United States District Court, M.D. Alabama, Northern Division
K.J.C., by and through her Guardian and Next Friend, ANN PETTAWAY, Plaintiff,
CITY OF MONTGOMERY, ERNEST N. FINLEY, JR., W.B. GASKIN, and MORRIS LEON WILLIAMS, JR., Defendants.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
L. BRASHER UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
matter comes before the Court on Defendants City of
Montgomery, Ernest N. Finley, Jr., and W.B. Gaskin's
(collectively, “the City”) Motion for Summary
Judgment, (Doc. 48), and on Plaintiff K.J.C.'s Motion to
Stay/Defer Consideration of Defendants' Motion for
Summary Judgment and Extend the Discovery Deadline, (Doc.
54). Because K.J.C. did not oppose the Defendants' motion
for summary judgment, the Court independently investigated
the record to address the merits of the motion. Upon
consideration, K.J.C.'s motion is DENIED and the
City's motion is GRANTED. This case is also set for a
hearing on K.J.C.'s anticipated motion for default
against Defendant Morris Williams.
case began with K.J.C.'s 911 call to report a missing
medical device. An on-duty officer, Defendant Morris
Williams, responded to the call and spoke with K.J.C. and her
husband about the missing medical device until K.J.C.'s
husband left for work. When K.J.C.'s husband returned
later that night, K.J.C. told him that Williams had raped
her. Together, they went to the hospital and then the family
justice center, where it was determined she had been sexually
assaulted and sodomized, suffering trauma to her anal area.
K.J.C. was at the hospital, the Montgomery Police Department
was advised of the situation. Similar to situations involving
other officer misconduct such as fleeing a crash scene or
officer-involved shootings, the City placed the officer on
administrative leave and ordered an investigation. (Doc. 1-4
at 2, 6; Doc. 48-1). This investigation fell on Officer S.B.
Edwards, who was also the officer who responded to the
hospital and then interviewed K.J.C., K.J.C.'s husband,
and Williams. (Doc. 48-2 at 9).
of a criminal inquiry into Williams, Edwards testified under
oath at a probable cause hearing. Edwards recounted her
conversation with K.J.C. at the hospital. Williams
responded to K.J.C.'s 911 call at approximately 1:00 pm.
(Doc. 15-3 at 3). When K.J.C.'s husband returned about
11:00 pm, they decided to call K.J.C.'s mom who told them
to report the assault and seek medical treatment. (Doc. 15-3
at 3). The hospital staff checked K.J.C.'s vitals but did
not perform a rape exam. (Doc. 15-3 at 3). Then at the family
justice center, officials made a preliminary finding that
K.J.C. had suffered “trauma to the anal area.”
(Doc. 15-3 at 3).
speaking with K.J.C., Edwards determined that she had an
intellectual impairment, in part because Edwards would have
to “reword” her questions for K.J.C. to
understand them. (Doc. 15-3 at 3, 8). Neither K.J.C. nor her
husband nor her family could identify K.J.C.'s
intellectual disability. K.J.C. testified that she is just
“a little slow, ” and her family said that she
operates at the level of a 12-year-old. (Doc. 15-3 at 4, 9).
Edwards made further observations about K.J.C.'s
intellectual abilities relevant to her ability to consent:
she believed K.J.C. was the leaseholder for her apartment and
that K.J.C. may have a driver's license. (Doc. 15-3 at
4). However, the judge prevented Edwards from answering
further questions about whether K.J.C. and her husband were
able to consent to sexual relations as a married couple
because it was outside the scope of the probable cause
hearing and counsel had not provided notice of the question.
