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Picardat v. City of Miami

United States District Court, S.D. Florida

April 5, 2017

DALE L. PICARDAT, JR., Plaintiff,
CITY OF MIAMI, et al., Defendants.



         THIS CAUSE comes before the Court on the Motion for Final Summary Judgment [ECF No. 76] filed by Defendants City of Miami (the “City”) and three City police officers: Tashara Alleyne, John Askew, and Daniel Mogro (collectively, the “Officers”). In this action, Plaintiff Dale L. Picardat, Jr., who proceeds in this action pro se, brings claims against the Defendants[1]alleging unreasonable seizure, false arrest, excessive force, failure to intervene, unreasonable vehicle search and seizure, and failure to train, all in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1983, arising from a traffic stop and subsequent arrest that took place on October 27, 2013. The Court has reviewed the parties' briefs, the record in this case, and the applicable law and is otherwise fully advised in the premises.[2]For the reasons that follow, the Defendants' motion shall be granted.


         Summary judgment, pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(a), “is appropriate only if the movant shows that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Tolan v. Cotton, 572 U.S. -, -, 134 S.Ct. 1861, 1866 (2014) (per curiam) (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a)) (internal quotation marks omitted); see also Alabama v. North Carolina, 560 U.S. 330, 344 (2010). “By its very terms, this standard provides that the mere existence of some alleged factual dispute between the parties will not defeat an otherwise properly supported motion for summary judgment; the requirement is that there be no genuine issue of material fact.” Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 247-48 (1986).

         An issue is “genuine” when a reasonable trier of fact, viewing all of the record evidence, could rationally find in favor of the nonmoving party in light of his burden of proof. Harrison v. Culliver, 746 F.3d 1288, 1298 (11th Cir. 2014). And a fact is “material” if, “under the applicable substantive law, it might affect the outcome of the case.” Hickson Corp. v. N. Crossarm Co., 357 F.3d 1256, 1259-60 (11th Cir. 2004) (citations and internal quotation marks omitted). “Where the material facts are undisputed and all that remains are questions of law, summary judgment may be granted.” Eternal Word Television Network, Inc. v. Sec'y of U.S. Dep't of Health & Human Servs., 818 F.3d 1122, 1138 (11th Cir. 2016).

         The Court must construe the evidence in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party and draw all reasonable inferences in that party's favor. SEC v. Monterosso, 756 F.3d 1326, 1333 (11th Cir. 2014). However, to prevail on a motion for summary judgment, “the nonmoving party must offer more than a mere scintilla of evidence for its position; indeed, the nonmoving party must make a showing sufficient to permit the jury to reasonably find on its behalf.” Urquilla-Diaz v. Kaplan Univ., 780 F.3d 1039, 1050 (11th Cir. 2015). Although pro se filings must be liberally construed, Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007), “a pro se litigant does not escape the essential burden under summary judgment standards of establishing that there is a genuine issue as to a fact material to his case in order to avert summary judgment, ” Brown v. Crawford, 906 F.2d 667, 670 (11th Cir. 1990).

         Before proceeding further, the Court instructs that it “places great emphasis upon, and implores the parties to be mindful of, the fact that local rules have ‘the force of law.'” State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co. v. B&A Diagnostic, Inc., 145 F.Supp.3d 1154, 1158 (S.D. Fla. 2015) (quoting Hollingsworth v. Perry, 558 U.S. 183, 191 (2010)). Southern District of Florida Local Rule 56.1 requires that “[a] motion for summary judgment and the opposition thereto shall be accompanied by a statement of material facts as to which it is contended that there does not exist a genuine issue to be tried or there does exist a genuine issue to be tried, respectively, ” S.D. Fla. L.R. 56.1(a). Both the statement and the opposition shall, inter alia, “[b]e supported by specific references to pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, admissions, and affidavits on file with the Court.” Id. R. 56.1(a)(2). Local Rule 56.1(b), which governs the effect of a nonmovant's failure to controvert a movant's statement of undisputed facts, provides: “All material facts set forth in the movant's statement filed and supported as required above will be deemed admitted unless controverted by the opposing party's statement, provided that the Court finds that the movant's statement is supported by evidence in the record.” Id. R. 56.1(b) (emphasis added). This rule “serves a vital purpose in ‘help[ing] the court identify and organize the issues in the case.'” B&A Diagnostic, 145 F.Supp.3d at 1158 (quoting Mann v. Taser Int'l, Inc., 588 F.3d 1291, 1303 (11th Cir. 2009)). “It also preserves scarce judicial resources by preventing a court from ‘having to scour the record and perform time-intensive fact searching.'” Id. (quoting Joseph v. Napolitano, 839 F.Supp.2d 1324, 1329 (S.D. Fla. 2012)).

