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Brown v. City of Alexandria

United States District Court, W.D. Louisiana, Alexandria Division

March 8, 2019

ANTHONY T. BROWN, ET AL
v.
CITY OF ALEXANDRIA, ET AL

          PEREZ-MONTES JUDGE

          MEMORANDUM RULING

          S MAURICE HICKS, JR., CHIEF JUDGE

         Before the Court are two Motions for Summary Judgment (Record Documents 17 & 39) filed by defendant Southern Theatres, LLC (“Defendant”). Plaintiffs Anthony Brown (“Mr. Brown”) and Bianca Brown (“Ms. Brown”) (collectively “Plaintiffs”) oppose the motions. See Record Documents 22 & 45. For the reasons set forth in the instant Memorandum Ruling, Defendant's Motions for Summary Judgment (Record Documents 17 & 39) are hereby GRANTED.

         FACTUAL BACKGROUND

         Defendant operates the Grand Theatre in Alexandria, Louisiana (“the Theatre”). At all times relevant to this case, Michael Stevenson (“Stevenson”) was employed by the Theatre as an usher and was tasked with keeping the building clean. See Record Document 1-5 at 3; see also Record Document 18-3 at 1. Plaintiffs attended movies at the Theatre on multiple occasions prior to May 21, 2016. Plaintiffs both stated in their individual depositions that Stevenson would speak to Ms. Brown each time they would go to the Theatre. See Record Document 18-1 at 36. According to Plaintiffs, this was because Ms. Brown and Stevenson had a pre-existing personal connection. Specifically, they went to church together in the past. See Record Documents 18-1 at 39 & 18-2 at 30. In his deposition, Mr. Brown stated that during Plaintiffs' interactions with Stevenson at the Theatre, Stevenson would only address Ms. Brown and would not acknowledge Mr. Brown. See Record Document 18-1 at 42.

         On May 21, 2016, Plaintiffs attended a movie at the Theatre. See Record Document 1-5 at 3. Upon entering the Theatre, Stevenson approached Plaintiffs and began speaking to Ms. Brown. Mr. Brown went to the concession stand. See Record Document 18-1 at 52. After Stevenson and Ms. Brown finished their conversation, Ms. Brown went to the restroom. See id. At this time, Mr. Brown approached Stevenson and engaged him in conversation. See id. at 42 According to Mr. Brown's deposition, the purpose of this conversation was to let Stevenson know that Mr. and Ms. Brown had been married for 18 years, and to ask Stevenson to acknowledge Mr. Brown's presence whenever he spoke to Ms. Brown in the future. See id. According to Mr. Brown, the two of them shook hands at the end of the conversation. See id. at 43. Plaintiffs then went to their movie.

         After the movie ended, Plaintiffs began moving towards the Theatre's exit, but were “accosted” by Stevenson, who was standing in the doorway. Record Document 1-5 at 3. Stevenson “attempted to commence a conversation with Ms. Brown.” Id. He told her that before the movie, Mr. Brown had accused them of having an affair. See Record Documents 18-1 at 58 & 18-2 at 65. Plaintiffs turned to walk away. See Record Document 1-5 at 3. Stevenson then “jumped in front of them” and became hostile. Record Document 1-5 at 3. He stated, “I'm a grown ass man and I'll talk to whoever [sic] the hell I want to talk to.” Id.; see also Record Document 18-1 at 60. Stevenson then pushed Mr. Brown and “commenced attacking him, causing a fight to break out between them.” Id. Ms.

         Brown then yelled for help from the police officer who was working security at the Theatre. See Record Document 18-1 at 64. The police officer intervened to break up the fight. See id. Plaintiffs allege that the police officer engaged in excessive force and caused significant injuries to both of them during the course of his intervention. See Record Document 1-5 at 3 & 4.

         Plaintiffs allege that Stevenson was hired by Defendant despite having a “demonstrable propensity for excessive force, violence, negligence, and other misconduct.” Record Document 1-5 at 3. Plaintiffs have also submitted evidence on summary judgment showing that Stevenson had a criminal history at the time of his hiring, which includes a prior conviction for sexual battery. See Record Document 22-4.

         LAW AND ANALYSIS

         I. Summary Judgment Standard

         Summary judgment is proper pursuant to Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure when “there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Quality Infusion Care, Inc. v. Health Care Serv. Corp., 628 F.3d 725, 728 (5th Cir. 2010). “A genuine [dispute] of material fact exists when the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party.” Id. at 728. During this stage, courts must look to the substantive law underlying the lawsuit in order to identify “which facts are material.” Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248, 106 S.Ct. 2505, 2510 (1986)

         “Rule 56[(a)] 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.” Patrick v. Ridge, 394 F.3d 311, 315 (5th Cir. 2004). If the movant demonstrates the absence of a genuine dispute of material fact, “the nonmovant must go beyond the pleadings and designate specific facts showing that there is a genuine [dispute] for trial.” Gen. Universal Sys., Inc. v. Lee, 379 F.3d 131, 141 (5th Cir. 2004). A nonmovant cannot meet the burden of proving that a genuine dispute of material fact exists by providing only “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). Where critical evidence is so weak or tenuous on an essential fact that it could not support a judgment in favor of the nonmovant, then summary judgment should be granted. See Boudreaux v. Swift Transp. Co., 402 F.3d 536, 540 (5th Cir. 2005).

         In reviewing a motion for summary judgment, the court is to view “the facts and inferences to be drawn therefrom in the light most favorable to the non-moving party.” Tubos de Acero de Mexico, S.A. v. Am. Int'l Inv. Corp., Inc., 292 F.3d 471, 478 (5th Cir. 2002); see also Harris v. Serpas, 745 F.3d 767, 771 (5th Cir. 2014). The court should not, however, in the absence of any ...


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