United States District Court, S.D. Georgia, Statesboro Division
RANDAL HALL, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
before the Court is a motion for summary judgment (doc. 57)
and two motions to exclude expert testimony (docs, 71, 72)
filed by Defendants, Sheriff Lynn M. Anderson, Deputy Randall
Norman, Sergeant Kent Munsey, Jailer Ashley Mills, Captain
John Staten, and Captain Jason Kearney. (Doc. 57.) Plaintiff,
Judith Alcocer, has sued for damages under § 1983
alleging that Defendants committed a variety of
constitutional violations. Defendants claim that they
committed no constitutional violations and that they cannot
be found liable for damages under 18 U.S.C. § 1983. The
Court GRANTS IN PART and DENIES IN
PART Defendants' motion for summary judgment and
it DENIES Defendants' motion to exclude
approximately 1:30 p.m. on January 30, 2014, Deputy Randall
Norman and Sergeant Kent Munsey of the Bulloch County
Sheriff's Office ("Sheriff's Office")
observed Plaintiff driving east on U.S. Highway 80 in Bulloch
County, Georgia. (Doc. 94-2 at 2.) After running
Plaintiff's license plate through the Georgia Crime
Information Center ("GCIC"), Deputy Norman
discovered that the owner of the vehicle had a suspended
license. (Doc. 57-1 at 2.) Suspecting that Plaintiff was the
vehicle's owner, he pulled onto the road to stop
Deputy Norman could activate his lights, however, Plaintiff
pulled into a convenience store parking lot and went inside
to make a purchase. (Doc. 105 at 4.) Deputy Norman followed
her into the parking lot and confronted her in the store.
(Doc. 57-1 at 2.) Deputy Norman confirmed Plaintiff's
identify and that she was the vehicle's owner.
(Id.) He then issued Plaintiff a citation for
driving with a suspended license, arrested her for the
misdemeanor offense, and transported her to the Bulloch
County Detention Center ("Detention Center") .
Center staff booked Plaintiff and scanned her fingerprints
into the computer system. Plaintiff's prints were then
"automatically sent to several different databases,
including GCIC, NCIC, and federal law enforcement agency
databases." (Doc. 57-1 at 4.) Around 2 p.m., the
Sheriff's Office received a fax from Immigration and
Customs Enforcement ("I.C.E."). (Doc. 97-1 at 2.)
I.C.E. records indicate that this subject is not legally in
the United States and appears to be subject to removal
proceedings. . . . This is not a government detainer. This
information is for law enforcement use and is being provided
for informational purposes only. This response is not
supported by fingerprints.
Detention Center staff were booking Plaintiff, her sister,
Susana Hinojosa, attempted to secure her release. (Doc. 96 at
8-11.) Mrs. Hinojosa asked Detention Center staff what she
needed to do to get Plaintiff out of jail. (Id. at
10.) They told Mrs. Hinojosa that Plaintiff needed a $2, 000
bond. (Id.) Mrs. Hinojosa walked across the street
to a bonding company, secured a bond for Plaintiff, returned
to the Detention Center, and awaited Plaintiff's release.
(Id. at 10-12.)
waiting several hours, the bonding company called Mrs.
Hinojosa. (Id. at 12) It informed her that the
Detention Center would not release Plaintiff because
Plaintiff was under an I.C.E. hold. (Id.) Mrs.
Hinojosa once again questioned Detention Center staff about
Plaintiff's release. (Id.) Detention Center
staff confirmed that they would not release Plaintiff because
I.C.E. had placed a hold on her. (Id.)
Mrs. Hinojosa protested. (Id. at 13.) She informed
Detention Center staff that Plaintiff was a United States
citizen born in South Carolina. (Id.) She also asked
what documentation she needed to prove Plaintiff's
citizenship. (Id.) Detention Center staff, however,
largely ignored Mrs. Hinojosa. Ultimately, she failed to
secure Plaintiff's release and had to return home for the
evening. (Id. at 13-14.)
next morning, January 31, 2014, Mrs. Hinojosa continued her
efforts. (Id. at 15-16.) She called the
Sheriff's Office every fifteen minutes from 8 a.m. until
11 a.m. (Id.) Around 11 a.m. the Sheriff's
Office finally gave her a number for I.C.E.'s Savannah
office. (Id. at 16.) She eventually reached Mr.
