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Scheider v. Leeper

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

August 22, 2017

BILL LEEPER, Sheriff of Nassau County, Florida, Defendant.


          MARCIA MORALES HOWARD United States District Judge.

         THIS CAUSE is before the Court on Defendant Bill Leeper's Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. 34; Motion), filed on May 19, 2017. Plaintiffs David John Scheider and Chris Scheider[1] filed a response in opposition to the Motion on May 31, 2017. See Plaintiffs' Response and Objection to Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. 36; Response). On July 31, 2017, at the Court's request, Defendant Leeper filed the exhibits to the Deposition of Detective Cedric Arline (Motion, Ex. 2; Arline Dep.), the Deposition of Deputy Brian Blackwell (id., Ex. 3; Blackwell Dep.), and the Deposition of David John Scheider (id., Ex. 4; Scheider Dep.). See Defendant's Notice of Filing Additional Exhibits (Doc. 38). Accordingly, the Motion is ripe for review.

         I. Background

         On November 6, 2013, Detective Anthony Green of the Nassau County Sheriff's Office (NCSO) videotaped a confidential informant's illegal purchase of hydrocodone, a controlled substance, in a mobile home on Hawk Drive in Hilliard, Florida. See Motion Ex. 1: Deposition of Detective Anthony Green (Green Dep.) at 6, 9-13. The surveillance was taken from inside the mobile home. Id. at 13. The video shows a white male with visible tattoos smoking a cigarette, walking without assistance, and engaging in a drug transaction. Id. at 17; Arline Dep. at 12-13; Blackwell Dep. at 13-15, 20; Scheider Dep. at II. Scheider is a white male and disputes that he bears any resemblance to the person on the video. See Scheider Dep. at 10. Notably, Scheider does not have any tattoos, is a non-smoker, and walked with a cane at the time of the sale. Id. at 11.

         Neither Detective Green nor the confidential informant knew the identity of the seller. See Blackwell Dep. at 14; Green Dep. at 19. As such, Detective Green showed the video to other members of the NCSO Narcotics Unit and asked if anyone recognized the seller. See Green Dep. at 8-9; Arline Dep. at 16. Detective Cedric Arline stated that the seller looked like “Westside Pork Chop, ” referring to Scheider by his nickname.[2] See Arline Dep. at 13-14, 16. In his deposition, Detective Arline explained he believed that he recognized Scheider from surveillance that he conducted in 2007 and 2008 involving an illegal drug transaction. Id. at 10. Although the NCSO could have used additional measures to confirm the seller's identity, the officers did not undertake further efforts. See Green Dep. at 15-16, 20, 26; Blackwell Dep. at 20-21; Arline Dep. at 19.

         Shortly after Detective Arline's identification, the NCSO removed Detective Green from the investigation of the November 6, 2013 drug transaction to enable him to complete his field training. See Green Dep. at 14-15. Sergeant Brian Blackwell took over the case. Id. at 7-8. On June 26, 2014, Sergeant Blackwell obtained a warrant for Scheider's arrest based on Detective Arline's identification. See Blackwell Dep. at 20, Ex 9: Arrest Warrant. Later that night, at 10:00 PM, Deputy Reynolds arrested Scheider at his home for sale of a controlled substance in violation of Florida Statute section 893.13(1)(a). See Blackwell Dep. at 8, Ex. 2: Arrest & Booking Report; Scheider Dep. at 5. Scheider posted a bond of approximately $2, 500.00 and was released the next morning. See Scheider Dep. at 6-8. He also retained an attorney at a cost of approximately $7, 000.00. Id. On July 28, 2017, the State Attorney's Office filed an information against Scheider. See Blackwell Dep. at 29, Ex. 8: Information.

         On September 9, 2014 the State Attorney's Office filed a nolle prosequi dropping all charges against Scheider based upon the realization that Scheider had been misidentified as the seller on the video. See Complaint ¶¶ 16, 27; Green Dep. at 14; Blackwell Dep. at 37. Although Scheider's Arrest and Booking Report reflected that Scheider did not have any tattoos, see Arrest and Booking Report, the NCSO officers had no knowledge of whether Scheider was a smoker or walked with a cane at the time of the drug transaction, see Scheider Dep. at 11. As of the date of Detective Arline's deposition, the actual perpetrator had not been identified. See Arline Dep. at 14.

