Dawson vs. Quaites
MEMORANDUM OPINION & ORDER, Dawson's 50 Motion for Summary Judgment is GRANTED in part & DENIED in part as set out. Dawson's motion is GRANTED IN PART w/regard to his state-law claims of assault & battery & negligence & awards compensato ry damages to Dawson in the amount of $4,999.00 & punitive damages in the amount of $5,000.00. Dawson's motion is DENIED IN PART w/regard to his state-law claim of outrage, which claim is accordingly DISMISSED W/PREJUDICE. Signed by Judge Callie V. S. Granade on 9/13/2012. (copy mailed to Dft Quaites on 9/14/12) (tot)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF ALABAMA
KATINA R. QUAITES,
) CIVIL NO. 11-0010-CG-M
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER ON SUMMARY JUDGMENT
This matter is before the court on the unopposed motion for summary
judgment filed by the plaintiff, Michael Dawson (“Dawson”). (Doc. 50).
Dawson seeks summary judgment on his state law claims for assault and
battery, outrage, and negligence against the defendant, Katina Quaites
(“Quaites”). For the reasons stated below, Dawson’s motion is GRANTED
IN PART and DENIED IN PART.
Because Dawson’s motion is unopposed, the court adopts the
undisputed facts described in the motion and accompanying affidavit. (Doc.
50 and Doc. 50-1).
Dawson is employed as a police officer for the City of Daphne,
Alabama. (Doc. 50-1 at 1). Like many Daphne police officers, Dawson
frequently “moonlights” as a security guard when he is off-duty. Id. On the
evening of May 27, 2009, Dawson was working as a security guard at
Dillard’s Department Store in the Eastern Shore Center in Spanish Fort,
Alabama, when store employees reported to him that they saw Quaites
behaving unusually, and suspected her of stealing a dress. Id. at 2.
Specifically, the employees saw Quaites take two dresses off of a
clothing rack and go into the women’s changing room. Id. They then saw
Quaites emerge from the dressing room with only one dress, which she
returned to the rack. Id. A store employee checked the changing room but
did not find the second dress. Id. The employees also reported to Dawson
that there was a “bulge” in Quaites’ handbag. Id. Dawson and the store
employees then saw Quaites take two dresses off of another clothing rack, go
into the women’s changing room, and emerge with only one dress. Id. Once
again, a store employee searched the women’s changing room after Quaites
exited, but could not find the second dress. Id.
Quaites then left Dillard’s, followed by Dawson, who stopped her in the
parking lot and told her to return to the store so that he could “figure out
what happened.” Id. Quaites returned to the store willingly; however, once
back inside the store, she tried to pull away from Dawson. Id. A struggle
ensued, in which several clothing racks were knocked over and during which
Quaites “was yelling loudly and making a public disturbance.” Id. During
the struggle, Quaites pulled out a can of pepper spray that she had concealed
either in her handbag or on her person. Id. at 3. She sprayed Dawson
directly in the face with the pepper spray, causing intense stinging in his
eyes, nose, and mouth. Id. Quaites continued to try and pull free from
Dawson, who did not release her. Id. Quaites again sprayed Dawson in the
face with her pepper spray, doing so long enough for Dawson’s shirt to
become wet with the spray and causing burning and significant irritation to
his skin that lasted for approximately three days. Id. Despite Quaites’
repeatedly spraying him in the face with pepper spray, Dawson nevertheless
detained Quaites until back-up assistance arrived from the Spanish Fort
Police Department. Id.
Quaites was arrested by the Spanish Fort police and, more than two
years later, on July 15, 2011, was indicted by a Baldwin County grand jury
on charges of second-degree assault on a police officer and disorderly conduct.
(Doc. 50-2 at 2). On March 23, 2012, she pled guilty to a misdemeanor charge
of assault in the third degree. Judgment was entered against her on the
same day. (Doc. 50-3). As Dawson points out in his motion, Quaites did not
file a notice of appeal within 42 days of the entry of conviction, and therefore,
the judgment against her is final. (Doc. 50 at 2) (citing Rule 4(a)(1), Alabama
Rules of Appellate Procedure).
Between Quaites’ arrest and indictment, Dawson filed a complaint
against her in the District Court of Baldwin County on July 27, 2010,
alleging state-law claims of assault and battery, outrage, and negligence, and
seeking compensatory and punitive damages in the amount of $9,999.00.
On January 30, 2011, Quaites filed a counter-claim against Dawson
and other parties, alleging multiple violations of 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and other
federal statutes. (Doc. 1 at 2). Accordingly, the case was removed to this
court on March 2, 2011. See Doc. 1. Quaites’ counterclaim was subsequently
dismissed on July 6, 2012, (Doc. 23), leaving only Dawson’s state-law claim
before the court pursuant to federal supplemental jurisdiction.
The court first notes that, with Quaites’ counterclaim having been
dismissed on July 6, 2012, the only basis for the court's jurisdiction over
Dawson’s claim is 28 U.S.C. § 1367. Thus, the Court may, in its discretion,
decline to retain jurisdiction over these claims because it “has dismissed all
claims over which it has original jurisdiction.” Id. § 1367(c)(3). However, in
deciding whether to exercise § 1367 jurisdiction over the defendant's
counterclaims, the court should consider “concerns of comity, judicial
economy, convenience, fairness, and the like.” Lewis v. City of St. Petersburg,
260 F.3d 1260, 1267 (11th Cir. 2001) (citing Crosby v. Paulk, 187 F.3d 1339,
1352 (11th Cir. 1999)). In weighing these factors, the court finds that they
warrant the continued exercise of supplemental jurisdiction over Dawson’s
claims. The issues raised in this case are not state law issues of first
impression. Furthermore, where the defendant has not even bothered to
respond to the plaintiff’s motion for summary judgment, the court finds that
requiring that Dawson go to the time and not inconsiderable expense of refiling his motion in the state court would be both unfair and inconvenient.
