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 Plaintiff K.J.C.'s
Motion for Default Judgment Against Defendant Morris Leon
Williams, Jr. (Doc. 65). Williams, then a police officer,
answered a call to help Plaintiff K.J.C., but instead he
sexually assaulted her in her own apartment. When K.J.C.
filed suit against him, Williams failed to defend himself, so
the Clerk entered default. Now K.J.C. moves for default
judgment. Upon consideration, K.J.C.'s motion is GRANTED.
evidentiary hearing held on December 18, 2019, K.J.C.
recounted Williams' attack on her. K.J.C., a woman with
an intellectual disability, called 911 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. Williams told
K.J.C.'s husband she “would be in good hands,
” so he left for work. Williams then proceeded to ask
K.J.C. about her sex life with her husband. Williams showed
K.J.C. photos of his penis before exposing himself to her. He
asked her to touch him, but she told him “no.”
Wearing his police uniform, including his weapon, Williams
instructed K.J.C. to take her clothes off. She complied, and
Williams took her to her bedroom where he anally raped her.
K.J.C. told him he was hurting her and told him to stop. When
Williams had finished, he made K.J.C. promise not to tell
anyone. He then left her home and disposed of the condom he
had used to rape K.J.C. at his fiancée's house.
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.
damages caused by Williams' attack were also established
at the evidentiary hearing. After hearing testimony and
receiving evidence, the Court makes the following factual
findings as they pertain to damages:
K.J.C.'s testimony, it is clear that this is a case of
forcible rape. K.J.C. testified that she told Williams,
“no, ” and she did not consent. Based on her
demeanor and appearance, she is clearly intellectually
disabled. Anyone who interacted with her would know that she
is intellectually disabled. And Williams did, in fact, know
that she was intellectually disabled at the time of the rape.
Her testimony is credible that she feels intense shame and
distress from the rape, even years later. She also mistrusts
police, fears being alone, cannot live with or otherwise be
with her husband, and has difficulty relating to her family
and others. She moved to a different state because of her
fear of Williams and suffers intense stress whenever she
returns to Montgomery because she fears that she might see
factual findings are strengthened by the testimony of
K.J.C.'s aunt and grandmother.
Michelle Aaron, K.J.C.'s aunt, testified that K.J.C. was
diagnosed between the ages of two and three with
“severe mental retardation.” Aaron described
K.J.C. since the attack as being “tearful, ”
“embarrassed, ” “terrified, ” and
“afraid” that “some[one] could come back
and hurt her.” After the attack, K.J.C. “moved
immediately” out of the apartment, which was a special
apartment with an on-site nurse to care for the
intellectually disabled. K.J.C. experiences “panic
attacks” and has become “withdrawn” and
“shameful, ” avoiding interaction with her
family. Although K.J.C. is still married to her husband, they
no longer live together because of the terror she experiences
when he leaves for work. K.J.C. remembers her trauma every
time she sees a police officer, which leaves her
“terrified.” K.J.C. has biweekly counseling
because of the rape. In Aaron's opinion, K.J.C.
“will never be the same.”
Pettaway, K.J.C.'s grandmother and former guardian,
testified that Williams' attack has left her
granddaughter feeling “worthless.” K.J.C. has
recurring nightmares about Williams. In the wake of
Williams' attack, K.J.C. has been suicidal, cutting
herself and attempting to overdose on pills. K.J.C. must be
watched around-the-clock. Pettaway testified that her
granddaughter “has not been the same” since the
attack and continues to need mental health counseling.
alleges that Williams violated her constitutional rights,
specifically her right to due process and equal protection
protected by the Fourteenth Amendment and her right to be
safe from unreasonable search and seizure protected by the
Fourth Amendment. She also alleges that Williams committed
state torts, including assault and battery and invasion of
privacy. Because Williams did not make an appearance, the
Clerk entered default against him. K.J.C. then filed a motion
for default judgment, requesting $1, 000, 000 in compensatory
and punitive damages and attorneys' fees. (Doc. 65).
K.J.C. Has Met the Default Judgment Standard Against
judgment is appropriate where the plaintiff has stated a
claim for relief. Chudasama v. Mazda Motor Corp.,
123 F.3d 1353, 1370 n.41 (11th Cir. 1997) (citations omitted)
(“[A] default judgment cannot stand on a complaint that
fails to state a claim”). The Eleventh Circuit has held
that this standard is “akin to that necessary to
survive a motion to dismiss for failure to state a
claim.” Surtain v. Hamlin Terrace Found., 789
F.3d 1239, 1245 (11th Cir. 2015). So, all well-plead factual
allegations, but not legal conclusions, are deemed admitted.
Id. (quoting Cotton v. Mass. Mut. Life Ins.
Co., 402 F.3d 126, 1278 (11th Cir. 2005)). Then, if the
Court determines that the admitted factual allegations state
a legal claim, the Court turns to the issue of damages.
Thompson v. Freedom Patrol, 2009 WL 2525291, at *1
(M.D. Ala. Aug. 17, 2009) (citing Chudasama, 123
F.3d at 1364 n.27).
has stated state-law claims for battery, invasion of privacy,
and outrage. She also has brought a federal claim under
Section 1983. She has ...