Case: Hope v. Pelzer

2:96-cv-02968 | U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Alabama

Filed Date: Nov. 14, 1996

Closed Date: 2005

Clearinghouse coding complete

Case Summary

On November 14, 1996, a prisoner in Alabama's Limestone Correctional Facility, represented by private counsel, filed a complaint in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Alabama seeking damages under 42 U.S.C. §1983. The plaintiff complained that he had been subjected to cruel and unusual punishment, and to due process violations by the defendant correctional officers. According to the complaint, defendants handcuffed plaintiff to a hitching post, an outdoor restrainin…

On November 14, 1996, a prisoner in Alabama's Limestone Correctional Facility, represented by private counsel, filed a complaint in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Alabama seeking damages under 42 U.S.C. §1983. The plaintiff complained that he had been subjected to cruel and unusual punishment, and to due process violations by the defendant correctional officers. According to the complaint, defendants handcuffed plaintiff to a hitching post, an outdoor restraining bar, in the sun, with little water and irregular bathroom breaks, causing him physical injury (sunburn, chafing, muscle strain and dehydration) and mental trauma and emotional distress. After the parties filed sworn affidavits and reports at the court's request, the case was dismissed on March 24, 2000, by U.S. District Judge H. Dean Buttram, who adopted the March 10, 2000, Report and Recommendation of U.S. Magistrate Judge John E. Ott. Judge Ott had found that the defendants had qualified immunity for their conduct. (The District Court did not address the due process claim, as the plaintiff had not signed that portion of his pleadings.)

Plaintiff appealed to the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals, which affirmed the dismissal on qualified immunity grounds on February 2, 2001; however, reaching the constitutional question, the appellate opinion also found that the defendants' conduct did violate the Eighth Amendment's ban on cruel and unusual punishment to the extent that the period of restraint, without regular water and restroom breaks, exceeded the time "required to address an immediate threat or danger." Hope v. Pelzer, 240 F. 3d 975, 982 (11th Cir. 2001) (Judge Stanley F. Birch, Jr.).

On January 2, 2002, the U.S. Supreme Court granted certiorari. Hope v. Pelzer, 534 U.S. 1120 (2002). The ACLU, the United States and several states filed amici curiae briefs on the merits. The Supreme Court issued its decision on June 27, 2002. In an opinion by Justice John Paul Stevens, the Court held that the prison guards' handcuffing of an already-subdued plaintiff to the hitching post subjected him to cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the Eighth Amendment, and that the state prison guards were not shielded by qualified immunity, given the existence of binding Eleventh Circuit precedent, of their state correctional department's applicable regulation, and of a prior Department of Justice report informing the corrections department of constitutional infirmity in its use of the hitching post. Hope v. Pelzer, 536 U.S. 730 (2002). Justice Clarence Thomas, joined by Chief Justice William Rehnquist and Justice Antonin Scalia, dissented.

Subsequently, on August 20, 2004, plaintiff's counsel filed an amended complaint in the District Court , which sought (1) a declaratory judgment that the defendants' conduct violated the plaintiff's rights under the Eighth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, (2) a permanent injunction to preclude future similar violations, (3) compensatory, punitive and nominal damages, and (4) payment (pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §1988) of plaintiff's attorneys' fees and reasonable expenses. After a hearing, a defense motion for summary judgment was denied by the District Court (Judge Karon Owen Bowdre) on September 28, 2005. In her Order, Judge Bowdre ruled that the plaintiff's request for declaratory and injunctive relief had been mooted, but the damages and individual liability claims still raised disputed questions of fact.

On November 8, 2005, after the plaintiff completed his case in chief at trial, Judge Bowdre granted the defendants' motion for judgment as a matter of law, ruling that individual liability of the three named defendants had not been proven, given that no evidence established that any defendant acted with deliberate indifference or was aware of a substantial risk of serious harm.