         As a result of his arrest, Scheider suffered out of pocket losses, including the cost of the bond and attorney's fees, as well as emotional injuries. See Scheider Dep. at 14-15. Scheider experienced embarrassment when his family members and neighbors learned about his arrest from various local newspapers. Id. at 14-16, 19-20. Further, the incident aggravated his pre-existing anxiety and depression and caused him to seek treatment at Wekiva Springs, a psychiatric facility, for ten days. Id. at 33-35, Ex. 1: Plaintiff's, David Scheider's Notice of Answering Interrogatories (Interrogatory Answers) at 6. Additionally, Chris Scheider, Scheider's wife, took time off work to care for Scheider. Id. at 18-19.

         Plaintiffs initiated this lawsuit on March 24, 2015, by filing a three-count Complaint against Defendant Angela Corey, in her official capacity as the State Attorney for the Fourth Judicial Circuit of Florida (the State Attorney), and Defendant Bill Leeper, in his official capacity as the Sheriff of Nassau County, Florida (the Sheriff). See generally Complaint for Damages (Doc. 1; Complaint). On March 10, 2016, the Court entered an order dismissing all claims brought against Defendant Corey. See generally Order (Doc. 22). As such, only Count I and Count III of the Complaint are relevant to the instant Motion. In Count I, Scheider asserts a claim against Sheriff Leeper pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (Section 1983) and 42 U.S.C. § 1988 (Section 1988) based on the violation of his Fourth Amendment right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures arising out of his false arrest. See Complaint ¶¶ 8-19. In Count III, Chris Scheider alleges a loss of consortium claim. Id. ¶¶ 31-34. Plaintiffs seek compensatory damages and attorney's fees and costs. Id. ¶ 6.

         II. Standard of Review

         Under Rule 56, Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (Rule(s)), “[t]he 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.” Rule 56(a). The record to be considered on a motion for summary judgment may include “depositions, documents, electronically stored information, affidavits or declarations, stipulations (including those made for purposes of the motion only), admissions, interrogatory answers, or other materials.” Rule 56(c)(1)(A).[3] An issue is genuine when the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict in favor of the non-movant. See Mize v. Jefferson City Bd. of Educ., 93 F.3d 739, 742 (11th Cir. 1996) (quoting Hairston v. Gainesville Sun Publ'g Co., 9 F.3d 913, 919 (11th Cir. 1993)). “[A] mere scintilla of evidence in support of the non-moving party's position is insufficient to defeat a motion for summary judgment.” Kesinger ex rel. Estate of Kesinger v. Herrington, 381 F.3d 1243, 1247 (11th Cir. 2004) (citing Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 252, 106 S.Ct. 2505, 2512, 91 L.Ed.2d 202 (1986)).

         The party seeking summary judgment bears the initial burden of demonstrating to the court, by reference to the record, that there are no genuine issues of material fact to be determined at trial. See Clark v. Coats & Clark, Inc., 929 F.2d 604, 608 (11th Cir. 1991). “When a moving party has discharged its burden, the non-moving party must then go beyond the pleadings, and by its own affidavits, or by depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, designate specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial.” Jeffery v. Sarasota White Sox, Inc., 64 F.3d 590, 593-94 (11th Cir. 1995) (citations and quotation marks omitted). Substantive law determines the materiality of facts, and “[o]nly disputes over facts that might affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law will properly preclude the entry of summary judgment.” Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248, 106 S.Ct. at 2510. In determining whether summary judgment is appropriate, a court “must view all evidence and make all reasonable inferences in favor of the party opposing summary judgment.” Haves v. City of Miami, 52 F.3d 918, 921 (11th Cir. 1995) (citing Dibrell Bros. Int'l, S.A. v. Banca Nazionale Del Lavoro, 38 F.3d 1571, 1578 (11th Cir. 1994)).

         III. Analysis

         A. Scheider's ยง 1983 Claim Against Leeper in ...

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