LYNNE, Senior District Judge:
This appeal is taken from the summary judgment entered by the Court below dismissing the claim of plaintiffs, posited upon 42 U.S.C. § 1983, that defendant, acting under color of law, deprived them of the right to freedom of the press secured by the Constitution. We reverse.
We step briskly across the procedural morass revealed by the record, pausing briefly at tufts of more than passing significance. On November 10, 1986, plaintiffs, WSB-TV, a Georgia television station that broadcasts from Atlanta, Georgia, Mark C. Winne, a WSB-TV reporter, and Richard Nelson, a WSB-TV cameraman, filed their complaint against defendant, Earl Lee, the Sheriff of Douglas County, Georgia. Plaintiffs alleged, inter alia, that Lee's action on November 6, 1986, "in the course of carrying out his duties under color of state and local law" in seizing Nelson's camera, "was an unconstitutional interference with the legitimate newsgathering (sic) activities of plaintiffs." On November 28, 1986, defendant filed his answer and counterclaim for defamation of character.
On February 18, 1987, defendant filed his motion for summary judgment, supported by his own affidavit. The gist of his version of the November 6th incident was that, despite the persistence of Winne who sought to ask him questions, he refused to be interviewed and that when Nelson refused to move his camera from his face, he pushed it aside and left.
On March 18, 1987, plaintiffs filed a motion pursuant to Rule 56(f) requesting deferral of defendant's summary judgment motion until they were afforded an opportunity for additional discovery since defendant
On April 22, 1987, plaintiffs moved for leave to file an amended complaint and to add District Attorney Frank C. Winn as an additional party defendant,
On May 27, 1987, the court entered an order expressly overruling plaintiffs' Rule 56(f) motion, granting defendant's motion for summary judgment, and, declining to retain jurisdiction of the pendant state law claims asserted by plaintiffs, dismissed the action. At that time, the court had before it the file containing the proposed amended complaint and seven affidavits submitted in behalf of plaintiffs which contain the following factual recitals:
Our review of the district court's grant of summary judgment is plenary and is to be conducted utilizing the same legal standards as those imposed upon the district court. Mercantile Bank & Trust v. Fidelity & Deposit Co., 750 F.2d 838, 841 (11th Cir.1985). Summary judgment is appropriate only "if the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c).
Three recent Supreme Court cases vacating appellate reversals of district court orders granting summary judgment illuminate both the utility and the limitations of summary procedure. Celotex Corporation v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 106 S.Ct. 2548, 91 L.Ed.2d 265 (1986); Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 106 S.Ct. 2505, 91 L.Ed.2d 202 (1986); Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. v. Zenith Radio Corporation, 475 U.S. 574, 106 S.Ct. 1348, 89 L.Ed.2d 538 (1986). Their common denominator is the Court's caveat that summary judgment may only be decided upon an adequate record.
In Anderson, the Court held that Rule 56(e) provides that, "when a properly supported motion for summary judgment is made, the adverse party `must set forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial.'" 106 S.Ct. at 2511. The Court underscored that:
Id. at n. 5.
In Celotex, the Court held that "Rule 56(c) mandates the entry of summary judgment ... against a party who fails to make a showing sufficient to establish the existence of an element essential to that party's case, and on which that party will bear the burden of proof at trial" but only "after adequate time for discovery." 106 S.Ct. at 2552-53. In concluding that the district court had properly granted summary judgment, the Court noted that "[t]he parties had conducted discovery, and no serious claim can be made that respondent was in any sense `railroaded' by a premature motion for summary judgment." 106 S.Ct. at 2554. Recognizing that premature motions present a problem, the Court concluded that the problem:
106 S.Ct. at 2554-55. In Matsushita, 106 S.Ct. at 1352, the Court considered it significant that the parties had conducted "several years of detailed discovery."
In the case sub judice plaintiffs had been afforded no opportunity for discovery. Under the circumstances outlined above, consideration of defendant's motion for summary judgment in this six-months-old case was erroneous. Parrish v. Board of Commissioners, 533 F.2d 942, 951 (5th Cir.1976) (trial court did not allow relevant discovery; summary judgment reversed).
Moreover, with gaze too foreshortened upon the physical encounter of November 6, 1968, the court did not discuss
In determining whether the party who moves for summary judgment has met his burden of establishing that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that he is entitled to judgment as a matter of law, the evidence and inferences drawn from the evidence are viewed in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party, and all reasonable doubts are resolved in his favor. Mercantile Bank, supra, 750 F.2d at 841. In deciding whether an inference is reasonable, the court must "cull the universe of possible inferences from the facts established by weighing each against the abstract standard of reasonableness." Southway Theatres, Inc. v. Georgia Theatre Co., 672 F.2d 485, 493 (5th Cir.Unit B 1982). The opposing party's inferences need not be more probable than those inferences in favor of the movant to create a factual dispute, so long as they reasonably may be drawn from the facts. Id. at 495. When more than one inference reasonably can be drawn, it is for the trier of fact to determine the proper one. Id.
After a careful review of the record, we are persuaded that a reasonable inference to be drawn from affidavits submitted by plaintiffs is that the November 6th incident was but one episode in the ongoing effort of defendant to thwart or impede plaintiffs in gathering and reporting news relating to rumors of the sheriff's use of inmate labor on his private property, an interference with plaintiffs' first amendment rights which would violate 42 U.S.C. § 1983.
REVERSED and REMANDED.