Johnson v. Milliner
ORDER denying 26 Motion for Summary Judgment filed by defendant Chuck Milliner, as set out. Signed by Judge Kristi K. DuBose on 11/4/2014. (cmj)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF ALABAMA
CORPORAL CHUCK MILLINER,
) CIVIL ACTION NO. 14-00024-KD-B
This action is before the Court on the Motion for Summary Judgment filed by defendant
Chuck Milliner, plaintiff Marcus Johnson’s response in opposition, and defendant’s reply
(docs. 26-29, 33-34, 37). Upon consideration, and for the reasons set forth herein, the Motion
for Summary Judgment is DENIED.
Plaintiff Marcus Johnson brings this civil action alleging that he was denied his
constitutional rights while incarcerated in the Mobile Metro Jail. Johnson alleges that
defendant Corporal Chuck Milliner (Milliner), for no justifiable reason, tasered him in the eye
and chest while he was standing on the stairs in the Jail. Johnson alleges that he was rendered
unconscious by the tasing, fell down the stairs, fractured his skull and lost sight in his eye.
In Count One, brought pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, Johnson alleges that Milliner used
excessive force and violated his Fourteenth Amendment Due Process rights to be free from
cruel and unusual punishment. In Count Two, brought pursuant to state law, Johnson alleges
that Milliner committed an assault and battery upon him. Johnson invokes this Court’s
supplemental jurisdiction over his state law claim.
II. Standard of Review
“The court shall grant summary judgment if the movant shows that there is no genuine
dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Fed.
R. Civ. P. 56(a). Rule 56(c) governs procedures and provides as follows:
(1) Supporting Factual Positions. A party asserting that a fact cannot be or is
genuinely disputed must support the assertion by:
(A) citing to particular parts of materials in the record, including
depositions, documents, electronically stored information,
affidavits or declarations, stipulations (including those made for
purposes of the motion only), admissions, interrogatory answers, or
other materials; or
(B) showing that the materials cited do not establish the absence or
presence of a genuine dispute, or that an adverse party cannot
produce admissible evidence to support the fact.
(2) Objection That a Fact Is Not Supported by Admissible Evidence. A party
may object that the material cited to support or dispute a fact cannot be
presented in a form that would be admissible in evidence.
(3) Materials Not Cited. The court need consider only the cited materials, but it
may consider other materials in the record.
(4) Affidavits or Declarations. An affidavit or declaration used to support or
oppose a motion must be made on personal knowledge, set out facts that
would be admissible in evidence, and show that the affiant or declarant is
competent to testify on the matters stated.
Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c).
A party seeking summary judgment bears the initial responsibility of informing the
district court of the basis for its motion and identifying those portions of the pleadings,
depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if
any, which it believes demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of material fact. Clark v.
Coats & Clark, Inc., 929 F.2d 604, 608 (11th Cir. 1991) (quoting Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477
U.S. 317, 323 (1986)).
The mere existence of a factual dispute will not automatically necessitate denial; rather,
only factual disputes that are material preclude entry of summary judgment. Lofton v. Sec’y of
Dep’t of Children & Family Servs., 358 F.3d 804, 809 (11th Cir. 2004). “An issue of fact is
material if it is a legal element of the claim under the applicable substantive law which might
affect the outcome of the case. It is genuine if the record taken as a whole could lead a rational
trier of fact to find for the nonmoving party.” Reeves v. C.H. Robinson Worldwide, Inc., 594
F.3d 798, 807 (11th Cir. 2010) (en banc) (citation omitted).
If a non-moving party fails to make a sufficient showing on an essential element of its
case with respect to which it has the burden of proof, the moving party is entitled to summary
judgment. Celotex, 477 U.S. at 323. In reviewing whether a non-moving party has met its
burden, the Court must stop short of weighing the evidence and making credibility
determinations of the truth of the matter. Instead, the evidence of the non-movant is to be
believed, and all justifiable inferences are to be drawn in its favor. Tipton v. Bergrohr GMBHSiegen, 965 F.2d 994, 998-99 (11th Cir. 1992) (internal citations and quotations omitted).