Summary Authors

Mike Fagan (4/8/2008)

People

For PACER's information on parties and their attrorneys, see: https://www.courtlistener.com/docket/5308738/parties/hope-v-pelzer/


Judge(s)

Birch, Stanley F. Jr. (Georgia)

Bowdre, Karon O. (Alabama)

Breyer, Stephen Gerald (District of Columbia)

Buttram, H. Dean Jr. (Alabama)

Ginsburg, Ruth Bader (District of Columbia)

Kennedy, Anthony McLeod (District of Columbia)

O'Connor, Sandra Day (District of Columbia)

Ott, John E. (Alabama)

Rehnquist, William Hubbs (District of Columbia)

Scalia, Antonin (District of Columbia)

Judge(s)

Birch, Stanley F. Jr. (Georgia)

Bowdre, Karon O. (Alabama)

Breyer, Stephen Gerald (District of Columbia)

Buttram, H. Dean Jr. (Alabama)

Ginsburg, Ruth Bader (District of Columbia)

Kennedy, Anthony McLeod (District of Columbia)

O'Connor, Sandra Day (District of Columbia)

Ott, John E. (Alabama)

Rehnquist, William Hubbs (District of Columbia)

Scalia, Antonin (District of Columbia)

Souter, David Hackett (District of Columbia)

Stevens, John Paul (District of Columbia)

Tjoflat, Gerald Bard (Florida)

Vining, Robert L. Jr. (Georgia)

Attorneys(s) for Plaintiff

Jones, Craig T. (Georgia)

Mendelsohn, James A. (Alabama)

Attorneys(s) for Defendant

Forrester, Nathan A. (Alabama)

King, Troy Robin (Alabama)

Leonard, Ellen Ruth (Alabama)

Redd, Andrew Weldon (Alabama)

Thomas, Kim Tobias (Alabama)

Other Attorney(s)

Brown, Mark R. (Ohio)

Schaerr, Gene C. (District of Columbia)

Schlick, Austin C. (District of Columbia)

Documents in the Clearinghouse

Document

01-00309

Supreme Court Docket

Supreme Court of the United States

March 21, 2002

March 21, 2002

Docket

00-12150

USCA Docket (PACER)

U. S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit

Oct. 15, 2002

Oct. 15, 2002

Docket

2:96-cv-02968

Docket (PACER)

Hope, et al v. Pelzer, et al

May 4, 2006

May 4, 2006

Docket
47

2:96-cv-02968

Memorandum Opinion [Re: Dismissal]

2000 WL 35501948

March 24, 2000

March 24, 2000

Order/Opinion

00-12150

[Order Affirming District Court]

U. S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit

240 F.3d 975

Feb. 2, 2001

Feb. 2, 2001

Order/Opinion

01-00309

Granting Writ of Certiorari

Supreme Court of the United States

534 U.S. 1073, 122 S.Ct. 802, 151 L.Ed.2d 688

Jan. 4, 2002

Jan. 4, 2002

Order/Opinion

01-00209

Amended Grant of Writ of Certiorari

Supreme Court of the United States

534 U.S. 1120, 122 S.Ct. 933, 151 L.Ed.2d 961

Jan. 29, 2002

Jan. 29, 2002

Order/Opinion

01-00309

[Opinion]

Supreme Court of the United States

536 U.S. 730, 122 S.Ct. 2508, 153 L.Ed.2d 666

June 27, 2002

June 27, 2002

Order/Opinion

00-12150

[Order]

U. S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit

304 F.3d 1331

Sept. 12, 2002

Sept. 12, 2002

Order/Opinion
77

2:96-cv-02968

Amended and Substituted Complaint and Jury Demand

Larry Hope v. Mark Pelzer, Keith Gates, and and Gene McClaran

Aug. 20, 2004

Aug. 20, 2004

Complaint

Resources

Docket

See docket on RECAP: https://www.courtlistener.com/docket/5308738/hope-v-pelzer/

Last updated Aug. 10, 2022, 3:16 a.m.

