United States District Court, M.D. Florida, Orlando Division
GREGORY A. PRESNELL, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
matter comes before the Court without a hearing on the Motion
to Dismiss Count II (Doc. 50) filed by Defendant Nicholas
Galluzzi (henceforth, “Galluzzi”) and the
response in opposition (Doc. 57) filed by the Plaintiff,
Alexzander Houston (“Houston”).
to the allegations of the Third Amended Complaint (Doc. 48),
which are accepted in pertinent part as true for purposes of
resolving the instant motion, on December 1, 2016, Houston
was a passenger in a vehicle that was attempting to evade
police officers. (Doc. 48 at 2). The vehicle crashed, the
driver fled, and Houston immediately surrendered to the
officers present at the crash scene. (Doc. 48 at 3). Those
officers included Defendants Galluzzi and Nicholas Holbrook
(“Holbrook”), both of whom work for the Rockledge
Police Department. (Doc. 48 at 2). Houston exited the vehicle
and lay face down on the ground. (Doc. 48 at 3). After
remaining in that position for at least five seconds, without
offering any provocation, Houston was shot in the shoulder by
Galluzzi, with the bullet ultimately lodging in his chest.
(Doc. 48 at 3).
waited at least 30 seconds after the shooting to order
Holbrook to render medical aid to Houston. (Doc. 48 at 4).
Holbrook put on gloves and began searching Houston; however,
neither he nor Galluzzi attempted to render medical aid to
Houston. (Doc. 48 at 5). At least three minutes passed after
the shooting before Galluzzi called for an ambulance. (Doc.
48 at 6).
8, 2018, Houston filed the instant suit pursuant to 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983, asserting claims against Galluzzi and five
“John Doe” defendants. (Doc. 1). On July 20,
2018, Houston filed an amended complaint (Doc. 20), naming
the same defendants. On October 26, 2018, the Court granted
in part Galluzzi's motion to dismiss. (Doc. 29). On
December 10, Houston filed his Second Amended Complaint (Doc.
30). Among other changes, Houston added Holbrook as a
defendant, alleging that he (along with Galluzzi) had been
deliberately indifferent to Houston's medical needs.
(Doc. 30 at 7-10). On February 26, 2019, the Court dismissed
the deliberate indifference claims. (Doc. 45, 46).
March 12, 2019, Houston filed the Third Amended Complaint. In
it, he asserts two Section 1983 claims: an excessive force
claim against Galluzzi (Count I) and another deliberate
indifference claim against both Defendants (Count II). By way
of the instant motion, Galluzzi seeks dismissal of Count II
on the basis of qualified immunity.
immunity protects government officials from liability for
civil damages unless they violate a statutory or
constitutional right that was clearly established at the time
the alleged violation took place.” Gilmore v.
Hodges, 738 F.3d 266, 272 (11th Cir. 2013). The purpose
of qualified immunity is to allow government officials to
carry out their discretionary duties without the fear of
personal liability or harassing litigation. Lee v.
Ferraro, 284 F.3d 1188, 1194 (11th Cir. 2002) (citing
Anderson v. Creighton, 483 U.S. 635, 638, 107 S.Ct.
3034, 3038, 97 L.Ed.2d 523 (1987)). Qualified immunity
protects from suit “all but the plainly incompetent or
one who is knowingly violating the federal law.”
Id. (quoting Willingham v. Loughnan, 261
F.3d 1178, 1187 (11th Cir. 2001)).
entitled to qualified immunity, government officials must
first prove that they were acting within the scope of their
discretionary authority when the allegedly wrongful acts
occurred. Harbert Intern., Inc. v. James, 157 F.3d
1271, 1281 (11th Cir. 1998) (citing Evans v.
Hightower, 117 F.3d 1318, 1320 (11th Cir. 1997). Once
the officials do so, the burden shifts to the plaintiff to
establish that 1) the facts alleged make out a violation of a
statutory or constitutional right and 2) the right at issue
was clearly established at the time the alleged violation
took place. Gilmore, 738 F.3d at 272. The Court may
consider these two prongs in either order, and a public
official is entitled to qualified immunity if the plaintiff
fails to establish either one. See Pearson v.
Callahan, 555 U.S. 223, 226, 129 S.Ct. 808, 818, 172
L.Ed.2d 565 (2009).
instant case, there is no dispute that Galluzzi and Holbrook
were acting within the scope of their discretionary authority
during the events in question. Accordingly, the burden shifts
to Houston to show that (1) he has alleged facts that, if
shown to be true, would make out a violation of a
constitutional right and (2) this right was clearly
established at the time of the alleged violation.
pretrial detainee, Houston's right to adequate medical
care is governed by the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth
Amendment rather than the Eighth Amendment's prohibition
on cruel and unusual punishment, which applies to prisoners.
Mann v. Taser Intern., Inc., 588 F.3d 1291, 1306
(11th Cir. 2009) (citing City of Revere v. Massachusetts
Gen. Hosp., 463 U.S. 239, 244, 103 S.Ct. 2979, 2983, 77
L.Ed.2d 605 (1983)). Nonetheless, Houston's claim is
subject to the same scrutiny as if it had been brought under
the Eighth Amendment. Id. (citing Hamm v. DeKalb
County, 774 F.2d 1567, 1574 (11th Cir. 1985)). To
prevail on a claim of deliberate indifference to serious
medical need in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment, a
plaintiff must demonstrate: (1) a serious medical need; (2)
the defendants' deliberate indifference to that need; and
(3) causation between that indifference and the
plaintiff's injury. Youmans v. Gagnon, 626 F.3d
557, 563 (11th Cir. 2010). In this case, the Defendants
acknowledge that Houston had a serious medical need but argue
that they were not deliberately indifferent to that need.
this Circuit, to prove that a deputy acted with deliberate
indifference, a plaintiff must show: (1) subjective knowledge
of a risk of serious harm; (2) disregard of that risk; and
(3) conduct that is more than mere negligence. Brown v.
Johnson, 387 F.3d 1344, 1351 (11th Cir. 2004). A
government official disregards a serious risk by more than
mere negligence “when he [or she] knows that an inmate
is in serious need of medical care, but he [or she] fails or
refuses to obtain medical treatment for the inmate.”
Lancaster v. Monroe Cty., Ala., 116 F.3d 1419, 1425
(11th Cir. 1997), overruled on other grounds by LeFrere
v. Quezada, 588 F.3d 1317, 1318 (11th Cir. 2009). Even
when medical care is ultimately provided, a government
official may nonetheless act with ...