United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Southeastern Division
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
CRITES-LEONI, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Edwyn Roland, an inmate at the Southeast Correctional Center
(“SECC”), brought this action under 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983 against two defendants employed at SECC in their
individual capacities, alleging violations of his
constitutional rights. This matter is before the Court on the
Motion for Summary Judgment of Defendants Ryan Degen and
Michael Vaughn. (Doc. 59.) For the following reasons, the
Court will grant the motion in part, and deny the motion in
Amended Complaint, Roland claims that Defendant Ryan Degen, a
Correctional Officer at SECC, violated his Eighth Amendment
rights by using excessive force against him on December 9,
2013. Roland alleges that Defendant Degen intentionally
“rammed the chuck-hole into [Roland]'s hands
causing physical injury.” (Doc. 9, p. 8, &7.)
Roland also asserts a First Amendment retaliation claim
against Defendant Degen.
claims that Defendant Michael Vaughn, a Correctional Officer
at SECC, violated his Eighth Amendment rights by failing to
obtain medical care for his injuries resulting from the
alleged excessive force incident. He further argues that
Vaughn “did nothing to try to remedy the wrong”
after he was informed of the alleged excessive use of force
incident. (Doc. 9 at p. 12 & 27.)
have moved for summary judgment on all of Roland's
claims. Roland filed a Response in Opposition to
Defendants' Motion, to which he attached three purported
affidavits of inmates supporting his account of events. (Doc.
filed a Motion to Strike Roland's Exhibits. (Doc. 74.) In
an Order dated January 11, 2017, the Court granted
Defendants' Motion to Strike as to the Affidavit of Jamar
Williams, and ordered this exhibit stricken. (Doc. 80.) The
Court denied Defendants' Motion to Strike as to the
statements of Marquise Taylor and Kevin Harrison. Defendants
were granted leave to take the depositions of Taylor and
Harrison, and were granted an extension of time to file their
Reply. (Doc. 82.)
March 13, 2017, Defendants filed a Reply, to which they
attached deposition testimony of Taylor and Harrison. (Doc.
Summary Judgment Standard
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). A genuine issue of material fact is not the
“mere existence of some alleged factual dispute between
the parties.” State Auto. Ins. Co. v.
Lawrence, 358 F.3d 982, 985 (8th Cir. 2004).
“Instead, the dispute must be outcome determinative
under prevailing law.” Mosley v. City of
Northwoods, 415 F.3d 908, 910-11 (8th Cir. 2005)
(internal quotations omitted). A fact is material when it
“might affect the outcome of the suit under the
governing law.” Anderson v. Liberty Lobby,
Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986).
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, 477 U.S. at 249; Celotex, 477
U.S. at 324. “If ‘opposing parties tell two
different stories, ' the court must review the record,
determine which facts are material and genuinely disputed,
and then view those facts in a light most favorable to the
nonmoving party - as long as those facts are not ‘so
blatantly contradicted by the record . . . that no reasonable
jury could believe' them.” Reed v. City of St.
Charles, Mo., 561 F.3d 788, 790 (8th Cir. 2009) (quoting
Scott v. Harris, 550 U.S. 372, 380 (2007)).
Self-serving, conclusory statements without support are not
sufficient to defeat summary judgment. Armour and Co.,
Inc. v. Inver Grove Heights, 2 F.3d 276, 279 (8th Cir.
ruling on a motion for summary judgment, the court must
review the facts in a light most favorable to the nonmoving
party 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 and determine the truth of the matter.”
Anderson, 477 U.S. at 249. 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).
movant's statement of facts are deemed admitted if not
specifically controverted by the party opposing the motion.
Local Rule 4.01(E) provides:
A memorandum in support of a motion for summary judgment
shall have attached a statement of uncontroverted material
facts, set forth in a separately numbered paragraph for each
fact, indicating whether each fact is established by the
record, and if so, the appropriate citations. Every
memorandum in opposition shall include a statement of
material facts as to which the party contends a genuine issue
exists. Those matters in dispute shall be set forth with
specific references to portions of the record, where
available, upon which the opposing party relies. The opposing
party also shall note for all disputed facts the paragraph
number from movant's listing of facts. All matters set
forth in the statement of the movant shall be deemed admitted
for purposes of summary judgment unless specifically
controverted by the opposing party.
