Youngv.Graham

United States District Court, S.D. Georgia, Dublin DivisionAug 11, 2005
No. CV 304-066 (S.D. Ga. Aug. 11, 2005)

No. CV 304-066.

August 11, 2005


ORDER


DUDLEY BOWEN Jr., District Judge

Plaintiff Joe Talmadge Young, proceeding pro se, filed suit in the captioned case pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against Defendant James Donald Atkins, individually, as a deputy sheriff with the Dodge County Sheriff's Department, and against Defendant Ed Graham, individually and in his official capacity as the Sheriff of Dodge County. The Court takes judicial notice that Lawton Douglas is the current sheriff of Dodge County. Accordingly, the Clerk is DIRECTED to substitute Sheriff Lawton Douglas in his official capacity as a defendant in this action for Defendant Ed Graham in his official capacity. Defendant Ed Graham will remain in the case in his individual capacity.

In Plaintiff's verified amended complaint, he alleges that he was arrested by Defendant Atkins, without a warrant, on May 22, 2004 for disorderly conduct. (Am. Compl., St. of Claim.) Plaintiff was incarcerated for ten days until June 1, at which time he posted bond. During the ten-day incarceration period, Plaintiff was not taken before a judicial officer and was not advised of the bond amount. Plaintiff claims he had bond money in his possession the entire time. (Id.) Plaintiff claims Defendant Ed Graham had a policy to hold detainees without taking them before a judicial officer. (Id.)

Plaintiff also claims he suffered "unconstitutional jail conditions." Plaintiff complains that he was not given a free phone call, not given bond advice, not asked medical questions upon intake, not given any way to get information about his bond, not allowed sufficient exercise, housed with an inmate with a bloody nose, not able to use the law library, not given stamps or reading and writing material, placed in a dimly lit cell, and not given aspirin upon request. (Id. ¶¶ 1-7.)

Plaintiff filed a motion for summary judgment in January of 2005 against Defendant Atkins on his claim of illegal detention. (Doc. No. 16.) Prior to this Court's Order addressing said motion, Plaintiff filed another motion for summary judgment, this time against Defendant Ed Graham. (Doc. No. 26.) In this motion, Plaintiff concedes that he has no claim against Defendant Graham in his official capacity because he is no longer the sheriff. Nevertheless, Plaintiff persists that he is entitled to summary judgment against Defendant Ed Graham in his individual capacity based upon his personal involvement in maintaining a policy of illegal detention.

The Clerk issued the notice requirements of Griffith v. Wainwright, 772 F.2d 822, 825 (11th Cir. 1985), for this motion on January 11, 2005. (Doc. No. 20.)

The Clerk issued the notice requirements of Griffith v. Wainwright, 772 F.2d 822, 825 (11th Cir. 1985), for this motion on April 4, 2005. (Doc. No. 30.)

By Order dated April 26, 2005, the Court deferred consideration of Plaintiff's motion for summary judgment against Defendant Atkins on the claim of illegal detention. Defendant Atkins was ordered to resubmit a response to Plaintiff's Statement of Undisputed Material Facts and to provide all evidence related to the illegal detention claim. (See Order of Apr. 26, 2005.) This Order specifically noted that Defendant Atkins' prior "coy non-response" to a relevant assertion of undisputed fact was "unacceptable" to the Court. (Id. at 6.) Defendant Atkins filed a response to the Court's April 26, 2005 Order, albeit three days late.

Plaintiff's motion for summary judgment against Defendant Ed Graham was not yet ripe for consideration since the time for Defendant's response had not passed.

Two additional motions for summary judgment have now been filed in the case. On June 10, 2005, Plaintiff filed a motion for summary judgment against Sheriff Lawton Douglas on all claims. (Doc. No. 43.) On June 13, 2005, Defendants filed a motion for summary judgment on all of Plaintiff's claims. (Doc. No. 45.) Plaintiff has filed a motion to strike Defendants' motion for summary judgment which I find to be patently without merit; said motion to strike Defendants' motion for summary judgment (doc. no. 55) is DENIED. The Court shall now consider all four pending motions for summary judgment seriatim.

