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.

Taylor v. Hughes

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

November 4, 2019

BONNY EDWARD TAYLOR PLAINTIFF
v.
HENRY P. HUGHES, et al. DEFENDANTS

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          KEITH STARRETT UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         The Court grants in part and denies in part Defendants' Motion to Renew [214] their motion for summary judgment on the basis of qualified immunity. The Court grants Defendants' request for the Court to address the question of whether their alleged actions violated clearly established law. But the Court denies the renewed motion for summary judgment as to whether Defendants' alleged actions violated clearly established law.

         A. Background

         Both this Court and the Court of Appeals have discussed the factual background of this case. See Taylor v. Hughes, 920 F.3d 729, 731-32 (11th Cir. 2019); Taylor v. Hughes, No. 2:14-CV-1163-KS-WC, 2017 WL 3836680, at *1-*2 (M.D. Ala. Aug. 31, 2017). On March 6, 2017, Defendants filed a Motion for Summary Judgment [108] on the basis of qualified immunity. Among other things, Defendants argued that Plaintiff could not meet his burden of showing that they had violated clearly established law. The Court granted Defendants' motion but did not address the question of whether Plaintiff had presented sufficient evidence to show that Defendants violated clearly established law. On appeal, the Eleventh Circuit reversed the Court's judgment, but it likewise did not address the question of whether Defendants' alleged actions violated clearly established law.

         Defendants filed a Motion to Renew [214] their motion for summary judgment on the basis of qualified immunity so that the Court can address the issue of whether their alleged actions violated clearly established law. Defendants incorporated and reasserted their previous arguments on the issue. Plaintiff opposes the motion. He argues that this Court is prohibited from addressing the issue by the law-of-the-case doctrine and the mandate rule.

         B. Law-of-the-Case Doctrine

         First, Plaintiff argues that the Court may not address Defendants' argument because it is barred by the law-of-the-case doctrine. The “doctrine of the law of the case precludes courts from revisiting issues that were already decided, ” Cambridge Univ. Press v. Albert, 906 F.3d 1290, 1299 (11th Cir. 2018), either “expressly or by necessary implication.” Winn-Dixie Stores, Inc. v. Dolgencorp, LLC, 881 F.3d 835, 843 (11th Cir. 2018). “In particular, findings of fact and conclusions of law by an appellate court are generally binding in all subsequent proceedings in the same case in the trial court or on a later appeal.” Albert, 906 F.3d at 1299.

         Here, the Court of Appeals did not address the question of whether Defendants' alleged actions violated clearly established law, despite Defendants' raising it in their briefing on appeal. Likewise, the Court of Appeals did not address the issue when it summarily denied Defendants' amended petition for rehearing, despite Defendants' specifically raising the issue. Moreover, the Court of Appeals did not decide the issue by necessary implication. It simply found that the Court erred in its determination that Plaintiff had not presented sufficient evidence to create a genuine dispute of material fact as to whether Defendants violated Taylor's constitutional rights, not whether the facts of this case brought it within the contours of previous Eleventh Circuit case law such that “a reasonable official would understand that what he is doing violates that right.” Washington v. Rivera, 939 F.3d 1239, 1245 (11th Cir. 2019). Therefore, the law-of-the-case doctrine is not applicable.

         C. Mandate Rule

         Plaintiff also argues that the mandate rule prohibits the Court's consideration of this issue. The mandate rule “is nothing more than a specific application of the ‘law of the case' doctrine.” Albert, 906 F.3d at 1299. “[A] district court, when acting under an appellate court's mandate, cannot vary it, or examine it for any other purpose than execution; or give any other or further relief; . . . or intermeddle with it, further than to settle so much as has been remanded.” Id. (punctuation omitted). “The trial court must implement both the letter and the spirit of the mandate, taking into account the appellate court's opinion and the circumstances it embraces.” Id.

         In its opinion, the Court of Appeals merely remanded the case “for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.” Taylor, 920 F.3d at 735. There's nothing in the opinion or the mandate prohibiting this Court from addressing the question of whether Defendants' alleged actions violated clearly established law.

         D. Clearly Established Law

         Defendants argue that Plaintiff can not cite clearly established law holding that their alleged actions violated Taylor's constitutional rights. “The defense of qualified immunity completely protects government officials performing discretionary functions from suit in their individual capacities unless their conduct violates ‘clearly established statutory or constitutional rights of which a reasonable person would have known.'” Marbury v. Warden, 936 F.3d 1227, 1232 (11th Cir. 2019) (quoting Gonzalez v. Reno, 325 F.3d 1228, 1233 (11th Cir. 2003)). “A right is clearly established when the right is ‘sufficiently clear that a reasonable official would understand that what he is doing violates that right.'” Washington, 939 F.3d at 1245 (quoting Anderson v. Creighton, 483 U.S. 635, 640, 107 S.Ct. 3034, 97 L.Ed.2d 523 (1987)).

         Qualified immunity cases are “highly fact-specific and involve an array of circumstances pertinent to just what kind of notice is imputed to a government official and to the constitutional adequacy of the official's acts and omissions.” Goebert v. Lee County, 510 F.3d 1312, 1330 (11th Cir. 2007). “This is not to say that an official action is protected by qualified immunity unless the very action in question has been previously held unlawful, but it is to say that in light of pre-existing law the unlawfulness must be apparent.” Washington, 939 F.3d at 1245. “[O]fficials are not obligated to be creative or imaginative in drawing analogies from previously decided cases, ” and “awareness of the existence of an abstract right . . . does not equate to knowledge that a defendant's conduct infringes that right.” Id. (quoting Coffin v. Brandau, 642 F.3d 999, 1015 (11th Cir. 2011)) (punctuation omitted). The question is “whether the state of the law gave the defendants fair warning that their alleged ...


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.