United States District Court, S.D. Mississippi, Southern Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER GRANTING SUMMARY
JUDGMENT ON PLAINTIFF'S FEDERAL CLAIMS AND DECLINING TO
EXERCISE SUPPLEMENTAL JURISDICTION OVER STATE LAW
GUIROLA, JR. CHIEF U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE.
THE COURT are the [78, 86, 91] Motions for Summary Judgment
filed by Defendants City of Biloxi, Mississippi, Kenneth
Garner (sued in his individual capacity only), and Darren Lea
(sued in his individual capacity only) with respect to the
Amended Complaint filed by Plaintiff Allen Douglas Hale, III.
The Motions have been fully briefed. Having considered the
submissions of the parties and the relevant law, the Court is
of the opinion that Defendants are entitled to summary
judgment on Plaintiff Hale's federal claims brought
pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The Court declines to
exercise supplemental jurisdiction over the remaining state
to the Amended Complaint, Defendants Garner and Lea are or
were police officers employed by Defendant City of Biloxi. In
April 2015, the Defendant Officers came to Hale's
mother's mobile home “to purportedly effectuate an
arrest warrant on” Hale for credit card fraud.
(See Am. Compl. 5, ECF No. 28). Hale alleges that
when they arrived at the residence, “the Defendant
Officers only announced their presence and demanded for Mr.
Hale to open the door to the mobile home.”
(Id.). Hale states that he was unarmed and
“fully obeyed the officers' commands[, ]” but
[u]pon opening the front door, Mr. Hale was confronted with
multiple police officers with firearms and/or [tasers] drawn
and pointed directly at him. Although Mr. Hale inquired as to
the reason that Defendant Officers were present at his home,
the Defendant Officers refused to notify him of the reason
for their presence [and did not] notify Mr. Hale that they
were there to serve an arrest warrant on him or that he was
(Id.). Hale alleges that Defendant Lea immediately
tased him “without any provocation, warning, threats or
resistance by” him, and, additionally, “Defendant
Garner simultaneously discharged his firearm at Mr. Hale,
shooting Mr. Hale in his abdominal region.” (See
Id. at 6). Hale was eventually transported to the
hospital where he received treatment for his injuries.
instituted this civil action against Defendants Garner, Lea,
and City of Biloxi under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and the
Mississippi Tort Claims Act (MTCA). He has stated claims for
(1) § 1983/Fourth Amendment excessive force against
Defendant Garner in his individual capacity for shooting
Hale; (2) § 1983/Fourth Amendment excessive force
against Defendant Lea in his individual capacity for tasing
Hale; (3) § 1983 municipal liability against Defendant
City of Biloxi based on the alleged excessive force; and (4)
reckless disregard under the MTCA against all Defendants.
have moved for summary judgment on all claims stated against
them. A motion for summary judgment shall be granted
“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). In
reviewing a motion for summary judgment, the Court views the
evidence in the light most favorable to the non-movant.
Abarca v. Metro. Transit Auth., 404 F.3d 938, 940
(5th Cir. 2005). If the movant carries its burden of
demonstrating the absence of a genuine issue of material
fact, the burden shifts to the non-movant to show that
summary judgment should not be granted. Celotex Corp. v.
Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323-25 (1986).
non-movant's “burden is not satisfied with some
metaphysical doubt as to the material facts, by conclusory
allegations, by unsubstantiated assertions, or by only a
scintilla of evidence.” Little v. Liquid Air
Corp., 37 F.3d 1069, 1075 (5th Cir. 1994) (citations and
quotation marks omitted); see also Sanches v. Carrollton
Farmers Branch Indep. Sch. Dist., 647 F.3d 156, 165 (5th
Cir. 2011). The Court will not, in the absence of proof,
assume that the non-moving party could or would prove the
necessary facts. Little, 37 F.3d at 1075.
contends that one or more City officials destroyed or
intentionally lost video from Defendant Lea's body
camera, and that such conduct creates an adverse inference
that is sufficient to overcome summary judgment on all
claims. “‘Under the spoliation doctrine, a jury
may draw an adverse inference that a party who intentionally
destroys important evidence in bad faith did so because the
contents of [the evidence] were unfavorable to that
party.'” Schreane v. Beemon, 575 F.
App'x 486, 490 (5th Cir. 2014) (citation omitted).
“An adverse inference of spoliation can be relevant on
summary judgment.” Id. “The Fifth
Circuit permits an adverse inference against the destroyer of
evidence only upon a showing of ‘bad faith' or
‘bad conduct.'” Id. (citation and
quotation marks omitted). It is within the Court's
discretion whether to permit an evidentiary inference of
spoliation. See id.
there is some dispute as to whether Lea's body camera was
functioning at the time and whether it produced any video at
all, for summary judgment purposes, the Court accepts
Hale's claim that a video exists. However, there is no
genuine dispute - beyond Hale's mere speculation, which
is not probative on summary judgment - that Lea did not
remember to turn on his body camera until after the tasing or
shooting. Therefore, the resulting video would be
tangentially relevant to the actual claims in this action at
best. Regardless, having reviewed the evidence, the Court is
of the opinion that Hale has not made the requisite showing
of bad faith or bad conduct necessary to draw an adverse
inference. See, e.g., Moss v. Alcorn Cty.,
No. 1:13-CV-00167-SA-DAS, 2015 WL 419655, at *4-5 (N.D. Miss.
Feb. 2, 2015). At most, he has shown that the video, if it
exists, was misplaced, but “‘[m]ere negligence is
not enough . . . .'” See Id. at *4
Excessive Force Against The Defendant ...