Franks, an I.C.E. agent. (Id. at 17, 19.) Mr. Franks
told Mrs. Hinojosa that he would contact the Sheriff's
Office to see why it was holding Plaintiff. (Id. at
20.) He also said he would look into sending an order to
release Plaintiff. (Id.) Lastly, he told Mrs.
Hinojosa to take Plaintiff's birth certificate, social
security card, medical records, and school records to the
Sheriff's Office. (Id.)
Hinojosa followed Mr. Frank's instructions and took the
suggested paperwork to the Detention Center around 12 p.m.
that day. (Id. at 15, 23.) According to Mrs.
Hinojosa, when she tried to show the paperwork to the
Detention Center staff, "they didn't want to look at
it because they told me ICE had a hold. So they were very
rude. They were like we don't need to look at that. So I
can't even tell you who I showed the paperwork to because
they didn't look at it." (Id. at 24.) Still
unable to secure Plaintiff's release, Mrs. Hinojosa took
the paperwork with her and returned to her job. (Id.
in the day, Mr. Frank's called Mrs. Hinojosa to tell her
that he was sending a fax ordering the Detention Center to
release Plaintiff. (Id. at 21.) The time stamp on
the order sent by Mr. Franks states 3:39 p.m. (Doc. 94-5 at
2.) Plaintiff left the Detention Center at 5:44 p.m. on
January 31, 2014 - approximately 25 hours after her initial
arrival. (Doc. 94-1 at 2.)
for their part, never explicitly deny that they were holding
Plaintiff because of the detainer. Neither do they deny that
they refused to post the bond secured by Mrs. Hinojosa.
Rather, they state only that on January 31 - the day after
Plaintiff's arrest - they "received a notification
from [I.C.E.] that the detainer previously placed by the
Savannah [I.C.E.] office was cancelled, " and "in
any event, Plaintiff secured a bond .... and [ ] left the
[Detention Center] at approximately 5:45 p.m." (Doc.
57-6 at 5.)
STANDARD OF REVIEW
judgment is appropriate only if "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). Facts
are "material" if they could affect the outcome of
the suit under the governing substantive law, and a dispute
is genuine "if the evidence is such that a reasonable
jury could return a verdict for the non-moving party."
Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248
(1986). The Court must view factual disputes 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
[the non-moving party's] favor." United States
v. Four Parcels of Real Prop., 941 F.2d 1428, 1437 (11th
Cir. 1991) (en banc) (internal punctuation and citations
omitted). The Court should not weigh the evidence or
determine credibility. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 255.
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).
Because the standard for summary judgment mirrors that of a
directed verdict, the initial burden of proof required by
either party depends on who carries the burden of proof at
trial. Id. at 323. When the movant does not carry
the burden of proof at trial, it may satisfy its 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., 477 U.S. 317). The movant cannot meet its initial
burden by merely declaring that the non-moving party cannot
meet its burden at trial. Clark, 929 F.2d at 608.
and only if - the movant carries its initial burden, the
non-movant must "demonstrate that there is indeed a
material issue of fact that precludes summary judgment."
Id. When the non-movant bears the burden of proof at
trial, the non-movant must tailor its response to the method
by which the movant carried its initial burden. If the movant
presented 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 v. City of
Atlanta, 2 F.3d 1112, 1116 (11th Cir. 1993) . 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 1117.
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
with affidavits or as otherwise provided by Federal Rule of
Civil Procedure 56.
action, the Clerk of Court gave Plaintiff notice of the
motion for summary judgment and informed her of the summary
judgment rules, the right to file affidavits or other
materials in opposition, and the consequences of default.
