United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Eastern Division
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
L. WHITE, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
matter is before the Court on defendants Shawn Jenkins and
Shane Pashia's motion to dismiss for failure to state a
claim under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure
12(b)(6). The matter is fully briefed and ready for
decision. For the following reasons, the Court will deny
purpose of a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6) of the
Federal Rules of Civil Procedure is to test the legal
sufficiency of the complaint. The factual allegations of a
complaint are assumed true and construed in favor of the
plaintiff, "even if it strikes a savvy judge that actual
proof of those facts is improbable." Bell Atlantic
Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 556 (2007) (citing
Swierkiewicz v. Sorema N.A., 534 U.S. 506, 508 n.1
(2002)); Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 327
(1989) ("Rule 12(b)(6) does not countenance . . .
dismissals based on a judge's disbelief of a
complaint's factual allegations"). The issue is not
whether the plaintiff will ultimately prevail, but whether
the plaintiff is entitled to present evidence in support of
his claim. Id. A viable complaint must include
"enough facts to state a claim to relief that is
plausible on its face." Bell Atlantic Corp.,
550 U.S. at 570. See also Id. at 563 ("no set
of facts" language in Conley v. Gibson, 355
U.S. 41, 45-46 (1957), "has earned its
retirement.") "Factual allegations must be enough
to raise a right to relief above the speculative level."
Id. at 555.
is an inmate at Potosi Correctional Center ("PCC")
in Mineral Point, Missouri. He brings this 42 U.S.C. §
1983 action against defendants Shawn Jenkins, a Corrections
Officer at PCC, and Shane Pashia, a Caseworker at PCC. He
alleges defendants violated his Eighth Amendment rights by
their deliberate indifference to his safety.
November 5, 2015, plaintiff had a fight with his cellmate,
Cory Rogers ("Rogers"). Plaintiff alerted the
guards, and requested to be placed in protective custody
because he was fearful for his life. Plaintiff was separated
from Rogers, and placed in protective custody.
November 12, 2015, defendants Jenkins and Pashia informed
plaintiff that he would be moving back to Rogers' cell.
Plaintiff states that he "repeatedly informed defendant
Jenkins and defendant Pashia that he feared for his life and
physical safety if placed in the same cell with Cory
Rogers." Plaintiff states defendant Jenkins verbally
threatened him, stating that Jenkins and Pashia would force
plaintiff into the cell if he did not comply with the order.
Plaintiff states he entered Rogers' cell under force and
was again attacked by Rogers. Plaintiff suffered injuries to
his neck and lower back, which caused him severe pain and
restricted his mobility. For relief, plaintiff seeks
compensatory, special, and punitive damages.
have filed a motion to dismiss, stating that plaintiff has
failed to allege facts in support of the elements of a cause
of action; defendants have qualified immunity; and plaintiffs
claims are moot.
prison official may be held liable under the Eighth Amendment
for acting with "deliberate indifference" to inmate
health or safety only if he knows that inmates face a
substantial risk of serious harm and disregards that risk by
failing to take reasonable measures to abate it. See
Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825 (1994). "In
particular . . . 'prison officials have a duty ... to
protect prisoners from violence at the hands of other
prisoners."' Id. at 833 (quoting
Cortes-Quinones v. Jimenez-Nettleship, 842 F.2d 556,
588 (1st Cir 1988)). While prison conditions may
be harsh, "gratuitously allowing the beating ... of one
prisoner by another serves no legitimate penological
objective." Id. (internal quotation omitted). A
prison official violates the Eighth Amendment only when two
requirements are met: the deprivation alleged must be
objectively "sufficiently serious, " and the prison
official must have "deliberate indifference" to
inmate health or safety. Id. at 834.
has alleged "actionable inmate-endangering conduct,
" and the Court will deny defendants' motion to
dismiss. See Irving v. Dormire, 519 F.3d 441, 447
(8th Cir. 2009). Plaintiff alleges defendants
forced him into the cell with his enemy Rogers, knowing that
plaintiff had been intentionally separated from Rogers for
fear of his life. Plaintiff states he "repeatedly
informed" defendants that he feared for his life if
placed in the cell with Rogers. Plaintiff alleges defendants
physically forced him into the cell, where he was attacked by
Rogers. Defendants not only failed to take reasonable
measures to guarantee plaintiffs safety as required by the
Eighth Amendment, they intentionally put him in danger.
See Id. at 447-48 (8th Cir. 2009). As the
Eighth Circuit stated in Irving, "[the prison
officials] themselves were a large part of the conditions
posing a substantial risk of serious harm" to plaintiff.
Id. (quoting Farmer, 511 U.S. at 834. The
Eighth Circuit has consistently upheld the denial of
qualified immunity to guards who ignored an inmate's
request to be protected from a cellmate, who later attacked
them. See Irving, 519 F.3d at 447-48 (citing cases).
their motion, defendants argue that they did not know of the
potential risk to plaintiff, so they cannot be found to have
disregarded that risk. Defendants state that before placing
plaintiff back in Rogers' cell, they asked him if he and
Rogers were enemies. Defendants state that plaintiff
responded, "No, let's do this." Plaintiff
denies making this statement.
considering a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), the
pleadings are construed in the light most favorable to the
non-moving party, and the facts alleged in the complaint must
be taken as true. See Ashley County, Ark. v. Pfizer,
Inc.,552 F.3d 659, 665 (8th Cir. 2009).
Plaintiff alleges he repeatedly told defendants he feared for
his life if placed in Rogers' cell, that he was
threatened with force if he did not comply with the order to
enter the cell, that he entered the cell under
defendants' force, and was subsequently attacked by
Rogers. The attack injured his neck and lower back. Here,
plaintiffs complaint presents an actionable Eighth Amendment
claim. Plaintiff has ...