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Harris v. Rambosk

United States District Court, M.D. Florida, Fort Myers Division

November 5, 2019

ROBERT DALE HARRIS, Plaintiff,
v.
KEVIN RAMBOSK, in his official capacity as Sheriff of Collier County, Florida, KASEY P. WINGO, individually, MICHAEL D. CHAPMAN, individually, SCOTT PEPIN, individually, and ROSS ANTHONY, individually, Defendants.

          OPINION AND ORDER

          JOHN E. STEELE, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         This matter comes before the Court on the defendant Wingo's Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. #112) filed on June 10, 2019. Plaintiff filed a Response (Doc. #129) on June 24, 2019. For the reasons set forth below, the motion is granted in part and denied in part.

         I.

         Summary 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).

         In 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).

         Qualified 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 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 Wingo was acting within his discretionary authority as a law enforcement officer at all relevant times.

         II.

         Plaintiff Robert Dale Harris's (Plaintiff) Amended Complaint (Doc. #51) is the operative pleading. The Amended Complaint asserts claims against Deputy Kasey P. Wingo, a Collier County Sheriff's Office deputy, for false arrest and excessive force under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (Counts II, XVI); malicious prosecution under § 1983 (Counts III, VI, XVII); assault and battery under Florida law (Counts XI, XIX); conspiracy to violate Plaintiff's civil rights under § 1983 (Counts XII, XX); and First Amendment retaliation under § 1983 (Count XIII). Plaintiff's claims against other defendants are discussed in separate orders.

         This case centers on two arrests, occurring on April 4, 2014 and December 16, 2016, respectively. The undisputed facts are as follows:

         A. The April 4, 2014 Arrest

         On April 4, 2014, Plaintiff was repairing his friend Randy Leon Sulwilcowski's (Mr. Sulwilcowski) motorcycle which was warehoused at a storage facility in Naples, Florida. (Doc. #112-1, pp. 36-37.) Plaintiff finished working with Mr. Sulwilcowski on the motorcycle at approximately 9:25 P.M.; the storage facility had closed at 9:00 P.M. (Id. p. 43; Doc. #51, ¶ 28.) Plaintiff then exited the storage facility through the front gate riding a bicycle while wearing a backpack. (Doc. #112-1, p. 135.) As Plaintiff exited the storage facility, Deputy Michael D. Chapman (Deputy Chapman) arrived at the scene in his police cruiser and approached Plaintiff. (Doc. #112-3, pp. 68-69.) Deputy Wingo arrived at the scene in a separate vehicle while Deputy Chapman was approaching Plaintiff. (Doc. #112, p. 4.)

         The audio of most of[1] Plaintiff's interactions with Deputies Chapman and Wingo was recorded on Deputy Chapman's dashcam.[2] During the entire interaction, Plaintiff straddled his bicycle with his feet on the ground. (Doc. #112-3, p. 99.) As Deputy Chapman approached Plaintiff, the following exchange ensued:

Deputy Chapman: “Robert, here's the thing, do you work in here?”
Plaintiff: “I am working for Randy, thank you.”
Deputy Chapman: “Okay, do you work inside this place?”
Plaintiff: “Yeah, for today.”
Deputy Chapman: “Is there anybody than can confirm that? Because you're coming out of a closed place. That's what the problem is.”
Plaintiff: “Listen, he just let me out.” Deputy Chapman: “Okay, is he back there?”
Plaintiff: “Yeah, he's still back there with the generator running.”
Deputy Chapman: “Relax, okay? I have a job I have to do. You understand that? Okay, there's burglaries in these things all the time. I see you come out with a bicycle with a backpack, okay, at 9:30 at night.”

(Chapman Dashcam Video, at 1:03-1:41.) Deputy Chapman then stated to Plaintiff, “you're being very abrasive right now, which makes me think you were back there doing something wrong. Do you understand that?” (Id. at 1:48-1:52.) Plaintiff then requested the presence of Deputy Chapman's supervisor, and Deputy Chapman stated, “well, too bad, because that's not going to happen.” (Id. at 1:54-1:58.) Deputy Wingo asked Deputy Chapman if he “g[ot] his ID yet, ” and Deputy Chapman responded, “it's Robert Price, I think's his last name. It's Robert something.” (Id. at 2:17-2:21.) In response to Deputy Chapman stating that his last name is “Price, ” Plaintiff stated, “no, it's not.” (Id.) Deputy Wingo then asked Plaintiff for his ID:

Deputy Wingo: “Let me see your ID, man.”
Plaintiff: “Just talk to 2008.”
Deputy Wingo: “I don't give a shit about 2008. Let me see your ID.”
Deputy Chapman: “He was coming out of here. Everything's closed.”
Plaintiff: “You know, you guys are harassing me, you know.”
Deputy Wingo: “Let me see your ID, man.”
Plaintiff: “I have no ID.”

(Id. at 2:22-2:40.)

         After Plaintiff stated that he “ha[d] no ID, ” Deputy Chapman asked Plaintiff which storage unit he was working in:

Plaintiff: “You know Rock ‘n' Roll Randy?”[3]
Deputy Wingo: “What about him?”
Plaintiff: “That's who I'm working for, thank you.”
Deputy Chapman: “He owns a place back there? Because last time I checked he was homeless.”
Deputy Wingo: “What's your name, man?”
Plaintiff: “Robert.”
Deputy Wingo: “Robert what? Robert what?”
Plaintiff: “Hold on, I'm on the phone getting my boss out. Thank you.”

(Id. at 2:41-3:22.) Plaintiff called Mr. Sulwilcowski on speaker and stated, “Hey, Randy, come out to the gate and talk to these officers, please.” Mr. Sulwilcowski said “okay” and that he was “on [his] way.” (Id. at 3:35-3:47.)

         After finishing the phone call, Plaintiff continued to interact with Deputies Chapman and Wingo:

Deputy Wingo: “What's your last name, Robert?”
Plaintiff: “Of the family of Harris, and I do not consent to-”
Deputy Wingo: “Harris. H-A-R-R-I-S?”
Plaintiff: “If, if you want-”[4]
Deputy Chapman: “Sir, you do realize I have a valid reason to get your ID? You failing to produce your ID will land you in jail. Do you understand that? Or if you fail to identify yourself.”
Plaintiff: “I just don't like being harassed, that's all.”
Deputy Wingo: “You're not being harassed. I'm trying to get your name and date of birth, man.”
Plaintiff: “No, over there you had harassed ...

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