Swint v. City of Wadley, Ala., 92-6574

Decision Date03 November 1993
Docket NumberNo. 92-6574,92-6574
PartiesTom SWINT; Tony Spradley; Drecilla James and Jerome Lewis, Plaintiffs-Appellees, v. The CITY OF WADLEY, ALABAMA; Freddie Morgan and Gregory Dendinger in their official and individual capacities; Chambers County Commission, Defendants-Appellants, Chambers County Sheriff's Department, Defendant, James C. Morgan, in his official and individual capacity, Defendant-Appellant.
CourtU.S. Court of Appeals — Eleventh Circuit

Ernest Sapp and Fred D. Gray, Tuskegee, AL, for City of Wadley, Ala., et al.

Kendrick E. Webb, Bart Harmon, and Roy W. Granger, III, Montgomery, AL, for JCM, et al.

Carlos A. Williams, Mobile, AL, for plaintiffs-appellees.

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

Before TJOFLAT, Chief Judge, CARNES, Circuit Judge, and BRIGHT *, Senior Circuit Judge.

CARNES, Circuit Judge:

This civil rights case, involving allegations of police misconduct, was filed by four citizens against the City of Wadley, Alabama, the Chambers County Commission, and three individual defendants: Wadley Police Chief Freddie Morgan, Officer Gregory Dendinger, and Chambers County Sheriff James C. Morgan. Before us is the appeal of Chief Morgan, Officer Dendinger, and Sheriff Morgan from the district court's denial of their qualified immunity summary judgment motions. Also before us is the request by the City of Wadley and the Chambers County Commission that we exercise jurisdiction under either the collateral order or pendent appellate doctrines to review the district court's denial of their summary judgment motions. The City contends the district court should have held that the Chief of Police did not have final decisionmaking authority over the relevant actions, and thus the City was not liable for his conduct. Similarly, the County Commission contends the court should have held that under Alabama law the Sheriff was not the final repository of county law enforcement authority, and thus the County was not liable for his actions. The City, Chief Morgan, and Officer Dendinger also urge us to review, under either the collateral order or pendent appellate jurisdiction doctrine, the district court's denial of their summary judgment motion as to the state law claims against them.

We affirm the district court's denial of the individual defendants' qualified immunity summary judgment motions insofar as the Fourth Amendment and equal protection claims are concerned, but reverse the denial as to the due process claims. We exercise our pendent appellate jurisdiction over and reverse the denial of the County Commission's summary judgment motion. We hold that jurisdiction to review the rulings on the denial of the other motions for summary judgment does not exist under the collateral order doctrine, and we decline to exercise pendent appellate jurisdiction to review those rulings.



In considering the denial of a defendant's summary judgment motion, we are required to view the facts, which are drawn from the pleadings, affidavits, and depositions, in the light most favorable to the plaintiffs. E.g., Hardin v. Hayes, 957 F.2d 845, 848 (11th Cir.1992); Stewart v. Baldwin County Bd. of Educ., 908 F.2d 1499, 1503 (11th Cir.1990). Any qualified immunity defenses that do not result in summary judgment before trial may be renewed at trial, where the actual facts will be established. Compare Adams v. St. Lucie County Sheriff's Dep't, 962 F.2d 1563, 1567 n. 2 (11th Cir.1992) (non-majority opinion of Hatchett, J.) (dictum) with id. at 1579 n. 8 (dissenting opinion of Edmondson, J.) (dictum). 1 Thus, what we state as "facts" in this opinion for purposes of reviewing the rulings on the summary judgment motions may not be the actual facts. They are, however, the facts for present purposes, and we set them out below.

This lawsuit stemmed from two law enforcement raids on the Capri Club ("the Club"), a nightclub located in Chambers County, Alabama. Although outside any city limits, the Club is within the police jurisdiction of the City of Wadley, a community located in Randolph County, Alabama. Plaintiffs Tom Swint and Tony Spradley are owners of the Club; plaintiff Drecilla James is a Club employee who was present during both of the raids; Jerome Lewis is a Club patron who was present during the second raid. All four plaintiffs are black. The three individual defendants--Chief Morgan, Officer Dendinger, and Sheriff Morgan--are all white. Each was sued in both his official and individual capacities. The Chambers County Commission and the City of Wadley are the other defendants.