(emphasis added). Even so, where a plaintiff fails to respond
to a motion for summary judgment, the Court should not treat
such a non-response as sufficient to dispose of the motion.
Lowry v. Powerscreen USB, Inc., 72 F.Supp.2d 1061,
1064 (E.D. Mo. 1999) (citing Canada v. Union
Electric Co., 135 F.3d 1211, 1213 (8th Cir. 1997)).
“Courts should proceed to examine those portions of the
record properly before them and decide for themselves whether
the motion is well taken.” Id. “In so
ruling, even on an unopposed motion for summary judgment, the
court should review the facts in a light most favorable to
the party who would be opposing the motion.”
initial matter, Defendants argue that Roland did not respond
to Defendants' statement of undisputed facts in
accordance with Local Rule 7-4.01(E), and that the facts
should, therefore, be deemed admitted. It is true that Roland
did not respond to each of Defendants' facts with
specific citations to the record. Roland did, however, file
“Plaintiff[']s Statement of Disputed Factual
Issues, ” in which he “submits the following list
of genuine issues of material fact that require the denial of
the defendants' motion.” (Doc. 70 at p. 2.) Roland
then sets out his own version of the events. Roland has also
submitted exhibits in support of his claims, including the
inmate statements previously referenced, and his own sworn
declaration in opposition to Defendants' Motion. The
Court broadly construes and affords a liberal construction to
pro se pleadings. Johnson v. Arden, 614 F.3d 785,
798 (8th Cir. 2010). The Court will consider Roland's
responsive pleadings in determining whether Defendants are
entitled to summary judgment.
following facts are taken from Defendants' Statement of
Uncontroverted Material Facts and Roland's Statement of
Disputed Factual Issues, with any disputes noted:
December 9, 2013, Defendant Ryan Degen and Correctional
Officer Brett Hays were escorting Nurse Dana Degen,
LPN, who was making regularly scheduled medical rounds in
Housing Unit 2 of SECC. During their walk in A-wing of
Housing Unit 2, the escort stopped by Roland's cell so
that Nurse Degen could provide a medical services request
form to Roland. After Nurse Degen was finished with medical
pass at Roland's cell, Nurse Degen and Officer Hays
proceeded down the walk to continue the medical pass.
happened next is disputed by the parties. Defendants claim
that Roland requested that Defendant Degen allow him to throw
trash out of his cell before he moved on. Defendants note
that it is a common practice for correctional staff to open
the food ports of inmates in order to allow them to throw
away trash in their cells. Defendants state that Defendant
Degen consented to Roland's request and opened the food
port to Roland's cell to allow him to hand Degen trash.
Roland began talking and took too long to gather his trash
and Degen needed to rejoin the escort, so he shut the food
port without taking any trash from Roland. Defendants state
that Roland was never near the food port or the cell door,
and that Degen did not order Roland to “cuff up.”
Defendants contend that no injury to Roland was observed by
Defendant Degen, Officer Hays, or Nurse Degen, and Roland did
not tell Nurse Degen that he had an injury.
version of the events differs. Roland denies that he asked
Degen to allow him to throw trash out of his cell. Instead,
he claims that Degen stated to him “How did that IRR go
you little bitch.” (Doc. 69-1 at p. 2.) Roland claims
that he responded to Degen “Fuck you, you coward,
” and walked away from his cell door. Id.
After he walked away, Degen stated “Oh yeah? Now cuff
up you little bitch.” Id. Roland states that,
as he placed his hands outside the chuck hole to submit to
restraints, Degen rammed his hands with the chuck hole door.
