Jones v. Barlow et al
ORDERED: Plaintiff shall file an amended complaint no later than 10/26/2020. Defendants shall file amended answers in their individual capacities no later than 11/2/2020. All pending motions: 108 Motion in Limine; 109 Motion for Summary Judgment; 111 Motion for Summary Judgment; and 112 Motion to Strike are DENIED AS MOOT WITHOUT PREJUDICE. See Order for details. Signed by Judge John L. Badalamenti on 10/16/2020. (SMG)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
MIDDLE DISTRICT OF FLORIDA
FORT MYERS DIVISION
Case No.: 2:19-cv-00114-JLB-NPM
ANDREW BARLOW and CHRISTIAN
On September 22, 2020, the Court struck as duplicative a motion for
summary judgment filed by the City of Fort Myers (“the City”), which is a nonparty
to this case. (Doc. 114.) The Court was operating under the assumption that
Defendants Andrew Barlow and Christian Robles—both officers in the Fort Myers
Police Department—were being sued only in their individual capacities. Upon
further review, it became apparent to the Court that the question of Defendants’
capacity was unsettled, even though this case had proceeded to the summary
judgment phase. Accordingly, the Court entered an order vacating its prior ruling
and highlighting the confusion about capacity in this case. (Doc. 117.)
Plaintiff Holley Jones has now filed responses to various pending motions,
unequivocally stating that there are no claims being brought against the City or
against Defendants in their official capacities. (Docs. 119–20.) Mr. Jones’s counsel
also provides the Court with an e-mail from May 2020, where he stated to one of the
City’s lawyers that there were no official capacity claims. (Doc. 119-1.) This is
problematic for several reasons, not the least of which is that the only responsive
pleading in this case was filed in Defendants’ official capacity, not their individual
capacity. (Doc. 33.) In other words, this case has somehow proceeded to the
summary judgment phase with no answer filed.
As the Court underscored in its previous order, the City and its attorneys
have assumed that some sort of claims were being brought against Defendants in
their official capacity—even though the operative complaint seems to contradict
that assumption. (Doc. 117, 5–6.) This confusion could have (and should have) been
addressed at a much earlier stage. (Id. at 6); see also Woynar v. Chitwood, No. 6:10CV-1458-28GJK, 2011 WL 5025276, at *5 (M.D. Fla. Oct. 21, 2011). At this point, it
is clear to the Court that this case is inappropriate for further consideration until
the parties’ confusion about capacity has been clarified.
Accordingly, it is ORDERED:
No later than October 26, 2020, Plaintiff shall file an amended
complaint which: (a) specifies that Defendants are only being sued in their
individual capacity, and (b) omits or abandons any claim or allegation that would
only be relevant to an official capacity lawsuit.
No later than November 2, 2020, Defendants shall file amended
answers in their individual capacities which omit or abandon any allegation or
defense that would only be relevant to an official capacity lawsuit. The Court
recognizes that it may be necessary for Defendants to retain new counsel to
represent them in their individual capacities. Accordingly, Defendants may move
for an extension of time to file their responsive pleadings if they are unable to
expeditiously find new counsel. The Court also recognizes that an amended case
management and scheduling order may be necessary.
All pending motions are DENIED AS MOOT WITHOUT PREJUDICE.
ORDERED in Fort Myers, Florida, on October 16, 2020
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