The parties do not dispute that at all relevant times, Johnson was a pre-trial detainee
incarcerated in the Mobile Metro Jail, that Milliner was employed as a Corrections Corporal at
the Jail who had been assigned as the Pod Officer for the pod that included the wedge where
Johnson was held, and that Susan Combs was employed as the Floor Officer for Johnson’s
The Court has made its determination of facts by “review[ing] the record, and all its
inferences, in the light most favorable to [Johnson] the nonmoving party.” Benson v. Tocco,
Inc., 113 F.3d 1203, 1207 (11th Cir. 1997). However, Johnson’s version of the events and the
facts on summary judgment “may not turn out to be the actual facts if the case goes to trial.”
See Cottrell v. Caldwell, 85 F.3d 1480, 1486 (11th Cir.1996).
The parties do not dispute that Milliner fired the taser at Johnson while he was standing
on the stairwell to the second level of the wedge. One prong hit Johnson in the left midepigastrum and the other hit his left eye. Although there is some discrepancy as to whether
Johnson fell from the top of the stairs or from the middle, he fell from the stairs to the floor and
was injured by both the taser prongs and his fall. He received head injuries, injury to his eye,
and a broken tooth. He now has residual migraines and permanent vision loss in his left eye.
Johnson required medical treatment and was hospitalized for a week. He had one more
hospitalization for migraines.
There is no dispute of fact that Milliner was trained on the use of a taser and had
knowledge of the Sheriff’s Department’s Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) for use of a
taser and use of force. Milliner was also aware of the Department’s SOP’s for placement and
duties of its officers in the pod and wedge and the procedure when they left their respective
After the tasering incident, Milliner completed a use of force incident report and
Lieutenant Veronica Wilcox investigated the incident. Wilcox submitted a report to Deputy
Warden Robert Houston who recommended to Warden Noah Oliver that a pre-disciplinary
hearing be held. At the hearing before the pre-disciplinary committee, Milliner was found
guilty of conduct unbecoming an employee in the public service on basis that he “changed
assignments with another Corrections Officer without permission.”
Milliner also plead guilty to the charge of conduct unbecoming an employee in the
public service on basis that he “failed to notify the Security Supervisor that [he] predicted a
problem with an inmate” and “entered the wedge alone and had a confrontation with an
inmate” in violation of the SOP. The SOP instructs officers to call for security if they
anticipate a problem and not confront an inmate alone.
Milliner also plead guilty to the charge of neglect of duty on basis that he “tased an inmate
while he was standing on the stairs causing serious injury to the inmate” in violation of the
SOP. The committee based its decision on Milliner’s narrative and statements, Officer Combs
narrative, and Lieutenant Wilcox’s report. (Doc. 33-9) Milliner received a notice of
disciplinary action and was suspended for a period of time and underwent additional training.
The disputed facts surround the use of force when Johnson attempted to get a food tray.
For purpose of this motion for summary judgment, the Court will summarize the undisputed
facts and conflicting versions of the facts, which are relevant to this event and relevant to the
Court’s decision. See Madura v. City of North Miami Beach, Florida, 517 Fed. Appx. 847
(11th Cir. 2013) (finding that the “specific details about the events differ substantially …
according to the parties’ testimony”, providing a “side-by-side comparison of their accounts”
and reversing and remanding the district court’s grant of summary judgment on basis that it
improperly gave greater weight to the officer’s testimony when ruling on motions).
