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Gerhart v. Rankin County

United States District Court, S.D. Mississippi, Northern Division

September 5, 2018

JOSEPH GERHART, et al. PLAINTIFFS
v.
RANKIN COUNTY, et al. DEFENDANTS

          ORDER DENYING THE DEFENDANT'S SUPPLEMENTAL MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

          HENRY T. WINGATE, UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT JUDGE.

         BEFORE THIS COURT are the following motions: Rankin County Defendants' Supplemental Motion for Summary Judgment. [Docket no. 223]; the Rankin County Defendants' Motion for Leave to File Supplemental Motion for Summary Judgement [Docket no. 225]; and the Plaintiffs' Motion to Strike Supplemental Motion for Summary Judgment [Docket no. 226]. This court is convinced the Rankin County Defendants' Motion for Leave to File Supplemental Motion for Summary Judgement [Docket no. 225] is well-taken and is due to be GRANTED. Further, this court is persuaded that the Plaintiffs' Motion to Strike Supplemental Motion for Summary Judgment [Docket no. 226] is not well-taken and is, therefore, due to be DENIED.

         This court held a hearing in this matter on January 3, 2017, in which the parties argued their respective positions.[1] This court requested a letter brief from the parties in this matter regarding the issue of the “relation-back” of Brett Gerhart's claims - acting as an adult in his own capacity - in the fourth amended complaint [Docket no. 206] to the original complaint [Docket no.1]. The parties submitted their letter briefs to this court on January 5, 2017, which are attached to this Order as exhibits.

         The Rankin County Defendants cited no new case law in their letter brief, but reiterated their points of law which were encompassed by their brief on this matter. [Docket no. 224]. The Rankin County Defendants urge this court to treat the amendment as an amendment changing the name of a “John Doe” defendant in a complaint. Thus, say the Defendants, Jacobsen v. Osborne, 133 F.3d 315 (5th Cir. 1998), applies.

         In this Supplemental Motion for Summary Judgment, the court only addresses one aspect of the Fourth Amended Complaint, and that is whether plaintiff Brett Gerhart can sue in his own individual capacity. This lawsuit was originally brought by his parents acting as next friend to Brett Gerhart (and his siblings who were minors at the time of the incidents at issue here).

         Defendants herein are: Johnny Barnes; Brett McAlpin; Brad McLendon; Sheriff Ronnie Pennington; Rankin County, Mississippi; Ben Schuler; Jamie Scouten; and the City of Pearl, Mississippi. Defendants contend that at this late date, Brett Gerhart cannot be substituted in his own adult, individual capacity.

         During the entire course of this litigation, the issue before this court has been whether Brett Gerhart had been deprived of his constitutional rights by the defendants during their alleged search and seizure of his person and residence. The parties have engaged in copious discovery to flesh out the details of what occurred during the encounter between Brett Gerhart and the defendants.

         On December 1, 2016, in plaintiffs' fourth amended complaint [Docket no. 205], Brett Gerhart is suing in his own adult, individual capacity. The defendants herein contend that his [Brett Gerhart's] claims in his individual, adult capacity are barred by the Mississippi statutes of limitations codified at Miss. Code §§ 11-15-135 and 11-15-149.

         For the reasons stated infra, this court is convinced the Rankin County Defendants' Supplemental Motion for Summary Judgment [Docket no. 223] is not well-taken and therefore, is due to be DENIED.

         I. PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         The Plaintiffs filed their lawsuit on September 20, 2011. [Docket no. 1]. Before the complaint had been served, the Plaintiffs filed their [First] Amended Complaint on November 17, 2011 [Docket no. 2]. The Rankin County Defendants filed their answer to the amended complaint on December 12, 2011. [Docket no. 19]. The City of Pearl Defendants filed their answer to the amended complaint on December 21, 2011. [Docket no. 20].

         The Plaintiffs filed a Second Amended Complaint on February 21, 2012. [Docket no. 31]. The Defendants filed their answers on February 27, 2012 [Docket no. 33], and March 2, 2012 [Docket no. 38].

         The Plaintiffs filed their Third Amended Complaint on May 31, 2012. [Docket no. 85]. The defendants filed their answers on June 6, 2012 [Docket no. 93], and June 20, 2012 [Docket no. 99].

         The Rankin County Defendants filed a Motion for Partial Summary Judgment on July 29, 2016, alleging the misnomer of Brett Gerhart. [Docket no. 162]. In all the complaints operative in the lawsuit sub judice until the filing of the Fourth Amended Complaint, Brett Gerhart was not named in his own capacity by the Plaintiffs, but his parents Joseph Gerhart and Amanda Jo Gerhart were named as next friend of Brett Gerhart. As a result of the filing of the Rankin County Defendants' Partial Motion for Summary Judgment, the Plaintiffs filed a Motion for Leave to File an Amended Complaint. [Docket no. ...


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