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Hillie v. Williams

United States District Court, N.D. Mississippi, Greenville Division

May 25, 2018

GREGORY MARQUE HILLIE PLAINTIFF
v.
SHERIFF KELVIN WILLIAMS, et al. DEFENDANTS

          ORDER

          DEBRA M. BROWN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         This civil rights action is before the Court on Sheriff Kelvin Williams' motion for summary judgment, Doc. #46; and Gregory Marque Hillie's motion for voluntary dismissal, Doc. #49.

         I Procedural History

         On or about May 24, 2017, Gregory Marque Hillie, an inmate at Bolivar County Regional Correctional Facility, filed a pro se complaint in this Court against “Sheriff Kelvin William, ” “Government Phil Bryant” and the “Federal Government.” Doc. #1. On August 11, 2017, following a Spears hearing, United States Magistrate Judge David A. Sanders issued a Report and Recommendation construing Hillie's complaint as requesting that criminal charges be instituted against the defendants and asserting claims sounding under § 1983, the Hate Crimes Prevention Act (“HCPA”), and the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”). Doc. #14. The Report and Recommendation recommended that (1) the Federal Government and Bryant be dismissed; (2) the HCPA claim be dismissed; (3) the § 1983 claim be dismissed to the extent it is premised on an alleged violation of the right to speedy trial; (4) the request to procure criminal charges be dismissed; (5) the ADA individual capacity claim against Williams be dismissed; and (6) process issue against Williams on Hillie's remaining claims. Id. at 4. On November 3, 2017, this Court adopted the Report and Recommendation. Doc. #35.

         On February 1, 2018, Williams filed a motion seeking summary judgment as to Hillie's denial of medical care claim based on alleged denials of physical therapy and pain management. Doc. #46. Hillie did not respond to the motion for summary judgment. However, on or about February 9, 2018, Hillie filed a document captioned “Motion Comparison, ” which is in substance a motion for voluntary dismissal of the medical care claim. Doc. #49.

         II Motion for Voluntary Dismissal

         Hillie's motion for voluntary dismissal states in full: “Goorgia and United States of America Consitutions Amendments bills of rights Dismis da physcial therapy and pain specialy from lawsuit with your permission.” Doc. #49.

         Where, as here, a plaintiff fails to specify whether a requested voluntary dismissal is with or without prejudice, “the matter is left to the discretion of the lower court.” Williams v. Peralta Cmty. Coll. Dist., 227 F.R.D. 538, 539 (N.D. Cal. 2005); Dodge-Regupol, Inc. v. RB Rubber Prods., Inc., 585 F.Supp.2d 645, 652 (M.D. Pa. 2008). In exercising this discretion, a court should consider: “(1) the defendant's effort and expense in preparing for trial, (2) excessive delay and lack of diligence on the part of the plaintiff in prosecuting the action, and (3) insufficient explanation of the need to take a dismissal.” Williams, 227 F.R.D. at 540 (alterations omitted); see also Cooke v. Meritor, Inc., No. 4:16-cv-54, 2018 WL 2223324, at *1 (N.D. Miss. May 15, 2018) (to determine whether defendant would suffer plain legal prejudice from voluntary dismissal, court must consider “(1) the defendant's effort and the expense involved in preparing for trial, (2) excessive delay and lack of diligence on the part of the plaintiff in prosecuting the action, (3) insufficient explanation of the need to take a dismissal, and (4) the fact that a motion for summary judgment has been filed by the defendant.”).

         Here, this case has been pending for more than a year. Discovery is complete, and the defendants have filed a motion for summary judgment. Furthermore, Hillie has offered no reason for the requested dismissal. Under these circumstances, a dismissal without prejudice is clearly inappropriate. However, in light of Hillie's pro se status, the Court declines to construe his motion as seeking dismissal with prejudice. See Sossamon v. Lone Star State of Tex., 560 F.3d 316, 322 n.3 (5th Cir. 2009) (courts must “construe pro se filings liberally”). Accordingly, the Court, in the exercise of its discretion, denies Hillie's motion for voluntary dismissal of his medical care claim.

         III Motion for Summary Judgment Standard

         Under Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, “[s]ummary judgment is proper only when the record demonstrates that no genuine issue of material fact exists and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Luv N' Care Ltd. v. Groupo Rimar, 844 F.3d 442, 447 (5th Cir. 2016). “A factual issue is genuine if the evidence is sufficient for a reasonable jury to return a verdict for the non-moving party, and material if its resolution could affect the outcome of the action.” Burton v. Freescale Semiconductor, Inc., 798 F.3d 222, 226 (5th Cir. 2015) (quotation marks omitted). On a motion for summary judgment, a court must “consider the evidence in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party and draw all reasonable inferences in its favor.” Edwards v. Cont'l Cas. Co., 841 F.3d 360, 363 (5th Cir. 2016).

         In seeking summary judgment, “[t]he moving party bears the initial responsibility of informing the district court of the basis for its motion, and identifying those portions of the record which it believes demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of material fact.” Nola Spice Designs, L.L.C. v. Haydel Enters., Inc., 783 F.3d 527, 536 (5th Cir. 2015) (quotation marks and alterations omitted). If the moving party satisfies this burden, “the non-moving party must go beyond the pleadings and by her own affidavits, or by the depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, designate specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial.” Id. (quotation marks omitted). “Where the nonmoving party bears the burden of proof at trial, the moving party satisfies this initial burden by demonstrating an absence of evidence to support the nonmoving party's case.” Celtic Marine Corp. v. James C. Justice Cos., Inc., 760 F.3d 477, 481 (5th Cir. 2014).

         IV Factual Background

         Hillie is a pretrial detainee who has been housed at the Bolivar County Sheriff's Department jail since August 10, 2015. Doc. #46-1 at 5-6. Due to a gunshot wound he suffered in 1990 or 1991, ...


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