Standard procedure for serving meals to the inmates followed this pattern: When the
trays arrived on the cart, the inmates entered their cells and Combs secured the cell doors. The
trays would be placed on the table in the dayroom and when Combs was sure that there was a
tray for each inmate present, she opened the cell doors and the inmates came out to get their
trays. Combs as the Floor Office monitored the inmates during their meal. Milliner as the Pod
Officer remained in the pod. (Doc. 29-1, p. 8-9, Combs deposition)
On the day of the incident, Combs testified that when the trays arrived, the inmates
went into their cells but Johnson’s cell door did not lock. Combs took the trays into the
dayroom and told the inmates that she was going to open the doors and then gave them the
“normal little spiel” but told Johnson, “you’ve already been fed, don’t step down.” (Doc. 29-1,
p. 14) Johnson pushed his cell door open, came out on the balcony and replied: “I’m getting a
damn tray.” (Id., p. 19). The inmate who had delivered the trays was holding the door open to
the wedge, Milliner stepped in, asked Combs to step out and told her to go to the pod, which
she did. Combs gave Milliner the Taser and he told her that he would finish feeding the
inmates. (Id., p. 14)
When Milliner stepped in to the wedge, Combs heard him tell Johnson not to come
down because he had been fed. (Id., p. 19-20)2 Milliner alleges that Johnson was coming down
the stairs and responded that he was getting a “damn tray”. (Id., p. 19-20) Milliner alleges that
he then told Johnson that he had a taser and Johnson replied that he didn’t “give a damn about
the taser”. (Doc. 29-1, p. 20-21)3 The inmate who had brought the trays had been holding the
door open to the wedge, but he then closed the door and Combs could not hear the rest of the
verbal exchange but she could see Johnson from the pod. Also, during this time, Milliner had
opened the cell doors and some of the inmates had come out to get their trays. (Id.) When
Johnson reached the third or fourth step from the bottom, Combs heard Milliner “holler Stop”.
(Id.) Johnson stepped down again, and Milliner again “hollered Stop”, then Milliner fired the
taser. (Id.) Milliner testified that he aimed the taser at the center of Johnson’s body. (Doc. 292, p. 28) Milliner also alleges that he did not remove the taser prong from Johnson’s eye and
Milliner alleges that when Johnson was brought to the wedge from the Docket Room, the
Intake Officer told Milliner that Johnson had eaten a bag lunch while in the Docket Room.
(Doc. 29-2, p. 14, Milliner Deposition) Johnson alleges that when he arrived at the wedge he
let Combs and Milliner know that he had not eaten in docket. (Doc. 33-2, Inmate Reginald
Milliner’s allegations regarding the verbal exchange with Johnson was based on Combs’
testimony at deposition.
that the prong was still there when the medics arrived (doc. 33-13, Exh. 13, Milliner Depo. p.
Milliner alleges that he switched places with Combs because he believed that his
presence would de-escalate the situation. Milliner thought that because of his size, gender, and
the taser warning, Johnson would not cause a disturbance and would comply with their orders
to return to his cell. (Doc. 29-2, p. 20-21, Milliner deposition)
Johnson alleges that Milliner entered the wedge with the taser drawn and activated with
the laser beam visible. (Doc. 33-2, Lee statement) He also alleges that when Milliner came in,
he looked like he was ready to tase someone and had something to prove. (Id.) Johnson alleges
that Milliner never came any farther into the wedge than right next to the entry door and behind
the red line drawn inside the door and beyond which the inmates were not to proceed. (Id. p,
Johnson testified that after he was told that he could not get a tray because he had
already eaten, he asked Milliner, "Well, can you go get your sergeant for me, or could you go
get your supervisor, because I ain't ate nothing?” (Doc. 33-1, p. 8, Johnson deposition) Johnson
said again that he had not eaten. Milliner replied that he “ain't fixing to go get nobody”, to
which Johnson repeated, “Could you please just go get your supervisor for me because I ain't
ate nothing." Milliner responded, “I ain't fixing to go get nobody. Just don't come down here
and mess with these trays.” Johnson asked again, "Could you please go get your supervisor for
me, I ain't ate nothing.” (Doc. 33-1, p. 9-10) Johnson alleges that he (Johnson) did not appear
irate, did not make any threats, and did not show any form of aggression. (Doc. 33-2, p. 2, Lee
statement) Johnson also alleges that neither Milliner nor Combs told him to return to his cell.