ASSAULT AND BATTERY
“In this Circuit, the use of a criminal conviction as conclusive of an
issue in subsequent civil litigation is well-established.” Parris v. Town of
Alexander City, 45 F.Supp.2d 1295, 1300 n.6 (M.D. Ala. 1999) (citing Matter
of Raiford v. Abney, 695 F.2d 521, 523 (11th Cir. 1983)). Quaites pled guilty
to and was convicted of assault in the third degree with regard to the incident
in question. (Docs. 50-3 and 50-4). Thus, it has been conclusively established
as necessary elements of her conviction that Quaites caused physical injury
to Dawson with the intent to cause physical injury to him. Accordingly,
Dawson’s motion is due to be granted in part with regard to his state-law
claim of assault and battery.
The same cannot be said with regard to Dawson’s state-law claim of
outrage. The Alabama Supreme Court has recognized the tort of outrage in
only three areas: “(1) wrongful conduct within the context of family burials;1
(2) an insurance agent’s coercing an insured into settling an insurance claim;2
See e.g., Gray Brown-Service Mortuary, Inc. v. Lloyd, 729 So.2d 280 (Ala.
1999) (cemetery’s secretive disinterment and gross abuse of corpse supported
judgment in favor of plaintiff).
See e.g., National Security Fire & Cas. Co. v. Bowen, 447 So.2d 133, 141
(Ala. 1983) (insurance investigators’ orchestration of false criminal charges
and (3) egregious sexual harassment.”3 Callens v. Jefferson County Nursing
Home, 769 So.2d 273, 281 (Ala. 2000). Outside of these categories, shocking
conduct is often deemed by Alabama courts to be insufficient to create a jury
question. Styron v. City of Foley, 2005 WL 3098926, *6 (S.D. Ala. 2005).
Here, none of Dawson’s allegations fall within the three areas
recognized by the Alabama Supreme Court and do not, as a matter of law,
constitute the tort of outrage. Accordingly, the court finds that Dawson’s
state law outrage claim is due to be dismissed with prejudice.
Dawson also alleges that Quaites negligently injured him. (Doc. 1-1).
As Quaites does not dispute Dawson’s motion, the allegation is deemed
admitted and the court finds that Dawson’s motion is due to be granted in
part with regard to his negligence claim.
Dawson seeks compensatory and punitive damages for the physical
pain and suffering resulting from Quaites’ assault. (Doc. 50 at 3). Dawson
concedes that he incurred neither medical expenses nor lost wages. Id.
However, he argues that he is entitled to compensatory damages of $4,999.00
against insured, threats of harm to insured’s son, and holding insured at
gunpoint to coerce settlement of insurance claim was conduct “so horrible, so
atrocious, [and] so barbaric” as to constitute outrage).
See e.g., Machen v. Childersburg Bancorporation, 761 So.2d 981 (Ala. 1999)
(reversing summary judgment on finding that evidence of repeated
inappropriate sexual conduct by plaintiff’s supervisor at work precluded
for the pain and suffering he experienced when Quaites sprayed him directly
in the face with pepper spray. Id. Dawson also argues that he is entitled to
$5,000.00 in punitive damages because the assault was attended by
“particularized circumstances of aggravation or insult.” Id. at 3 (citing Peete
v. Blackwell, 504 So.2d 222, 223 (Ala. 1986).
(a) Compensatory Damages
As stated above, the facts alleged in Dawson’s motion are deemed
admitted because Quaites has not disputed or otherwise responded to them.
Accordingly, the court finds that Dawson experienced pain and suffering
when Quaites repeatedly sprayed him in the face with pepper spray, and for
several days thereafter. The court further deems admitted the proposition
that $4,999.00 is not excessive to compensate Dawson.
(b) Punitive Damages
The Alabama Supreme Court has held that “rules regarding the award
of punitive damages for assault and battery are relatively clear and wellestablished.” Peete, 504 So.2d at 223. Punitive damages are available for
assault and battery where the assault was “committed with malice,
willfulness, or wanton and reckless disregard of the rights of others.”
Surrency v. Harbison, 489 So.2d 1097, 1105 (Ala.1986). Furthermore, actual
injury is not necessary for an assault and battery claim. Id. at 1104. Here,
the court deems admitted the allegation that Quaites’ committed the assault
on Dawson with the requisite malice, willfulness, and wanton and reckless
disregard of Dawson’s rights. Accordingly, the court grants Dawson’s request
for punitive damages in the amount of $5,000.00.
Dawson’s motion for summary judgment is hereby GRANTED IN
PART with regard to his state-law claims of assault and battery and
negligence. The court awards compensatory damages to Dawson in the
amount of $4,999.00 and punitive damages in the amount of $5,000.00.
Dawson’s motion is DENIED IN PART with regard to his state-law claim of
outrage, which claim is accordingly DISMISSED WITH PREJUDICE.
DONE and ORDERED this 13th day of September, 2012.
/s/ Callie V. S. Granade
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
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