         Given the purpose that these rules serve, “litigants ignore them at their peril.” Caban Hernandez v. Philip Morris USA, Inc., 486 F.3d 1, 7 (1st Cir. 2007). Here, the Defendants filed a Statement of Undisputed Material Facts in support of their motion for summary judgment. See Defs.' Mot. at 2-6, [3]which the Court finds is supported as required and substantially complies with all requirements of Local Rule 56.1. And while Picardat did file a response to this statement in conjunction with the filing of his opposition, see Pl.'s Opp'n at 1-11, [4]each of his purported refutations (and all but one of his purported affirmative disputed material facts) rely on (1) allegations from his Complaint, [5]see Pl.'s Statement ¶¶ 1, 8-10, 13-15, 18-19, 21, 27, 34, 50, 76; (2) documents that are so poorly digitized and copied as to be practically illegible, see Id. ¶¶ 12, 18, 20-21, 25, 27, 29, 31-34, 41-43, 45-46, 48-49, 78; or (3) nothing from the record whatsoever, see Id. ¶¶ 2-6, 11-12, 16-17, 22-24, 26, 28, 30, 35-38, 44, 51-72, 74.[6]He has failed to properly controvert the Defendants' Statement and, therefore, pursuant to Local Rule 56.1(b), all facts contained within that Statement are hereby deemed admitted.

         Picardat's pro se status does not alter this determination. “[A]lthough [courts] are to give liberal construction to the pleadings of pro se litigants, ” those litigants are “nevertheless . . . required . . . to conform to all procedural rules.” Albra v. Advan, Inc., 490 F.3d 826, 829 (11th Cir. 2007) (citation and internal quotation marks omitted); see also Smith v. Mercer, 572 F. App'x 676, 678 (11th Cir. 2014) (per curiam) (affirming a district court's decision to deem admitted the moving party's facts under that district's analog to S.D. Fla. Local Rule 56.1(b) where the pro se nonmoving party's response failed to comply with that district's analog to S.D. Fla. Local Rule 56.1(a)). Because Picardat “has failed to comply with Local Rule 56.1-the only permissible way for him to establish a genuine issue of material fact at [this] stage-the [C]ourt has before it the functional analog of an unopposed motion for summary judgment.” Mann, 588 F.3d at 1303; see also B&A Diagnostic, 145 F.Supp.3d at 1158 (“Although a failure to comply with the local rules can often result in harsh, if not fatal, outcomes for a party, such results are ‘not by calculated choice of t[he] Court.'” (quoting Gossard v. JP Morgan Chase & Co., 612 F.Supp.2d 1242, 1246 (S.D. Fla. 2009))).

         That said, the Court “cannot base the entry of summary judgment on the mere fact that the motion was unopposed, ” United States v. 5800 S.W. 74th Ave., 363 F.3d 1099, 1101 (11th Cir. 2004), because “[e]ven in an unopposed motion [for summary judgment], . . . ‘the movant is not absolve[d] . . . of the burden of showing that it is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law, '” and the Court “must still review the movant's citations to the record to determine if there is, indeed, no genuine issue of material fact, ” Mann, 588 F.3d at 1303 (quoting Reese v. Herbert, 527 F.3d 1253, 1268 (11th Cir. 2008)). To that end, the Court must “consider the merits of the motion” and “review all of the evidentiary materials submitted in support of the motion, ” 5800 S.W. 74th Ave., 363 F.3d at 1101-02, in order to “satisfy itself that the [movant's] burden has been satisfactorily discharged, ” Reese, 527 F.3d at 1268.


         A. Factual Background

         With the above discussion in mind, the following facts are undisputed and supported by the record before this Court.

         On October 27, 2013, at approximately 1:00 a.m., Officer Tashara Alleyne was traveling westbound on N.W. 40th Street within the City of Miami in Miami-Dade County, Florida. Defs.' Statement ¶ 1. Officer Alleyne was in her full police uniform with a badge and service weapon and drove a fully marked City of Miami police car. Id. ¶ 2. The officer observed a vehicle stopped on N.W. 6th Avenue facing eastbound with its lights off. Id. ¶ 3. As she got closer to the vehicle, she noticed the driver-Picardat-wearing a large pair of black headphones. Id. ¶ 4. The officer made a U-turn and began traveling eastbound behind Picardat on N.W. 40th Street. Id. ¶ 5. Picardat made a left turn on N.W. 5th Avenue and began traveling north towards N.W. 41st Street. Id. Officer Alleyne conducted a traffic stop by activating her overhead police lights, and Picardat pulled his vehicle over to the right side of the roadway on N.W. 43rd Street and N.W. 5th Avenue. Id. ¶ 6. Picardat was driving a 2000 blue four-door Mercury Grand Marquis bearing Michigan license plate number BNX7876. Id. ¶ 7.

         After advising of the traffic stop over the police radio, Officer Alleyne ordered Picardat, over her vehicle's public address system, to step out of his vehicle with his driver's license and vehicle registration in hand. Id. ¶ 8. Picardat did not comply with the officer's request and began moving excessively inside his vehicle. Id. ¶ 9. Officer Alleyne then requested a back-up officer to respond to the scene. Id. Officer Alleyne repeated her request for Picardat to step out of his vehicle over her vehicle's P.A. ...

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