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Kent v. Brown

United States District Court, M.D. Florida, Orlando Division

May 30, 2017

JERMAINE KENT, Plaintiff,
v.
ZACHARY BROWN, Defendant.

          ORDER

          ROY B. DALTON JR. UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         This cause is before the Court on the following:

1. Motion for Summary Judgment By Defendant Brown (Doc. 60), filed February 28, 2017;
2. Plaintiff's Motion and Memorandum of Law in Opposition to Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. 71), filed April 21, 2017; and
3. Reply Memorandum of Law by Defendant Brown (Doc. 72), filed April 26, 2017.

         I. Background [1]

         The events leading to this action arose late in the evening of August 22, 2011, when two deputies employed with the Brevard County Sheriff's Office-Juan Vargas (“Vargas”) and Zachary Brown (“Brown”)-spotted Plaintiff Jermaine Kent (“Kent”) riding a dirt bike while holding onto the driver's window of a moving vehicle (“Vehicle”). (Id. ¶ 5; Doc. 1, ¶ 7.) Without triggering the lights or sirens of their unmarked and darkly tinted car (“Car”), Vargas and Brown drove through a stop sign and begin to approach Kent at a high rate of speed. (Doc. 69-1, p. 1; Doc. 67, pp. 22, 26.) Unaware of who was in the Car, Kent believed he was about to be robbed, so he dropped his bike and ran. (Id. at 22, 25.)

         Exiting the Car, Brown pursued Kent on foot. (Id. at 27.) Once Plaintiff realized that he was being chased by law enforcement, he immediately stopped, fell to his knees, put his hands in the air, and was completely compliant.[2] (Doc. 69-1, p. 1.) Despite Kent's compliance, Brown tackled him, causing Kent to fall to the ground with his face situated on a mound of fire ants. (Id.) Once Kent informed Brown that his face was on an ant pile Brown responded by telling him to, “put [his] fucking face in the ant moun[d].” (Id.) Brown then “purposefully” held Kent's face in the ant mound, causing Kent to suffer hundreds of ant bites to his face, ears, neck, chest and eyes. (Id.; Doc. 60-5.) Both Vargas and Brown subsequently tased Kent as he lay facedown. (Doc. 69-1, pp. 1-2; Doc. 67, p. 28.) Kent was not resisting, threatening, fighting, or engaging in any other unlawful behavior when Brown held his head down in the ant mound or when he was tased. (Id. at 22; Doc. 69-1, p. 1.)

         Based on this incident, Kent was arrested and charged with resisting an officer without violence (“Resisting Charge”) in violation of Florida Statute § 843.02, a first degree misdemeanor. (Doc. 60-4.) He entered a plea of nolo contendere and was adjudicated guilty on November 8, 2013. (Doc. 60-4.) Kent subsequently brought this 42 U.S.C. § 1983 excessive force action against Vargas and Brown in their individual capacities. (Doc. 1 (“Complaint”).)

         Kent served the Complaint on Brown on June 22, 2015 (see Doc. 15), but failed to timely serve Vargas (see Docs. 30, 31). The Court, therefore, dismissed this case as to Vargas pursuant to Local Rule 3.10, for lack of prosecution. (Id.) Brown, the only remaining defendant, now moves for summary judgment, invoking defenses under the doctrine of qualified immunity and Heck v. Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477 (1994). (Doc. 60 (“Motion”).) Kent has responded (Doc. 71), and Brown has replied. (Doc. 72.) This matter is now ripe for the Court's adjudication.

         II. Legal Standards

         A. Summary Judgment

         A party is entitled to summary judgment “if the pleadings, the discovery and disclosure materials on file, and any affidavits show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c); see also, Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). In resolving motions for summary judgment, courts must not make credibility assessments or weigh conflicting evidence. See Hairston v. Gainesville Sun Pub. Co., 9 F.3d 913, 919 (11th Cir. 1993). Rather, courts must: (1) view the record evidence in the light most favorable to the non-moving party; and (2) draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the non-moving party. See White v. Pauly, 137 S.Ct. 548, 550 (2017). If a reasonable fact finder could draw more than one inference from the facts and find that at least one of those inferences creates an issue of material fact, the court must not grant summary judgment. See Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986).

         B. ...


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