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Jones v. Wallace

United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Southeastern Division

May 14, 2015

IAN WALLACE, et al., Defendants.


STEPHEN N. LIMBAUGH, Jr., District Judge.

This matter is before the Court on defendants' motion for summary judgment. The matter has been fully briefed and is ripe for disposition. For the following reasons, the motion will be granted.

I. Background

In December 2012, plaintiff Orlando Jones was an inmate at Southeast Correctional Center (SECC) in Charleston, Missouri and was housed in the administrative segregation unit in a two-man cell with another inmate, JE. On or about December 28, 2012, JE assaulted plaintiff. Plaintiff filed this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. ยง 1983 alleging that prison officials failed to protect him from a substantial risk of serious harm in violation of the Eighth Amendment. Defendants Ian Wallace, Cheryl Thompson, Daron Hyte, Donna Wigfall, Ryan Moss, Anthony Parker, Joseph Enderlee, Charles Brown, Benjamin Essex, Brett Hays, Jessie May, and Farrah Boyd were employees at SECC at the time of the assault. Defendants filed a joint motion for summary judgment. In support of their motion, defendants maintain that there is no evidence that plaintiff was at a substantial risk of serious harm or that defendants knew of, but disregarded, a serious risk to plaintiff's safety. For these reasons, defendants contend they are entitled to judgment as a matter of law in their favor.

II. Summary Judgment Standard

Pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(a), a district court may grant a motion for summary judgment if all of the information before the court demonstrates that "there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986). The burden is on the moving party. City of Mt. Pleasant, Iowa v. Associated Elec. Co-op. Inc., 838 F.2d 268, 273 (8th Cir. 1988). After the moving party discharges this burden, the nonmoving party must do more than show that there is some doubt as to the facts. Matsushita Elec. Industrial Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986). Instead, the nonmoving party bears the burden of setting forth specific facts showing that there is sufficient evidence in his favor to allow a jury to return a verdict for him. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 249 (1986); Celotex, 477 U.S. at 324.

In ruling on a motion for summary judgment, the court must review the facts in a light most favorable to the party opposing the motion and give that party the benefit of any inferences that logically can be drawn from those facts. Matsushita, 475 U.S. at 587; Woods v. DaimlerChrysler Corp., 409 F.3d 984, 990 (8th Cir. 2005). The Court may not "weigh the evidence in the summary judgment record, decide credibility questions, or determine the truth of any factual issue." Kampouris v. St. Louis Symphony Soc., 210 F.3d 845, 847 (8th Cir. 2000). The court is required, however, to resolve all conflicts of evidence in favor of the nonmoving party. Robert Johnson Grain Co. v. Chemical Interchange Co., 541 F.2d 207, 210 (8th Cir. 1976).

III. Facts

The Court has reviewed the parties' statements of uncontroverted material facts, the responses, and the supporting documentation, [1] and, where appropriate, will accept facts as supported by appropriate admissible evidence. The following facts are before the Court on this motion. Additional facts are set forth in the discussion.

Plaintiff was assaulted by his cellmate, JE, on December 28, 2012.[2] As a result of the injuries he received during the assault, he was transported out of the prison to Missouri Delta Medical Center for treatment. Plaintiff suffered three broken bones in his face, lost three teeth, and required ninety-four stitches. Plaintiff and JE had been cellmates for approximately two months before JE assaulted plaintiff.[3]

Plaintiff and JE had been cellmates on a prior occasion. A physical altercation occurred during the first time they shared a cell. Plaintiff described it as a wrestling match during which he "got the best of [JE]." Plaintiff and JE agreed not to tell anyone about the altercation. Plaintiff testified that he and JE got along because JE did not "put his hands" on plaintiff. Up to and including December 2012, plaintiff was not listed as an enemy on JE's enemy list and JE was not on plaintiff's enemy list.

Plaintiff testified that when he was placed in a cell with JE, he asked Jay Hays ("J. Hays")[4] for protective custody from JE and that J. Hays threatened to spray plaintiff with mace if he complained. Plaintiff told J. Hays that he didn't want JE in the cell with him, that he wanted protective custody away from him, and that "he didn't want to be around this man." Plaintiff told CO Cossey[5] that he wanted protective custody from JE because "we ain't, you know what I'm saying, clicking right." Plaintiff testified Cossey told him his protective custody needs were being met.

Just prior to the assault, JE told plaintiff that someone had offered to pay JE to hurt plaintiff. JE told plaintiff he would not hurt him because he was too cool for that. Plaintiff testified that after JE told him about the offer to hurt him, plaintiff went to sleep but only after JE told plaintiff he was not going to hurt him.

Plaintiff submitted three kites asking for protective custody from JE to SECC employees Thompson, Cossey, and Wigfall. A kite is an informal note offenders write and send to different prison employees by way of the correctional officers. Kites can be anything from trivial requests to requests for protective custody. SECC employees receive a lot of kites on a daily basis. Plaintiff testified that he received responses to the kites stating his protective custody needs were being met including a response from Hyte answering the kite plaintiff sent to Wigfall. Plaintiff ...

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