The Clerk issued the notice requirements of Griffith v. Wainwright, 772 F.2d 822, 825 (11th Cir. 1985), for this motion on June 13, 2005. (Doc. No. 51.)

The Clerk issued the notice requirements of Griffith v. Wainwright, 772 F.2d 822, 825 (11th Cir. 1985), for this motion on June 13, 2005. (Doc. No. 52.)

I. Factual Background

Defendant Atkins arrested Plaintiff without a warrant on May 22, 2004, for disorderly conduct. (Ans. ¶ 3.) Defendant Atkins stated that he delivered Plaintiff to the Dodge County Jail on May 22 and informed him of the bond amount at that time. (Atkins Second Decl. ¶ 5.) Defendant Atkins averred that Plaintiff told him he had money to make bond; thus, he assumed Plaintiff would bond out of jail within 24 hours or less. (Id. ¶ 6.) Defendant Atkins did not have any further interaction with Plaintiff while he was jailed, and he never obtained an arrest warrant. (Id. ¶ 7.) Plaintiff remained in the Dodge County Jail for ten days. On June 1, 2004, Plaintiff bonded out of jail with money he claims to have had the entire period of his detention. (Am. Compl., St. of Claim.) He contends that neither Defendant Atkins nor any other jail official told him the bond amount but that he eventually found out the amount through a source outside of the jail. Defendant Graham did not have any direct involvement with Plaintiff's arrest or detention. (Graham Decl. ¶ 2.)

Plaintiff claims that another inmate called a bail bondsman on his behalf on June 1, 2004. (Pl.'s Dep. at 42.)

With respect to Plaintiff's charge of unconstitutional jail conditions, the record contains testimony of Plaintiff by way of deposition and declaration in which he complains of various issues he has with the Dodge County Jail. In his deposition, however, Plaintiff admits that he was not physically harmed by any of these alleged jail conditions. (Young Dep. at 21-23.) He further admits that he was not sick or injured during his detention. (Id.)

II. Summary Judgment Standard

The Court should grant summary judgment only if "there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and . . . the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c). Facts are "material" if they could affect the outcome of the suit under the governing substantive law. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). The Court must view the facts in the light most favorable to the non-moving party, Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986), and must draw "all justifiable inferences in [its] favor," United States v. Four Parcels of Real Property, 941 F.2d 1428, 1437 (11th Cir. 1991) (en banc) (internal punctuation and citations omitted).

The moving party has the initial burden of showing the Court, by reference to materials on file, the basis for the motion.Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986). How to carry this burden depends on who bears the burden of proof at trial. Fitzpatrick v. City of Atlanta, 2 F.3d 1112, 1115 (11th Cir. 1993). If the movant bears the burden of proof at trial, that party "must show that, on all the essential elements of its case, . . . no reasonable jury could find for the non-moving party." Four Parcels, 941 F.2d at 1438. On the other hand, if the non-movant has the burden of proof at trial, the movant may carry the initial burden in one of two ways — by negating an essential element of the non-movant's case or by showing that there is no evidence to prove a fact necessary to the non-movant's case. See Clark v. Coats Clark, Inc., 929 F.2d 604, 606-08 (11th Cir. 1991) (explaining Adickes v. S.H. Kress Co., 398 U.S. 144 (1970) and Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317 (1986)). Before the Court can evaluate the non-movant's response in opposition, it must first consider whether the movant has met its initial burden of showing that there are no genuine issues of material fact and that it is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Jones v. City of Columbus, 120 F.3d 248, 254 (11th Cir. 1997) (per curiam). A mere conclusory statement that the non-movant cannot meet the burden at trial is insufficient. Clark, 929 F.2d at 608.

