338 F.3d 1304 (11th Cir. 2003), 01-13606, Manders v. Lee

Docket Nº:01-13606
Citation:338 F.3d 1304
Party Name:Manders v. Lee
Case Date:July 28, 2003
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit

Page 1304

338 F.3d 1304 (11th Cir. 2003)

Willie Santonio MANDERS, Plaintiff-Appellee,


Thurman LEE, individually and as employee of the City of Homerville, Alan Brown, individually and as employee of the City of Homerville, Bart Crews, individually and as employee of the City of Homerville, City of Homerville, Clinch County, Georgia, Defendants,

Winston Peterson, individually and as employee of Clinch County, Georgia, Defendant-Appellant.

No. 01-13606.

United States Court of Appeals, Eleventh Circuit

July 28, 2003

Page 1305

Richard K. Strickland, Whelchel, Brown, Readdick & Bumgartner, Brunswick, GA, for Defendant-Appellant.

Theodore H. Lackland, Lackland & Heyward, Atlanta, GA, for Plaintiff-Appellee.

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Middle District of Georgia.


HULL, Circuit Judge:

In this § 1983 excessive force case, Willie Santonio Manders sued Sheriff Winston Peterson in his official capacity for injuries allegedly caused by the Sheriff's use-of-force policy at the jail and failure to train and discipline his deputies in that regard. We conclude that SherccurPeterson functions as an "arm of the State" in establishing use-of-force policy at the jail and in training and disciplining his deputies in

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that regard, and is entitled to Eleventh Amendment immunity for these particular functions. Thus, we reverse the district court's denial of summary judgment for Sheriff Peterson.


A. Facts

As the elected sheriff, defendant Sheriff Peterson is responsible for the operation of the jail in Clinch County, Georgia, for establishing use-of-force policy at the jail, and for hiring, training, and disciplining his deputies who work in the jail. Sheriff Peterson's deputy and chief jailer is Alan Brown. In May 1997, police officers from the City of Homerville arrested plaintiff Manders and transported him to the jail.1 Because Manders had punched a police officer, the arresting officers charged him with felony obstruction of an officer, in violation of Georgia law, O.C.G.A. § 16-10-24(b).

As Manders was escorted into the jail's holding cell, a City police officer stated that Manders "hit him" earlier. According to Manders, Deputy Brown and a City police officer then repeatedly struck him across the head, neck, and face and banged his head against a wall. Manders suffered a bruised, swollen face. The beating affected him emotionally, resulting in a mental hospital stay.

The morning after the beating, Manders wrote a statement for jail officials, wherein he stated: "They had to be rough with me to let me know that they mean business." That same day, Manders was released from jail. Afterwards, Manders's mother met with Sheriff Peterson to discuss the beating. According to Manders's mother, Sheriff Peterson responded to her concerns this way: "[T]hat happens sometimes when they bite and scratch." Sheriff Peterson did not investigate the beating incident. In his deposition, Manders later testified that Sheriff Peterson and another officer forced him to write his statement.

Manders's evidence also included the Policy and Procedure Manual (the "Manual") of the Sheriff's Office containing the Sheriff's use-of-force policy. Sheriff Peterson published the Manual in 1989 or 1990, drafting some policies himself and adopting some State policies. The Manual requires that "[e]ach case involving physical or defensive force be reported in writing to the Sheriff:"2

(A) Notification of Supervisor

1. The Sheriff shall be immediately informed of each incident involving the use of force by officers of this Department. Such notification shall be on the same date of the incident.

2. Each case involving physical or defensive force shall be reported in writing to the Sheriff.

3. Each officer present or assisting in an arrest or incident requiring force shall be prepared to submit a report supplement describing the incident if requested.

In addition to the report requirement, the Manual discusses both non-deadly and deadly force by an officer in the performance of his duties. The Manual provides that non-deadly force may be used by an officer in these situations:

1. When necessary to preserve the peace, prevent commission of offenses,

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or prevent suicide or self-inflicted injury.

2. When preventing or interrupting a crime or attempted crime against property.

3. When making lawful arrests and searches, overcoming resistance to such arrest and searches, and preventing escapes from custody.

4. When in self defense, or defense of another against unlawful violence to his person.

The Manual also details when deadly force is justified. Sheriff Peterson has no other written or standard operating procedures for the use of force at the jail.

