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Corbitt v. Walgreen Co.

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

March 27, 2015

BREANNA CORBITT, Plaintiff,
v.
WALGREEN CO. and THE CITY OF VALDOSTA, Defendants.

ORDER

MARC T. TREADWELL, District Judge.

Plaintiff Breanna Corbitt is suing Walgreen Co. and the City of Valdosta, Georgia ("City") based on her arrest after an individual using her driver's license presented a forged prescription. She has asserted a claim of negligence against Walgreen and a claim pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the City. She has not sued the city detective who swore out the warrant for her arrest. Before the Court is the City's motion for summary judgment. (Doc. 21). For the following reasons, the motion is GRANTED.

I. BACKGROUND

Around July 6, 2012, Plaintiff Breanna Corbitt discovered her wallet was lost or had been stolen. (Doc. 24 at 14:11-19, 17:8-22). She got a new driver's license and contacted her bank to cancel her debit card. (Doc. 24 at 15:13-17, 17:14-18:1). When she contacted the bank, she learned there were unauthorized transactions on her debit card, but she did not report the incident to law enforcement. (Doc. 24 at 18:7-14, 54:4-55:5).

On August 8, 2012, Detective Travis Sparks with the Valdosta Police Department ("VPD") responded to Walgreen's Pharmacy because of a report that a forged prescription had been presented and filled. (Doc. 30 at 5:21-8:9). Pharmacist Howard Schweitzer informed Detective Sparks that on August 5, 2012, an individual presented a prescription for Lortab at the pharmacy's drive-through window. (Doc. 30 at 7:13-24). Schweitzer gave Detective Sparks a photocopy of Breanna Michelle Corbitt's Georgia driver's license, which was presented with the prescription. (Docs. 30 at 8:4-9, 21-23). According to Detective Sparks's report, "Schweitzer stated that he confirmed the picture on the driver's license was in fact the person in the drive through." (Doc. 32-3 at 1). The drive-through had no video surveillance. (Doc. 30 at 8:10-12). Schweitzer also told Detective Sparks he later learned the prescription was fraudulent. (Docs. 30 at 8:4-9; 29 at 20:17-21, 21:5-10).

The prescription at issue appeared to have been written by Keith Munoz, a physician assistant working under the direction of Dr. Susan Harding. (Doc. 21-5). Shortly after leaving the pharmacy, Detective Sparks spoke with Dr. Harding, who confirmed the prescription was fraudulent. (Doc. 30 at 13:12-18, 14:4-18). On August 9, 2012, Detective Sparks met with Munoz, who also told him the prescription was a forgery. (Doc. 30 at 15:4-16:7).

On September 7, 2012, Detective Sparks presented the facts of the case to Judge Elizabeth Cleveland of the Lowndes County Magistrate Court in a warrant affidavit. (Docs. 21-7; 30 at 16:8-14). Judge Cleveland signed an arrest warrant for Corbitt for obtaining a prescription by forgery in violation of O.C.G.A. § 16-13-43(a)(3). (Docs. 21-7; 30 at 16:12-14). Corbitt was arrested by two officers with the Lowndes County Sheriff's Department on September 10, 2012. (Docs. 28 at 10:6-19; 24 at 19:5-7). No member of the VPD was involved in Corbitt's arrest. The officers took Corbitt to the Lowndes County Jail where she was booked and released the same day. (Doc. 24 at 28:24-29:1). The case against Corbitt was dismissed on November 15, 2012. (Doc. 18-3).

II. DISCUSSION

A. Summary Judgment Standard

A court must grant summary judgment "if the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). A factual dispute is not genuine unless, based on the evidence presented, "a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party.'" Info. Sys. & Networks Corp. v. City of Atlanta, 281 F.3d 1220, 1224 (11th Cir. 2002) (quoting United States v. Four Parcels of Real Prop., 941 F.2d 1428, 1437 (11th Cir. 1991)); Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). The movant may support its assertion that a fact is undisputed by "citing to particular parts of materials in the record, including depositions, documents, electronically stored information, affidavits or declarations, stipulations (including those made for purposes of the motion only), admissions, interrogatory answers, or other materials." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(1)(A).

The burden then shifts to the non-moving party, who must rebut the movant's showing "by producing... relevant and admissible evidence beyond the pleadings." Josendis v. Wall to Wall Residence Repairs, Inc., 662 F.3d 1292, 1315 (11th Cir. 2011) (quoting Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986)). The non-moving party does not satisfy its burden "if the rebuttal evidence is merely colorable, or is not significantly probative of a disputed fact." Id. (quoting Anderson, 477 U.S. at 249-50). Further, where a party fails to address another party's assertion of fact as required by Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c), the Court may consider the fact undisputed for purposes of the motion. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e)(2). However, "credibility determinations, the weighing of the evidence, and the drawing of legitimate inferences from the facts are jury functions, not those of a judge.... The evidence of the non-movant is to be believed, and all justifiable inferences are to be drawn in [her] favor." Anderson, 477 U.S. at 255.

B. Plaintiff's § 1983 Claim Against the City

The Plaintiff's claim against the City fails for at least two reasons. First, there is no evidence that the City itself (as opposed to Detective Sparks, for example) violated the Plaintiff's constitutional rights. Second, there is no genuine dispute that Detective Sparks had probable cause to arrest the ...


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