If — and only if — the movant carries its initial burden, the non-movant may avoid summary judgment only by "demonstrat[ing] that there is indeed a material issue of fact that precludes summary judgment." Id. Again, how to carry this burden depends on who bears the burden of proof at trial. If the movant has the burden of proof at trial, the non-movant may avoid summary judgment only by coming forward with evidence from which a reasonable jury could find in its favor. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 249. If the non-movant bears the burden of proof at trial, the non-movant must tailor its response to the method by which the movant carries its initial burden. If the movant presents evidence affirmatively negating a material fact, the non-movant "must respond with evidence sufficient to withstand a directed verdict motion at trial on the material fact sought to be negated." Fitzpatrick, 2 F.3d at 1116. If the movant shows an absence of evidence on a material fact, the non-movant must either show that the record contains evidence that was "overlooked or ignored" by the movant or "come forward with additional evidence sufficient to withstand a directed verdict motion at trial based on the alleged evidentiary deficiency." Id. at 1116-17. The non-movant cannot carry its burden by relying on the pleadings or by repeating conclusory allegations contained in the complaint. See Morris v. Ross, 663 F.2d 1032, 1033-34 (11th Cir. 1981). Rather, the non-movant must respond by affidavits or as otherwise provided by Fed.R.Civ.P. 56.

III. Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment Against Defendant Atkins

Plaintiff's only claim under consideration through this motion is his § 1983 claim for illegal detention against Defendant Atkins in his individual capacity. Plaintiff specifically targets the issue of having been held in jail for ten days without bond and without an appearance before a judicial officer. As discussed in the Order of April 26, 2005, this Court has concluded that if Plaintiff was held for longer than 48 hours without a probable cause determination, his Fourth Amendment rights were apparently violated. (Order of Apr. 26, 2005, at 4-6 (citing County of Riverside v. McLaughlin, 500 U.S. 44 (1991); O.C.G.A. § 17-4-62.)

The Court notes Defendant Atkins' objection to allowing Plaintiff to assert a Fourth Amendment claim when he specifically disclaimed a Fourth Amendment claim in his brief supporting summary judgment. First, I note that Plaintiff does not specify in the amended complaint which of his constitutional rights were infringed by his detention; thus, I may construe this pro se pleading liberally. See Byrd v. Stewart, 811 F.2d 554 (11th Cir. 1987) (pro se plaintiff's complaint set forth claim for unlawful search and seizure under 42 U.S.C. § 1983); Powell v. Lennon, 914 F.2d 1459 (11th Cir. 1990) (liberally construing pro se prisoner's complaint to find sufficient allegation of constitutional deprivation to withstand motion to dismiss). Second, Defendant Atkins' objection is untimely since he did not comply with this Court's Order of April 26, 2005 to address the Court's concerns on the illegal detention issue until three days after he was directed to do so.

Now, Defendant Atkins admits that he never obtained a probable cause determination respecting Plaintiff's arrest. Instead, he contends that he delivered him to the Dodge County Jail and assumed he would make bond within 24 hours. Defendant Atkins' assumption does not exonerate him from liability however. Section 17-4-62 of the Georgia Code provides that "the person arresting" shall seek an arrest warrant within 48 hours of arrest. Therefore, Defendant Atkins' detention of Plaintiff for longer than 48 hours presumptively violates the Fourth Amendment. Powell v. Nevada, 511 U.S. 79 (1994).

The Supreme Court left to the individual states the process by which a probable cause hearing would be integrated into the states' various pretrial procedures. Gerstein v. Pugh, 420 U.S. 103 (1975).

Defendant Atkins claims he is entitled to qualified immunity on the illegal detention claim. The law was clearly established, however, at the time of Plaintiff's arrest that a ten-day detention without probable cause does not comport with the Fourth Amendment. Thus, Defendant Atkins had "fair and clear notice" that his conduct was unconstitutional. See Vinyard v. Wilson, 311 F.3d 1340, 1350 (11th Cir. 2002); see also Saucier v. Katz, 533 U.S. 194, 201 (2001). Defendant Atkins is not entitled to the protection afforded by qualified immunity.

