United States District Court, M.D. Alabama, Northern Division
RECOMMENDATION OF THE MAGISTRATE JUDGE
M. BORDEN, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
U.S.C. § 1983 action is before the court on a complaint
filed by Michael Ward, a state inmate at the he filed the
complaint on June 28, 2016. In this complaint, Ward alleges
that in September of 2000, upon his return to the custody of
the Alabama Department of Corrections (“ADOC”)
for a probation violation on a 1995 first degree robbery
conviction imposed by the Circuit Court of Jefferson County,
Alabama, Bessemer Division (CC-1995-1205), an unidentified
official in the Central Records Division of the ADOC entered
an improper amount of jail credit for him. Ward complains
that this erroneous entry caused his later incarceration on
the robbery sentence after its expiration on March 9, 2012,
because he was arrested on August 22, 2013 for a violation of
parole granted to him on the 1995 robbery conviction. Ward
also challenges the terms of parole he served for the 1995
robbery conviction beyond the expiration of his sentence for
this offense on March 9, 2012. Ward names Mark Bruton, the
current Director of the Central Records Division for the
ADOC, as the sole defendant in this cause of action. He seeks
monetary damages from the defendant for the alleged violation
of his constitutional rights arising from the erroneous entry
of jail credit in September 2000. Doc. 1 at 4.
defendant filed a special report, supplemental special
reports, and relevant evidentiary materials in support of his
reports, including affidavits and certified copies of
relevant prison records. In these filings, the defendant
denies he had any responsibility for inputting the wrong
amount of jail credit in September of 2000, Doc. 17 at 2-3,
and maintains that the only evidence before the court
establishes that he corrected the error on October 26, 2015
when Ward first brought it to his attention. Doc. 17-1 at 2.
The defendant further asserts that the claims presented in
the complaint are barred by the applicable statute of
limitations. Doc. 17 at 4.
receipt of the defendant's special report and supplements
to the report, the court issued an order directing Ward to
file a response to “the written reports of the
defendant addressing each of the arguments/defenses raised
therein.” Doc. 23 at 1. 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[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. 23 at 3.
Ward filed unsworn responses to these reports on October 19,
2016 and October 28, 2016, Docs. 24 & 25, and an
affidavit in support of the second response. Doc.
25-1. Ward, however, does not address the
statute of limitations defense raised by the defendant and
merely argues his entitlement to relief on his claims.
to the directives of the order described above, the court
deems it appropriate to treat the defendant's special
report and supplements as a motion for summary judgment and
concludes that summary judgment is due to be granted in favor
of the defendant because Ward did not file this case within
two years of the entry of the improper amount of jail credit.
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) (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.”). 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 [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 the moving party has the 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 defendant meets his evidentiary burden, as he has 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)
(“If a party fails to properly support an assertion of
fact or fails to properly address another party's
assertion of fact [by citing to materials in the record
including affidavits, relevant documents or other materials],
the court may . . . grant summary judgment if the motion and
supporting materials-including the facts considered
undisputed-show that the movant is entitled to it[.]”);
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 also will 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); Barker v. Norman, 651 F.2d 1107, 1115 (5th
Cir. 1981) (stating that a verified complaint serves the same
purpose of an affidavit for purposes of summary judgment).
However, “mere 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).
genuine dispute of material fact exists when the nonmoving
party produces evidence that would allow a reasonable
factfinder 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 evidence must be
admissible at trial, and if the nonmoving party's
evidence “is merely colorable . . . or is not
significantly probative . . . summary judgment may be
granted.” Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477
U.S. 242, 249-50 (1986), Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e). “A mere
‘scintilla' of evidence supporting the supporting
party's position will not suffice[.]” Walker v.
Darby, 911 F.2d 1573, 1577 (11th Cir. 1990) (citing
Anderson, 477 U.S. at 252). Only disputes involving
material facts are relevant, and materiality is determined by
the substantive law applicable to the case.
Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248.
demonstrate a genuine dispute of material fact, the party
opposing summary judgment “must do more than simply
show that there is some metaphysical doubt as to the material
facts. . . . Where the record taken as a whole could not lead
a rational trier of fact to find for the nonmoving party,
there is no ‘genuine [dispute] for trial.'”
Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp.,
475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986). “The evidence of the
non-movant is to be believed, and all justifiable inferences
are to be drawn in his favor.” Anderson, 477
U.S. at 255. At the summary judgment stage, this court should
accept as true “statements in [the plaintiff's]
verified complaint, [any] sworn response to the officers'
motion for summary judgment, and sworn affidavit attached to
that response [or other duly submitted affidavit.]”
Sears v. Roberts, 2019 WL 1785355, *3 (11th Cir.
April 24, 2019). In cases where the evidence before the court
that is admissible on its face or that can be reduced to
admissible form indicates there is no genuine dispute of
material fact and the party moving for summary judgment is
entitled to it as a matter of law, summary judgment is
proper. Celotex, 477 U.S. at 323-24; Waddell v.
Valley Forge Dental Assocs., Inc., 276 F.3d 1275, 1279
(11th Cir. 2001) (holding that to establish a genuine dispute
of material fact, the nonmoving party must produce evidence
such that a reasonable trier of fact could return a verdict
in his favor). “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 Ft. 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)
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. Beard, 548 U.S.
at 525. Thus, a plaintiff's pro se status alone
does not compel this court to disregard elementary principles
of production and proof in a civil case. Here, after a
thorough and exhaustive review of all the evidence that would
be admissible at trial, the court finds that Ward has failed
to demonstrate a genuine dispute of material fact in order to
preclude entry of summary judgment in favor of the defendant
because his complaint is barred by the applicable two-year
period of limitations.
began service of the sentence imposed for his 1995 robbery
conviction on December 12, 1995. Doc. 17-1 at 1. He was
released on probation from this sentence on March 17, 1998.
Doc. 17-1 at 1. Due to a violation of his probation, Ward
returned to the custody of the ADOC to continue serving the
robbery sentence on September 14, 2000 “and was
mistakenly given only the new jail credit of 184 days and . .
. [not] the 3 years of credit for pre-time served.”
Doc. 17-1 at 1. This lack of correct jail credit for time
served appeared on his timesheet beginning in September 2000.
Ward was released to parole on August 25, 2008 but returned
to custody on August 22, 2013 for a violation of his parole
on the 1995 robbery conviction due to his commission of a new
burglary offense,  and he “remained in ADOC custody