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Honeycutt v. Womack

United States District Court, E.D. Arkansas, Jonesboro Division

December 18, 2014

STEVEN M. HONEYCUTT, Plaintiff,
v.
BRANDON WOMACK, Defendant.

ORDER

BRIAN S. MILLER, Chief District Judge.

Defendant Brandon Womack's motion for summary judgment [Doc. No. 22] is granted and plaintiff Steven Honeycutt's claims against Womack are dismissed with prejudice.

I. FACTUAL BACKGROUND

Viewing the facts in the light most favorable to Honeycutt, the non-moving party, the facts are as follows. Womack, a Craighead County deputy sheriff, was on duty in his patrol car when Honeycutt passed him. Womack pulled onto the road and accelerated to catch up to Womack, called into dispatch for backup, and turned on his siren. Soon thereafter, Honeycutt came to a stop on the side of the road.

As Honeycutt exited his truck, Womack ordered him to get back in the truck. Womack then ordered Honeycutt to exit the truck and walk to the back of the truck with his hands raised. Honeycutt exited the truck with his hands raised, but then attempted to reach into his truck. As soon as Honeycutt reached into his truck, Womack shot him in the arm. Womack then called dispatch for help and began providing first aid to Honeycutt. Other deputies soon arrived and provided aid until the ambulance arrived and took Honeycutt to the hospital.

Honeycutt filed this lawsuit against Womack, in his official and individual capacities, alleging excessive force and deliberate indifference to a serious medical need. Honeycutt is seeking Womack's termination from the sheriff's department and money damages.

II. LEGAL STANDARD

Summary judgment is appropriate when there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. See Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a); Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322-23 (1986); Anderson v. Liberty Lobby Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 249-50 (1986). Once the moving party demonstrates that there is no genuine dispute of material fact, the non-moving party may not rest upon the mere allegations or denials in his pleadings. Holden v. Hirner, 663 F.3d 336, 340 (8th Cir. 2011). Instead, the non-moving party must produce admissible evidence demonstrating a genuine factual dispute that must be resolved at trial. Id. When considering a motion for summary judgment, all reasonable inferences must be drawn in the light most favorable to the non-moving party. Holland v. Sam's Club, 487 F.3d 641, 643 (8th Cir. 2007).

III. DISCUSSION

Summary judgment is granted because Womack is immune from suit. Sovereign immunity bars Honeycutt's official capacity claims seeking money damages and, though not barred by the Eleventh Amendment, Honeycutt's official capacity claims for injunctive relief are dismissed for failure to state a claim. Further, qualified immunity bars Honeycutt's individual capacity claims.

A. Sovereign Immunity

Honeycutt's claims against Womack in his official capacity are barred by the Eleventh Amendment. See Monroe v. Arkansas State Univ., 495 F.3d 591, 594 (8th Cir. 2007). This is true because the Eleventh Amendment immunizes state agencies from suits brought by private citizens. Ex Parte Young, 209 U.S. 123, 149 (1908). A suit against a government official in his official capacity is an action against the state agency that employs the official being sued. Baker v. Chisom, 501 F.3d 920, 925 (8th Cir. 2007). The Eleventh Amendment, however, does not bar claims against the state that seek prospective, and not compensatory, relief. Heartland Academy Community Church v. Waddle, 427 F.3d 525, 530 (8th Cir. 2005). Therefore, a court may enjoin state officials to prevent Constitutional violations. Id.

Honeycutt's claim seeking Womack's termination is dismissed because Womack's employment with the Craighead County Sheriff's Department poses no immediate threat of repeated injury to Honeycutt See Martin v. Sargent, 780 F.2d 1334, 1337 (8th Cir. 1985). Honeycutt's claim is in essence a claim for prospective injunctive relief and to obtain such relief, Honeycutt must show that a real and immediate injury exists, not an abstract injury or one that is conjectural or hypothetical. See City of Los Angeles v. Lyons, 461 U.S. 95, 100-02 (1983). In that Honeycutt is currently ...


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