County of Riverside v. McLaughlin, 500 U.S. 44 (1991);Gerstein v. Pugh, 420 U.S. 103 (1975).

Defendant Atkins also argues that Plaintiff's Fourth Amendment claim is barred by Heck v. Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477 (1994). InHeck, the United States Supreme Court held that a plaintiff could not challenge the constitutionality of his conviction in a suit for damages under § 1983 while an appeal from that conviction was pending. Id. at 479. In the instant case, the disorderly conduct charge against Plaintiff is still pending. (Vaughn Decl. ¶ 3.) Thus, Defendant Atkins contends that theHeck rule precludes Plaintiff's § 1983 claim until the disorderly conduct charge is adjudicated.

A closer look at Heck belies Defendant's position. In dismissing Heck's § 1983 claim, the Supreme Court stated that a claim for damages that necessarily requires a plaintiff to prove the unlawfulness of his conviction or confinement, which is brought when such conviction or confinement has not been so invalidated, is not cognizable under § 1983. Id. at 486-87. "Heck bars any suit for damages premised on a violation of civil rights if the basis for the suit is inconsistent with or would undermine the constitutionality of a conviction or sentence." Wiley v. City of Chicago, 361 F.3d 994, 996 (7th Cir. 2004) (citing Heck, 512 U.S. at 486-87).

In the case at bar, Plaintiff claims that Defendant Atkins illegally detained him without a probable cause determination in violation of his constitutional rights. In order for Plaintiff to obtain a civil judgment on this claim, it is not necessary for Plaintiff to demonstrate the invalidity of the criminal charge brought against him. The ten-day illegal detention caused the alleged harm to Plaintiff regardless of the validity of the charge against him. In other words, the factual basis of Plaintiff's § 1983 claim does not inevitably undermine any conviction against him for disorderly conduct. The eventual disposition of the criminal charge is irrelevant to whether a probable cause determination was made. Thus, the Heck rule does not preclude this particular § 1983 claim. Accord Harden v. Pataki, 320 F.3d 1289, 1295-96 n. 9 (11th Cir. 2003) (explaining that the Heck rule does not apply to a § 1983 claim for damages resulting from using the wrong procedure); Montgomery v. De Simone, 159 F.3d 120, 126 n. 5 (3d Cir. 1998).

To the extent that Defendant Atkins argues that Plaintiff's claim is barred by the Hudson-Parratt rule stating that an adequate post-deprivation remedy will bar a § 1983 procedural due process claim, such argument is inapposite because Plaintiff's claim is cognizable under the Fourth Amendment, not the Fourteenth Amendment.

In conclusion, I find that there is no material fact in dispute with respect to Plaintiff's Fourth Amendment claim of illegal detention. His claim has been established by the undisputed evidence. Accordingly, Defendant Atkins is liable as a matter of law for violating Plaintiff's Fourth Amendment right to be free from a prolonged detention without probable cause. This claim shall proceed to trial on the issue of damages.

IV. Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment Against Defendant Ed Graham

In this motion for summary judgment, Plaintiff concedes that he cannot hold Defendant Graham responsible for the jail conditions since Graham is no longer the Sheriff of Dodge County. Plaintiff instead seeks to hold him liable in his individual capacity for the illegal detention. Plaintiff contends that Defendant Graham, as Sheriff, either maintained an unconstitutional policy of illegal detention or failed to maintain a constitutional policy of detention. Thus, Plaintiff appears to base his claim against Defendant Graham upon a theory of supervisory liability.

