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Oliver v. County of Chatham

United States District Court, S.D. Georgia, Savannah Division

March 8, 2018

COUNTY OF CHATHAM, et al., Defendants.



         Before the Court are numerous motions. While several of those motions were pending, plaintiff Anthony Oliver notified this Court of his request to the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit for a Writ of Mandamus. Doc. 88.[1] The Court of Appeals denied his motion as frivolous. Doc. 146. The delay in disposing of these motions is the result of the unusual volume and frequency of filings in this case. Because of the extent and complexity of the factual allegations and procedural history, a detailed recitation of both is warranted.

         I. FACTS

         The following facts are based on allegations in Oliver's complaint and other filings, which at this stage, the Court accepts as true. Oliver has sued Chatham and Effingham Counties, their respective sheriffs, an Effingham County deputy and several other law enforcement officers, contending he was subjected to excessive force, his free-speech rights were violated, and he was denied appropriate medical care. See doc. 1. The alleged violations originate in Oliver's arrest in January 2017. Id. at 5.

         Oliver's vehicle was stopped by the side of a highway when it was struck from behind by a black SUV. Doc. 1 at 5-6. Oliver exited his vehicle and approached the SUV. As he approached, the driver drew a firearm and pointed it at him. He fled to his own vehicle and called 911 as he drove away “at low speed.” Id. The 911 operator informed him that the vehicle following him was a deputy sheriff, and he arrived at a roadblock formed by four police vehicles and “spikes.” Id. He stopped his vehicle, “activated a TranScend body camera system inside” it, and remained inside. Id. After “several minutes” the black SUV struck Oliver's vehicle again. Id.

         The deputy driving the black SUV, alleged to be defendant Franklin Rollins, Jr., directed Oliver to exit the car. Doc. 1 at 7. Oliver complied, and Rollins, otherwise unprovoked, “kicked [him] in the left side of his face breaking two of his teeth and causing a large abrasion to his face.” Id. He was then “jumped on by 8 to 10 various law enforcement officers who began kicking and striking [him] with fists and a Billy [sic] club while [he] was handcuffed.” Id. Several other officers observed this treatment, but did nothing to intervene on his behalf. Id. Oliver began to request medical attention for his injuries, but “due to actions, policies and procedures, by and through the elected Sheriff, Defendant Jimmie [sic] McDuffie, ” he received no medical attention. Id. at 8. He was taken to “Chatham Jail” where medical staff examined him and “instructed the jail staff to take [him] to a nearby hospital.” Id. Despite that directive and his injuries, and after the personal involvement of defendant Sheriff Wilcher, he was “booked” into the jail. Id. at 8-9. Later he was taken to the hospital where tests revealed he had “sustained injury to his spine and doctors discovered [his] back was fractured.” Id. at 10.

         Oliver seeks compensatory and punitive damages, an injunction against future wrongful conduct, a court-ordered FBI investigation, a grand jury indictment, and additional training for Chatham and Effingham County employees concerning the proper responses to medical conditions of arrestees. Id. at 13-14.


         Chatham County, Sheriff Wilcher, and Deputy Rollins answered Oliver's Complaint. See doc. 10 (Chatham County); doc. 11 (Sheriff Wilcher); doc. 12 (Franklin Rollins, Jr.). After their answers were filed, Oliver, purporting to act pro se, moved to amend his Complaint and to “terminate” his attorney, who had entered an appearance after Oliver filed is complaint pro se. Doc. 14 (seeking “an immediate order terminating [his attorney]); doc. 15. At the same time, he moved “ex parte for a Temporary Restraining Order to enjoin Defendants from further spoliating evidence.” Doc. 16. Several days later, his attorney moved to withdraw from the case. See doc. 17. The Court granted the withdrawal, noting the other two motions were null when filed given the prohibition on represented parties filing motions pro se, but would be considered pending defendants' responses. Doc. 19.

         Before any responses to Oliver's motions were filed, Effingham County and Sheriff McDuffie moved to dismiss his Complaint and for a stay pending resolution of that motion. Docs. 20 & 21. While those motions were pending, Chatham County and Sheriff Wilcher filed motions to dismiss. Docs. 28 & 29. Oliver then filed a motion to disqualify counsel for Chatham County and Sheriff Wilcher. Doc. 31. After several other filings, Chatham County and Sheriff Wilcher moved for an “order declaring plaintiff Anthony Oliver to be a vexations litigant, and preventing him from filing new litigation without leave of court and without posting security.” Doc. 41.

         While these motions were pending, Oliver filed further motions purporting to amend his claims. See doc. 50 at 2 (“[p]ursuant to Rule 41(a)(1) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, the Plaintiff hereby dismissed Defendant Jimmie [sic] McDuffie in his individual capacity with his official capacity to stand whereas Plaintiff seeks only injunctive relief.”); doc. 51 (“Pursuant to Rule 41(a)(1) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, the Plaintiff hereby dismisses the Defendant County of Effingham dismissed without prejudice.”); doc. 52 (withdrawing his Motion to Strike and Motion for Sanctions). He then renewed his motions to disqualify Chatham County and Sheriff Wilcher's counsels and for sanctions. Doc. 63 & 64. He also moved to strike Chatham County and Wilcher's Motions to Dismiss. Doc. 67.