Roland alleges that he yelled loudly in pain to Defendant
Degen, Nurse Degen, and Hays, and Defendant Degen walked away
as if nothing had happened. He contends that his left ring
finger was split open, bleeding, red, and swollen, and his
left middle finger was swollen. Roland submitted affidavits
from other inmates who claim to have witnessed the incident,
which are similar to Roland's account.
parties agree that Roland complained of an injury to his
fingers to two different correctional officers later that
day, and requested medical assistance. Correctional Officer
Charles Brown was performing a security check of A wing of
Housing Unit 2 when Roland stopped him because he claimed he
had an injury to his fingers and requested medical
assistance. Officer Brown testified that he observed
Roland's hand and fingers, but Roland did not have an
injury to his hands or fingers. (Doc. 61-7 at p. 1.) Officer
Brown indicated that he informed the bubble officer that
Roland requested medical attention at the end of his shift.
Id. at p. 2.
same day, Correctional Officer Hollie Dysinger was doing a
security walk when Roland called her to his cell because he
claimed he needed medical attention. Officer Dysinger
testified that she observed Roland's hand and did not see
any injuries. (Doc. 61-6 at p. 1.) She stated that Roland
began to strike his cell door in protest when Roland demanded
that she get Sergeant Vaughn and she initially refused.
Id. at p. 1-2. Officer Dysinger testified that she
then went to the control room and informed Sergeant Vaughn
that Roland claimed he had an injury and that he wanted to
see him. Id. at 2.
parties agree that Vaughn then went to Roland's cell in
order to speak with him about his alleged injuries. Defendant
Vaughn testified that he observed a small scratch on one
finger just below the nail, and that he advised Roland to
complete a medical services request form to obtain medical
attention. (Doc. 61-1 at p. 1-2.) Vaughn contends that he
also contacted the medical unit at SECC, and informed them of
Roland's request for medical attention. Id. at
argue that Roland was seen by medical staff the next day,
December 10, 2013, and no injuries were noted; whereas Roland
contends that he did not see medical staff until December 12,
2013. It is undisputed that Roland received
medical treatment from a nurse on December 12, 2013, at which
time it was noted Roland reported that his hand was caught in
the food port on December 9, 2013, and that his hand was cut
and was swollen until that day. (Doc. 61-8 at p. 3.) The
nurse noted a “small cut” on the fourth digit of
Roland's left hand, with no swelling and full range of
motion of the hand. Id. Roland was given Bacitracin
for his “open wound” and was instructed to keep
his finger iced until it healed. Id.
their Motion for Summary Judgment, Defendants argue that they
are entitled to judgment as a matter of law on Roland's
excessive force claim because Roland failed to support his
allegations that Defendant Degen smashed his hand in the food
port. Defendants contend that Roland fails to establish a
First Amendment retaliation claim against Degen because
Roland cannot show an adverse action was taken by Defendant
Degen. With regard to Defendant Vaughn, Defendants claim that
Roland cannot establish liability based upon respondeat
superior. Defendants further claim that Roland fails to
establish an Eighth Amendment claim against Defendant Vaughn
for deliberate indifference to serious medical needs because
Roland did not have an objectively serious medical need.
Finally, Defendants contend that they are entitled to
qualified immunity because Roland has not demonstrated the
violation of a clearly established right.
Response, Roland argues that there are genuine issues of
material fact that preclude summary judgment for Defendants
on Roland's excessive use of force claim. Roland states
that the affidavits and declarations of the parties
“are squarely contradictory as to force being used, or
if force was ever used, and why it was or was not
used.” (Doc. 69 at p. 5.) Roland contends that
Defendant Vaughn failed to report the incident, failed to
contact medical staff, failed to discipline Degen, and
otherwise did not attempt to remedy the wrong. (Doc. 69-2 at
p. 2.) He further argues that the Inspector General of
Missouri sent an investigator to investigate his allegations,
and that the investigator found that Roland's allegations
of excessive force were supported. (Doc. 69 at p. 3-4.)
Roland states that Defendant Degen resigned in April of 2014,
as a result of the investigation. Id. at
in their Reply, argue that the statements Roland has
submitted do not create a genuine issue of fact on his
excessive force claim. Defendants contend that Roland's
excessive force claim fails because he can show only de
minimus force was used. They further argue that Roland ...