Supervisory liability under § 1983 occurs "when there is a causal connection between the actions of a supervising official and the alleged constitutional deprivation." Cottone v. Jenne, 326 F.3d 1352, 1360 (11th Cir. 2003) (citations omitted); see Rizzo v. Goode, 423 U.S. 362, 371 (1976) (stating that a supervisory official may be liable even when he is not directly involved in the constitutional violation if the misconduct of the official's subordinate can be "affirmatively link[ed]" to the action or inaction of the supervisor). The necessary causal connection can be established by evidence of a history of widespread abuse. Cottone, 326 F.3d at 1360. There is no evidence of widespread illegal detention in the instant case. A causal connection can also be established "when facts support an inference that the supervisor directed the subordinates to act unlawfully or knew that the subordinates would act unlawfully and failed to stop them from doing so." Id. (citations and internal quotations marks omitted). In the present case, there is no evidence that Defendant Graham knew anything about Plaintiff's detention; thus, no reasonable jury could find that he directed the detention or failed to stop the detention.

Supervisory liability may also be established when the supervisor personally participates in the alleged unconstitutional conduct. Cottone, 326 F.3d at 1360. This is not an issue here because it is undisputed that Defendant Graham had no direct involvement with Plaintiff's detention.

The only other method by which to establish a causal connection between Defendant Graham's actions and the constitutional deprivation is to show that Defendant Graham had a "custom or policy . . . result[ing] in deliberate indifference to constitutional rights." Id. (citations and internal quotations marks omitted). In this case, Plaintiff has presented no evidence, except his bare allegations, that Defendant Graham had a custom or policy of illegally detaining inmates. To the contrary, Defendant Graham provided verified answers to Plaintiff's interrogatories in which he states that his policy regarding the provision of bond information was in accordance with state law at the time of Plaintiff's detention. (Def. Graham's Resp. to Pl.'s First Interr. ¶¶ 7, 13.) He further explains that while he did not have a written policy, written bond amounts for misdemeanor offenses were posted in the jail and available upon request. (Id. ¶¶ 10, 14.)

In summary, Plaintiff points to no specific facts connecting Defendant Graham to the actions of Defendant Atkins. There is no allegation that he directed Defendant Atkins to illegally detain Plaintiff. There is no evidence that Defendant Graham was on notice of the illegal detention so as to correct or stop it. Finally, Plaintiff presents no evidence that any affirmative custom or policy implemented by Defendant Graham played a role in the detention. Plaintiff's vague and conclusory allegations fail to meet the heightened evidentiary standard for civil rights cases. See Cottone, 326 F.3d at 1360 ("The standard by which a supervisor is held liable in individual capacity for the actions of a subordinate is extremely rigorous." (quoted source omitted)). Plaintiff has simply failed to establish the requisite causal connection; thus, there is no basis for supervisor liability.

For this reason, Plaintiff cannot show that Defendant Graham committed a constitutional violation in his supervisory capacity. Thus, I conclude that Defendant Graham is entitled to qualified immunity. See Saucier v. Katz, 533 U.S. 194, 201 (2001) (explaining that if a plaintiff cannot prove a constitutional infringement, the defendant is entitled to qualified immunity without further inquiry).

V. Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment Against Defendant Douglas Lawton

In this motion for summary judgment, Plaintiff seeks summary judgment on his claim of unconstitutional jail conditions against the Sheriff of Dodge County, Douglas Lawton, in his official capacity. Defendant Lawton contends, inter alia, that he is immune from suit under the Eleventh Amendment. The Eleventh Amendment protects a state from being sued in federal court without a state's consent. Carr v. City of Florence, 916 F.2d 1521, 1524 (11th Cir. 1990). Eleventh Amendment immunity also bars suits brought against employees or officers sued in their official capacities for monetary damages because those actions actually seek recovery from state funds.Kentucky v. Graham, 473 U.S. 159, 165-68 (1985); Hobbs v. Roberts, 999 F.2d 1526, 1528 (11th Cir. 1993).

