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Collins v. Sheppard

United States District Court, M.D. Georgia, Albany Division

October 24, 2014

DEMETRIUS SHEPPARD et al., Defendants.


W. LOUIS SANDS, District Judge.

Before the Court is Defendant Sheppard's Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. 42. For the following reasons, Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. 42 is GRANTED as to each of Plaintiff's claims.


This is a Section 1983 lawsuit against four officers alleging violations of Plaintiff Jon-athan Collins' Fourth, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendment rights. On March 22, 2011, the date of the alleged incident, Plaintiff was in custody at the Sumter Youth Development Campus, a juvenile detention facility. Plaintiff alleges his rights were violated when his arm was broken while officers were attempting to restrain him and physically force him to go to his room for a "head count."

On June 4, 2014, the Court granted the Parties' Consent Motion to Dismiss Defendants Piortt, Gordon, and Ingle, leaving Defendant Sheppard as the only remaining Defendant. (Doc. 37). The Parties subsequently filed Motions to Exclude Expert Testimony, each of which was granted-in-part by the Court on October 14, 2014. On July 14, 2014, Defendant Sheppard filed a Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. 42) on all of Plaintiff's claims. All briefings have been filed on the Motion for Summary Judgment, and the Court now finds it is ripe for review.

FACTUAL FINDINGS On March 22, 2011, Plaintiff was in the custody of the Georgia Department of Juvenile Justice at Sumter Youth Development Center (the Facility). At approximately 5:00 PM that day, Lieutenant Soretha Gordon was the officer in charge at the Facility. Lieutenant Gordon and at least six other Facility officers responded to a call for assistance in Building 7C where several juveniles were refusing to go to their rooms for a routine "head count" because they were angry that their phone privileges had been revoked. One of those juveniles was Plaintiff. Lt. Gordon gave Plaintiff multiple verbal commands to go to his room and Plaintiff refused. Plaintiff stood still with his arms at his side, refusing to go to his room. Officers Demetrius Sheppard (Defendant and Christopher Piorrt attempted to restrain Plaintiff by grabbing his arms while at least five other officers surrounded Plaintiff, Defendant, and Piorrt. Lt. Gordon instructed the officers "keep him up and put the handcuffs on him." Plaintiff initially resisted the officers' attempts to restrain him. Plaintiff did not want to be handcuffed or taken to the ground. Officer Piorrt physically restrained Plaintiff's left side, maintaining his hand and wrist near his waist line. Defendant physically restrained Plaintiff's right side, but Plaintiff's hand and wrist became elevated to at least the height of his shoulder blade.

At some point during the elevation of Plaintiff's right arm, his humerus broke. Plaintiff suffered a spiral mid-shaft humerus fracture with a butterfly segment. Essentially, his arm broke in three segments as a result of rotational or torsion force. Plaintiff's injury required orthopedic surgery to place a plate fixed by screws to his humerus bone. After Plaintiff's humerus broke, he was handcuffed and taken immediately for medical care. After returning to the Facility from the hospital, Defendant told Plaintiff that he was "sorry" his arm had been fractured.


I. Summary Judgment Standard

Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56, summary judgment is proper "if the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law." Celotex Corp. v. Catrett , 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986). An issue is "genuine" if the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party. Hoffman v. Allied Corp. , 912 F.2d 1379, 1383 (11th Cir. 1990). A fact is "material" if it is a legal element of the claim under the applicable substantive law and it might affect the outcome of the nonmoving party's case. Allen v. Tyson Foods , 121 F.3d 642, 646 (11th Cir. 1997) (citing Anderson v. Liberty Lobby , 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986)). A judgment is appropriate "as a matter of law" when the nonmoving party has failed to meet its burden of persuading the Court on an essential element of the claim. See Cleveland v. Policy Management System Corp. , 526 U.S. 795, 804 (1999); Celotex Corp. , 477 U.S. at 323.

The movant bears the initial burden of showing that there is no genuine issue of material fact. Celotex Corp. , 477 U.S. at 323. The movant can meet this burden by presenting evidence showing there is no dispute of material fact or by showing the district court that the nonmoving party has failed to present evidence in support of some element of its case on which it bears the ultimate burden of proof. Id. at 322-24. Once the movant has met its burden, the nonmoving party is required "to go beyond the pleadings" and identify "specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial." Id. at 324. To avoid summary judgment, the nonmoving party must do more than summarily deny the allegations or "show that there is some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts." Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp. , 475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986). Rather, the nonmoving party must provide "enough of a showing that the jury could reasonably find for that party." Walker v. Darby , 911 F.2d 1573, 1577 (11th Cir. 1990) (citing Anderson , 477 U.S. at 251).

On a motion for summary judgment, the Court must view all the evidence and all factual inferences drawn therefrom in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party and determine whether that evidence could reasonably sustain a jury verdict. Celotex Corp. , 477 U.S. at 322-23; Allen , 121 F.3d at 646. However, the Court must grant summary judgment if there is no genuine issue of material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c).

II. Analysis

A. Plaintiff's Fourth ...

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