United States District Court, M.D. Georgia, Valdosta Division
LAWSON, SENIOR JUDGE
se Plaintiff Timothy Wright filed this lawsuit against
Defendants Chris Prine, Jimmy Royals, and Danny Croft,
alleging that he was arrested without probable cause in
violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Now before the Court is
Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment, filed May 31,
2016. (Doc. 15). On the day Defendants' motion was filed,
the Court issued a Notice to Plaintiff, informing him that
his response to Defendants' motion for summary judgment
was due within thirty (30) days and of the possible
consequences if he failed to respond. (Doc. 16). Plaintiff
has not responded to Defendants' motion, and it is now
ripe for review. See M.D. Ga. L. R. 7.3.1(a). For
the reasons that follow, Defendants' motion is granted.
22, 2013, Plaintiff Timothy Wright was arrested by Defendant
Jimmy Royals and charged with driving under the influence
(“DUI”) and violation of Georgia's open
container statute. (Aff. of Jimmy Royals, ¶ 16).
Plaintiff pled guilty to both offenses in the State Court of
Lowndes County, Georgia on June 26, 2013. (Aff. of Jimmy
Royals, ¶¶ 18-19). Plaintiff was sentenced to 48
months of probation following his plea. (Aff. of Jimmy Royal,
¶ 21). Defendants Chris Prine and Danny Croft were not
present when Plaintiff was arrested, and they played no role
in the investigation of Plaintiff's offenses. (Aff. of
Jimmy Royals, ¶ 17).
filed this lawsuit on May 21, 2015, alleging that Defendants
are liable pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for violation of
his Fourth Amendment rights. (Doc. 1). In his Complaint,
Plaintiff claims that his May 22, 2013 arrest was without
probable cause and that all charges against him were
subsequently dropped. (Doc. 1, ¶¶ 12-13).
Defendants move for summary judgment, arguing that Plaintiff
pled guilty to the charges he now asserts were dropped and
that Plaintiff's claims thus fail as a matter of law.
SUMMARY JUDGMENT STANDARD
judgment is appropriate when “the pleadings, the
discovery and disclosure materials on file, and any
affidavits show 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); see Celotex
Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986). A genuine
issue of material fact arises only when “the evidence
is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the
nonmoving party.” Anderson v. Liberty Lobby,
Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986).
considering a motion for summary judgment, the court must
evaluate all of the evidence, together with any logical
inferences, in the light most favorable to the nonmoving
party. Id. at 254-55. The court may not, however,
make credibility determinations or weigh the evidence.
Id. at 255; see also Reeves v. Sanderson
Plumbing Prods., Inc., 530 U.S. 133, 150 (2000).
party seeking summary judgment “always bears the
initial responsibility of informing the district court of the
basis for its motion, and identifying those portions of the
pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and
admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any,
which it believes demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue
of material fact.” Celotex, 477 U.S. at 323
(citation omitted). If the movant meets this burden, the
burden shifts to the party opposing summary judgment to go
beyond the pleadings and present specific evidence showing
that there is a genuine issue of material fact, or that the
movant is not entitled to judgment as a matter of law.
Id. at 324-26. This evidence must consist of more
than conclusory allegations. See Avirgan v. Hull,
932 F.2d 1572, 1577 (11th Cir. 1991). In sum, summary
judgment must be entered “against a party who fails to
make a showing sufficient to establish the existence of an
element essential to that party's case, and on which that
party will bear the burden of proof at trial.”
Celotex, 477 U.S. at 322.
previously stated, Plaintiff failed to respond to
Defendants' motion for summary judgment. In addition,
Plaintiff failed to file a statement of material facts which
are in dispute or to respond to Defendants' statement of
undisputed facts. The Local Rules of the United States
District Court for the Middle District of Georgia
(hereinafter “local rules”) provide: “The
respondent to a motion for summary judgment shall attach to
the response a separate and concise statement of material
facts, numbered separately, to which the respondent contends
there exists a genuine dispute to be tried. Response shall be
made to each of the movant's numbered material
facts.” M.D. Ga. L.R. 56. Because Plaintiff has failed
to respond entirely, the Court deems admitted Defendants'
statement of facts. M.D. Ga. L.R. 56; see also Mann v.
Taser Intern., Inc., 588 F.3d 1291, 1303 (11th Cir.
2009) (holding that district court properly deemed
defendant's statement of material facts admitted when
plaintiff failed to comply with the local rule); BMU,
Inc. v. Cumulus Media, Inc., 366 Fed. App'x 47, 49
(11th Cir. 2010) (affirming grant of summary judgment when
respondent failed to file a response to movant's
statement of undisputed facts).
Court, however, “cannot grant a motion for summary
judgment based on default or as a sanction for failure to
properly respond.” United States v. Delbridge,
No. 1:06-CV-110, 2008 WL 1869867, at *3 (M.D. Ga. Feb. 22,
2008) (citing Trustees of Cent. Pension Fund of Int'l
Union of Operating Engineers & Participating Employers v.
Wolf Crane Serv., Inc., 374 F.3d 1035, 1040 (11th Cir.
2004)). Instead, the Court must undertake an independent
review of “the evidentiary materials submitted in
support of the motion” to ensure that the Defendants
have met their burden of demonstrating the absence of a
genuine issue of material fact. United States v. One
Piece of Real Prop. Located at 5800 SW 74th Ave., Miami,
Fla., 363 F.3d 1099, 1101 (11th Cir. 2004); see also
Delbridge, 2008 WL 1869867, at *3 (finding that the
“Court must make an independent review of the record,
” even if the non-movant fails to respond to the
statement of material facts).
plaintiff may not recover under § 1983 if “a
judgment in favor of the plaintiff would necessarily imply
the invalidity of his conviction or sentence.” Heck
v. Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477, 487 (1994). If it would, the
district court must dismiss the complaint, unless the
plaintiff can show that the conviction or sentence has been
“reversed on direct appeal, expunged by executive
order, declared invalid by a state tribunal authorized to
make such determination, or called into question by a federal
court's issuance of a writ of habeas corpus.”
Id. Courts in the Eleventh Circuit have held that
Heck bars § 1983 claims which undermine the
validity of an underlying conviction, even if the plaintiff
is not in custody and habeas relief is unavailable. See,
e.g., Barnes v. City of Dothan, 842 F.Supp.2d
1332, 1338 (M.D. Ala. 2012); Domotor v. Wennet, 630
F.Supp.2d 1368, 1380 (S.D. Fla. 2009), aff'd 356
Fed.Appx. 316 (11th Cir. 2009); Abusaid v. Hillsborough
Cnty. Bd. of Cnty. Comm'rs, 637 F.Supp.2d 1002,
1017-19 (M.D. Fla. 2007); Williams v. Donald, 2007
WL 2345254, at * 2-3 (M.D. Ga. Aug. 14, 2007). Moreover,
“[t]he existence of probable cause at the time of
arrest [ ] constitutes an absolute bar to a section 1983
action for false arrest.” Myers v. Bowman, 713
F.3d 1319, 1326 (11th Cir. 2013) (citation omitted).
it is undisputed that Defendant Royal had probable cause to
arrest Plaintiff and that Plaintiff pled guilty to and was
convicted of DUI and violation of Georgia's open
container statute. (Aff. of Jimmy Royals, ¶¶ 13,
16, 18). It is further undisputed that Defendants Prine and
Croft were not present for Plaintiff's arrest or involved
in the proceedings related to his subsequent conviction in
any way. (Aff. of Jimmy Royals, ...