United States District Court, M.D. Florida, Orlando Division
DEREASE L. IRONS, Plaintiff,
JAMES PATTON, Defendant.
DALTON JR, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
matter is before the Court on Defendant James Patton's
(“Defendant”) Motion for Summary
Judgment. (Doc. 88 (“Motion”).)
Plaintiff Derease L. Irons
(“Plaintiff”) initiated this
action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 based on an incident that
occurred on July 10, 2012 between him and Defendant, a
Sergeant at the Holly Hill Police Department at the time.
(Doc. 23.) Plaintiff claims that Defendant violated his
Fourth Amendment rights by performing an unlawful search of
the vehicle Plaintiff was driving, and seeks damages
accordingly. (Id. ¶¶ 35-44.) Defendant
opposes, and moves for summary judgment. For the following
reasons, the Motion is due to be granted.
noon on July 10, 2012, Plaintiff drove to Wal-Mart to
purchase a gas card in a car he borrowed from his
ex-girlfriend (“Vehicle”). (Doc.
87, pp. 50-52.) Accompanying him for the ride was his
six-month-old daughter (“Child”)
who Plaintiff placed in her car seat in the back on the
driver's side, reverse-situated to face the trunk.
(Id. at 51; see also Doc. 86, pp. 6-7; Doc.
85-2, p. 12.) When Plaintiff arrived at the Wal-Mart, he
parked the Vehicle directly in front of the store, close to
the fire lane. (Doc. 87, p. 55.) Believing the stop to be a
quick transaction, Plaintiff left the engine running, doors
unlocked, windows up, air conditioning on, and his Child
inside. (Id. at 53, 54, 93-94). The radio was not
turned on. (Id. at 96-97.) Plaintiff went directly
to the customer service counter at the front of the store and
entered the queue. (Id. at 53.)
Plaintiff waited in line, he noticed a police car parked by
the Vehicle. (Id. at 56.) From inside, he observed
Defendant approach the Vehicle and open its door.
(Id. at 62.) While watching, Plaintiff dialed his
mother from his cell phone to come meet him at Wal-Mart.
(Id. at 62-63.) He had been driving on a suspended
license, and upon seeing Defendant at the Vehicle, thought
that he would be arrested. (Id. at 63.) He stayed in
Wal-Mart for another seven minutes and then exited the store.
(Id. at 65.)
leaving the store, Plaintiff lingered by the entrance.
(Id. at 67.) He did not say anything to Defendant or
inch toward the Vehicle, whose door was still open.
(Id. at 67- 68.) He stayed on the phone, and then
Defendant walked up to him to ask whether he knew anything
about the Vehicle or the Child. (Id. at 68.)
Eventually, Plaintiff acknowledged both. (Id.;
see also Doc. 86, pp. 10-11.) Defendant then
arrested Plaintiff for child neglect. (Doc. 87, p. 68.)
Plaintiff's arrest, Plaintiff's mother and Officer
Misty Howey arrived at the scene. (Id. at 68, 71;
see also Doc. 86, pp. 13-14.) Officer Howey
transported Plaintiff to the police station where he was
charged and then incarcerated pending trial. (Doc. 86, p. 14;
see also Doc. 23, ¶¶ 23-24.) While
incarcerated, Plaintiff filed a motion to suppress in state
court all evidence obtained from the Vehicle, claiming
Defendant performed an unlawful search in violation of the
Fourth Amendment. (Doc. 23, ¶¶ 25-27.) The court
granted Plaintiff's motion to suppress, which resulted in
his release from custody with the charges against him
dropped. (Id. ¶¶ 28-30.)
then commenced this § 1983 action, bringing various
claims against Defendant, the City of Holly Hill, and Holly
Hill Police Department Chief of Police Stephen Aldrich. (Doc.
23.) Whittled down, the sole claim left alleges that
Defendant violated Plaintiff's Fourth Amendment rights by
performing an unlawful search of the Vehicle. (Docs. 37, 40.)
On this, Defendant moves for summary judgment. (Doc. 88.)
Plaintiff failed to submit a timely response, so the Motion
is now ripe for the Court's consideration. (See
judgment is appropriate only if the movant shows that there
is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and that [it]
is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.”
Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a); Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477
U.S. 317, 323 (1986). As to issues for which the movant would
bear the burden of proof at trial, it must affirmatively show
the absence of a genuine issue of material fact and support
its motion with credible evidence demonstrating that no
reasonable jury could find for the nonmoving party on all of
the essential elements of its case. Fitzpatrick v. City
of Atlanta, 2 F.3d 1112, 1115 (11th Cir. 1993) (citing
United States v. Four Parcels of Real Prop. in Green
& Tuscaloosa Ctys, 941, F.2d 1428, 1438 (11th Cir.
issues for which the nonmovant would bear the burden of proof
at trial, the movant has two options: (1) it may simply point
out an absence of evidence to support the nonmoving
party's case; or (2) it may provide “affirmative
evidence demonstrating that the nonmoving party will be
unable to prove its case at trial.” Four
Parcels, 941 F.2d at 1438 (citing Celotex
Corp., 477 U.S. at 325). “The burden then shifts
to the nonmoving party, who must go beyond the pleadings and
present affirmative evidence to show that a genuine issue of
material fact exists.” Porter v. Ray, 461 F.3d
1315, 1320 (11th Cir. 2006) (citing Fitzpatrick, 2
F.3d at 1115-17).
factual dispute is genuine ‘if the evidence is such
that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the
nonmoving party.'” Four Parcels, 941 F.2d
at 1437 (quoting Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc.,
477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986)). A court must view the evidence and
all reasonable inferences drawn from the evidence in the
light most favorable to the nonmovant, Battle v. Bd. of
Regents, 468 F.3d 755, 759 (11th Cir. 2006), such that
“when conflict arises between the facts evidenced by
the parties, [the] court credit[s] the nonmoving party's
version, ” Evans v. Stephens, 407 F.3d 1272,
1278 (11th Cir. 2005). However, “[the] court need not
permit a case to go to a jury . . . when the inferences that
are drawn from the evidence, and upon which the nonmovant
relies, are ‘implausible.'” Mize v.
Jefferson City Bd. of Educ., 93 F.3d 739, 743 (11th Cir.
1996). “When 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 (2007).
asserts several arguments to support summary judgment in his
favor. (See Doc. 88, pp. 8-24.) This Order focuses
on Defendant's meritorious qualified immunity argument
that: (1) his actions did not violate Plaintiff's
constitutional rights; and (2) even if a violation occurred,
it was not ...