United States District Court, S.D. Florida
ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR FINAL
SUMMARY JUDGMENT AND DENYING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR
PARTIAL SUMMARY JUDGMENT
L. ROSENBERG UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
CAUSE is before the Court on Plaintiff's Motion
for Partial Summary Judgment on Count I of the Amended
Complaint [DE 48] and Defendant James A. Albano, Jr.'s
Motion for Final Summary Judgment and Incorporated Memorandum
of Law [DE 64]. The Court has carefully considered both
Motions, and the parties' respective filings in support
thereof and in opposition thereto, and is otherwise fully
advised in the premises. For the reasons set forth below,
Defendant's Motion for Final Summary Judgment is
GRANTED and Plaintiff's Motion for
Partial Summary Judgment is DENIED.
an action for deprivation of civil rights. Plaintiff John
Caldwell alleges that Defendant James A. Albano, Jr., an
officer employed by the Town of Palm Beach Police Department,
arrested him without probable cause, entered his home without
a warrant, and used excessive force against him in violation
of his Fourth, Fifth, and Fourteenth Amendment rights.
Plaintiff's Amended Complaint [DE 7] contains seven
counts against Defendant Albano and the Town of Jupiter,
Florida. Following Plaintiff's voluntary dismissal of
Counts III through VI, see DE 25, and this
Court's dismissal of Counts I and II against the Town,
Count VII, and all claims against Defendant Albano in his
official capacity, see DE 39, the only claims
remaining are Counts I and II against Defendant Albano in his
Count I, Plaintiff alleges that Defendant Albano violated his
Fourth Amendment rights by “opening the door to
Plaintiff's residence with neither permission nor a
warrant” and “reaching into Plaintiff's home,
physically grabbing Plaintiff, and dragging him out of his
home” without a warrant or probable cause. See
DE 7 ¶¶ 43-44. Consistent with the parties'
briefing on their respective summary judgment motions, the
Court construes Count I as asserting claims for false arrest,
warrantless entry, and excessive force in violation of
Plaintiff's Fourth Amendment rights. In Count II,
Plaintiff alleges that Defendant Albano violated his Fifth
and Fourteenth Amendment rights by “[h]andcuffing
Plaintiff without [a] warrant and without probable cause,
” without stating that Plaintiff was under arrest or
informing Plaintiff of his Miranda rights,
“inflict[ing] . . . extrajudicial punishment . . .
without arrest, ” and “us[ing] . . . excessive
and unnecessary force and violence.” See Id.
¶¶ 48-52. The Court construes Count II as asserting
claims for false arrest and excessive force in violation of
Plaintiff's Fifth and Fourteenth Amendment rights.
Albano has moved for summary judgment in his favor on both
Count I and Count II. Plaintiff has moved for summary
judgment in his favor on Count I only.
SUMMARY JUDGMENT STANDARD
judgment is appropriate where “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.”
Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). The existence of a factual dispute is not
by itself sufficient grounds to defeat a motion for summary
judgment; rather, “the requirement is that there be no
genuine issue of material fact.”
Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242,
247-48 (1986). A dispute is genuine if “a reasonable
trier of fact could return judgment for the non-moving
party.” Miccosukee Tribe of Indians of Fla. v.
United States, 516 F.3d 1235, 1243 (11th Cir. 2008)
(citing Anderson, 477 U.S. at 247-48). A fact is
material if “it would affect the outcome of the suit
under the governing law.” Id. (citing
Anderson, 477 U.S. at 247-48).
deciding a summary judgment motion, the Court views the facts
in the light most favorable to the non-moving party and draws
all reasonable inferences in that party's favor. See
Davis v. Williams, 451 F.3d 759, 763 (11th Cir. 2006).
The Court does not weigh conflicting evidence. See Skop
v. City of Atlanta, 485 F.3d 1130, 1140 (11th Cir.
2007). Thus, upon discovering a genuine dispute of material
fact, the Court must deny summary judgment. See id.
morning of November 25, 2016, Plaintiff and a woman by the
name of Pamela Paxton were shouting at each other and going
in and out of Plaintiff's apartment in Jupiter, Florida.
See DE 65, Defendant's Statement of Material
Facts (“SOMF”) ¶¶ 1-3; DE 67,
Plaintiff's Response to Defendant's Statement of
Material Facts (“Response”) ¶¶ 1-3.
Plaintiff was wearing a yellow shirt. SOMF ¶ 4; Response
approximately 9:45 a.m. that day, an unidentified person
called 911 to report a domestic incident occurring at
Plaintiff's address. SOMF ¶ 5; Response ¶ 5.
