Henning v. Walmart Stores Inc., 061918 FED11, 17-11466

Docket Nº:17-11466
Opinion Judge:PER CURIAM:
Party Name:BRYAN HENNING, Plaintiff - Appellant, v. WALMART STORES INC. et al., Defendants, D. CASEY, Sargent, #550, COUNTY OF BREVARD, Defendants - Appellees.
Judge Panel:Before WILLIAM PRYOR, JILL PRYOR and ANDERSON, Circuit Judges.
Case Date:June 19, 2018
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit

BRYAN HENNING, Plaintiff - Appellant,


WALMART STORES INC. et al., Defendants,

D. CASEY, Sargent, #550, COUNTY OF BREVARD, Defendants - Appellees.

No. 17-11466

United States Court of Appeals, Eleventh Circuit

June 19, 2018


Appeal from the United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida D.C. Docket No. 6:15-cv-01648-PGB-DCI



Bryan Henning was shopping at a Walmart in Brevard County, Florida, when two law enforcement officers informed him that the store manager had asked that he be issued a trespass warning. Despite the officers' instructions to leave, Henning attempted to remain in the store. After the officers escorted Henning outside, they detained him for approximately 15 minutes while they completed a written trespass warning.

Henning sued Brevard County and one of the officers who detained him, alleging that he was falsely imprisoned and that his detention violated his Fourth Amendment rights. He also alleged that Brevard County caused his illegal detention by adopting unconstitutional policies regarding trespass warnings and failing to train its officers on proper detention procedures.1 The district court granted summary judgment to Brevard County and the officer, and Henning appealed. After careful review, we affirm.


A. Factual History

The Brevard County Sheriff's Department received a complaint about a man inside a McDonald's restaurant who had been photographing another customer without his permission. Brevard County Sheriff's Deputy Aimee Slater was dispatched to the McDonald's to investigate. When she arrived, she observed a white van matching the description of the man's vehicle parked outside the restaurant. The van's rear windows were completely covered, and a divider separated the front driver and passenger seats from the rear of the van.

Slater knocked on the van's door, and a man came through the divider to the front of the van. On Slater's request, the man exited the van and provided his driver's license, which identified him as Bryan Henning. Henning denied taking any photographs while inside the McDonald's. He explained that he was merely using his camera's viewfinder to look at photographs he had previously taken. He also told Slater that he had been sleeping in his van a lot lately.

Observing a child's car seat containing a juice box and a McDonald's toy in the front passenger seat of Henning's van, Slater asked Henning whether he had a child with him. He asked Slater why she wanted to know, and she explained that she wanted to make sure the child had a safe place to sleep. Henning responded that he had two children, but they were not with him, nor had he seen them for a while.

Slater asked for Henning's consent to search his camera and van, but he declined. She then told Henning that he needed permission from the restaurant to sleep in his van in the parking lot. After learning from a McDonald's employee that McDonald's does not permit anyone to park on its property overnight, Slater informed Henning that he could not sleep in his van in the parking lot.

As Slater was speaking with Henning, Brevard County Sheriff's Department Sergeant Dennis Casey arrived on the scene. Like Slater, Casey asked Henning for consent to search his camera and van. According to Henning, Casey explained that he wanted to search the van for "dead bodies."2 Doc. 95 at 33.3 Henning again withheld his consent, which, according to Henning, made Casey "extremely irate." Id. at 34. Slater and Casey then completed their investigation and told Henning that he was free to leave.

Henning left the McDonald's and traveled to a nearby Walmart. He noticed that a Brevard County Sheriff's Department vehicle was following him. When he arrived at the Walmart, Henning went inside to purchase supplies to fix a broken surfboard he had found. Meanwhile, Casey, Slater, and a few other law enforcement officers observed Henning's van in the Walmart parking lot. Casey saw signs indicating that Walmart did not permit overnight camping in its parking lot. Concerned that Henning planned to sleep in his van in the lot, 4 Casey again approached the van and knocked on the windows. When there was no answer, Casey instructed Slater and another deputy, Michael Hoffman, to locate Henning inside the Walmart.

