Riebsame v. Prince

Decision Date09 May 2003
Docket NumberNo. 6:01-cv-1093-Orl-31JGG.,6:01-cv-1093-Orl-31JGG.
Citation267 F.Supp.2d 1225
PartiesJohn J. RIEBSAME, Plaintiff, v. Art Dion PRINCE, Brevard County Sheriffs Deputy, Individually; Phil Williams, Brevard County Sheriff, Individually; and Scott Ellis, Brevard County Clerk of Court, Individually; Defendants.
CourtU.S. District Court — Middle District of Florida

John J. Riebsame, Palm Bay, FL, Pro se.

D. Andrew DeBevoise, Christopher J. Steinhaus, DeBevoise & Poulton, P.A., Winter Park, FL, for Art Dion Prince and Phil Williams.

Richard E. Stadler, Stadler & Harris, P.A., Titusville, FL, for Scott Ellis.


PRESNELL, District Judge.

This cause comes for the Court's consideration on the Report and Recommendation by Magistrate James G. Glazebrook of March 6, 2003. (Doe. 103). On May 2, 2003, Plaintiff submitted Objections to the Report and Recommendation. (Doc. 109). On May 7, 2003, Defendants Art Dion Prince and Phil Williams submitted their Response to Plaintiffs Objections. (Doc. 110).

Upon de novo review of the record, Plaintiffs Objections, and Defendants' Response thereto, the Court confirms and adopts Magistrate Glazebrook's Report and Recommendation in its entirety.

It is therefore

ORDERED AND ADJUDGED that the Report and Recommendation of the Magistrate Judge (Doc. 103) is CONFIRMED and is hereby ADOPTED. In addition, the Court GRANTS Defendants Prince and Williams' Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. 76) and DENIES Plaintiffs Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. 82).


GLAZEBROOK, United States Magistrate Judge.


This cause came on for consideration without oral argument on the following cross-motions for summary judgment:


FILED: December 13, 2002

THEREON it is RECOMMENDED that the motion be GRANTED.


FILED: December 16, 2002

THEREON it is RECOMMENDED that the motion be DENIED.


In his Fourth Amended Complaint [Docket No. 59], pro se plaintiff John J. Riebsame ["Riebsame"] seeks to hold Brevard County Sheriff Phil Williams ["Sheriff Williams"] and Deputy Sheriff Art Dion Prince ["Deputy Prince"] individually liable—and to collect from their family bank accounts more than $800,000 in damages— for an event of Riebsame's own making. As a result of Riebsame's own juvenile and irresponsible conduct over several years,1 Riebsame was properly arrested and detained on July 16, 1999. Riebsame had violated an injunction issued by the Circuit Court of Brevard County to protect Bryan Keith from Riebsame because of Riebsame's repeat violence against Keith. Docket No. 76, Exhibit B. The Brevard County Sheriff and his deputies have been given the dangerous and difficult task of enforcing such injunctions, and the law of qualified immunity protects Sheriff Williams and Deputy Prince from Riebsame's suit for damages.

Deputy Prince and Sheriff Williams have moved for summary judgment on all of Riebsame's claims on the ground that, as law enforcement officers, they have qualified immunity from suit. Docket No. 76 at 2, 15-17. Deputy Prince and Sheriff Williams also seek summary judgment on the ground that they never violated Riebsame's rights; on the ground that they acted in good faith based on probable cause to believe that Riebsame was violating the injunction; and on the ground that Riebsame has offered no evidence that the violations he claims were caused by an official policy or custom of the Brevard County Sheriff. Docket No. 76 at 2, 8-15. In his cross-motion for summary judgment, Riebsame seeks judgment as a matter of law on all claims in the Fourth Amended Complaint. Riebsame alleges that the orders, minutes, affidavits, police reports, admissions, and depositions show that there are no material issues of fact for trial, and that Deputy Prince and Sheriff Williams are liable to Riebsame as a matter of law. Docket No. 82. The Court should grant the motion for summary judgment filed by Deputy Prince and Sheriff Williams on the ground that they have qualified immunity from suit, and deny Riebsame's cross-motion for summary judgment.

