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Zeitoun v. Riedl

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

September 19, 2017

ADEL ZEITOUN, Plaintiff,
v.
WARDEN BRIAN RIEDL, et al., Defendants.

          ORDER

          MARCIA MORALES HOWARD, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         I. Status

         Plaintiff Adel Zeitoun, an inmate of the Florida penal system, initiated this action on April 14, 2014, by filing a Civil Rights Complaint (Doc. 1) pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. He filed an Amended Complaint (Doc. 6) on May 19, 2014; a Second Amended Complaint (Doc. 18) on June 23, 2015; a Third Amended Complaint (Doc. 26) on July 14, 2016; and a Fourth Amended Complaint (FAC; Doc. 30) on August 29, 2016. In the FAC, Zeitoun names the following Defendants: (1) Warden Brian Riedl; (2) John Doe officers 1-12; (3) John Doe lieutenants 1 and 2; (4) Corizon Health Care (Corizon);[1] (5) John Doe dentist; (6) John Doe doctor; and (7) Jane Doe officer. Zeitoun asserts that the Defendants violated his federal constitutional rights when they used excessive force against him and denied him proper medical care. As relief, he requests compensatory and punitive damages. He also seeks declaratory and injunctive relief.

         This matter is before the Court on Defendant Riedl's Motion for Summary Judgment (Motion; Doc. 51), filed August 1, 2017. In the Motion, Defendant Riedl asserts that the Court should grant summary judgment in his favor because: (1) Zeitoun cannot show that Riedl violated the Eighth Amendment, and (2) Riedl is entitled to qualified immunity. See Motion at 1, 7-12. In support of the Motion, Riedl filed portions of Zeitoun's deposition. See Motion, Exhibit A (Doc. 51-1), Deposition of Adel Zeitoun (Def. Ex. A), dated June 12, 2017.

         The Court advised Zeitoun of the provisions of Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56, notified him that the granting of a motion to dismiss or a motion for summary judgment would represent a final adjudication of this case which may foreclose subsequent litigation on the matter, and gave him an opportunity to respond to the Motion. See Summary Judgment Notice (Doc. 52); Order of Special Appointment; Directing Service of Process Upon Corizon Health and Warden Brian Riedl; Notice to Plaintiff (Doc. 31) at 4-6, ¶ 13. Over thirty days have passed since the filing of Defendant's Motion, and Plaintiff has failed to respond. Accordingly, Defendant's Motion is ripe for judicial review.

         II. Plaintiff's Allegations[2]

         In his verified FAC, [3] Zeitoun asserts that: (1) on November 8, 2012, John Doe officers 1, 2, 3, and 4 made derogatory remarks (relating to the sexual offenses for which he is serving a term of life imprisonment); (2) on November 8th, John Doe officers 5, 6, and 7 assaulted Zeitoun; (3) on November 9th, John Doe officers 8, 9, and 10 assaulted Zeitoun; (4) John Doe lieutenants 1 and 2 were aware of inmate abuse at the Reception and Medical Center (RMC) and the propensity for abusiveness towards inmates by John Doe officers 3-10, but failed to stop the alleged mistreatment; (5) John Doe dentist denied Zeitoun treatment for his bleeding mouth and cracked tooth after the alleged assaults; (6) John Doe doctor denied Zeitoun medical treatment for his injuries, and called two officers to assault Zeitoun, but a captain promptly arrived to place Zeitoun in protective custody; (7) John Doe officer 11 assaulted Zeitoun on November 13th, and later told inmate Croft that he would give him extra food if Croft would beat up Zeitoun, and Croft assaulted Zeitoun on November 14th; and (8) John Doe officer 12 and Jane Doe officer failed to give Zeitoun notice of disciplinary charges against him prior to a hearing on the charges. As to Riedl, Zeitoun states that Riedl was aware of the pervasiveness of inmate abuse at RMC, and the propensity for abusiveness towards inmates by John Doe officers 3-10, but failed to implement a policy to stop the assaults. See FAC at 6-7, ¶¶ 44-48; 9, ¶¶ 81-83; 15, ¶¶ 153-54; 16, ¶¶ 157-58.

         III. Summary Judgment Standard

         The Eleventh Circuit set forth the summary judgment standard.

Summary judgment is proper when "there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). The substantive law controls which facts are material and which are irrelevant. Raney v. Vinson Guard Service, Inc., 120 F.3d 1192, 1196 (11th Cir. 1997). Typically, the nonmoving party may not rest upon only the allegations of his pleadings, but must set forth specific facts showing there is a genuine issue for trial. Eberhardt v. Waters, 901 F.2d 1578, 1580 (11th Cir. 1990). A pro se plaintiff's complaint, however, if verified under 28 U.S.C. § 1746, is equivalent to an affidavit, and thus may be viewed as evidence. See Murrell v. Bennett, 615 F.2d 306, 310 n.5 (5th Cir. 1980). Nevertheless, "[a]n affidavit or declaration used to support or oppose a motion must be made on personal knowledge." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(4). "[A]ffidavits based, in part, upon information and belief, rather than personal knowledge, are insufficient to withstand a motion for summary judgment." Ellis v. England, 432 F.3d 1321, 1327 (11th Cir. 2005).
As we've emphasized, "[w]hen the moving party has carried its burden under Rule 56[], its opponent must do more than simply show that there is some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts ... Where the record taken as a whole could not lead a rational trier of fact to find for the non-moving party, there is no 'genuine issue for trial.'" Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586-87, 106 S.Ct. 1348, 89 L.Ed.2d 538 (1986). "[T]he 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, 106 S.Ct. 2505, 91 L.Ed.2d 202 (1986). Unsupported, conclusory allegations that a plaintiff suffered a constitutionally cognizant injury are insufficient to withstand a motion for summary judgment. See Bennett v. Parker, 898 F.2d 1530, 1532-34 (11th Cir. 1990) (discounting inmate's claim as a conclusory allegation of serious injury that was unsupported by any physical evidence, medical records, or the corroborating testimony of witnesses). Moreover, "[w]hen opposing parties tell two different stories, one of which is blatantly contradicted by the record, so that no reasonable jury could believe it, a court should not adopt that version of the facts for purposes of ruling on a motion for summary judgment." Scott v. Harris, 550 U.S. 372, 380, 127 S.Ct. 1769, 167 L.Ed.2d 686 (2007).

Howard v. Memnon, 572 Fed.Appx. 692, 694-95 (11th Cir. 2014) (per curiam) (footnote omitted); Hinkle v. Midland Credit Mgmt., Inc., 827 F.3d 1295, 1300 (11th Cir. 2016).

         At the summary judgment stage, the Court assumes all facts in the light most favorable to Zeitoun, as the non-moving party, and draws all inferences in his favor. See McKinney v. Sheriff, 520 Fed.Appx. 903, 905 (11th Cir. 2013) (per curiam). "[T]he dispute about a material fact is genuine . . . if the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party." Hinkle, 827 F.3d at 1300 (internal quotations and citation omitted). Summary judgment should be granted "against a party who fails to make a showing sufficient to establish the existence of an element essential to that party's case, and on which that party will bear the burden of proof at trial." Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986). Thus, summary judgment is appropriate only when, under Zeitoun's version of the facts, "there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Felio v. Hyatt, 639 Fed.Appx. 604, 606 (11th Cir. 2016) (per curiam) (internal quotations and citation omitted). Therefore, summary judgment would be properly entered in favor of Defendant Riedl where no genuine issue of material fact exists as to whether Zeitoun's federal constitutional rights were violated.

         IV. Law ...


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