With the assistance of Walmart personnel, Slater and Hoffman located Henning in the aisle containing duct tape and rope. A Walmart employee told the officers that Henning had been in this aisle for an "extended time." Doc. 91 ¶ 18. Slater conveyed Henning's location to Casey, who then contacted the store manager to explain his and Slater's previous interaction with Henning at the McDonald's. The store manager told Casey that she wished for Henning to be given a trespass warning.

Slater and Hoffman approached Henning and informed him that the Walmart manager wanted him "trespassed" from the store. Id. ¶ 20. Slater instructed Henning to walk out of the store with her and Hoffman to complete paperwork, but, according to Slater, Henning stood in place and became argumentative. It was not until after Slater and Hoffman gave Henning several verbal commands that he began walking with them toward the front of the store. As they approached the front of the store, Henning again became argumentative and asked if he was being forced to leave. Slater and Hoffman continued toward the exit, but Henning stopped walking and became belligerent, using a "loud voice" and "foul language." Id. ¶ 21. Each of the deputies took hold of one of Henning's arms and led him out of the store.

Once outside, Slater and Hoffman escorted Henning to his van, where Casey and at least one other deputy were waiting. Henning asked whether he was being detained, and Casey responded that he was. The parties stipulated that Casey detained Henning for the purpose of writing a trespass warning. Henning provided the officers with his driver's license and other information they needed to complete the written trespass warning. One of the officers asked Henning to sign the trespass warning after it was completed, but he refused. The officers informed Henning that he would be arrested if he returned to the Walmart and advised him to leave the property. Henning estimated that 20 minutes elapsed between when Slater and Hoffman first approached him in the Walmart and when the officers told him he was free to go after completing the trespass warning. He estimated that his detention in the parking lot consisted of roughly 10 to 15 minutes of that time.

B. Procedural History

Henning, proceeding pro se, filed suit against Casey and Brevard County. He asserted claims against Casey for malicious prosecution, abuse of process, and illegal detention, all in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1983, and for false imprisonment in violation of Florida law. As for Brevard County, Henning asserted a § 1983 claim for failure to train its officers regarding the constitutional limitations on detention.

Casey and Brevard County filed a motion to dismiss, and a magistrate judge recommended that the district court grant the motion. Henning raised no objection to the dismissal of his claims against Casey for malicious prosecution and abuse of process, but he did object to the dismissal of his claims against Casey for illegal detention and false imprisonment and against Brevard County for failure to train.

The parties began discovery while the motion to dismiss was pending. Henning filed two motions to compel, asking the district court to order Casey and Brevard County to respond to certain interrogatories and requests for the production of documents. These motions remained pending on the day before the dispositive motions deadline, so Henning filed a motion to modify the scheduling order and extend the dispositive motions deadline until after he received a ruling on his motions to compel.

Casey and Brevard County then filed a motion for summary judgment on all of Henning's claims. In his response, Henning argued only that his ability to defend against summary judgment had been prejudiced by Casey's and Brevard County's refusal to respond to his discovery requests and that, as a result, the district court should defer ruling on the summary judgment motion until after it ruled on his motions to compel. Henning attached no evidence to his response.

The district court then entered an order ruling on the pending motions. First, because Henning raised no objection, the district court dismissed Henning's § 1983 claims against Casey for malicious prosecution and abuse of process. Second, the district court granted summary judgment against Henning on his remaining claims for illegal detention, false imprisonment, and failure to train. Finally, the district court denied Henning's request to defer ruling because, in the court's view, the information and documents that Henning had requested would not have impacted its analysis or conclusions regarding summary judgment.

Henning appealed. He challenges the district court's grant of summary judgment on his claims for illegal detention, false imprisonment, and failure to train and its refusal to defer ruling on the motion for summary judgment until after it ruled on his motions to compel.


We review de novo summary judgment rulings, drawing all inferences and reviewing all evidence in the light most favorable to the non-moving party. Moton v. Cowart, 631 F.3d 1337, 1341 (11th Cir. 2011). Summary judgment is appropriate "if the movant shows that 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). "The moving party may meet its...

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