In response to complaints that drug transactions were being conducted in the Club, the Chambers County Sheriff's Department and the City of Wadley Police Department engaged in a preliminary narcotics investigation of the Club. This investigation culminated in a recommendation from Chambers County Sheriff's Investigator Timothy Birchfield to Sheriff Morgan for a raid on the Club. Sheriff Morgan "approved the narcotics investigation and operation at the Club."

The raid was conducted by the Chambers County Drug Task Force, consisting of units from the Chambers County Sheriff's Department and the police departments of the cities of Lafayette, Lanett, and Valley, Alabama. Joining the Task Force for this operation were representatives of the City of Wadley Police Department and the Alabama Alcoholic Beverage Control Board. The total strength assembled by the Task Force for the raid was 30 to 40 law enforcement officers. In accordance with the operation plan apparently devised by Investigator Birchfield, an undercover officer and a confidential informant entered the Club on December 14, 1990 while the other task force members remained out of sight. While inside, the undercover officer was offered marijuana and crack cocaine for sale by a patron of the Club. After purchasing these drugs, the officer left the Club and signaled for the raid to begin.

Initial entry of the Club was made by the City of Lanett, Alabama, SWAT team consisting of approximately eight officers. The team was dressed in black and at least some of the members wore ski masks to conceal their identities. Within 30 seconds of the SWAT team's entry, the other members of the task force entered. The person who had sold the undercover officer drugs was identified and arrested. The task force officers pointed their weapons at plaintiffs Spradley and James and others who were present. Participants in the raid searched the Club's cash register and door receipts, and some currency was confiscated from the door receipts. Persons inside the Club were prohibited from moving or leaving until the raid, which lasted one to one and one-half hours, was over. Those present were not allowed to go to the restroom. When one man asked for permission, Officer Dendinger replied, "Shut up, or I'll shut you up myself." When plaintiff James told Chief Morgan that she was so scared that she had to go to the restroom, he said no. Another officer also refused her request to use the Club's restroom facilities, telling her she would have to go behind the building. During this first raid, illegal liquor was seized by an Alabama Alcohol Beverage Control Board officer who participated in the raid, and several minors were found inside the Club. Only two people were arrested during this entire raid: the man who sold the undercover officer drugs; and that man's younger brother, a minor, who had in his possession some of the marked money the undercover agent had paid for the drugs.

After the December 14, 1990 raid, additional narcotics-related complaints were received by the Chambers County Sheriff's Department. In response, Sheriff Morgan directed that Birchfield investigate activities at the Club to ascertain whether a second operation was required. Birchfield investigated and recommended another operation; Sheriff Morgan authorized it.

The second raid was conducted on March 29, 1991, and it was virtually identical in procedure to the first. Again, an undercover agent went inside first and purchased drugs. After the premises were secured this time, however, the task force participants could not find the man who had sold drugs to the undercover officer. During this second raid, law enforcement officials chambered rounds of ammunition into their weapons, pointed them, and ordered persons in the Club to get down on the floor. Some of those present in the Club during this raid were searched, including plaintiff Lewis. During the process of being searched, Lewis was pushed outside the Club, grabbed, and shoved against a wall. After being searched, Lewis was forced to go back inside the Club until the raid was concluded. Another patron was pushed off a bar stool. Some of the employees, including plaintiff James, had guns held on them during this raid, which lasted from one to one and one-half hours. At one point, an officer, with his finger on the trigger, pointed a shotgun at Lewis' face. No one was arrested during or because of this second raid.

During one of the raids, an unidentified officer said they would be coming back and would not stop until the Club was closed. No other law enforcement operation of this nature had been conducted during Sheriff Morgan's twenty-one year tenure as Sheriff of Chambers County. Chief Morgan and Officer Dendinger personally participated in both raids. Sheriff Morgan was not physically present during either raid, but he authorized both of them.


The plaintiffs' complaint, which seeks declaratory, injunctive, and compensatory relief avers the following four counts 2:

Count I: Deprivation of Civil Rights, 42 U.S.C. Secs. 1981, 1983 and 1985 for violations of plaintiffs' rights under the Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, and Fourteenth Amendments;

Count II: Conspiracy to deny plaintiffs' constitutional rights;

Count III: Pendent state claims alleging assault and false...

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