Goodwin v. Cockrell et al
ORDER denying 33 Motion for Partial Summary Judgment. The Clerk of Court is DIRECTED to continue the management of this case. Signed by Senior Judge James C. Fox on 10/6/2014. (Grady, B.)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF NORTH CAROLINA
SHERMAN D. GOODWIN,
ANTOINETTE MAGEE COCKRELL,
and JUDY I. SULLIVAN, Co-Executrix of
the Estate of ARTHUR E. COCKRELL,
This matter is before the court on the Motion for Partial Summary Judgment [DE-33] filed
by Plaintiff and Counterclaim Defendant Sherman D. Goodwin. Defendants and Counterclaimants
Antoinette Magee Cockrell and Judy I. Sullivan, Co-Executrix of the Estate of Arthur E. Cockrell
(collectively, "the Estate") have responded, and Goodwin has replied. This matter is therefore ripe
for disposition. For the reasons more fully set forth below, the motion is DENIED.
I. RELEVANT BACKGROUND
Goodwin initiated this admiralty action by filing the Complaint [DE-l] on August 27, 2013,
seeking personal injury damages he alleges resulted from a September 4, 201 0, collision between
the motor vessel CARTERET, piloted by Goodwin, and the motor yacht TONI SEA, operated by
the Estate's testate, Cockrell. At the time of the collision, Goodwin was employed by the State of
North Carolina as the master of the CARTERET, and was piloting the car ferry as part of the state's
The Estate timely filed its Answer, Affirmative Defenses and Counterclaim [DE-9], and
specifically asserts the Counterclaim against Goodwin in his individual capacity. The Estate also
filed a Third-Party Complaint against the State of North Carolina-Department of Transportation
[DE-l 0], but later filed a Notice of Dismissal of Third Party Complaint [DE-21] pursuant to Federal
Rule of Civil Procedure 41(a)(l)(A)(i).
Goodwin thereafter moved for partial summary judgment on the Counterclaim asserted
against him, claiming the protection of Eleventh Amendment immunity. After the Estate had
responded thereto, and on the same day Goodwin filed his Reply in support of his motion, Thomas
Henry Moore, an Assistant Attorney General in the Transportation Section of the North Carolina
Department of Justice, entered "a limited Notice of Appearance for Sherman D. Goodwin on the
Counterclaim asserted against Mr. Goodwin to the extent that the Counterclaim is a de facto claim
against Mr. Goodwin in his official capacity as a State of North Carolina employee." Notice of
II. STANDARD OF REVIEW
At summary judgment, the court must examine the evidence presented by both parties and
determine ifthere is a need for trial. Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S.
574, 587 ( 1986); Greater Bait. Ctr. for Pregnancy Concerns, Inc. v. Mayor & City Council ofBait.,
721 F.3d 264,283 (4th Cir. 2013). The court examines "whether the evidence presents a sufficient
disagreement to require submission to a jury or whether it is so one-sided that one party must prevail
as a matter of law." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 251-52 (1986). Where the
moving party shows that the evidence is so one-sided that it should prevail as a matter of law, the
burden shifts to the nonmoving party to come forward with affidavits, depositions, answers to
interrogatories, or other evidence demonstrating that there is a genuine issue of material fact that
requires trial. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 324-25 (1986); Matsushita, 475 U.S. at 587;
Pension Benefit Guar. Corp. v. Beverley, 404 F.3d 243,246-47 (4th Cir. 2005). An issue of fact is
genuine if a reasonable jury could find for the nonmoving party. Liberty Lobby, 477 U.S. at 248.
A fact is material ifproofofthe fact might affect the outcome of the case under the substantive law.
!d. The facts should be viewed in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party and all reasonable
inferences should be made in favor of the nonmoving party. !d. at 255; Smith v. Va. Commonwealth
Univ., 84 F.3d 672,675 (4th Cir. 1996).
Goodwin argues that because the collision between the CARTERET and the TONI SEA
occurred during the scope and course of his employment with the State of North Carolina,
Department of Transportation, Ferry Division, any claim against him-whether in his individual
capacity or official capacity-is barred by the Eleventh Amendment.
The Eleventh Amendment provides that "[t]he Judicial power of the United States shall not
be construed to extend to any suit in law or equity, commenced or prosecuted against one of the
United States by Citizens of another State, or by Citizens or Subjects of any Foreign State." U.S.
Const. amend. XI. Although by its terms the Eleventh Amendment applies only to suits brought
against a state by "Citizens of another State," it is well established that "an unconsenting State is
immune from suits brought in federal courts by her own citizens as well as by citizens of another
State." Edelman v. Jordan, 415 U.S. 651, 663 (1974). The Eleventh Amendment precludes private
individuals from suing States and their agencies in federal court, unless Congress has abrogated the
State's immunity or the State itself has waived immunity or otherwise consented to suit. See
Pennhurst State Sch. & Hasp. v. Halderman, 465 U.S. 89,99-100 (1984). The immunity afforded
by the Eleventh Amendment also extends to suits for monetary damages brought against a State
official in his official capacity because such a suit "is no different from a suit against the State itself."
