United States District Court, M.D. Florida, Fort Myers Division
OPINION AND ORDER
E. STEELE SENIOR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
matter comes before the Court on defendant Michael D.
Chapman's Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. #121) filed
on June 10, 2019. Plaintiff filed a Response (Doc. #127) on
June 24, 2019. For the reasons set forth below, the motion is
granted in part and denied in part.
judgment is appropriate only when the Court is satisfied that
“there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and
that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of
law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). “An issue of fact is
‘genuine' if the record taken as a whole could lead
a rational trier of fact to find for the nonmoving
party.” Baby Buddies, Inc. v. Toys “R”
Us, Inc., 611 F.3d 1308, 1314 (11th Cir. 2010). A fact
is “material” if it may affect the outcome of the
suit under governing law. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby,
Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). “A court must
decide ‘whether the evidence presents a sufficient
disagreement to require submission to a jury or whether it is
so one-sided that one party must prevail as a matter of
law.'” Hickson Corp. v. N. Crossarm Co.,
Inc., 357 F.3d 1256, 1260 (11th Cir. 2004)(citing
Anderson, 477 U.S. at 251).
ruling on a motion for summary judgment, the Court views all
evidence and draws all reasonable inferences in favor of the
non-moving party. Scott v. Harris, 550 U.S. 372, 380
(2007); Tana v. Dantanna's, 611 F.3d 767, 772
(11th Cir. 2010). However, “if reasonable minds might
differ on the inferences arising from undisputed facts, then
the court should deny summary judgment.” St.
Charles Foods, Inc. v. America's Favorite Chicken
Co., 198 F.3d 815, 819 (11th Cir. 1999)(quoting
Warrior Tombigbee Transp. Co. v. M/V Nan Fung, 695
F.2d 1294, 1296-97 (11th Cir. 1983)(finding summary judgment
“may be inappropriate even where the parties agree on
the basic facts, but disagree about the factual inferences
that should be drawn from these facts”)). “If a
reasonable fact finder evaluating the evidence could draw
more than one inference from the facts, and if that inference
introduces a genuine issue of material fact, then the court
should not grant summary judgment.” Allen v. Bd. of
Pub. Educ., 495 F.3d 1306, 1315 (11th Cir. 2007).
immunity provides “complete protection for individual
public officials performing discretionary functions insofar
as their conduct does not violate clearly established
statutory or constitutional rights of which a reasonable
person would have known.” Sherrod v. Johnson,
667 F.3d 1359, 1363 (11th Cir. 2012) (quotation omitted). A
defendant claiming qualified immunity must show that he acted
“within the scope of his discretionary authority when
the allegedly wrongful acts occurred.” Lee v.
Ferraro, 284 F.3d 1188, 1194 (11th Cir. 2002) (quoting
Courson v. McMillian, 939 F.2d 1479, 1487 (11th Cir.
1991)). If that showing is made, then the plaintiff must
establish “(1) that the facts, when construed in the
plaintiff's favor, show that the official committed a
constitutional violation and, if so, (2) that the law, at the
time of the official's act, clearly established the
unconstitutionality of that conduct.” Singletary v.
Vargas, 804 F.3d 1174, 1180 (11th Cir. 2015)(citation
omitted). It is undisputed that Deputy Chapman was acting
within his discretionary authority as a law enforcement
officer at all relevant times.
Robert Dale Harris (Plaintiff) filed an Amended Complaint
(Doc. #51) in this case on May 2, 2018. The Amended Complaint
asserts claims against Deputy Michael D. Chapman (Deputy
Chapman), a Collier County Sheriff's Office deputy, for
false arrest and excessive force under 42 U.S.C. § 1983
(Count V); malicious prosecution under § 1983 (Count
VI); malicious prosecution under Florida law (Count VII);
assault and battery under Florida law (Count XI); conspiracy
to violate Plaintiff's civil rights under § 1983
(Count XII); and First Amendment retaliation under §
1983 (Count XIII).
undisputed facts relevant to the instant motion are set forth
in the Court's previous Opinion and Order (Doc. #173) and
are adopted herein. Deputy Chapman now moves for summary
judgment on all Counts asserted against him. As to
Plaintiff's claims for false arrest, malicious
prosecution, and First Amendment retaliation, Deputy Chapman
argues he is entitled to summary judgment because he had
probable cause to arrest Plaintiff on April 4, 2014. Deputy
Chapman alternatively argues that even if he lacked probable
cause to arrest Plaintiff, he had arguable probable cause to
arrest Plaintiff and is thus entitled to qualified immunity.
Plaintiff's claims for excessive force and assault and
battery, Deputy Chapman argues he is entitled to summary
judgment because his use of force was objectively reasonable.
Deputy Chapman alternatively argues that even if he
“used excessive force, ” he did not violate
clearly established law and is thus entitled to qualified
immunity. (Doc. #121, p. 22.)
The False Arrest (Count V), Malicious Prosecution (Counts VI,
VII), and First Amendment Retaliation (Count XIII)
Chapman argues he is entitled to summary judgment on
Plaintiff's claims for false arrest, malicious
prosecution, and First Amendment retaliation because Deputy
Chapman had probable cause to arrest Plaintiff for loitering
and prowling and resisting arrest without violence. The Court
cause to arrest exists . . . when an arrest is objectively
reasonable based on the totality of the circumstances.”
Coffin v. Brandau, 642 F.3d 999, 1006 (11th Cir.
2011)(citation and quotation omitted). This standard is
satisfied where “the facts within the collective
knowledge of law enforcement officials, derived from
reasonably trustworthy information, are sufficient to cause a
person of reasonable caution to believe that a criminal
offense has been or is being committed.” Brown v.
City of Huntsville, Ala., 608 F.3d 724, 734 (11th Cir.
2010). The Eleventh Circuit has recently stated:
“Because probable cause deals with probabilities and
depends on the totality of the circumstances, it is a fluid
concept that is not readily, or even usefully, reduced to a
neat set of legal rules.” District of Columbia v.
Wesby, ___ U.S. ___, 138 S.Ct. 577, 586, 199 L.Ed.2d 453
(2018) (quotation marks omitted). It “requires more
than mere suspicion, but does not require convincing
proof.” Bailey v. Bd. of Cty. Comm'rs, 956
F.2d 1112, 1120 (11th Cir. 1992); see Wesby, 138 S.Ct. at 586
(“It requires only a probability or substantial chance
of criminal activity, not ...