(Doc. 33-1, p. 23) At this point, the second landing inmates had come down and no one was
left on the balcony or stairs but Johnson. (Id., p. 10)
Johnson alleges that Milliner then told him that if he took another step, he would be
tased. Johnson lifted his “feet up”, and Milliner shot him with the taser. (Doc. 33, p. 11)
Johnson alleges that he was not moving toward Milliner but shifting his weight. (Id., p. 20).
Johnson had one foot on the stair and the other in the air when he was shot. (Id., p. 11) He fell
unconscious to the concrete floor and when he awoke, he heard a woman scream “why [did]
you do that?” and then Milliner said “stay where you at, don’t move.” After, that he was
placed in a wheelchair and taken for treatment. (Id., at 15) Johnson alleges that Milliner aimed
the taser at his head and that the laser light beam was on his forehead. (Doc. 33-2, p. 2, Lee
statement) Johnson also alleges that Milliner removed the taser prong from his eye. (Id., p. 3)
The nurse practitioner’s notes indicate that the prong was not attached when the she arrived
(doc. 35-1, Amended Exh. 3 (“Second lead reportedly hit his left eye; dangling at PT’s side on
our arrival”). The nurse practitioner removed the other prong from Johnson’s mid-epigastrum.
(Id.) Lieutenant Veronica Wilcox who responded to the incident, testified that the prong was
not in Johnson’s eye when she arrived (doc. 33-4, Exh. 4, Wilcox Depo. p. 51).
Johnson alleges that Milliner admitted that Johnson had not made any threats to Combs
or Milliner. (Doc. 33-13, p. 24) Milliner also admitted that he did not feel that Johnson was
combative but thought he was “mouthy” and “was telling the other inmates: I’m gonna get me a
tray.” (Id. at 21) Milliner did not dispute that female floor officers could satisfactorily lock
down an inmate if they needed to. (Id. at 24) Johnson alleges that Milliner admitted that he
went into the pod to make a show of force because he sensed trouble coming. (Id. at 21-22)4
Milliner testified that he felt like he “could handle the situation without it escalating to the
use of force. If a man sees a guy weighing 250 pounds with a taser in his hand turn towards
Johnson alleges that Combs first interacted with him when he asked for a mat. She told
him that she would get him a mat, if he would wait until they were through feeding. Johnson
said yes and went upstairs to his cell. (Doc. 33-12, p. 17, Combs’ deposition) Johnson alleges
that Combs had not felt concerned about staying in the Wedge and had not needed Milliner to walk
into the Wedge “to protect her”, that she felt capable of handling herself, and that hearing inmates
“get mouthy” was a “standard, daily thing.” (Id. at 27-28, 37, 32-33). Johnson alleges that Combs
testified that Milliner knew that she could hold her own and she had no intention in letting Johnson
have a tray. (Id at 29-30).
Johnson alleges that Lieutenant Wilcox indicated in her report that she “did not find
where the inmate ever posed a threat to Cpl. Miller, and that he has been trained that if a
confrontation is inevitable, to remove himself from the situation and call for backup.” (Doc 335, Wilcox report).
A. Johnson’s § 1983 claim of excessive force
Johnson brings Count One, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging that Milliner used
excessive force in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment. Johnson alleges that Milliner
violated his constitutional rights by tasing him when Johnson moved his foot on the step and
said “I just want to eat something” (doc. 1, p. 3) Johnson alleges that he did not move toward
Milliner after Milliner told him not to take another step. (Id.)