Will v. Mich. Dep't ofState Police, 491 U.S. 58,71 (1989). In contrast, the Eleventh Amendment
does not preclude suits for damages against State officers or employees who are sued in their
individual capacities, because the plaintiff is seeking damages from individuals rather than from the
State treasury. Kentucky v. Graham, 473 U.S. 159, 165-66 (1985).
Notwithstanding this general rule, Goodwin argues that the negligence claim asserted against
him is barred by the Eleventh Amendment because the State may be obligated to pay any damages
awarded against him. He notes that under North Carolina law, "the State may provide for the defense
of any civil or criminal action brought against [any employee or former employee] in his official or
individual capacity, or both, on account of an act done or omission made in the scope and course of
his employment as a State employee." N.C. Gen. Stat. § 143-300.3. If the State decides to provide
for the defense of an employee or former employee, it has the responsibility to pay the judgment or
settlement up to the amount payable for one claim under Tort Claims Act. See § 143-300.6. Because
an Assistant Attorney General has entered a notice of appearance on Goodwin's behalf, Goodwin
asserts that any damages against him will be paid by the State of North Carolina. According to
Goodwin, this means the counterclaim against him must be viewed as against North Carolina itself.
See Mem. in Support ofPartial Mot. for Summ. J. [DE-33-1] at 6-7.
Unfortunately for Goodwin, the majority of circuits to have considered this argument have
rejected it, including the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals. In Sales v. Grant, 224 F .3d 293 (4th Cir.
2000), state employees who were sued in their individual capacity argued they were entitled to
Eleventh Amendment immunity, because any monetary judgment against them would be paid out
of a state-funded insurance plan. !d. at 297. The Fourth Circuit rejected this argument, stating that
a'" state cannot manufacture immunity for its employees simply by volunteering to indemnify them .
. . . [A] state's decision to indemnify its employees does not transform a suit against individual
defendants into a suit against a sovereign."' !d. (quoting Benning v. Bd. ofRegency Univs., 928 F .2d
775,778-79 (7th Cir. 1991)). A contrary conclusion amounts to the idea "that a state may convert
any or all individual capacity suits, to which the protections of sovereign immunity would otherwise
be inapplicable, into official capacity suits, with all the attendant protections of the Eleventh
Amendment by announcing (via statute or otherwise) that will indemnify governmental officers sued
in their individual capacities ... ."!d. In rejecting this idea, the Fourth Circuit is not alone. See
Luder v. Endicott, 253 F .3d 1020, 1023 (7th Cir. 2001) ("The fact that the state chooses to indemnify
its employees who are sued in federal court is irrelevant ... because it is the voluntary choice of the
state, not a cost forced on it by the federal-court suit."); Okruhlik v. Univ. ofArkansas ex rei. May,
255 F.3d 615. 627 (8th Cir. 2001) (noting that "state statutes that indemnify individuals from the
consequences of carrying out their duties do not alone make the state the real party in interest");
Jackson v. Georgia Dept. ofTransp., 16 F.3d 1573, 1577 (11th Cir. 1994) ("We conclude that the
existence of a voluntarily established liability trust fund does not make the state the real party in
interest in this action, and that the trust does not extend the state's Eleventh Amendment immunity
to its employees sued in their individual capacity."); Farid v. Smith, 850 F.2d 917, 923 (2d Cir.
1988) ("[T]he law is clear that a state's voluntary decision to indemnify its public servants does not
transform a personal-capacity against a state official into an official-capacity action against the
state."); Griess v. Colorado, 841 F.2d 1042, 1045-46 (lOth Cir. 1988) (per curiam) (determining that
a indemnification provision in a state statute could not "be invoked as a basis for cloaking individual
officers with the state's absolute immunity under the Eleventh Amendment").
Sales is binding on this court. The Estate's Counterclaim is asserted against Goodwin in his
individual capacity. 1 Under Sales, the fact that any monetary judgment against Goodwin may be paid
by the State does not serve to transform the Counterclaim against him into one against North
Carolina. Accordingly, Goodwin's Partial Motion for Summary Judgment on the basis of Eleventh
Amendment immunity is DENIED.
For the foregoing reasons, Goodwin's Motion for Partial Summary Judgment [DE-33] is
DENIED. The Clerk of Court is DIRECTED to continue the management ofthis case.
This the~ day of October, 2014.
S nior United States District Judge
The Notice of Appearance is a limited one; Thomas Moore states that he is entering a Notice of
Appearance "to the extent that the Counterclaim is a de facto claim against Mr. Goodwin in his official
capacity as a State ofNorth Carolina employee." Notice of Appearance [DE-36]. The Estate has explicitly
asserted the Counterclaim against Goodwin in individual capacity. Goodwin does not argue that this court
should consider the claim to be asserted against him in his official capacity.
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