A. Standard of Review on Summary Judgment

Summary judgment is appropriate "if the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c). The moving party bears the initial burden of showing the Court, by reference to materials on file, that there are no genuine issues of material fact that should be decided at trial. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 106 S.Ct. 2548, 91 L.Ed.2d 265 (1986); Jeffery v. Sarasota White Sox, 64 F.3d 590, 593-94 (11th Cir.1995); Clark v. Coats & Clark, Inc., 929 F.2d 604 (11th Cir.1991). A moving party discharges its burden on a motion for summary judgment by showing the Court that there is an absence of evidence to support the non-moving party's case. Celotex, 477 U.S. at 325, 106 S.Ct. 2548. Rule 56 permits the moving party to discharge its burden with or without supporting affidavits, and to move for summary judgment on the case as a whole or on any claim. Id. When a moving party has discharged its burden, the non-moving party must then "go beyond the pleadings," and by its own affidavits or by "depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file," designate specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial. Id. at 324,106 S.Ct. 2548.

In determining whether the moving party has met its burden of establishing that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that it is entitled to judgment as a matter of law, the Court must draw inferences from the evidence in the light most favorable to the non-movant, and resolve all reasonable doubts in that party's favor. Spence v. Zimmerman, 873 F.2d 256 (11th Cir.1989); Samples on Behalf of Samples v. City of Atlanta, 846 F.2d 1328, 1330 (11th Cir.1988). The Eleventh Circuit has explained the reasonableness standard:

in deciding whether an inference is reasonable, the Court must "cull the universe of possible inferences from the facts established by weighing each against the abstract standard of reasonableness." [citation omitted]. The opposing party's inferences need not be more probable than those inferences in favor of the movant to create a factual dispute, so long as they reasonably may be drawn from the facts. When more than one inference reasonably can be drawn, it is for the trier of fact to determine the proper one.

Jeffery v. Sarasota White Sox, 64 F.3d 590, 594 (11th Cir.1995), quoting WSB-TV v. Lee, 842 F.2d 1266, 1270 (11th Cir.1988).

Thus, if a reasonable fact finder evaluating the evidence could draw more than one inference from the facts, and if that inference introduces a genuine issue of material fact, then the court should not grant the summary judgment motion. Augusta Iron and Steel Works v. Employers Insurance of Wausau, 835 F.2d 855, 856 (11th Cir. 1988). A dispute about a material fact is "genuine" if 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, 106 S.Ct. 2505, 91 L.Ed.2d 202 (1986). The inquiry is "whether the evidence presents a sufficient disagreement to require submission to a jury or whether it is so one-sided that one party must prevail as a matter of law." Id. at 251-52, 106 S.Ct. 2505. On a summary judgment motion the Court may not weigh the credibility of the parties. See Rollins v. TechSouth, Inc., 833 F.2d 1525, 1531 (11th Cir.1987). If the determination of the case rests on which competing version of the facts or events is true, the case should be presented to the trier of fact. Id.

B. Material Submitted in Opposition to Summary Judgment

Federal Rule, of Civil Procedure 56(c) provides that the party making a motion for summary judgment may submit affidavits to support its argument as to the absence of a genuine issue of material fact. Rule 56(e) provides as follows regarding the materials that the non-movant must submit in response:

Supporting and opposing affidavits shall be made on personal knowledge, shall set forth such facts as would be admissible in evidence, and shall show affirmatively that the affiant is competent to testify to the matters stated therein. Sworn or certified copies of all papers or parts thereof referred to in an affidavit shall be attached thereto or served therewith. The court may permit affidavits to be supplemented or opposed by depositions, answers to interrogatories, or further affidavits. When a motion for summary judgment is made and supported as provided in this rule, an adverse party may not rest upon the mere allegations or denials of the adverse party's pleading, but the adverse party's response, by affidavits or as otherwise provided in this rule, must set forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial. If the adverse party does not so respond, summary judgment, if appropriate, shall be entered against the adverse party.

The non-movant must adduce significant probative evidence that would be sufficient for a jury to find for the non-movant. LaChance v. Duffy's Draft House, 146 F.3d 832, 834 (11th Cir.1998), citing Liberty Lobby, Inc., All U.S. at 249, 106 S.Ct. 2505. A reviewing court generally cannot consider inadmissible hearsay evidence in opposition to a summary judgment motion. Macuba v. Deboer, 193 F.3d 1316, 1322 (11th Cir.1999). In considering a motion for summary judgment, a reviewing court must consider all the proffered evidence and cannot disregard a party's affidavit merely because it conflicts to some degree with an earlier deposition. Kennett-Murray Corporation v. Bone, 622 F.2d 887, 893 (5th...

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