United States District Court, M.D. Alabama, Northern Division
FREDRICO L. ROBINSON, #190306, Plaintiff,
AGGIE BAGGOT, a.k.a. Angie Baggett, and M. HUMPHRY, a.k.a. Melanie Humphrey, Defendants.
RECOMMENDATION OF THE MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Russ Walker United States Magistrate Judge.
U.S.C. § 1983 action is pending before the court on a
complaint filed by Fredrico L. Robinson, a state inmate,
challenging the constitutionality of actions related to his
classification as a restricted offender. Doc. 1 at 2-3.
Robinson names Angie Baggett, the Assistant Director of
Classification for the Alabama Department of Corrections, and
Melanie Humphrey, a Classification Supervisor assigned to
Draper Correctional Facility at the time relevant to the
complaint, as defendants. Robinson seeks a declaratory
judgment, injunctive relief and monetary damages for the
alleged violations of his constitutional rights. Doc. 1 at 4.
defendants filed a special report, supplements thereto and
supporting evidentiary materials addressing the claims for
relief presented by Robinson. In these documents, the
defendants deny violating Robinson's constitutional
rights. The court therefore issued orders directing Robinson
to file responses to the defendants' reports, to include
affidavits, sworn statements or other evidentiary materials.
Doc. 18 at 2; Doc. 24 at 2. These orders cautioned Robinson
that unless “sufficient legal
cause” is shown within fifteen days of entry
of this order “why such action should not be
undertaken, . . . the court may at any time [after
expiration of the time for his filing a response to this
order] and without further notice to the
parties (1) treat the special reports 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. 18 at 3; Doc. 24 at 3.
Robinson filed responses accompanied by supporting
evidentiary materials, including affidavits, to the
defendants' reports. Doc. 20; Doc. 27.
to the above described orders, the court deems it appropriate
to treat the defendants' reports as a motion for summary
judgment. Upon consideration of this motion, the evidentiary
materials filed in support thereof, the complaint and the
responses filed by Robinson, the court concludes that the
defendants' motion for summary judgment is due to be
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 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 the moving party discharges his burden by showing the
record lacks evidence to support the nonmoving party's
case or the nonmoving party would be unable to prove his case
the defendants meet their evidentiary burden, as they have in
this case, the burden shifts to the plaintiff to establish,
with appropriate evidence, 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 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);
Barker v. Norman, 651 F.2d 1107, 1115 (5th Cir. Unit
A 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
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
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 opposing
party's position will not suffice, there must be enough
of a showing that the [trier of fact] could reasonably find
for that party.” 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; 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
[defendants'] motion for summary judgment, and sworn
affidavit attached to that response[.]” Sears v.
Roberts, 922 F.3d 1199, 1206 (11th Cir. 2019);
United States v. Stein, 881 F.3d 853, 857 (11th Cir.
2018) (holding that a plaintiff's purely self-serving and
uncorroborated statements “based on personal knowledge
or observation” set forth in a verified complaint or
affidavit 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
[the court] 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, general, blatantly
contradicted and merely “[c]onclusory, uncorroborated
allegations by a plaintiff in [his verified complaint or] an
affidavit . . . 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.
Chamption Int'l Corp., 907 F.2d 1077, 1081 (11th
Cir. 1990). In addition, conclusory allegations based on
purely subjective beliefs of a plaintiff and assertions of
which he lacks personal knowledge are likewise insufficient
to create a genuine dispute of material fact. See
Holifield v. Reno, 115 F.3d 1555, 1564 n.6 (11th Cir.
1997). In cases where the evidence before the court which is
admissible on its face or which 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 Associates, 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 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)
(citation omitted). “When opposing parties tell two
different stories, one of which is blatantly contradicted by
the record, so that no reasonable jury could believe it, a
court should not adopt that version of the facts for purposes
of ruling on a motion for summary judgment.” Scott
v. Harris, 550 U.S. 372, 380 (2007).
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. 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 review of all the evidence which would be
admissible at trial, the court finds that Robinson has failed
to demonstrate a genuine dispute of material fact in order to
preclude entry of summary judgment in favor of the
requests that the court grant any and all relief available to
him. Doc. 1 at 4. To the extent this request can be construed
to seek monetary damages from the defendants in their
official capacities, they are immune from suit. 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).
“A state official may not be sued in [her] official
capacity unless the state has waived its Eleventh Amendment
immunity, see Pennhurst State School & Hospital v.
Halderman, 465 U.S. 89, 100, 104 S.Ct. 900, 908, 79
L.Ed.2d 67 (1984), or Congress has abrogated the state's
immunity, see Seminole Tribe v. Florida, [517 U.S.
44, 59], 116 S.Ct. 1114, 1125, 134 L.Ed.2d 252 (1996).
Alabama has not waived its Eleventh Amendment immunity,
see Carr v. City of Florence, 916 F.2d 1521, 1525
(11th Cir. 1990) (citations omitted), and Congress has not
abrogated Alabama's immunity. Therefore, Alabama state
officials are immune from claims brought against them in
their official capacities.” Lancaster v. Monroe
County, 116 F.3d 1419, 1429 (11th Cir. 1997).
light of the foregoing, defendants Baggett and Humphrey are
entitled to sovereign immunity under the Eleventh Amendment
for those claims seeking monetary relief from them in their
official capacities. Lancaster, 116 F.3d at 1429;
Jackson v. Georgia Department of Transportation, 16
F.3d 1573, 1575 (11th Cir. 1994); Parker v.
Williams, 862 F.2d 1471 (11th Cir. 1989).
December 29, 1993, a male passenger in a vehicle driven by
the murder victim in Robinson's case “gestured to
two black males, indicating he wished to buy some crack
cocaine.” Doc. 12-1 at 7; Doc. 20-1 at 2. Robinson and
another black male approached the vehicle, at which time the
passenger “asked for a twenty dollar
‘rock'.” Doc. 12-1 at 7; Doc. 20-1 at 2. As
these men approached, “Robinson pulled out a large
revolver and told [the occupants of the automobile, ]
‘this is a robbery give me your twenty dollars and take
your necklace off.'” Doc. 12-1 at 7; Doc. 20-1 at
2. The victim accelerated the vehicle “in an attempt to
get away. Robinson fired two shots at the vehicle, one bullet
struck the right rear quarter panel of [the] vehicle and the
other one went through ...