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Early v. City of Homestead

United States District Court, S.D. Florida

December 6, 2019

Reginald Early III and others, Plaintiffs,
City of Homestead, Florida and others, Defendants.



         This matter is before the Court on Defendants' motion for summary judgment. (ECF No. 50.) The Plaintiffs responded (ECF No. 62) and the Defendants timely replied (ECF No. 69). Having considered the parties' arguments, the record, and the relevant legal authority, the Court grants the Defendants' motion. (ECF No. 50.)

         I. Relevant Facts

         On October 3, 2015, the Plaintiffs were on a family vacation and checked into the Floridian Hotel in Homestead, Florida. (Am. Compl. ¶ 11., ECF No. 22.) At approximately 12:23 a.m., Homestead Police Dispatch received a 911 call from the Floridian Hotel's security guard, Nelson Cruz. (Defendants' Statement of Facts (“Def. SOF”), ECF No. 49 at ¶ 1.) Cruz reported that there was a disturbance at the hotel with a drunk female. (Id. at ¶ 2.) The female guest was disturbing the other guests and there was an altercation with someone in the hallway of the second floor. (Id. ¶ 3.) Cruz said the problematic guests were in room 206. (Id.) Officer Meece, Officer Leal, and Officer Pearce (the “Officers”) arrived on the scene. (Id. at ¶ 5.) The Officers spoke to Cruz and he informed them that one of the females causing the disturbance had been nude in the public areas of the hotel. (Id. at ¶ 6.) Cruz informed Officer Meece that they “needed to leave the hotel.” (Id. at ¶ 7.)

         Prior to knocking on the Plaintiffs' hotel door, Officer Meece heard loud talking or arguing coming from the room. (Id. at ¶ 9.) The Officers knocked on the door and Plaintiff Regina Early opened it. (Id. at ¶ 8, 10.) The Officers observed Plaintiff Reginald Early on the bed near the window. (Id. at ¶ 11.) The Officers also observed Plaintiff Mildred Early in the back of the hotel room, near the bathroom, without any clothes on. (Id. at ¶ 12.) Officer Meece informed Regina that they had caused a disturbance and the Floridian Hotel no longer wished to entertain them as guests. (Id. at ¶ 14.) Officer Meece and Officer Pearce observed Mildred and Regina to be intoxicated. (Id. at ¶ 16.) Officer Meece ordered them to leave immediately. (Id.) The Plaintiffs refused to leave the hotel upon Officer Meece's notice that they were not longer welcome at the hotel. (Id. at ¶ 15.)

         Approximately five to six minutes after the Officers told the Plaintiffs that they had to leave the hotel, the Officers entered the hotel room. (Id. at ¶ 21.) Officer Leal entered the hotel room bathroom and requested that Mildred get out of the bathtub and get dressed. (Id. at ¶ 22.) Officers Leal and Pearce placed Mildred under arrest by bringing her out of the bathroom and placing her on the bed to handcuff her. (Id. at ¶ 23.) Mildred was then wrapped in a sheet at the first available moment, escorted downstairs, and placed in a police car. (Id. at ¶ 24.) Both Mildred and Regina were arrested and transported to the Homestead Police Department. (Id. at ¶ 26.)

         Officer Meece authored the arrest reports and incident reports for Mildred and Regina. (Id. at ¶ 28.) The Officers did not communicate with the State Attorney's Office regarding the charges filed against Mildred and Regina. (Id. at ¶ 29.) Regina signed a pretrial diversion agreement, in which she agreed to complete a pretrial diversion program in exchange for a nolle prosse of the charges. (Id. at ¶ 30.)

         The Plaintiffs do not admit or deny the Defendants' statement of facts. Instead, they present their own version of the facts. According to the Plaintiffs, Mildred and Regina did not have an altercation with anyone at the hotel. (ECF No. 62 at ¶ 1.) They also never consumed alcohol. (Id. at ¶ 5.) When the Officers arrived at their hotel room, they told the Plaintiffs to “get the fuck out.” (Id. at ¶ 10.) The Officers never explained that the Plaintiffs had to leave the hotel. (Id. at ¶ 11.)

         The Officers barged into the bathroom while Mildred was taking a bath. (Id. at ¶ 12.) Officer Leal handcuffed Mildred while she was fully naked. (Id. at ¶ 13.) The Plaintiffs contest the Defendants' assertions that Mildred was only naked for a few minutes. (Id. at ¶ 17.) Officer Pearce testified that he could not recall having heard yelling before the Officers knocked on the hotel door. (Id. at ¶ 18.) The Officers never identified any witnesses or victims of any alleged altercation at the hotel. (Id. at ¶ 19.)

         II. Legal Standard

         Summary judgment is proper if following discovery, the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, affidavits and admissions on file show 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. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986); Fed.R.Civ.P. 56. “An issue of fact is ‘material' if, under the applicable substantive law, it might affect the outcome of the case.” Hickson Corp. v. N. Crossarm Co., 357 F.3d 1256, 1259-60 (11th Cir. 2004). “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.” Id. at 1260.

         All the evidence and factual inferences reasonably drawn from the evidence must be viewed in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party. Adickes v. S.H. Kress & Co., 398 U.S. 144, 157 (1970); Jackson v. BellSouth Telecomms., 372 F.3d 1250, 1280 (11th Cir. 2004). “If more than one inference could be construed from the facts by a reasonable fact finder, and that inference introduces a genuine issue of material fact, then the district court should not grant summary judgment.” Bannum, Inc. v. City of Fort Lauderdale, 901 F.2d 989, 996 (11th Cir. 1990).

         Once a party properly makes a summary judgment motion by demonstrating the absence of a genuine issue of material fact, whether or not accompanied by affidavits, the nonmoving party must go beyond the pleadings through the use of affidavits, depositions, answers to interrogatories and admissions on file, and designate specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial. Celotex, 477 U.S. at 323-24. The nonmovant's evidence must be significantly probative to support the claims. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 249 (1986). The Court will not weigh the evidence or make findings of fact. Id. at 249; 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 nonmoving party. Id.

         III. Analysis

         As a preliminary matter, the Court will address the Plaintiffs' failure to comply with Local Rule 56.1. Local Rule 56.1(a) states that “[s]tatements of material facts submitted in opposition to a motion for summary judgment shall correspond with the order and with the paragraph numbering scheme used by the movant . . . Additionally facts which the party opposing summary judgment contends are material shall be numbered and placed at the end of the opposing party's statement of material facts[.]” The Rule goes on to state that “all material facts set forth in the movant's statement filed and supported as required above will be deemed admitted unless controverted by the opposing party's statement, provided that the Court finds that the movant's statement is supported by evidence in the record.” S.D. Fla. L.R. 56.1(b). “[I]t is the nonmovant's obligations to specifically bring the factual dispute to the court's attention by rebutting the movant's factual statements on a paragraph by paragraph basis and with specific citations to the record.” Joseph v. Napolitano, 829 F.Supp.2d 1324, 1329 (S.D. Fla. 2012) (Goodman, Mag. J.).

         The Defendants filed a Statement of Undisputed Facts in support of their motion for summary judgment, which consists of 32 numbered paragraphs with citations to the record. (ECF No. 49.) In response, the Plaintiffs did not file a corresponding statement of undisputed facts to rebut, on a paragraph-by-paragraph basis, the Defendants' statement of facts. Instead, the Plaintiffs' response to the Defendants' motion includes a “Background” section ...

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