Jor-el A. Pizarro-Ramos v. Frank Souza

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USCA11 Case: 20-14477 Date Filed: 07/16/2021 Page: 1 of 7 [DO NOT PUBLISH] IN THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE ELEVENTH CIRCUIT ________________________ No. 20-14477 Non-Argument Calendar ________________________ D.C. Docket No. 6:19-cv-00500-RBD-LRH JOR-EL A. PIZARRO-RAMOS, Plaintiff-Appellee, versus FRANK SOUZA, individually, Defendant-Appellant. ________________________ Appeal from the United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida ________________________ (July 16, 2021) Before LAGOA, BRASHER, and ANDERSON, Circuit Judges. USCA11 Case: 20-14477 Date Filed: 07/16/2021 Page: 2 of 7 PER CURIAM: Frank Souza appeals the denial of his motion for summary judgment in this civil-rights lawsuit. Jor-El Pizarro-Ramos sued Souza under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging constitutional claims for false arrest, false imprisonment, and excessive force. At summary judgment, the district court ruled that Souza was entitled to qualified immunity from most of Pizarro-Ramos’s claims, but it denied qualified immunity with respect to the excessive-force claim. Souza raises two arguments on appeal. First, he argues that the district court improperly denied qualified immunity from the excessive-force claim based on a 2019 decision that had not been issued when the arrest in dispute occurred. Second, he argues that, even if that 2019 decision had been binding law at the time, his actions still did not violate Pizarro-Ramos’s clearly established constitutional rights. For the following reasons, we agree with Souza and will reverse. We assume that the parties are well-acquainted with the record in this case and therefore only briefly summarize those background facts that are relevant to evaluating Pizarro-Ramos’s excessive-force claim. Souza arrested Pizarro-Ramos during the course of a traffic stop in the early hours of March 17, 2015. As part of that arrest, Souza handcuffed Pizarro-Ramos, at which point Pizarro-Ramos 2 USCA11 Case: 20-14477 Date Filed: 07/16/2021 Page: 3 of 7 immediately and repeatedly1 asked Souza to loosen the handcuffs because they were causing him pain. Pizarro-Ramos remained in handcuffs for over three hours until they were finally removed at the Osceola County Jail. After posting bond, Pizarro-Ramos went to the emergency room with complaints of persisting pain in his hands and wrists, and he eventually underwent surgery related to these problems. Pizarro-Ramos later filed this lawsuit against Souza, seeking compensation for his injuries. We review de novo the denial of a motion for summary judgment based on qualified immunity, viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party and making all reasonable inferences in that party’s favor. Salvato v. Miley, 790 F.3d 1286, 1292 (11th Cir. 2015). Summary judgment is appropriate when there is no genuine issue of material fact, and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(a). Qualified immunity protects government officers from liability for civil damages so long as their conduct “does not violate clearly established statutory or constitutional rights of which a reasonable person would have known.” Crocker v. Beatty, 995 F.3d 1232, 1239 (11th Cir. 2021). An officer claiming to be entitled to qualified immunity bears the initial burden of establishing that he …

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