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Davis v. Green

United States District Court, N.D. Georgia, Atlanta Division

April 13, 2015

RODERIC D. DAVIS, Plaintiff,
v.
CARLOS C. GREEN, in his individual capacity, Defendant.

OPINION AND ORDER

WILLIAM S. DUFFEY, Jr., District Judge.

This matter is before the Court on Defendant Carlos C. Green's ("Defendant Green") Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings [28].

I. BACKGROUND

On January 20, 2010, Plaintiff Roderic D. Davis ("Plaintiff") filed a Complaint ("State Complaint") against Defendants Green and "John Doe" Pough (collectively, "Defendants"), in their individual and official capacities, in the Superior Court for Clayton County, Georgia ("State Court Action"). In his State Complaint, Plaintiff alleged that, sometime on the same day the State Complaint was filed, while Plaintiff was detained in the Clayton County Jail, Defendants entered his cell, slammed his head against the concrete wall and metal bed, and knocked him unconscious. Plaintiff alleged that Defendants failed to provide him with medical assistance after he was assaulted. He claims he suffered permanent and severe physical and emotional injuries as a result of the alleged assault.

On May 31, 2011, Defendants moved for summary judgment on Plaintiff's state law claims for "malicious assault" and "failure to provide medical assistance."

On August 16, 2011, Plaintiff amended his State Complaint, to assert a claim that the January 20, 2010 assault, and the following failure to provide medical treatment, violated Plaintiff's rights under the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution, and Article I, Section I, of the Georgia Constitution. The Amended State Complaint asserts claims based on federal law and the Georgia Constitution, unlike the State Complaint, which asserted tort claim under Georgia law.

On September 20, 2011, Judge Aaron B. Mason of the Superior Court for Clayton County granted Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment on Plaintiff's state law claims (the "Summary Judgment Order"). Judge Mason found that Plaintiff did not meet his evidentiary burden to support Plaintiff's state law claims or that he suffered physical and emotional injuries.[1] Judge Mason also found that Defendants were entitled to qualified immunity because Plaintiff did not present evidence that Defendants acted with actual malice in committing the claimed assault.

On October 3, 2011, Defendants moved for judgment on the pleadings on the federal and state constitutional claims in the Amended State Complaint. Defendants argued that (i) Plaintiff amended his State Complaint to avoid an adverse ruling on the Motion for Summary Judgment on the state law claims asserted in his original State Complaint, and (ii) the Amended State Complaint was futile because Judge Mason granted summary judgment on the claims asserted in the original State Complaint.

On November 18, 2011, Judge Mason denied Defendants' Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings ("Order on Judgment on the Pleadings"). Judge Mason noted that his Summary Judgment Order did not address the federal and state constitutional claims raised in the Amended State Complaint and thus, these federal and state constitutional claims "remained alive." See Order on Judgment on the Pleadings, at 1, Davis v. Green, Case No. 2010-CV-475 (November 18, 2011). Judge Mason noted that his Summary Judgment Order did not resolve the case because Plaintiff amended his State Complaint, and asserted new claims based on the federal and Georgia constitutions before the Summary Judgment Order was filed.[2] Judge Mason concluded that Plaintiff was allowed, as a matter of right, to file the claims in his Amended State Complaint because he did so before the Summary Judgment Order was filed. Id. at 3.

On April 11, 2012, Plaintiff voluntarily dismissed his Amended State Complaint without prejudice.

On October 11, 2012, Plaintiff filed this action, under 42 U.S.C. ยง 1983, against Defendants Green and Thomas H. Pough, Jr., in their individual and official capacities ("Federal Complaint"). In his Federal Complaint, Plaintiff contends that Defendants violated his rights under the Fourth, Fifth, Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution[3] because Defendants assaulted Plaintiff in his cell and failed to provide him with medical assistance after the assault.[4] Plaintiff seeks a judgment against Defendants in the amount of $1, 000, 000 to compensate for past, present and future medical expenses, physical and emotional pain, attorneys' fees and the costs of this litigation.

On March 13, 2013, Defendants moved to Dismiss Plaintiff's Complaint for insufficient service of process. On May 15, 2013, Judge J. Owen Forrester granted the Defendants' Motion to Dismiss, in part. Judge Forrester found that Defendant Green was properly served with the summons and Federal Complaint at his residence. He also found that Defendant Pough was not properly served. Judge Forrester granted Defendants' Motion to Dismiss Defendant Pough for insufficient service of process, but allowed Plaintiff's claims to proceed against Defendant Green, in his individual capacity. Judge Forrester dismissed Plaintiff's claims against Defendant Green in his official capacity because the Federal Complaint failed to allege facts to support a claim of official liability.

On May 29, 2014, Judge Forrester administratively closed this case because the case was inactive for several months. Judge Forrester required the parties to file a Motion to Vacate within sixty (60) days, warning that a failure to move to vacate would result in a dismissal of the action with prejudice. On July 28, 2014, Plaintiff moved to vacate the May 29, 2014, Order. On November 18, 2014, the Court reopened this matter.

On January 12, 2015, Defendant Green moved for judgment on the pleadings. Defendant Green argues that Plaintiff's Federal Complaint should be dismissed because res judicta bars Plaintiff from litigating his federal claims in this Court. Defendant Green asserts that (i) the parties to this dispute and the claims asserted in this action are identical to the parties and the claims asserted in the original State Complaint, (ii) Plaintiff failed to raise his federal claims in the original State Complaint, and (iii) Judge Mason's Summary Judgment Order is a final judgment on the merits that disposed of the claims ...


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