ECF Number Description Date Link Date / Link
1

Complaint

Nov. 14, 1996

Nov. 14, 1996

PACER
2

Affidavit

Nov. 14, 1996

Nov. 14, 1996

PACER
3

Order

Nov. 21, 1996

Nov. 21, 1996

PACER

Filing Fee Received

Dec. 11, 1996

Dec. 11, 1996

PACER
4

Order

Dec. 31, 1996

Dec. 31, 1996

PACER
5

Order

Jan. 7, 1997

Jan. 7, 1997

PACER

Filing Fee Received

Jan. 9, 1997

Jan. 9, 1997

PACER

Filing Fee Received

Feb. 10, 1997

Feb. 10, 1997

PACER
6

Motion to Amend/Correct

Feb. 19, 1997

Feb. 19, 1997

PACER
7

Motion to Amend/Correct

Feb. 25, 1997

Feb. 25, 1997

PACER
8

Motion for Extension of Time to File Answer

Feb. 27, 1997

Feb. 27, 1997

PACER
9

Order

Feb. 28, 1997

Feb. 28, 1997

PACER

Filing Fee Received

March 10, 1997

March 10, 1997

PACER
10

Motion to Compel

March 10, 1997

March 10, 1997

PACER
11

Answer to Complaint

March 24, 1997

March 24, 1997

PACER
12

Order

April 7, 1997

April 7, 1997

PACER
13

Order

April 7, 1997

April 7, 1997

PACER
14

Order

April 7, 1997

April 7, 1997

PACER
15

Order

April 9, 1997

April 9, 1997

PACER

Filing Fee Received

April 14, 1997

April 14, 1997

PACER
16

Response to Motion

April 24, 1997

April 24, 1997

PACER
17

Answer to Complaint

April 24, 1997

April 24, 1997

PACER

Filing Fee Received

May 6, 1997

May 6, 1997

PACER
18

Motion for Entry of Default

May 6, 1997

May 6, 1997

PACER
19

Order

May 20, 1997

May 20, 1997

PACER
20

Order

May 21, 1997

May 21, 1997

PACER

Filing Fee Received

June 11, 1997

June 11, 1997

PACER
21

Motion for Entry of Default

June 26, 1997

June 26, 1997

PACER

Filing Fee Received

July 14, 1997

July 14, 1997

PACER

Summons Issued

July 22, 1997

July 22, 1997

PACER
22

Order

July 22, 1997

July 22, 1997

PACER
23

Summons Returned Executed

July 24, 1997

July 24, 1997

PACER

Filing Fee Received

Aug. 6, 1997

Aug. 6, 1997

PACER
24

Notice (Other)

Aug. 13, 1997

Aug. 13, 1997

PACER
25

Motion for Entry of Default

Aug. 21, 1997

Aug. 21, 1997

PACER
26

Answer to Complaint

Sept. 2, 1997

Sept. 2, 1997

PACER
27

Order

Oct. 14, 1997

Oct. 14, 1997

PACER
28

Order

Oct. 14, 1997

Oct. 14, 1997

PACER
29

Appearance Through Counsel

Oct. 17, 1997

Oct. 17, 1997

PACER
30

Response to Motion

Oct. 17, 1997

Oct. 17, 1997

PACER
31

Description not available

Oct. 17, 1997

Oct. 17, 1997

PACER

PHV Fee Paid

Oct. 22, 1997

Oct. 22, 1997

PACER
32

Affidavit

Nov. 3, 1997

Nov. 3, 1997

PACER
33

Response to Motion

Nov. 3, 1997

Nov. 3, 1997

PACER
34

Order

Nov. 5, 1997

Nov. 5, 1997

PACER

Order

April 10, 1998

April 10, 1998

PACER
35

Order

Nov. 19, 1998

Nov. 19, 1998

PACER
37

Response to Motion

Feb. 19, 1999

Feb. 19, 1999

PACER
36

Order

Feb. 22, 1999

Feb. 22, 1999

PACER
38

Brief

Nov. 26, 1999

Nov. 26, 1999

PACER
39

Motion to Stay

Dec. 29, 1999

Dec. 29, 1999

PACER
40

Brief

Dec. 29, 1999

Dec. 29, 1999

PACER
41

Complaint

March 8, 2000

March 8, 2000

PACER
42

Brief

March 8, 2000

March 8, 2000

PACER
43

Brief

March 8, 2000

March 8, 2000

PACER
44

Order

March 10, 2000

March 10, 2000

PACER
45

Order on Report and Recommendations

March 10, 2000

March 10, 2000

PACER
46

Objection to Report and Recommendations

March 20, 2000

March 20, 2000

PACER
47

MEMORANDUM opinion filed ( by Judge H D. Buttram ) cm (Former Employee)

