Ruffino v. City of Hoover

Decision Date29 August 2012
Docket NumberCase No. 2:08–CV–0002–SLB.
Citation891 F.Supp.2d 1247
PartiesDoris RUFFINO, as Personnel Representative of the Estate of Anthony Ruffino, Plaintiff, v. CITY OF HOOVER; Sgt. Roderick Glover, Defendants.
CourtU.S. District Court — Northern District of Alabama

OPINION TEXT STARTS HERE

Ann C. Robertson, Temple D. Trueblood, H. Wallace Blizzard, III, Wiggins Childs Quinn & Pantazis PC, Birmingham, AL, for Plaintiff.

E. Dianne Gamble, Mark S. Boardman, Philip F. Hutcheson, Boardman Carr & Hutcheson PC, Chelsea, AL, for Defendants.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

SHARON LOVELACE BLACKBURN, Chief Judge.

On September 30, 2010, this court entered an Order, (doc. 73),1 which granted in part and denied in part plaintiff's Motion for Partial Summary Judgment, (doc. 55), and defendants' cross Motion for Summary Judgment, (doc. 58). Defendants appealed. (Docs. 74 and 75.) The Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals vacated this court's Order and remanded the case to this court for purposes of “entering a different order that provides full insight into the details of the district court's findings and conclusions.” Ruffino v. City of Hoover, 467 Fed.Appx. 834, 835 (11th Cir.2012).

Plaintiff Anthony Ruffino filed this suit against defendant City of Hoover and its officer, Sergeant Roderick Glover, following Ruffino's arrest for disorderly conduct on November 3, 2006. Ruffino alleges that the arrest was unlawful, that the force used to arrest him was excessive, and that his subsequent prosecution was malicious—all in violation of the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution—against the City and Glover, individually; he also alleged defendants were deliberately indifferent to his medical needs in violation of the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution. Also, he alleges false imprisonment and assault and battery (state-law excessive force) against the City and Glover, individually, and malicious prosecution and intentional infliction of emotional distress against Glover, individually. 2 (Docs. 52 & 53; Doc. 60 at 18 n. 6.)

In his Motion for Partial Summary Judgment, Ruffino moved for summary judgment as to all his claims except his federal deliberate indifference claim, and his state law claim for intentional infliction of emotional distress against Glover. (Doc. 55.) The City and Glover moved for summary judgment on all claims. (Doc. 58.) The court again granted in part and denied in part the parties' Motions for Summary Judgment. The court's Order held:

1. As to Count I of Plaintiff's Amended Complaint, “Claims of Malicious Prosecution in Violation of the Fourth Amendment (Asserted Through § 1983),” plaintiff's Motion for Partial Summary Judgment, (doc. 55), is DENIED; defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment, (doc. 58), as to Count I against Glover in is individual capacity is DENIED, and as against the City is GRANTED.

2. As to Count II of plaintiff's Amended Complaint, “Unlawful Seizure in Violation of the Fourth Amendment (Asserted Through § 1983),” plaintiff's Motion for Partial Summary Judgment, (doc. 55), as to Count II against Glover in his individual capacity is GRANTED, and as against the City is DENIED; defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment, (doc. 58), as to Count II against Glover in his individual capacity is DENIED, and as against the City is GRANTED.

3. As to Count III of plaintiff's Amended Complaint, “Excessive Use of Force in Violation of the Fourth Amendment (Asserted Through § 1983),” plaintiff's Motion for Partial Summary Judgment, (doc. 55), is DENIED; defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment, (doc. 58), as to Count III against Glover in his individual capacity is DENIED, and as against the City is GRANTED.

4. As to Count IV of plaintiff's Amended Complaint, “Deliberate Indifference to Serious Medical Needs In Violation of the Fifth Amendment (Asserted Through § 1983),” defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment, (doc. 58), is GRANTED.

5. As to Count V of plaintiff's Amended Complaint, “Assault and Battery,” plaintiff's Motion for Partial Summary Judgment, (doc. 55), as to Glover, in his individual capacity, is GRANTED, and as to the City is DENIED; defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment, (doc. 58), as to Count V is DENIED.

6. As to Count VI of plaintiff's Amended Complaint, “False Imprisonment,” plaintiff's Motion for Partial Summary Judgment, (doc. 55), as to Glover, in his individual capacity, is GRANTED, and as to the City is DENIED; defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment, (doc. 58), is DENIED.

7. As to Count VII of plaintiff's Amended Complaint, “Malicious Prosecution,” plaintiff's Motion for Partial Summary Judgment, (doc. 55), as to Glover, in his individual capacity, is DENIED; defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment, (doc. 58), is DENIED.

(Doc. 73.)

For the reasons set forth below, the court reaffirms its prior Order.

I. SUMMARY JUDGMENT STANDARD

The party moving for summary judgment bears the initial burden of showing “that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and [he] is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” 3Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a); see Clark v. Coats & Clark, Inc., 929 F.2d 604, 608 (11th Cir.1991); see also Adickes v. S.H. Kress & Co., 398 U.S. 144, 157, 90 S.Ct. 1598, 26 L.Ed.2d 142 (1970). Once the moving party has met his burden, the non-moving party must go beyond the pleadings and show that there is a genuine issue for trial. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e); see Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 324, 106 S.Ct. 2548, 91 L.Ed.2d 265 (1986). A dispute 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).