On motion for summary judgment, Milliner argues that he is entitled to qualified
immunity because Johnson has failed to show that Milliner’s use of force constituted excessive
him, any common man or reasonable man would say, hey, this guy is not playing.” (Doc. 3313, p. 24)
force. Milliner argues that “[i]n the absence of evidence that Cpl. Milliner acted maliciously
and sadistically, his use of force does not shock the conscience, and thus, he did not violate
Johnson’s Fourteenth Amendment.” (Doc. 27, p. 11)
“The Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment protects pretrial detainees, like
[Johnson], from the use of force that ‘shocks the conscience,’ which is force that is applied
‘maliciously and sadistically for the very purpose of causing harm.’” Skelly v. Okaloosa County
Board of County Commissioners, 456 Fed. Appx. 845, 847–848 (11th Cir.2012) (quoting
Danley v. Allen, 540 F.3d 1298, 1306–1307 (11th Cir.2008), overruled on other grounds by
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 129 S.Ct. 1937 (2009). “Under the doctrine of qualified
immunity, if [Milliner] establishes that he was acting within the scope of his discretionary
authority when the alleged excessive force occurred, the burden shifts to [Johnson] to show that
[Milliner] is not entitled to qualified immunity.” Skelly, 456 Fed. Appx. at 847 (citing Skop v.
City of Atlanta, 485 F.3d 1130, 1136–37 (11th Cir.2007). “To defeat qualified immunity,
[Johnson] must show both that a constitutional violation occurred and that the constitutional
right violated was clearly established.” Id. (citing Fennell v. Gilstrap, 559 F.3d 1212, 1216
(11th Cir.2009). “ In Eighth and Fourteenth Amendment excessive force cases, however, ‘the
subjective element required to establish [the constitutional violation] is so extreme that every
conceivable set of circumstances in which this constitutional violation occurs is clearly
established to be a violation of the Constitution....’” Id. (quoting Johnson v. Breeden, 280 F.3d
1308, 1321–22 (11th Cir.2002) and Danley, 540 F.3d at 1310) (footnote omitted) (bracketed
text in original).
“In Eighth and Fourteenth Amendment excessive force cases, the ‘core judicial inquiry’
is ‘whether force was applied in a good-faith effort to maintain or restore discipline, or
maliciously and sadistically to cause harm.’” Id. at 847-848 (citation omitted). “Because the
applicable standard is the same for both Eighth and Fourteenth Amendment excessive force
claims, courts apply Eighth Amendment case law to cases involving pretrial detainees.” Id. at
848, n.1 (citing Bozeman v. Orum, 422 F.3d 1265, 1271 (11th Cir.2005)).
“In determining whether the force was applied maliciously and sadistically to cause
harm, courts consider several factors, including: ‘a) the need for the application of force; b) the
relationship between the need and the amount of force that was used; c) the extent of the injury
inflicted upon the prisoner; d) the extent of the threat to the safety of staff and inmates; and e)
any efforts made to temper the severity of a forceful response.’” Id. (citing Fennell, 559 F.3d at
In this action, the core judicial inquiry is whether Milliner tased Johnson in a good faith
effort to maintain or restore discipline, or maliciously and sadistically to cause harm. The court
must “consider these factors ‘as reasonably perceived by’ [Milliner] based on the facts known
to him at the time and ‘give a wide range of deference to prison officials acting to preserve
discipline and security.’” Skelly, 456 Fed. Appx. at 848. “Nonetheless, deference to
correctional officers is not absolute and does not insulate from review actions taken in bad faith
or for no legitimate purpose.” Id. (citing Ort v. White, 813 F.2d 318, 322 (11th Cir.1987)).
The Court finds that genuine issues of material fact exist as to whether the force was
applied maliciously and sadistically to cause harm. Specifically whether there was a need for
force and, if force was necessary, whether the amount of force applied exceeded what was
necessary. There is no dispute of fact that Johnson did not threaten Milliner or Combs.
Milliner asserts that the issue is not limited to whether Johnson threatened him, but instead
whether Johnson’s non-compliance with Combs’ and Milliner’s orders to stay in his cell and
his insistence that he was going to get a food tray, arguably taking it from another inmate since
no tray had been brought for him, could have lead to a disturbance. In support, Milliner alleges
that both he and Combs told Johnson to stay in his cell, but Johnson alleges that neither officer
gave this order.
