. Jackson, 606 Fed.Appx.
937, 938 (11th Cir. 2015); Ivory v. Warden, 600
Fed.Appx. 670, 675 (2015). Thus, Broadhead's pro
se status alone does not compel this court to disregard
elementary principles of production and proof in a civil
court has undertaken a thorough review of all the evidence
contained in the record, including the DVD submitted by the
defendants. After this review, the court finds that
Broadhead, through the submission of his sworn complaint, the
evidentiary materials submitted in support thereof and his
responses to the defendants' report, has demonstrated a
genuine dispute of material fact in order to preclude entry
of summary judgment on his excessive force and failure to
protect claims brought against the defendants in their
individual capacities. The defendants, however, are entitled
to summary judgment on Broadhead's remaining claims for
extent that Broadhead brings claims against the defendants in
their official capacities and seeks monetary damages, they
are entitled to absolute immunity. Official capacity lawsuits
are “in all respects other than name, … treated
as a suit against the entity.” Kentucky v.
Graham, 473 U.S. 159, 166 (1985).
“[T]he Eleventh Amendment prohibits federal courts from
entertaining suits by private parties against States and
their agencies [or employees].” Alabama v.
Pugh, 438 U.S. 781, 781, 98 S.Ct. 3057, 57 L.Ed.2d 1114
(1978). There are two exceptions to this prohibition: where
the state has waived its immunity or where Congress has
abrogated that immunity. Virginia Office for Prot. &
Advocacy v. Stewart, 563 U.S. 247, 131 S.Ct. 1632,
1637-38, 179 L.Ed.2d 675 (2011). “A State's consent
to suit must be ‘unequivocally expressed' in the
text of [a] relevant statute.” Sossamon v.
Texas, 563 U.S. 277, 131 S.Ct. 1651, 1658, 179 L.Ed.2d
700 (2011) (quoting Pennhurst State Sch. & Hosp. v.
Halderman, 465 U.S. 89, 98, 104 S.Ct. 900, 79 L.Ed.2d 67
(1984)). “Waiver may not be implied.”
Id. Likewise, “Congress' intent to
abrogate the States' immunity from suit must be obvious
from ‘a clear ...