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Brown v. City of Alexandria

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

September 30, 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 Defendants the City of Alexandria (“City”) and Mayor Jacques Roy (“Mayor Roy”) Motion for Partial Summary Judgment (Record Document 43) under Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure seeking dismissal of Plaintiffs, Anthony and Bianca Brown’s (“Browns” or “Plaintiffs”), federal claims. The Browns oppose summary judgment (Record Document 52). For the reasons stated in the instant Memorandum Ruling, Defendants’ Motion for Partial Summary Judgment is hereby GRANTED.

         FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         The instant suit arises from an altercation at the movie theater on the night of May 21, 2016 in Alexandria, Louisiana. See Record Document 1-5 at 3. The altercation was between Mr. Stevenson (“Stevenson”) and the Browns. See id; see also Record Document 18-3 at 1. On May 21, 2016, Plaintiffs attended a movie. See Record Document 1-5 at 3. Upon entering the theater, 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. Plaintiffs then went to their movie.

         After the movie ended, Plaintiffs began moving towards the theater’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. Stevenson 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. Id. 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, Officer Rennier (“Rennier”) who was working security at the theater. See id.; see also Record Document 18-1 at 64.

         Rennier intervened to break up the fight. See Record Document 43-3 at 10. Plaintiffs allege that Rennier 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. More specifically, Plaintiffs assert Rennier “arbitrarily slammed” Mr. Brown to the ground and “sat on his back using profanity.” Id. at 3. Further, Rennier “struck Ms. Brown, ” and knocked her to the floor. Id. at 4; see also Record Document 18-1 at 65. Both Mr. and Ms. Brown assert significant injuries from this altercation. However, Mr. Brown alleges “no medical services were provided by the Alexandria Police Department, ” even after Mr. Brown indicated multiple times he was hurt. Record Document 1-5 at 4.

         Plaintiffs allege federal and state constitutional claims pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1983 against Officer Rennier, the City of Alexandria, Mayor Roy, the Alexandria City Council, and the Alexandria Police Department. See id. at 4. The Court dismissed all claims against the Alexandria City Council and Alexandria Police Department as they are entities incapable of being sued. See Record Document 13. Plaintiffs also sued the theater for negligent hiring of Stevenson, but all claims against the theater were also dismissed. See Record Document 50.

         The City and Mayor Roy filed the instant Motion for Partial Summary Judgment asserting Plaintiffs failed to provide any evidence demonstrating a § 1983 violation. See Record Document 43-1 at 13-20. Further, Mayor Roy asserts the defense of qualified immunity. See id. at 17-18. The Browns oppose the motion. See Record Document 52. Defendants replied to Plaintiffs’ opposition. See Record Document 55.

         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.” A genuine dispute of material fact exists if the record, taken as a whole, could lead a rational trier of fact to find for the non-moving party. See Geoscan, Inc. of Texas v. Geotrace Techs., Inc., 226 F.3d 387, 390 (5th Cir. 2000).

         Rule 56(c) 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) (quoting Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322, 106 S.Ct. 2548, 2552 (1986)). 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).

         In reviewing a motion for summary judgment, the court must view “all facts and inferences in the light most favorable to the non-moving party.” Rogers v. Bromac Title Servs., L.L.C.,755 F.3d 347, 350 (5th Cir. 2014). But the non-moving party “cannot defeat summary judgment with conclusory allegations, unsubstantiated assertions, or only a ‘scintilla of evidence.” Hathaway v. Bazanay, 507 F.3d 312, 319 (5th Cir. 2007) (internal citations omitted). Where critical evidence is so weak or tenuous on an essential fact that it could not support ...


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