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Carr v. Hoover

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

July 31, 2018




         This matter comes before the court on the pro se prisoner complaint of Gregory Paul Carr, who challenges the conditions of his confinement under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. For the purposes of the Prison Litigation Reform Act, the court notes that the plaintiff was incarcerated when he filed this suit. The plaintiff has brought the instant case under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, which provides a federal cause of action against “[e]very person” who under color of state authority causes the “deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution and laws.” 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The plaintiff alleges that defendant Lloyd Hoover arrested him without a warrant or probable cause in violation of the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution. The defendant filed a motion for summary judgment, and the plaintiff responded. After reviewing the motion and response, the court ordered additional briefing on the matter in accordance with Fed.R.Civ.P. 56. The defendant has provided the additional briefing, as has the plaintiff. The matter is ripe for resolution. For the reasons set forth below, the motion by the defendant for summary judgment will be granted, and judgment will be entered for the defendant in all respects.

         Summary Judgment Standard

         Summary judgment is appropriate if the “materials in the record, including depositions, documents, electronically stored information, affidavits or declarations, stipulations (including those made for purposes of the motion only), admissions, interrogatory answers, or other materials” show 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) and (c)(1). “The moving party must show that if the evidentiary material of record were reduced to admissible evidence in court, it would be insufficient to permit the nonmoving party to carry its burden.” Beck v. Texas State Bd. of Dental Examiners, 204 F.3d 629, 633 (5th Cir. 2000) (citing Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317 (1986), cert. denied, 484 U.S. 1066 (1988)).

         After a proper motion for summary judgment is made, the burden shifts to the non-movant to set forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 249, 106 S.Ct. 2505, 2511, 91 L.Ed.2d 202 (1986); Beck, 204 F.3d at 633; Allen v. Rapides Parish School Bd., 204 F.3d 619, 621 (5th Cir. 2000); Ragas v. Tennessee Gas Pipeline Company, 136 F.3d 455, 458 (5th Cir. 1998). Substantive law determines what is material. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 249. “Only disputes over facts that might affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law will properly preclude the entry of summary judgment. Factual disputes that are irrelevant or unnecessary will not be counted.” Id., at 248. If the non-movant sets forth specific facts in support of allegations essential to his claim, a genuine issue is presented. Celotex, 477 U.S. at 327. “Where the record, taken as a whole, could not lead a rational trier of fact to find for the non-moving party, there is no genuine issue for trial.” Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587, 89 L.Ed.2d 538 (1986); Federal Savings and Loan, Inc. v. Krajl, 968 F.2d 500, 503 (5thCir. 1992).

         The facts are reviewed drawing all reasonable inferences in favor of the non-moving party. Allen, 204 F.3d at 621; PYCA Industries, Inc. v. Harrison County Waste Water Management Dist., 177 F.3d 351, 161 (5th Cir. 1999); Banc One Capital Partners Corp. v. Kneipper, 67 F.3d 1187, 1198 (5th Cir. 1995). However, this is so only when there is “an actual controversy, that is, when both parties have submitted evidence of contradictory facts.” Little v. Liquid Air Corp., 37 F.3d 1069, 1075 (5th Cir. 1994); see Edwards v. Your Credit, Inc., 148 F.3d 427, 432 (5th Cir. 1998). In the absence of proof, the court does not “assume that the nonmoving party could or would prove the necessary facts.” Little, 37 F.3d at 1075 (emphasis omitted).

         Facts Allegedly in Dispute

         In response to the court's invitation for additional briefing in this case, Mr. Carr has argued that summary judgment is inappropriate because several material facts are in dispute. He is mistaken, and the court will address each fact in turn. First, Mr. Carr disputes whether an unknown female called 911, asked for police assistance, then hung up. However, when asked about this during his deposition, he stated that he did not know anything about the 911 call:

Q: … But to make sure I'm understanding, you don't know whether somebody called 911 or not?
A: I mean, I don't know. Doc. 93-3 at 23. He gave the same answer later on in his deposition:
Q: … Do you know who made the call?
A: I do not know who made the call.
Q: But you have no reason to dispute the call was made?
A: I don't even know if the call was made or not.

Doc. 93-3 at 32. Thus, the ample proof of the call in the record before the court is undisputed.

         Second, Mr. Carr disputes whether a woman was crying at the residence when Officer Hoover arrived at the scene. The court will thus assume, for the purposes of summary judgment, that no one was crying at the scene during that time.

         Third, Mr. Carr disputes that his truck was running and the lights were on. Again, the court will assume, for summary judgment purposes, that the truck was not running and that the lights were off.

         Mr. Carr's fourth contested material fact is the same as the third.

         Fifth, Mr. Carr states that he was not loud and did not use profane language. The court will assume in its analysis that this assertion is true.

         Sixth, the court will accept as true for summary judgment analysis that Mr. Carr did not have alcohol on his breath.

         Seventh, the court will accept as true on summary judgment that Officer Hoover never asked him about the tools in his truck.

         Eighth, the legality of Mr. Carr's possession of Sudafed and how it relates to probable cause, are issues of law based upon other facts gleaned during this case. Thus, these issues are not, themselves, facts which may be used to defeat a motion for summary judgment.

         Ninth, whether Officer Hoover investigated the scene and questioned the other people present is not material to whether he had probable cause to arrest M r. Carr. Further, in any event, Mr. Carr concedes that Officer Hoover looked in his truck, found the Sudafed, and saw the tools.

         Tenth, the issue regarding whether Officer Hoover arrested others on the scene is not material to the question of whether probable cause existed to arrest Mr. Carr. However, Mr. Carr testified at his deposition that one other person was arrested at the scene. He stated during his deposition:

A: I mean, when I got arrested, along with somebody at that house - [the officer] that arrested me ...

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