(Doc. 15-3 at 5).
were differences between K.J.C.'s and Williams'
versions of the incident. Williams claimed that he engaged in
consensual intercourse with K.J.C., and Williams claimed
K.J.C. gave him a condom that she took from a brown paper bag
in her house. (Doc. 15-3 at 4, 8). K.J.C. denied
Williams' version of events and told Edwards that
Williams brought a condom to the encounter. (Doc. 15-3 at
7-8). But, when Edwards went to K.J.C.'s apartment as
part of her investigation, she found a brown bag full of
condoms, “the exact same bag that [Williams] described
… in a dresser drawer; hidden under some
clothes.” (Doc. 15-3 at 8).
on the investigation, the State filed a second-degree felony
sodomy charge against Williams for engaging in “sexual
intercourse with a person who is incapable of consent by
reason of being mentally defective.” Ala. Code §
13A-6-64. After a hearing, the judge found probable cause to
send the case to a grand jury (Doc. 15-3 at 9). But the grand
jury no-billed. (Doc. 48-2 at 22).
the criminal case ended, K.J.C. pursued this civil case
against Williams; the City; Ernest N. Finley, Jr., Chief of
the Montgomery Police Department; and W.B. Gaskin, Bureau
Commander of the Training and Recruiting Division of the
Montgomery Police Department.
Court entered a scheduling order that gave the parties
approximately one year to conduct discovery until April 4,
2019. (Doc. 35).
much happened in the case during the discovery period.
Williams did not appear in the case to defend himself. The
other parties sent each other a series of emails about
various discovery disagreements and misunderstandings. The
City did not include in its initial disclosures Williams'
criminal case file, the indictment documents, or the rape kit
results. (Doc. 55-1). But K.J.C. obtained these materials two
weeks before the close of discovery. (Doc. 54 at 6). The City
acknowledges that its response to K.J.C.'s
interrogatories was delayed, but claims that it was part of a
misunderstanding, not malicious. (Doc. 55 at 3-4). And K.J.C.
did not follow up on the missing answers until three and a
half months after asking the questions. (Doc. 55 at 4).
March 20, 2019, lawyers for the City emailed K.J.C.'s
lawyer, Alicia Haynes, to ask for possible dates to depose
K.J.C. and her guardian by the discovery deadline, April 8.
(Doc. 54 at 39). Haynes responded, “Really, this is
laughable. Do you actually believe that in the next two weeks
I have any time, much less ‘several dates'
available for depositions? 1st available is
July.” (Doc. 54 at 38). The City's counsel
responded, “so glad I could give you a good laugh.
I'm preparing a motion to extend the discovery deadline
to August 1, 2019 based on your assertion that you have no
availability until July. Can I state in the motion you have
no objection?” (Doc. 54 at 37). Haynes responded,
“I assume your motion is not based on my limited
availability when you are first asking for deposition dates
two weeks prior to the cut-off? I need to see your motion
before I sign on. If worded that we both have conflicts I
would be agreeable to a joint motion.” The City
ultimately decided not to file a motion to extend the
discovery deadline or otherwise take the depositions it had
Williams did not make an appearance to defend himself, K.J.C.
filed a motion for default shortly before the discovery
period ended, and the Clerk later entered default against
him. (See Doc. 45; Doc. 50; Doc. 57).
close of discovery, as established by the scheduling order,
the City filed a motion for summary judgment.
one month later, K.J.C. filed a motion to reopen discovery as
an answer to the City's motion for summary judgment.
court will grant summary judgment when there is no genuine
issue of material fact and the moving party is entitled to
judgment as a matter of law. Chapman v. AI
Transport, 229 F.3d 1012, 1023 (11th Cir. 2000) (en
banc). The moving party need not produce evidence disproving
the opponent's claim; instead, the moving party must
demonstrate the absence of any genuine issue of material
fact. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323
(1986). In turn, the nonmoving party must go beyond mere
allegations to offer specific facts showing a genuine issue
for trial exists. Id. at 324. When no genuine issue
of material fact exists, the court determines whether the
moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.
a party fails to properly support an assertion of fact or
fails to properly address another party's assertion of
fact as required by Rule 56(c), 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 ….” Fed.R.Civ.P.
56(e). The Court cannot enter summary judgment based solely
on a motion being unopposed; rather, the Court must consider
the motion's merits. United States v. One Piece of
Real Property Located at 5800 SW 74th Ave., Miami, Fla.,
363 F.3d 1099, 1101 (11th Cir. 2004). In doing so, the Court