(Doc. 59.) Therefore, the notice requirements of Griffith
v. Wainwright, 772 F.2d 822, 825 (11th Cir. 1985) (per
curiam), are satisfied. The time for filing materials in
opposition has expired, and the motion is now ripe for
complaint, Plaintiff challenges two separate seizures. First,
Plaintiff challenges the validity of her arrest for driving
without a suspended license. Second, Plaintiff challenges the
validity of her extended detention at the Detention Center.
brings suit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Section 1983 allows
citizens to sue state governments and state officials for
violations of rights granted them under the United States
Constitution. To succeed in a § 1983 action, "a
plaintiff must make a prima facia showing of two elements:
(1) that the act or omission deprived plaintiff of a right,
privilege or immunity secured by the Constitution or laws of
the United States, and (2) that the act or omission was done
by a person acting under color of law." Marshal Cty.
Bd. of Educ. v. Marshall Cty. Gas Dist., 992 F.2d 1171,
1174 (11th Cir. 1993) (citing 42 U.S.C. § 1983) .
claims Defendants committed four constitutional violations.
Plaintiff alleges that: (1) Deputy Norman and Sergeant Munsey
violated her Fourth Amendment right to be free from
unreasonable search and seizure when they ran her license
plate through the GCIC database and seized her based on the
results (doc. 26 ¶¶ 108-112); (2) Jailer Ashley
Mills and Captain John Staten violated her Fourth Amendment
right to be free from unreasonable seizure when they refused
to post her bond until they could verify her immigration
status (id. ¶¶ 72-76); (3) Deputy Norman
and Sergeant Munsey violated the Fourteenth Amendment's
Equal Protection Clause when they targeted her for a search
and seizure based upon racial profiling (id.
¶¶ 93-109); and (4) Defendants violated her
Fourteenth Amendment due process rights when they detained
her without probable cause (Id. ¶¶
139-158); and (6) Sheriff Anderson, Captain Staten, Captain
Kearney, and Sergeant Munsey are subject to supervisory
liability for the unconstitutional actions of their
subordinates (id. ¶¶ 8-9) .
their motion for summary judgment, Defendants make three
arguments. First, all Defendants challenge the legal and
factual basis of the alleged constitutional violations.
Second, Sheriff Anderson, Captain Staten, and Jailer Mills
argue they are entitled to qualified immunity with regards to
their role in detaining Plaintiff. Third, Sheriff Anderson,
Captain Staten, Captain Kearney, and Sergeant Munsey argue
that they are not subject to supervisory liability.
the first step in a § 1983 action is determining whether
a constitutional violation occurred, the Court begins with
Defendants' challenges to Plaintiff's constitutional
claims. If Plaintiff establishes any constitutional
violations, the Court will consider Defendants' arguments
that they are entitled to qualified immunity and thus
exempted from liability under § 1983. It will also
consider Defendants' arguments that they should not be
subject to supervisory liability under § 1983.
Unconstitutional Stop and Seizure Claim
claims Deputy Norman and Sergeant Munsey violated her Fourth
Amendment right to be free from unreasonable search and
seizure when they ran her license plate, when they seized her
at the store, and when they arrested her. The Court
previously concluded that Deputy Norman and Sergeant Munsey
did not violate the Constitution when they ran her license
plate. (Doc. 60 at 9-10.) It also concluded that they did not
violate the Constitution when they stopped her at the store.
(Id.) Thus, the only question is whether they
violated the Constitution when they arrested Plaintiff.
a constitutional arrest without a warrant, an officer must
establish probable cause. Poulakis v. Rogers, 341
Fed.Appx. 523, 526 (11th Cir. 2009). An officer establishes
probable cause when he has "facts and circumstances
within [his] knowledge sufficient to warrant a reasonable
belief that the suspect had committed or was committing a
crime." U.S. v. Gonzalez, 969 F.2d 999, 1002
(11th Cir. 1992) (citing Beck v. Ohio, 379 U.S. 89,
91 (1964)). Deputy Norman received reliable information that
the owner of Plaintiff s vehicle had a suspended license.
Plaintiff has not challenged the reliability of the GCIC
records upon which Deputy Norman relied. After Deputy Norman
confirmed Plaintiff's identity and her ownership of the
vehicle, he had more ...