United States District Court, M.D. Florida, Tampa Division
DONALD J. HINSON, Plaintiff,
GRADY JUDD, in his official capacity as Sheriff of the Polk County Sheriff's Office, et al., Defendants.
D. WHITTEMORE, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
THE COURT is Defendant Sheriff Grady Judd's
Amended Dispositive Motion for Summary Judgment (Dkt. 66),
and Plaintiff's response (Dkt. 71). Upon consideration,
Defendant's motion (Dkt. 66) is GRANTED.
BACKGROUND AND UNDISPUTED MATERIAL
J. Hinson brought this action against Grady Judd in his
official capacity as Sheriff of Polk County, alleging
violations of his civil rights under 42 U.S.C. §§
1983 and 1988 and the Fourteenth Amendment. His allegations
arise from an incident in the Polk County Jail, when he was
attacked by another detainee. He brings two claims, Policy
Liability Other Failures (Count IV), and Negligence (Count
August 25, 2013, Hinson surrendered to the custody of the
Polk County Sheriff's Office (“PCSO”) as a
pretrial detainee (Dkt. 59 ¶¶ 12, 15). He was
placed in holding cell number four with another detainee,
William Edwards (Id. ¶ 21). Both were being
preliminarily processed and booked prior to transfer to the
South County Jail, where a full assessment and classification
would be completed. Hinson had no prior interaction or
relationship with Edwards before the event giving rise to
this lawsuit (Id. ¶ 23). Notwithstanding,
Edwards, unexpectedly and without provocation, struck Hinson
on the right side of his face. (Id. ¶¶
12-13). The attack resulted in injuries to Hinson, including
facial bone fractures and closed head trauma. (Id.
Edwards was placed in holding cell number four, the Polk
County Jail had no system that would identify a new
detainee's propensity to harm others. Rather, the
practice was to rely on the charges the detainee was being
booked on, the behavior of the detainee while at book-in, and
any known, passed-on information about the detainee that
would call for a need to separate the detainee from others.
(Dkt. 55, Deputy Swenson Dep., at p. 8:12-25, 9:1-11,
22:8-25, 23:1-22); (Dkt. 65, Ex. 2, Department of Detention
Directive 2.2, C.1.d.13); (Dkt. 65, Chief Allen Dep., at pp.
44:22-25, 45:1-10, 53:1-6); (Dkt. 54, Sgt. Rodriguez Dep., at
moves for summary judgment, contending that “no genuine
issue of material fact exists in the record” to support
Plaintiff's claims. (Dkt. 66 at p. 2). Summary judgment
is appropriate where “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). “A genuine
factual dispute exists only if a reasonable fact-finder
‘could find by a preponderance of the evidence that the
[non-movant] is entitled to a verdict.'” Kernel
Records Oy v. Mosley, 694 F.3d 1294, 1300 (11th Cir.
2012) (quoting Anderson v. Liberty Lobby,
Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 252 (1986)). A fact is material if
it may affect the outcome of the suit under governing law.
Allen v. Tyson Foods, Inc., 121 F.3d 642, 646 (11th
Cir. 1997). All facts are viewed and all reasonable
inferences are drawn in the light most favorable to the
non-moving party. See Scott v. Harris, 550 U.S. 372,
moving party bears the initial burden of showing that there
are no genuine disputes of material fact. Hickson Corp.
v. N. Crossarm Co., Inc., 357 F.3d 1256, 1260 (11th Cir.
2004) (citing Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S.
317, 323 (1986)). Once the moving party demonstrates the
absence of a genuine issue of material fact, the non-moving
party must go beyond the pleadings through the use of
affidavits, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and
admissions on file to designate facts showing a genuine issue
for trial. See Celotex Corp., 477 U.S. at 324. The
Court will not weigh the evidence or make findings of fact.
Morrison v. Amway Corp., 323 F.3d 920, 924 (11th
Cir. 2003). Rather, the Court's role is limited to
deciding whether there is sufficient evidence upon which a
reasonable juror could find for the non-moving party. See
IV: 42 U.S.C. § 1983 - Policy Liability
Count IV, Hinson brings a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983
against Sheriff Judd in his official capacity as Sheriff of
Polk County. (Dkt. 59 ¶ 9). This claim is functionally
against the Polk County Sheriff's Office. See
Kentucky v. Graham, 473 U.S. 159, 166 (1985); Cook
ex rel. Estate of Tessier v. Sheriff of Monroe Cnty.,
Fla., 402 F.3d 1092, 1115 (11th Cir. 2005). Relevant to
this claim, governmental entities may be liable for
constitutional violations resulting from the execution of a
policy or custom of the governmental entity. See Monell
v. Dep't of Social Servs. of City of N.Y., 436 U.S.
