United States District Court, M.D. Alabama, Northern Division
RECOMMENDATION OF THE MAGISTRATE JUDGE
STEPHEN M. DOYLE, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Sherman Broadhead [“Broadhead”], an inmate
incarcerated at the Holman Correctional Facility in Atmore,
Alabama, files the instant civil rights action under 42
U.S.C. § 1983 alleging a claim of excessive force during
his incarceration at the Draper Correctional Facility in
Elmore, Alabama. The Complaint is filed against Correctional
Officer Quenten Ratcliffe [“Ratcliffe”].
Plaintiff seeks $300, 000 in damages. (Docs. 1, 1-1).
filed an answer, special report, a supplemental special
report, and supporting evidentiary materials addressing
Broadhead's claim for relief. (Docs, 13, 14, 23). In
these filings, Ratcliffe denies he acted in violation of
Broadhead's constitutional rights. Id. Upon
receipt of Ratcliffe's special report, as supplemented,
the Court issued an order directing Broadhead to file a
response, including sworn affidavits and other evidentiary
materials, and specifically cautioning Broadhead “the
court may at any time thereafter and without notice to the
parties (1) treat the special report, supplemental special
report, and any supporting evidentiary materials as a motion
for summary judgment.” (Doc. 24) at 2.
responded to Ratcliffe's report, as supplemented.
See (Docs. 19, 28). Broadhead, however, did not
submit any sworn statements in support of, or in opposition
to, Ratcliffe's Motion for Summary Judgment, and
therefore he failed to comply with Rule 56(e), Federal
Rules of Civil Procedure. Further, Broadhead did not
comply with 28 U.S.C. § 1746 because he did not attempt
to make an unsworn declaration under penalty of perjury.
Accordingly, neither the allegations in Broadhead's
unsworn brief or statement of facts (Docs. 19, 28) may be
considered as evidence when ruling on the motion for summary
judgment. See McCaskill v. Ray, 279 Fed. App'x.
913, 915 (11th Cir. 2008) (litigant's unsworn allegations
were not admissible on motion for summary judgment where
litigant did not attempt to make the declarations under
penalty of perjury). Broadhead's Complaint (Docs. 1,
1-1), however, was signed under penalty of perjury and is,
therefore, treated by the Court like a sworn affidavit.
Perry v. Thompson, 786 F.2d 1093, 1095 (11th Cir.
1986) (“Where plaintiff has presented specific facts to
the trial court, in sworn form, the court may not make such a
credibility choice nor may it grant summary judgment against
plaintiff on the procedural ground that he did not controvert
the factual affidavits that controverted his sworn factual
statements.”); Sammons v. Taylor, 967 F.2d
1533, 1545 n.5 (11th Cir. 1992) (citing Perry, 786
F.2d at 1095) (“[T]his Court has recognized that facts
alleged in an inmate's sworn pleading are sufficient [to
defeat a properly supported motion for summary judgment] and
that a separate affidavit is not necessary.”). The
Court will therefore consider Broadhead's Complaint in
ruling on the Motion for Summary Judgment. Upon consideration
of the Motion for Summary Judgment, the evidentiary materials
filed in support thereof, and the sworn Complaint, the Court
concludes the Motion for Summary Judgment is due to be
STANDARD OF REVIEW
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) (per curiam); Fed.R.Civ.P. 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 [dispute] of
material fact.” Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477
U.S. 317, 323 (1986). The movant may meet this burden by
presenting evidence indicating there is no dispute of
material fact or by showing the non-moving party has failed
to present evidence to support some element on which it bears
the ultimate burden of proof. Id. at 322-324.
has met his evidentiary burden. Thus, the burden shifts to
Broadhead 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 v. Sarasota White Sox,
Inc., 64 F.3d 590, 593-94 (11th Cir. 1995) (holding
that, once the moving party meets its burden, “the
non-moving party must then go beyond the pleadings, and by
its own affidavits [or sworn statements], or by depositions,
answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, ”
demonstrate there is a genuine dispute of material fact)
(internal quotations 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). A genuine dispute of
material fact exists when the non-moving party produces
evidence that would allow a reasonable fact-finder to return
a verdict in its favor. Greenberg, 498 F.3d at 1263;
Allen v. Bd. of Public Educ., 495 F.3d 1306, 1313
(11th Cir. 2007).
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; see also United States v. Stein, 881
F.3d 853 (11th Cir. 2018) (holding that a plaintiff's
self-serving and uncorroborated, but not conclusory,
statements in an affidavit or deposition may create an issue
of material fact which precludes summary judgment);
Feliciano v. City of Miami Beach, 707 F.3d 1244,
1253 (11th Cir. 2013) (citations omitted) (“To be sure,
[plaintiff's] sworn statements are self-serving, but that
alone does not permit us to disregard them at the summary
judgment stage. . . . ‘Courts routinely and properly
deny summary judgment on the basis of a party's sworn
testimony even though it is self-serving.'”).
However, “[c]onclusory, uncorroborated allegations by a
plaintiff in an affidavit or deposition will not create an
issue of fact for trial sufficient to defeat a well-supported
summary judgment motion.” Solliday v. Fed.
Officers, 413 Fed.Appx. 206, 207 (11th Cir. 2011)
(citing Earley v. Champion Int'l Corp., 907 F.2d
1077, 1081 (11th Cir. 1990)); see also Holifield v.
Reno, 115 F.3d 1555, 1564 n.6 (11th Cir. 1997) (holding
that conclusory allegations based on subjective beliefs are
likewise insufficient to create a genuine dispute of material
factual inferences must be viewed in a light most favorable
to the non-moving party and pro se complaints are
entitled to liberal interpretation by the courts, a pro
se litigant does not escape the burden of establishing
by sufficient evidence a genuine dispute of material fact.
See Beard v. Banks, 548 U.S. 521, 525 (2006);
Brown v. Crawford, 906 F.2d 667, 670 (11th Cir.
1990). Broadhead's pro se status alone does not
compel this Court to disregard elementary principles of
production and proof in a civil case.
Court has undertaken a thorough review of the evidence of
record. In this case, Broadhead, through the submission of
his sworn Complaint, has demonstrated a genuine dispute of
material fact in order to preclude entry of summary judgment
on his excessive force claim against Defendant Ratcliffe.
November 19, 2013, Broadhead was in his assigned cell in
“lock up.” (Docs. 1, 1-1). At approximately 7:25
a.m., Ratcliffe entered Broadhead's cell and punched him
in the face. Id. Officer Lorenzo Mills entered the
cell and pulled Ratcliffe off Broadhead. Id.
Broadhead states “that's when Officer Ratcliffe
started to hit me with his iron stick.” Id.
Ratcliffe struck Broadhead on his left arm causing a serious
injury and also struck him on the back of his head as Officer
Mills escorted him out of the cell. Id. Broadhead
testifies Ratcliffe struck him eight or nine times with his
iron stick “for nothing.” Id. A nurse
conducted a body chart on Broadhead following the incident.
Id. Broadhead states Ratcliffe received a write-up
from Warden John Crow regarding his interaction with
Broadhead on November 19, 2013 and was re-assigned to another
area of Draper. Id.