March 24, 2000

March 24, 2000

RECAP
48

Order

March 24, 2000

March 24, 2000

PACER

USCA Appeal Fees

April 24, 2000

April 24, 2000

PACER
49

Notice of Appeal

April 24, 2000

April 24, 2000

PACER

USCA Case Number

May 2, 2000

May 2, 2000

PACER

USCA Appeal Fees

May 10, 2000

May 10, 2000

PACER
50

Order

May 26, 2000

May 26, 2000

PACER

Appeal Record Sent to USCA

July 11, 2000

July 11, 2000

PACER

USCA Notice of Docketing ROA

July 11, 2000

July 11, 2000

PACER
51

USCA Order

May 17, 2001

May 17, 2001

PACER

Appeal Record Sent to USCA

March 13, 2002

March 13, 2002

PACER
52

Order

Sept. 17, 2002

Sept. 17, 2002

PACER

Order

Oct. 17, 2002

Oct. 17, 2002

PACER
53

USCA Order

Oct. 17, 2002

Oct. 17, 2002

PACER

USCA Notice of Docketing Record on Appeal

Nov. 26, 2002

Nov. 26, 2002

PACER
54

Order

Dec. 2, 2002

Dec. 2, 2002

PACER
55

Notice (Other)

Jan. 6, 2003

Jan. 6, 2003

PACER
56

Order

Jan. 7, 2003

Jan. 7, 2003

PACER
57

Motion for Miscellaneous Relief

April 24, 2003

April 24, 2003

PACER
58

Order on Motion for Order to Show Cause

April 28, 2003

April 28, 2003

PACER
59

Response to Motion

May 2, 2003

May 2, 2003

PACER

Order

Oct. 20, 2003

Oct. 20, 2003

PACER
61

Request for Production of Documents

Jan. 21, 2004

Jan. 21, 2004

PACER
60

Order

Jan. 22, 2004

Jan. 22, 2004

PACER

Remark

Jan. 26, 2004

Jan. 26, 2004

PACER
62

Request for Production of Documents

Feb. 3, 2004

Feb. 3, 2004

PACER

Remark

Feb. 4, 2004

Feb. 4, 2004

PACER
63

Order

June 21, 2004

June 21, 2004

PACER
64

Notice (Other)

June 30, 2004

June 30, 2004

PACER
65

Request for Production of Documents

July 7, 2004

July 7, 2004

PACER
66

Order

July 14, 2004

July 14, 2004

PACER
67

Motion to Continue

July 16, 2004

July 16, 2004

PACER
68

Order

July 19, 2004

July 19, 2004

PACER
69

Order

July 21, 2004

July 21, 2004

PACER
70

Notice (Other)

July 26, 2004

July 26, 2004

PACER
71

Objection to Report and Recommendations

July 27, 2004

July 27, 2004

PACER
72

Order

Aug. 5, 2004

Aug. 5, 2004

PACER
73

Motion to Amend/Correct

Aug. 9, 2004

Aug. 9, 2004

PACER
74

Brief

Aug. 9, 2004

Aug. 9, 2004

PACER
75

Objection to Report and Recommendations

Aug. 16, 2004

Aug. 16, 2004

PACER
76

Order

Aug. 20, 2004

Aug. 20, 2004

PACER
77

Complaint

Aug. 20, 2004

Aug. 20, 2004

RECAP

Case Details

State / Territory: Alabama

Case Type(s):

Prison Conditions

Special Collection(s):

Multi-LexSum (in sample)

Key Dates

Filing Date: Nov. 14, 1996

Closing Date: 2005

Case Ongoing: No

Plaintiffs

Plaintiff Description:

Prisoner who was detained at Limestone Correctional Facility and was subjected to abuse by their staff, including being handcuffed to a hitching post with no water or bathroom breaks for several hours.

Public Interest Lawyer: Yes

Filed Pro Se: Yes

Class Action Sought: No

Class Action Outcome: Not sought

Defendants

Alabama Department of Corrections, State

Limestone Correctional Facility in the Northern District of Alabama (Montgomery), State

Case Details

Causes of Action:

42 U.S.C. § 1983

Constitutional Clause(s):

Cruel and Unusual Punishment

Due Process

Availably Documents:

Trial Court Docket

Complaint (any)

Any published opinion

U.S. Supreme Court merits opinion

Outcome

Prevailing Party: Defendant

Nature of Relief:

None

Source of Relief:

None

Issues

General:

Assault/abuse by staff

Disciplinary procedures

Restraints : physical

Affected Gender:

Male

Type of Facility:

Government-run