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Winters v. Ranum

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

June 2, 2017

WILLIAM CHARLES WINTERS, II, Plaintiff,
v.
JUSTIN RANUM and THE CITY OF DAYTONA BEACH, Defendants.

          ORDER

          GREGORY A. PRESNELL STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

          This matter comes before the Court without a hearing on motions for summary judgment filed by Defendant Justin Ranum (“Ranum”) (Doc. 54) and Defendant City of Daytona Beach (Doc. 52) (the “City”), the response in opposition (Doc. 62) filed by the Plaintiff, William Winters (“Winters”), and the replies (Doc. 66, 67) filed by the Defendants.

         I. Background

         This suit grows out of the August 14, 2012 arrest of Winters by Officer Ranum of the Daytona Beach Police Department. Winters had spent the evening out with three friends, ending up in the early morning hours at a restaurant called Nimo's Pizza. Responding to reports of a fight at the restaurant, Ranum drove his squad car through an alley alongside the restaurant to a parking lot behind it, where he encountered Winters and his friends. As Ranum approached, the four men scattered, with Winters trying to squeeze past Ranum and his stopped vehicle in the alley. When Ranum tried to stop Winters, there was a physical altercation, with both men ending up on the ground. Ranum arrested Winters, who was charged with battery on a law enforcement officer and resisting arrest with violence. In May, 2013, the State of Florida filed a nolle prosequi as to both counts.

         In the Second Amended Complaint (Doc. 34), which is the operative pleading, Winters asserts the following claims: a false arrest claim under state law against the City (Count I); a false arrest claim under state law against Ranum (Count II); state law assault and battery claims against the City (Count III); state law assault and battery claims against Ranum (Count IV); a state law negligent training claim against the City (Count V); and a Section 1983 Fourth Amendment claim against the City (Count VI). By way of the instant motions, the Defendants seek summary judgment as to all claims.

         II. Legal Standard

         A party is entitled to summary judgment when the party can show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c). Which facts are material depends on the substantive law applicable to the case. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248, 106 S.Ct. 2505, 2510, 91 L.Ed.2d 202 (1986). The moving party bears the burden of showing that no genuine issue of material fact exists. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323, 106 S.Ct. 2548, 2553, 91 L.Ed.2d 265 (1986). In determining whether the moving party has satisfied its burden, the court considers all inferences drawn from the underlying facts in a light most favorable to the party opposing the motion, and resolves all reasonable doubts against the moving party. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 255, 106 S.Ct. at 2513.

         When a party moving for summary judgment points out an absence of evidence on a dispositive issue for which the non-moving party bears the burden of proof at trial, the nonmoving party must “go beyond the pleadings and by [his] own affidavits, or by the depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, designate specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial.” Celotex Corp., 477 U.S. at 324, 106 S.Ct. at 2553. Thereafter, summary judgment is mandated against the nonmoving party who fails to make a showing sufficient to establish a genuine issue of fact for trial. Id. The party opposing a motion for summary judgment must rely on more than conclusory statements or allegations unsupported by facts. Evers v. Gen. Motors Corp., 770 F.2d 984, 986 (11th Cir. 1985) (“conclusory allegations without specific supporting facts have no probative value”).

         The Court must consider all inferences drawn from the underlying facts in a light most favorable to the party opposing the motion, and resolve all reasonable doubts against the moving party. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 255, 106 S.Ct. at 2513. The Court is not, however, required to accept all of the non-movant's factual characterizations and legal arguments. Beal v. Paramount Pictures Corp., 20 F.3d 454, 458-59 (11th Cir 1994).

         III. Analysis

         Winters contends that Ranum arrested him without probable cause and used excessive force in doing so. Unfortunately for his case, he has no independent recollection of the relevant events, which occurred at the end of an evening celebrating at local bars and restaurants with three of his friends. One of those friends, Kirk Crandall, testified that the group visited three bars and three restaurants that evening[1] and had a “decent amount” to drink. (Doc. 53-3 at 13-14). Winters testified that he had been drinking that evening, but that he had no memory from the time the group left their first stop of the night - an oyster bar, where Winters had food and a mixed drink - until he woke up in the Volusia County Jail the next day. (Doc. 53-1 at 97-98).

         For his part, Ranum testified that he was dispatched to Nimo's Pizza in response to a call about a fight; when he arrived, a taxi driver outside of Nimo's told him the participants had moved into the parking lot behind the restaurant. (Doc. 53-2 at 25-26). He drove his marked police vehicle through the narrow alley alongside Nimo's and encountered four young men, two of whom appeared to have been fighting. (Doc. 53-2 at 29-30). The men scattered, with two running across the parking lot away from Ranum, one running into the back door of the restaurant, and the fourth - Winters - running toward Ranum's vehicle. (Doc. 53-2 at 30-31). Ranum shouted for Winters to stop, but Winters tried to squeeze between the partially opened driver's-side door of Ranum's vehicle and a sofa sitting in the alley. (Doc. 53-2 at 33-34). Ranum again shouted for Winters to stop and, when Winters did not do so, he grabbed Winters around the upper torso and took him down. (Doc. 53-2 at 36-37). The pair struggled atop the sofa, eventually causing it to tip over. (Doc. 53-2 at 41-43). Ranum testified that Winters grabbed his testicles as they struggled and, subsequently, appeared to be attempting to grab his service belt and weapon, leading Ranum to deliver several knee strikes and a punch to subdue Winters. (Doc. 53-2 at 43, 45-46). Another officer arrived, who helped Ranum to place handcuffs on Winters. (Doc. 53-2 at 47-48).

         Winters does not seriously dispute any of Ranum's testimony. As noted, he has no memory of the events at Nimo's, and he has not produced any evidence from anyone else - such as, for instance, his three friends - that contradicts Ranum's version of events.

         A. Counts I and ...


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