B. Amended Complaint

In this § 1983 case, Manders's amended complaint claims that defendants Clinch County and Sheriff Peterson, in his official capacity, are responsible for use-of-force policy at the jail, for training and disciplining deputies who work at the jail, and for ensuring that the policy is followed.3 According to Manders, Deputy Brown beat him, and Clinch County and Sheriff Peterson permitted Brown's use of excessive force at the jail. Manders also asserts that Clinch County and Sheriff Peterson failed to provide deputies proper training and supervision regarding use of force at the jail and failed to promulgate adequate rules to regulate deputies' conduct at the jail. Manders asserts that these failures caused his beating. Manders sought damages against Clinch County and Sheriff Peterson in his official capacity.4

The district court denied defendants' motion for summary judgment on Manders's § 1983 damage claims against Clinch County and Sheriff Peterson in his official capacity for the use-of-force policy at the jail and the training and disciplining of deputies in that regard.5 Sheriff Peterson alone filed this interlocutory appeal, claiming that he is a state actor and that the district court erred in denying him Eleventh Amendment immunity.6 This appeal does not address the individual liability of Sheriff Peterson or his deputies

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for using excessive force.7 Instead, this appeal involves only the immunity of Sheriff Peterson in his official capacity.


A. Immunity from Suit in Federal Court

The Eleventh Amendment provides immunity by restricting federal courts' judicial power:

The Judicial power of the United States shall not be construed to extend to any suit in law or equity, commenced or prosecuted against one of the United States by Citizens of another State, or by Citizens or Subjects of any Foreign State.

U.S. Const. amend. XI. The Eleventh Amendment protects a State from being sued in federal court without the State's consent.8 As a result, parties with claims against a non-consenting State must resort to the State's own courts. The Eleventh Amendment is "a recognition that states, though part of a union, retain attributes of sovereignty, including immunity from being compelled to appear in the courts of another sovereign against their will." McClendon v. Georgia Dep't of Cmty. Health, 261 F.3d 1252, 1256 (11th Cir. 2001).

It is also well-settled that Eleventh Amendment immunity bars suits brought in federal court when the State itself is sued and when an "arm of the State" is sued. See Mt. Healthy City Sch. Dist. Bd. of Educ. v. Doyle, 429 U.S. 274, 280, 97 S.Ct. 568, 50 L.Ed.2d 471 (1977). To receive Eleventh Amendment immunity, a defendant need not be labeled a "state officer" or "state official," but instead need only be acting as an "arm of the State," which includes agents and instrumentalities of the State. See Regents of the Univ. of Cal. v. Doe, 519 U.S. 425, 429-30, 117 S.Ct. 900, 137 L.Ed.2d 55 (1997). Whether a defendant is an "arm of the State" must be assessed in light of the particular function in which the defendant was engaged when taking the actions out of which liability is asserted to arise. See Shands Teaching Hosp. & Clinics v. Beech St. Corp., 208 F.3d 1308, 1311 (11th Cir. 2000) ("The pertinent inquiry is not into the nature of [an entity's] status in the abstract, but its function or role in a particular context."). The particular functions at issue are Sheriff Peterson's force policy

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at the jail and the training and disciplining of his deputies in that regard.9

B. Eleventh Amendment Factors

In Eleventh Amendment cases, this Court uses four factors to determine whether an entity is an "arm of the State" in carrying out a particular function: (1) how state law defines the entity; (2) what degree of control the State maintains over the entity; (3) where the entity derives its funds; and (4) who is responsible for judgments against the entity. Miccosukee Tribe of Indians of Fla. v. Fla. State Athletic Comm., 226 F.3d 1226, 1231-34 (11th Cir. 2000); Shands, 208 F.3d at 1311; Tuveson v. Fla. Governor's Council of Indian Affairs, Inc., 734 F.2d 730, 732 (11th Cir. 1984).

Given these factors, the resolution of the Eleventh Amendment issue in this case depends, in part, on state law. Therefore, before applying the four-factor test, we must examine Georgia law and the relationship among Sheriff Peterson, the State, and Clinch County. The issue of whether an entity is an "arm of the State" for Eleventh Amendment purposes is ultimately a question of federal law. But the federal question can be answered only after considering provisions of state law. Thus, we now journey through Georgia's legal terrain at some length.10


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