Johnson testified that he asked Milliner three times to get a supervisor because he had
not eaten, but he was not irate or aggressive, and did not make any threats. Johnson also
alleges that Milliner had other options in that he could have stepped out of the wedge and
called for security, as evidenced by the fact that his decision not to do so, resulted in
disciplinary actions against him. Johnson also argues that Milliner interjected himself into the
situation in an effort to teach Johnson a lesson but not in good faith to maintain or restore
discipline because Combs did not feel threatened and had dealt with similar situations on many
Under Johnson’s version of the facts and viewing those facts in the light most favorable
to him, a reasonable jury could conclude that the force was not applied in a good faith effort to
preserve discipline and security. Accordingly, Milliner’s motion for summary judgment based
on qualified immunity is denied.
B. Johnson’s state law claim for assault and battery
Johnson brings a state law claim for assault and battery against Milliner. Johnson
alleges that the same set of facts that support his claim that Milliner’s use of force was
excessive and unconstitutional, also support his claim for assault and battery. He also alleges
that Milliner was acting beyond the discretion permitted by his office.
On motion for summary judgment, Milliner argues that he is entitled to immunity under
Ala. Code § 14-6-1, which extends the immunity granted to a sheriff to the employees acting
for and under the direction and supervision of the sheriff, and under Ala. Code § 36-22-3,
which states that persons undertaking duties of the sheriff for and under the direction and
supervision of the sheriff shall be entitled to the same immunities and legal protection as the
sheriff. Both statutes qualify the immunity by stating that it is available so long as the person
was acting within the line and scope of their duties and acting in compliance with the law.
The parties do not dispute that Milliner was employed by the Sheriff and acted under
his direction and supervision. However, Johnson responds that this Court must interpret the
plain language of these statutes as written. In that regard, Johnson argues that Milliner was not
acting within the scope of his duties and was not acting in compliance with the law when he
tased Johnson and caused his injuries.
Milliner also argues that he is entitled to common law immunity upon application of the
factors set forth in Ex parte Cranman, 792 So. 2d 392 (Ala. 2000) because he did not act
maliciously. Under Alabama law, municipal police officers, such as Milliner are “peace
officers” and entitled to discretionary-function immunity from tort liability as set forth below: :
Every peace officer, except constables, who is employed or appointed pursuant
to the Constitution or statutes of this state, whether appointed or employed as
such peace officer by the state or a county or municipality thereof, ... and whose
duties prescribed by law, or by the lawful terms of their employment or
appointment, include the enforcement of, or the investigation and reporting of
violations of, the criminal laws of this state, and who is empowered by the laws
of this state to execute warrants, to arrest and to take into custody persons who
violate, or who are lawfully charged by warrant, indictment, or other lawful
process, with violations of, the criminal laws of this state, shall at all times be
deemed to be officers of this state, and as such shall have immunity from tort
liability arising out of his or her conduct in performance of any discretionary
function within the line and scope of his or her law enforcement duties.
Ala. Code § 6–5–338(a) (1975) (italics added).
In Cranman, the Alabama Supreme Court restated the rule governing state-agent
immunity, as follows:
A State agent shall be immune from civil liability in his or her personal
capacity when the conduct made the basis of the claim against the agent is
based upon the agent's
(1) formulating plans, policies, or designs; or
(2) exercising his or her judgment in the administration of a
department or agency of government, including, but not limited
to, examples such as:
(a) making administrative adjudications;
(b) allocating resources;
(c) negotiating contracts;
(d) hiring, firing, transferring, assigning, or
supervising personnel; or
(3) discharging duties imposed on a department or agency by
statute, rule, or regulation, insofar as the statute, rule, or
regulation prescribes the manner for performing the duties and
the State agent performs the duties in that manner; or
(4) exercising judgment in the enforcement of the criminal laws
of the State, including, but not limited to, law-enforcement
officers' arresting or attempting to arrest persons; or
(5) exercising judgment in the discharge of duties imposed by
statute, rule, or regulation in releasing prisoners, counseling or
releasing persons of unsound mind, or educating students.