In deciding a motion for summary judgment, the court's function is not to “weigh the evidence and determine the truth of the matter but to determine whether there is a genuine issue for trial.” Id. at 249, 106 S.Ct. 2505. Credibility determinations, the weighing of evidence, and the drawing of inferences from the facts are left to the jury, and, therefore, evidence favoring the non-moving party is to be believed and all justifiable inferences are to be drawn in his favor. See id. at 255, 106 S.Ct. 2505. Nevertheless, the non-moving party “need not be given the benefit of every inference but only of every reasonable inference.” Evans v. Stephens, 407 F.3d 1272, 1284 (11th Cir.2005) (Carnes, J., concurring specially) (quoting Graham v. State Farm Mut. Ins. Co., 193 F.3d 1274, 1282 (11th Cir.1999)).

“The applicable Rule 56 standard is not affected by the filing of cross-motions for summary judgment.” Godard v. Alabama Pilot, Inc., 485 F.Supp.2d 1284, 1291 (S.D.Ala.2007) (citing Gerling Global Reinsurance Corp. of America v. Gallagher, 267 F.3d 1228, 1233 (11th Cir.2001)). “Where, as here, the parties file cross-motions for summary judgment, a court ‘must consider each motion separately on its own merits to determine whether either of the parties deserves judgment as a matter of law.’ Bio–Medical Applications of Georgia, Inc. v. City of Dalton, 685 F.Supp.2d 1321, 1327 (N.D.Ga.2009) (quoting Rossignol v. Voorhaar, 316 F.3d 516, 523 (4th Cir.2003)). Cross-motions for summary judgment will not, in themselves, warrant the court in granting summary judgment unless one of the parties is entitled to judgment as a matter of law on facts that are not genuinely disputed.” United States v. Oakley, 744 F.2d 1553, 1555 (11th Cir.1984) (internal quotations).

II. STATEMENT OF FACTS4

On November 3, 2006, Kathi Lee, Ruffino's daughter, telephoned him to tell him that her house at 182 Brook Trace Drive in Hoover, Alabama had been damaged by a fire. (Doc. 57–1, Ex. A, at 32–33.) At the time of the fire, Kathi Lee did not reside at the house; the house was occupied by her estranged husband, Jonathan Lee, and her son, Nicholas Lee. (Doc. 57–9, Ex. H, at 9–10; Doc. 57–10, Ex. I, at 9, 17–18.) When Ruffino arrived, the road in front of the house was blocked by fire and police vehicles and a number of firefighters and police officers were present. (Doc. 57–1, Ex. A, at 33–37.) Ruffino saw Jonathan Lee outside the house speaking to two men he did not recognize. ( Id. at 39–40). Ruffino entered the house to survey the damage. ( Id. at 41.)

The fire had damaged the garage and the exterior of the house; the interior of the house had some smoke damage. (Doc. 57–4, Ex. C, at 39.) The officers and firefighters investigated only the exterior of the house as part of the fire investigation. (Doc. 57–5, Ex. D, at 100.)

Sergeant Glover and other officers from the Crime Scene Unit of the Hoover Police Department—Detective Erik Eichhorn, Detective Mark Tant, and Officer Delvin Brown—had responded to the Fire Department's request that the Crime Scene Unit investigate the fire. (Doc. 57–3, Ex. B, at 99–101; doc. 57–4, Ex. C, at 36–37; doc. 57–5, Ex. D, at 36; doc. 57–7, Ex. F, at 32–33; doc. 58–11, Ex. 6, ¶ 8.) After arriving on the scene, Glover interviewed Jonathan Lee and Nicholas Lee. (Doc. 58–11, Ex. 6, ¶ 8.) He did not initially speak to Ruffino. (Doc. 57–3, Ex. B, at 112, 159.) Glover testified that he had assumed Ruffino was a relative of the residents. ( Id. at 112–13.)

At some point, Jonathan and Kathi Lee began arguing inside the house. (Doc. 57–1, Ex. A, at 47.) Ruffino testified that he intervened in an effort to stop the argument. ( Id. at 50–51, 65–66; see also doc. 57–9, Ex. H, at 23–25, 27). According to Nicholas Lee, his grandfather did not curse or use abusive or obscene language. (Doc. 57–10, Ex. I, at 71). The only people in the house during this argument were Ruffino and the Lees. (Doc. 57–9, Ex. H, at 48–49; doc. 57–10, Ex. I, at 27–29, 71.)

The officers at the scene testified that they had heard male voices yelling inside the house while investigating the fire outside the house. (Doc. 58–11, Ex. 6, ¶ 10; doc. 58–9, Ex. 8 ¶ 5; doc. 58–7, Ex. 10, ¶ 5; doc. 58–10, Ex. 7, ¶ 5.) According to Glover, while standing inside the garage, he heard Ruffino and Jonathan...

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