The caller stated that a man named John and a woman named
Pamela, both of whom were possibly intoxicated, were fighting
and running in and out of Plaintiff's apartment. SOMF
¶ 7; Response ¶ 7. The caller also stated that John
was wearing a yellow shirt. SOMF ¶ 7; Response ¶ 7.
and Officer Nicholas Brandt, both of whom were working as
patrol officers for the Town of Jupiter Police Department on
November 25, 2016, responded to the call. SOMF ¶¶
9-10; Response ¶¶ 9-10. Defendant was advised that
he was responding to a reported domestic incident involving a
man named John and a woman named Pamela who were fighting in
front or outside of a particular apartment; that both John
and Pam were possibly intoxicated; and that John was wearing
a yellow shirt. SOMF ¶ 10; Response ¶ 10.
after arriving on the scene, Defendant saw two people exit
the subject apartment; these two people matched the
description provided by the 911 caller. SOMF ¶ 11;
Response ¶ 11. Officer Brandt advised Defendant that the
man, who was wearing a yellow shirt, was named John. SOMF
¶ 12; Response ¶ 12. Both Defendant and Officer
Brandt were familiar with and recognized the woman as Pamela
Paxton. SOMF ¶ 13; Response ¶ 13.
walked toward Plaintiff and said, “You, sir, come
here.” SOMF ¶ 16; Response ¶ 16 DE 65-7; DE
65-8. Plaintiff began walking toward Defendant. SOMF ¶
16; Response ¶ 16; DE 65-7; DE 65-8. Defendant then
asked Plaintiff, “What's your name?” SOMF
¶ 16; Response ¶ 16; DE 65-7; DE 65-8. Plaintiff
did not answer and instead turned and began walking back
toward his apartment. SOMF ¶ 16; Response ¶ 16; DE
65-7; DE 65-8. As he did so, Officer Brandt identified him as
“John.” SOMF ¶ 16; Response ¶ 16; DE
65-7; DE 65-8. Defendant then said to Plaintiff, “John,
come here.” SOMF ¶ 16; Response ¶ 16; DE
65-7; DE 65-8. Plaintiff, who was not yet inside his
apartment, did not comply with that command. SOMF ¶ 16;
Response ¶ 16; DE 65-7; DE 65-8. Defendant then said,
“John don't go inside. You need to follow my orders
because I'm here to investigate. Come here.” SOMF
¶ 17; Response ¶ 17; DE 65-7; DE 65-8. Plaintiff
stopped and turned toward Defendant, then turned back and
walked through a screen door into his apartment, as Defendant
said, “Don't go inside the house. Come here. Why
are you going inside the house?” SOMF ¶ 17;
Response ¶ 17; DE 65-7; DE 65-8. During this entire
exchange, Defendant was wearing his police uniform, was never
more than a few feet away from Plaintiff, was speaking
loudly, and was walking toward Plaintiff and the door to
Plaintiff's apartment. SOMF ¶¶ 17-19; Response
¶¶ 17-19; DE 65-7; DE 65-8. Plaintiff knew that
Defendant was a police officer. SOMF ¶ 18; Response
point, the parties' respective versions of events begin
to diverge. Viewing the facts in the light most favorable to
Plaintiff and drawing all reasonable inferences in his favor,
Defendant reached across the threshold of Plaintiff's
apartment, pulled Plaintiff outside, and threw him to the
ground. SOMF ¶ 25; Response ¶ 25; Additional
Material Facts Submitted by Plaintiff, DE 67 at 6
¶¶ 11-12. With Defendant's assistance, Officer
Brandt then placed handcuffs on Plaintiff. SOMF ¶ 29;
Response ¶ 29. Defendant arrested Plaintiff for
resisting an officer without violence in violation of Florida
Statutes § 843.02. SOMF ¶ 30; Response ¶
after he was handcuffed, Plaintiff told Officer Brandt that
he had been injured. Additional Material Facts Submitted by
Plaintiff, DE 67 at 7 ¶ 18. Defendant then transported
Plaintiff to Jupiter Medical Center (“JMC”) for
treatment. SOMF ¶ 33; Response ¶ 33. Because
Plaintiff remained under arrest and was not free to go,
Defendant handcuffed Plaintiff to the hospital bed. SOMF
¶ 34; Response ¶ 34.
result of this incident, Plaintiff sustained injuries to his
lower middle back, left shoulder, and right ring finger. SOMF
¶ 35; Response ¶ 35. Plaintiff is unable to stand
for long periods of time but can sit for hours without any
pain or discomfort. SOMF ¶ 36; Response ¶ 36. While
Plaintiff's right ring finger is not as straight as it
once was and now has a slight bend, Plaintiff describes this
as “no big deal” and has no physical limitations
in this finger. SOMF ¶ 37; Response ¶ 37; DE 65-9,
Deposition of John Caldwell at 91:14-19. An X-ray of
Plaintiff's right ring finger, taken on the date of the
incident, showed no evidence of a fracture or dislocation.
SOMF ¶ 38; Response ¶ 38. While Plaintiff continues
to have pain in his left shoulder, aside from X-rays taken at
JMC on the day of the incident, Plaintiff has received no
treatment for his left shoulder. SOMF ¶ 39; Response
¶ 39. That X-ray showed no evidence of fracture and no
acute abnormality. SOMF ¶ 40; Response ¶ 40.
Plaintiff was diagnosed by treating physicians at JMC with a
hypertensive episode, mallet finger, and contusion of the
upper arm. SOMF ¶ 41; Response ¶ 41.
respect to Count I, the Court concludes that Defendant had
probable cause, or at least arguable probable cause, to
arrest Plaintiff; Defendant's warrantless entry into
Plaintiff's home to effectuate the arrest was supported
by both probable cause and exigent circumstances; and
Defendant's use of force against Plaintiff was reasonable
and de minimis. Defendant is therefore entitled to summary
judgment in his favor as to Plaintiff's claims for false
arrest, warrantless entry, and excessive force in violation
of his Fourth Amendment rights. With respect to Count II, the
Court concludes that Plaintiff cannot assert ...