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Summerall v. Quinn

United States District Court, N.D. Florida, Pensacola Division

January 6, 2018

SERGEANT QUINN, et al., Defendants.



         Plaintiff Howard Kyle Summerall (“Summerall”), an inmate of the Florida Department of Corrections (“FDOC”), proceeds pro se and in forma pauperis in this action brought under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Presently before the court is Defendants' motion for summary judgment, with supporting evidentiary materials (ECF No. 25). Summerall has not filed a response to the motion.

         The case was referred to the undersigned for the issuance of all preliminary orders and any recommendations to the district court regarding dispositive matters. See N. D. Fla. Loc. R. 72.2(C); see also 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B)(C); Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b). After careful consideration of all issues raised by the parties, it is the opinion of the undersigned that Defendants' motion for summary judgment should be granted.


         At all times relevant to this action, Summerall was incarcerated at Santa Rosa Correctional Institution (see Second Amended Complaint, ECF No. 8 at 5-7).[1]Defendants Sergeant Quinn, Officer Gent, and Sergeant Pugh were members of the security staff at Santa Rosa C.I. (see id.). Summerall claims Defendants used excessive force while extracting him from his cell on April 13, 2016, in violation of the Eighth Amendment and FDOC policy (id. at 5-9). Summerall claims he suffered a wound to his hand and humiliation as a result of Defendants' conduct (see Id. at 7). Summerall seek nominal, compensatory, and punitive damages (id. at 8).

         Defendants contend Summerall's allegations fail to state a plausible Eighth Amendment violation, and for this reason, they are entitled to qualified immunity (ECF No. 25 at 9-15). They also contend Summerall's claims that they violated FDOC policy are not actionable under § 1983 (id. at 16). Defendants contend they are entitled to Eleventh Amendment immunity to the extent Summerall sues them in their official capacities (id. at 15-16). And they contend Summerall is precluded from recovering compensatory and punitive damages against them in their individual capacities, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(e) (id. at 5-9).


         A. Summary Judgment

         In order to prevail on a motion for summary judgment, the moving party must show that the nonmoving party has no evidence to support his or her case or present affirmative evidence that the nonmoving party will be unable to prove his or her case at trial. See Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322-23, 106 S.Ct. 2548, 91 L.Ed.2d 265 (1986). If the moving party successfully negates an essential element of the nonmoving party's case, the burden shifts to the nonmoving party to come forward with evidentiary material demonstrating a genuine issue of fact for trial. Id. The “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). A dispute is “genuine” if the “evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party.” Id., 477 U.S. at 248. A fact is “material” if it “might affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law.” Id. The nonmoving party must show more than the existence of a “metaphysical doubt” regarding the material facts. Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co., Ltd. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586, 106 S.Ct. 1348, 89 L.Ed.2d 538 (1986). Speculation or conjecture from a party cannot create a genuine issue of material fact. See Cordoba v. Dillard's, Inc., 419 F.3d 1169, 1181 (11th Cir. 2005). “A mere scintilla of evidence in support of the nonmoving party will not suffice to overcome a motion for summary judgment.” Young v. City of Palm Bay, Fla., 358 F.3d 859, 860 (11th Cir. 2004); see also Celotex Corp., 477 U.S. at 324. The nonmoving party must either point to evidence in the record or present additional evidence sufficient to withstand a directed verdict motion at trial based on the alleged evidentiary deficiency. See Celotex Corp., supra; Owen v. Wille, 117 F.3d 1235, 1236 (11th Cir. 1997) (Rule 56 requires the nonmoving party to go beyond the pleadings and by his or her own affidavits, or by the depositions, documents, affidavits or declarations, admissions, interrogatory answers or other materials on file designate specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial); Hammer v. Slater, 20 F.3d 1137 (11th Cir. 1994).

         With regard to the factual positions asserted by the parties, the court must apply the standard set forth in Rule 56(c) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, which provides in relevant part:

(1) Supporting Factual Positions. A party asserting that a fact cannot be or is genuinely disputed must support the assertion by:
(A) citing to particular parts of materials in the record, including depositions, documents, electronically stored information, affidavits or declarations, stipulations (including those made for purposes of the motion only), admissions, interrogatory answers, or other materials; or
(B) showing that the materials cited do not establish the absence or presence of a genuine dispute, or that an adverse party cannot produce admissible evidence to support the fact. . . . .
(4) Affidavits or Declarations. An affidavit or declaration used to support or oppose a motion must be made on personal knowledge, set out facts that would be admissible in evidence, and show that the affiant or declarant is competent to testify on the matters stated.

Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c) (2010).

         Facts asserted in hearsay statements which are not subject to a hearsay exception, and thus would not be admissible in evidence, are insufficient to show that a fact is genuinely disputed. “The most obvious way that hearsay testimony can be reduced to admissible form is to have the hearsay declarant testify directly to the matter at trial.” Jones v. UPS Ground Freight, 683 F.3d 1283, 1294 (11th Cir. 2012) (citing Pritchard v. S. Co. Servs., 92 F.3d 1130, 1135 (11th Cir. 1996)). If a fact cannot be presented in a form that would be admissible in evidence, it cannot be used for purposes of summary judgment. See Macuba v. Deboer, 193 F.3d 1316, 1322 (11th Cir. 1999); see Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c).

         If a party fails to properly support an assertion of fact or fails to properly address another party's assertion of fact as required by Rule 56(c), the court will consider the fact undisputed for purposes of the motion for summary judgment, or grant summary judgment if the moving party's motion and supporting materials-including the facts considered undisputed-show that the moving party is entitled to it. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(e)(2, 3) (2010).

         Evidence presented by the nonmoving party in opposition to the motion for summary judgment, and all reasonable factual inferences arising from it, must be viewed in the light most favorable to him or her. See Adickes v. S. H. Kress & Co., 398 U.S. 144, 157, 90 S.Ct. 1598, 26 L.Ed.2d 142 (1970); Jones v. Cannon, 174 F.3d 1271, 1282 (11th Cir. 1999). Nonetheless, the nonmoving party still bears the burden of coming forward with sufficient evidence of every element that he or she must prove. See Celotex Corp., 477 U.S. at 317. A motion for summary judgment should be granted if “the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and that the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a); Celotex Corp., 477 U.S. at 322.

         B. Qualified Immunity

         The defense of qualified immunity shields government officials performing discretionary acts “from liability for civil damages insofar as their conduct does not violate clearly established statutory or constitutional rights of which a reasonable person would have known.” Harlow v. Fitzgerald, 457 U.S. 800, 818, 102 ...

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