United States District Court, N.D. Mississippi, Aberdeen Division
MOSE LEE SUDDUTH, JR. PLAINTIFF
LOWNDES COUNTY, MISSISSIPPI, ROGER COLEMAN, and NORTH ATLANTIC SECURITY COMPANY DEFENDANTS
ORDER AND MEMORANDUM OPINION
SHARION AYCOCK, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Lee Sudduth, Jr. filed his Complaint  on March 19, 2018
asserting various claims against Lowndes County, Mississippi,
and the security company that the County contracts with to
provide security at its Justice Court building, North
Atlantic Security. Sudduth also asserts various claims
against Roger Coleman, one of North Atlantic's security
guards. Now before the Court are two motions filed by Lowndes
County requesting dismissal or summary judgment in its favor
on Sudduth's state law claims , and his federal claims
 respectively. Briefing is complete and these issues are
ripe for review.
and Procedural Background
County contracts with a private company, North Atlantic
Security, to provide security at its Justice Court building.
On May 24, 2018 Sudduth entered the Lowndes County Justice
Court building wearing shorts, a t-shirt, flip flops, and a
baseball hat. The entrance to the building consists of two
sets of double glass doors that open into a hallway. In the
hallway just inside the double doors is a small security
guard office. A metal detector stands on the opposite side of
the hallway with an unobstructed pathway between the metal
detector and the security office door. Further down the hall
is a glass bank-teller style window that opens into the
Justice Court Clerk's office.
entered the building carrying a single piece of paper in one
hand. As he entered the building, the security guard on duty,
Roger Coleman, stepped out of the office and directed Sudduth
to pass through the metal detector. Sudduth waved him off
saying “I'm an attorney.” Sudduth proceeded
to the Clerk's office window and passed his paper beneath
the glass, asking the Clerk to file it for him. Coleman
followed Sudduth to the Clerk's window and insisted that
he pass through the metal detector. Sudduth refused, but did
surrender a pocketknife that he was carrying in the pocket of
his shorts. The two men continued to argue, even after the
Clerk confirmed that Sudduth was indeed an attorney. Sudduth
continued to refuse to pass through the metal detector, or to
leave the building and demanded that Coleman return his
knife. Coleman told Sudduth to leave, but Sudduth refused.
Coleman told Sudduth, “I'm asking you one more time
to leave, ” and Sudduth again refused. Coleman tackled
Sudduth to the floor and dragged him by one arm through both
sets of double doors, deposited him on the sidewalk in front
of the building, and locked the doors.
Complaint , Sudduth alleges seven separate constitutional
violations, and further alleges numerous failures by the
County to properly train and supervise its security
personnel, namely Coleman. Sudduth argues that the County
illegally abdicated its responsibility for maintaining
security at its Courthouses, and that these failures by the
County are representative of a larger custom and policy
implemented by the County that directly caused the violation
of Sudduth's constitutional rights.
Sudduth alleges the following state law claims against the
County: assault, battery, wrongful arrest, false
imprisonment, outrageous conduct, negligence, gross
negligence, and/or recklessness.
Sudduth's federal claims, the County argues that Sudduth
has asserted a claim based on a constitutional duty that does
not exist, and that the County cannot be held liable for
Coleman's actions in this context under the theory of
respondeat superior. The County requests judgment in
its favor on all of Sudduth's federal claims.
Sudduth's state law claims, the County argues that it is
immune under the terms of the Mississippi Tort Claims Act.
Miss. Code Ann. § 11-46-5, 7. The County also requests
judgment in its favor on all of Sudduth's state law
Rule of Civil Procedure 56 governs summary judgment. Summary
judgment is warranted when the evidence reveals no genuine
dispute regarding any material fact, and the moving party is
entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a).
The rule “mandates the entry of summary judgment, after
adequate time for discovery and upon motion, against a party
who fails to make a showing sufficient to establish the
existence of an element essential to that party's case,
and on which that party will bear the burden of proof at
trial.” Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S.
317, 322, 106 S.Ct. 2548, 91 L.Ed.2d 265 (1986).
reviewing the evidence, factual controversies are to be
resolved in favor of the non-movant, “but only when . .
. both parties have submitted evidence of contradictory
facts.” Little, 37 F.3d at 1075. When such
contradictory facts exist, the Court may “not make
credibility determinations or weigh the evidence.”
Reeves v. Sanderson Plumbing Prods., Inc., 530 U.S.
133, 150, 120 S.Ct. 2097, 147 L.Ed.2d 105 (2000).
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.” Celotex, 477 U.S. at 323, 106 S.Ct.
2548. The nonmoving party must then “go beyond the
pleadings” and “designate ‘specific facts
showing that there is a genuine issue for trial.'”
Id. at 324, 106 S.Ct. 2548 (citation omitted). Mere
“conclusory allegations, speculation, [or]
unsubstantiated assertions are inadequate to satisfy the
nonmovant's burden.” Pree v. Washington Cty.
Bd. of Supervisors, No. 4:16-CV-122-SA, 2018 WL 522776,
at *6 (N.D. Miss. Jan. 23, 2018) (citing Douglass v.
United Servs. Auto. Ass'n, 79 F.3d 1415, 1429 (5th
Cir. 1996)). Mississippi substantive law applies in this
diversity case. See Cox v. Wal-Mart Stores E., L.P.,
755 F.3d 231, 233 (5th Cir. 2014) (citing Wood v. RIH
Acquisitions MS II, LLC, 556 F.3d 274, 275 (5th Cir.