"To receive Eleventh Amendment immunity, a defendant need not be labeled a `state officer' or `state official,' but instead need only be acting as an `arm of the state,' which includes agents and instrumentalities of the state." Manders v. Lee, 338 F.3d 1304, 1308 (11th Cir. 2003) (citations omitted). Whether a defendant is an "arm of the state" is determined by examining his or her function in a particular context. Id. This entails analyzing four factors: 1) how state law defines the entity; 2) what degree of control the state maintains over the entity; 3) where the entity derives its funds; and 4) who is responsible for judgments against the entity. Id. (citations omitted). After a lengthy review of these factors, the Manders court held that Georgia sheriffs act as "state officers" when setting use-of-force policies at a county jail. Id.

I will not tarry long over a Manders analysis in this case but instead reference the analyses of other post-Manders cases which have examined a sheriff's duties vis a vis state law. In a recent Eleventh Circuit decision, the court reiterated a sheriff's entitlement to Eleventh Amendment immunity when establishing and administering jail policies. Purcell v. Toombs County, 400 F.3d 1313 (11th Cir. 2005). In the Purcell case, the § 1983 plaintiff brought an Eighth Amendment claim for unconstitutional conditions of confinement at a county jail, specifically the failure to prevent inmate-on-inmate beatings. The court determined that the sheriff acted as an arm of the state when he promulgated policies governing conditions of confinement at the county jail. Id. at 1325. Thus, he was entitled to Eleventh Amendment immunity. Id. Specifically, the Eleventh Circuit stated:

[In Manders,] we decided that a sheriff's "authority and duty to administer the jail in his jurisdiction flows from the State, not [the] County." Thus, Manders controls our determination here; [the sheriff] functions as an arm of the State — not [the] County — when promulgating policies and procedures governing conditions of confinement at the County Jail.
Id. (quoting Manders, 338 F.3d at 1315). Similarly, a district court in Powell v. Barrett, 2005 WL 1606413 (N.D. Ga., July 5, 2005), held that insofar as inmates at Fulton County Jail sought damages from the former and present sheriffs of Fulton County for their policies of "blanket strip searches" and "over-detention," the inmates' claims were barred by the Eleventh Amendment. Id. at *3-4; accord Bunyon v. Burke County, 306 F. Supp. 2d 1240, 1255 (S.D. Ga.) (holding that a sheriff acted as an agent of the state in establishing and implementing bail and release procedures for inmates being held on charges pending in a municipality), aff'd, 116 Fed. Appx. 249 (11th Cir., Aug. 19, 2004).

Based upon this precedent, I conclude that the Sheriff of Dodge County acts as an agent of the State in establishing and implementing policy and procedure respecting pretrial detention and conditions of confinement. Thus, Sheriff Lawton in his official capacity is entitled to Eleventh Amendment immunity. Accordingly, Plaintiff's claims against him fail as a matter of law.

VI. Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment Against All of Plaintiff's Claims

Defendants' motion for summary judgment does not add any new argument that this Court has not already considered in addressing Plaintiff's motions hereinabove. In accordance with this Order, Defendants' motion is due to be granted with respect to Plaintiff's claims against Defendant Graham and Defendant Lawton because Plaintiff's claims against them fail as a matter of law. Thus, judgment in their favor is appropriate. However, Defendants' motion must be denied with respect to Plaintiff's claim of illegal detention against Defendant Atkins in his individual capacity. (See Part III supra.)

VII. Conclusion

Upon the foregoing, Plaintiff's motions for summary judgment against Defendant Graham and Defendant Lawton (doc. nos. 26 and 43, respectively) are DENIED. Plaintiff's motion for summary judgment against Defendant Atkins (doc. no. 16) is GRANTED. Furthermore, Defendants' motion for summary judgment (doc. no. 45) is GRANTED IN PART and DENIED IN PART. The Clerk is directed to ENTER JUDGMENT in favor of Defendants Graham and Lawton. Plaintiff's claim of illegal detention against Defendant Atkins shall proceed to trial on the issue of damages.

ORDER ENTERED.