658, 694 (1978).
impose § 1983 liability on Judd in his official
capacity, Hinson must demonstrate that Judd had an official
policy or custom that was the “moving force”
behind the constitutional violation. Id. The policy
or custom must be a decision that is officially adopted by
the governmental entity, or “created by an official of
such rank that he or she could be said to be acting on behalf
of the municipality.” Cooper v. Dillon, 403
F.3d 1208, 1221 (11th Cir. 2005) (citation and internal
quotation marks omitted). The practice must be so permanent
and well settled as to constitute a “custom or
usage” with the force of law, and proof of a single
incident of unconstitutional activity is not sufficient to
impose liability, unless that proof shows that it was caused
by an existing, unconstitutional policy attributed to the
policy maker. Id.; Craig v. Floyd Cty, 643
F.3d 1306, 1310 (11th Cir. 2011). And liability attaches only
where a deliberate choice to follow a course of action is
made from alternatives by the official responsible for
establishing final policy. Pembaur v. City of
Cincinnati, 475 U.S. 469, 483-84 (1986).
alleges that Sheriff Judd failed to provide a safe
environment, failed to protect him from serious risk of harm,
and “refused to take reasonable measures to protect
[him] and other inmates from harm despite knowing that [his]
assailant and others like him posed a substantial risk of
serious harm.” (Dkt. 59 ¶ 9). He faults Judd for
not having a “red flag” system in place to
segregate certain detainees during the book-in process, and
failing to protect pretrial detainees from violent detainees
placed in the holding cell together. He alleges that Judd
promoted and maintained a policy that commingled violent and
non-violent detainees during booking, and that the failure to
separate them was the moving force behind the attack on him.
(Dkt. 59 ¶¶ 2, 59-60). Hinson's § 1983
claim is based on a failure to train the detention deputies
and an unconstitutional policy or custom. See (Dkt.
66 at p. 9; Dkt. 71 at pp. 2, 4).
Failure to Train
alleges that Judd “encouraged, tolerated, ratified and
has been deliberately indifferent to . . . the need for more
or different training . . . in the area of  Detention
deputy and supervisor duties and responsibilities to ensure
proper classification at booking to ensure pretrial detainees
have a safe environment, including, but not limited to: 
Failure to train detention deputies and supervisors to
properly disclose, communicate and act upon receipt of known
mentally ill, violent and predatory inmates.” (Dkt. 59
§ 1983 failure to train claim will ordinarily rest on a
pattern of constitutional violations which would make the
need for more training so obvious, and the inadequacy of
training so likely to result in the violation of
constitutional rights, that the policy maker can reasonably
be said to have been deliberately indifferent to that need.
City of Canton v. Harris, 489 U.S. 378, 391 (1989).
During the Pretrial Conference, counsel for Hinson confirmed
that the § 1983 claim relies on a pattern of
Judd moves for summary judgment, contending that the record
includes no facts “that point to a pattern of
constitutional violations that have resulted from Sheriff
Judd's alleged ‘failure to train.'” (Dkt.
66 at p. 12). Hinson responds that “detainee violence
in cell four was an obvious consequence of a training that
did not require examination of prior records kept by the
sheriff's office itself.” (Dkt. 71 at p. 4).
Judd's arguments are persuasive. The record evidence does
not demonstrate a pattern of constitutional violations
resulting from a failure to train. And without notice of
deficient training, Judd could not have been deliberately
indifferent. See Connick v. Thompson, 563 U.S. 51,
noted, § 1983 liability is limited to circumstances
where “official policy” causes a constitutional
violation. Gold v. City of Miami, 151 F.3d 1346,
1350 (11th Cir. 1998). Hinson must therefore establish that
inadequate training was a policy or custom which caused the
claimed constitutional violation. Id. (citing
Canton, 489 U.S. at 389-91). And since a
governmental entity will “rarely” have an
officially adopted policy of permitting a constitutional
violation, he must show that Judd had “a custom or
practice of permitting [the violation] and that ...