Cranman, 792 So.2d at 405.
The Cranman factors were subsequently modified in Hollis v. City of Brighton, 950
So.2d 300 (Ala.2006) to specifically include the statutory discretionary-function immunity
given to peace officers. Subparagraph (4) now reads as follows:
(4) exercising judgment in the enforcement of criminal laws of the State,
including, but not limited to, law-enforcement officers' arresting or attempting to
arrest persons, or serving as peace officers under circumstances entitling such
officers to immunity pursuant to § 6–5–338(a), Ala. Code 1975.
Hollis, 950 So. 2d at 309.
Milliner as the defendant claiming entitlement to discretionary-function immunity must
satisfy three elements of proof: (i) that he was a peace officer on the date of the incident in
question, (ii) and that he was performing law enforcement duties, and (iii) exercising judgment
or discretion when doing so. See Howard v. City of Atmore, 887 So.2d 201, 204 (Ala. 2003);
Walker v. City of Huntsville, 62 So.3d 474, 496–98 (Ala. 2010). Milliner has met this initial
burden because the undisputed evidence supports each of these elements. The burden then
shifts to Johnson to show that one of the two Cranman exceptions to immunity apply. Ex parte
Kennedy, 992 So.2d 1276, 1282 (Ala. 2008). The factors are set forth as follows:
Notwithstanding anything to the contrary in the foregoing statement of the rule,
a State agent shall not be immune from civil liability in his or her personal
(1) when the Constitution or laws of the United States, or the
Constitution of this State, or laws, rules, or regulations of this
State enacted or promulgated for the purpose of regulating the
activities of a governmental agency require otherwise; or
(2) when the State agent acts willfully, maliciously, fraudulently,
in bad faith, beyond his or her authority, or under a mistaken
interpretation of the law.
Cranman, 792 So.2d at 405.
Johnson argues that Milliner has lost his immunity from tort liability because he has
acted maliciously and beyond his authority.5 Johnson asserts that establishing the alleged
violation of the Fourteenth Amendment would satisfy the Cranman exceptions to discretionaryfunction immunity.
The statutory immunity in Ala. Code § 14-6-1 and Ala. Code § 36-22-3 does not extend
The Court notes that Milliner was disciplined and found to have violated the SOP for use of
restraint and force and the SOP for rules of conduct. Viewing the evidence in the light most
favorable to Johnson, Deputy Warden Houston testified that a correctional officer should never
remove a prong from an inmate, and Inmate Lee stated that he saw Milliner remove the prong
from Johnson’s eye.
to the circumstance where the person employed by the Sheriff was not acting within the line
and scope of their duties and was not acting in compliance with the law. The discretionaryfunction immunity excludes from its application, the circumstance where the peace officer acts
willfully, intentionally, maliciously, in bad faith or beyond their authority. Because the Court
has determined that a genuine issue of material fact exists as to whether Milliner has violated
Johnson’s constitutional rights under the Fourteenth Amendment, a decision which ultimately
will turn on the core inquiry of whether Milliner applied force in a good-faith effort to maintain
or restore discipline or maliciously and sadistically to cause harm, Milliner’s motion for
summary judgment as to the state law claim for assault and battery is denied. 6
In accordance with the foregoing, Milliner’s motion for summary judgment is DENIED.
DONE this the 4th day of November 2014.
s/ Kristi K. DuBose
KRISTI K. DuBOSE
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Milliner concedes as much. In his reply, he argues that “If Milliner’s actions were not a
violation of Plaintiff’s Fourteenth Amendment rights then he is entitled to statutory immunity
because he would [ ] have been acting within the line and scope of his duties and would not
have violated any laws[.]” (Doc. 37, p. 8)
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