         Before any defendant responded to any of those motions, defendant Franklin Rollins moved to dismiss, contending for the first time that “[a]t the time of the events giving rise to . . . Oliver's complaint, [he] served as a Special Deputy United States Marshal.” Doc. 71. The United States Attorney, appearing on Rollins' behalf, argued Oliver was obligated to serve the United States. Id. at 1. Because Oliver had never properly served him, Rollins was entitled to dismissal without prejudice. Id. Before responding to that motion, Oliver again “noticed” the dismissal of his claims against Chatham County. Doc. 76.

         Rollins moved to strike the answer filed on his behalf by Chatham County's counsel (see doc. 12) because he “did not request representation” from Chatham County with respect to several claims Oliver asserted, but that others were “properly defended by the Chatham County Attorney.” Doc. 77 at 1. “To avoid prejudice to [Special Deputy United States Marshal] Rollins' individual interests, ” he and the Chatham County Attorney moved to strike the answers. Id. Oliver filed another motion for sanctions, based on alleged misrepresentation by the Chatham County attorneys that they represented Rollins, and responded in opposition to Rollins' motion to dismiss. Doc. 75 at 7 (noting that “[i]n numerous pleadings, defense attorneys Jonathan Hart, Jennifer Burns, and Bradford Patrick all claim to be representing Deputy Rollins, ” and arguing that those representations constituted “fraud upon the United States District Court”); doc. 78 (opposition to Rollins motion to dismiss).

         On November 8, 2017, Rollins filed his reply in support of his dismissal motion. Doc. 85. On November 14, Oliver filed a further response, in the form of a declaration describing what he contends were medical consequences of Rollins' tortious conduct; he also declared that he had “corrected” the service defects identified by Rollins, by sending a Summons and a copy of the Complaint to “United States Attorney Jeff Sessions.” Doc. 89 at 3. He reiterated his contention that counsel for Chatham County and Sheriff Wilcher “misled the court” that they represented Rollins. Doc. 90.

         Based upon a certified mail receipt submitted with Oliver's response to his motion to dismiss, Rollins concedes Oliver had perfected service and withdrew his motion. Doc. 95 at 1. Although he conceded effective service, Rollins now moved to dismiss Oliver's Complaint as a sanction for Oliver's misrepresentation, in his response, that the United States Attorney had failed to serve him with a copy of a filed document. Doc. 96. Oliver requested leave to submit a Second Amended Complaint, to add several defendants, allege additional violations of his rights which occurred after he submitted his First Amended Complaint and to recast several of his claims under 28 U.S.C. § 1983 as claims pursuant to Bivins v. Six Unknown Named Agents of Federal Bureau of Narcotics, 403 U.S. 388 (1971). Doc. 97. He has also responded in opposition to Rollins' sanctions motion, and moves for sanctions of his own and to strike the offending filings. Docs 99 & 102. Oliver then submitted another volley of motions --albeit apparent refilings -- on December 11. Doc. 106 (renewal of motion for PACER access); doc. 108 (renewal of motion to appoint counsel).

         Oliver filed a “First Amended Complaint” on December 7, 2017. Doc. 103. He then filed a motion to expedite a hearing on his motion for sanctions against Chatham County Attorneys, introducing complicated factual allegations concerning hearings in other cases. See doc. 111 at 2 (alleging that Oliver has “sent both attorneys subpoena's in [his] traffic misdemeanour case, ” and alleging malfeasance during “the hearing on the second writ of haebus [sic] corpus”). He also requested expedited discovery. Doc. 112.

         Effingham County and Sheriff McDuffie moved to dismiss the purported “First Amended Complaint.” Doc. 117. Oliver then filed a flurry of documents “noticing” his dismissal of pending claims, with and without prejudice, without specifying which version of the Complaint he now believed operative. See doc. 121 (dismissal as to Sheriff McDuffie, in his individual capacity); doc. 122 (dismissal of Effingham County); doc. 123(dismissal of Chatham County). He then moved to withdraw his motions to disqualify counsel, for sanctions, to obtain a PACER account, and several other motions. Doc. 128.

         Several more responses and replies followed. Docs. 129 (Effingham County and Sheriff McDuffie's response to doc. 124), doc. 130 (Oliver's reply to doc. 129), doc. 131 (Oliver's response to defendant Rollins' motions, including for sanctions and a protective order). Oliver then “noticed” the dismissal of his official capacity claims against Sheriff McDuffie. Doc. 132. Another volley of responses and replies followed. See docs. 138, 139, 140, 142, & 143. Oliver also purported to “withdraw” his dismissal of Sheriff Wilcher, although that dismissal purported to be “with prejudice.” Compare doc. 118 (dismissal) with doc. 141 (withdrawal).

         Most recently, defendant Rollins filed a partial motion to dismiss. Doc. 144. Oliver filed his response on January 22, 2018, doc. 145, and defendant replied on January 29, 2018, doc. 147. On February 5, 2018, Oliver requested leave to file a sur-reply; a 15 page motion which attached 54 pages of “exhibits”. Doc. 151. Finally, he has filed another “notice” voluntarily dismissing his claims against Sheriff Wilcher, doc. 165, as well as several more motions. Doc. 160 (Motion to Transfer Venue); doc. 161 (Motion for a Status Conference); doc. 162 (Motion to Compel Rule 26(f) Conference); doc. 163 (Motion to Strike Exhibits).

         III. ANALYSIS

         As the procedural history reflects, many of the motions filed in this case have been withdrawn and refiled. Withdrawn or not, the Court discusses the merits of the motions below. By discussing the merits, the Court expects that, absent a relevant change in circumstance, no further versions of these motions will be filed. His motions to withdraw those motions are, therefore, DENIED as moot. Doc. 87; doc. 128.

         A. ...

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