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Walton v. Bilinski

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

February 8, 2018

CODY WALTON, Plaintiff,
v.
RYSZARD BILINSKI, former MACON COUNTY DEPUTY SHERIFF in his individual capacity only, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          CATHERINE D. PERRY UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Plaintiff Cody Walton has brought suit against former Macon County deputy sheriff Ryszard Bilinski pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. In the sole count of his complaint, Walton alleges that Bilinski violated his constitutional rights by failing to protect him from sexual assault by another inmate, Nathaniel Flennory. Walton argues Bilinski knew Walton faced a substantial risk of harm from Flennory and disregarded that risk by failing to lock the individual jail cells.

         Bilinski has now moved for summary judgment. Bilinski asserts Walton's claim is barred by the doctrine of res judicata and he is entitled to summary judgment as a matter of law. Specifically, Bilinski contends Walton's claim is barred by the preclusive effect of a case previously adjudicated in this Court, Walton v. Dawson, No. 2:11CV48 JCH (Walton I). I agree and will grant Bilinski's motion for summary judgment.

         FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         In setting forth the facts relevant to this motion, I note that Walton has not complied with Local Rule 4.01(E) governing summary judgment motions. Specifically, although Bilinski properly submitted a statement of uncontroverted material facts, Walton failed to respond to or controvert the facts numbered 101-186. Accordingly, pursuant to Local Rule 4.01(E), Walton is deemed to have admitted facts 101-186.[1] See Deichmann v. Boeing Co., 36 F.Supp.2d 1166, 1168 (E.D. Mo. 1999), aff'd, 232 F.3d 907 (8th Cir. 2000), cert. denied, 531 U.S. 877; Williams v. Roper, No. 4:13-CV-2440 CAS, 2016 WL 4368097, at *3 (E.D. Mo. Aug. 16, 2016). Bearing Walton's admissions and the summary judgment standard in mind, I have reviewed the record and accept the following facts as true:

         On August 30, 2010, Cody Walton, a pre-trial detainee at the Macon County, Missouri jail, was sexually assaulted by Nathaniel Flennory, another inmate. Flennory left his own unlocked cell, entered Walton's unsecured cell, and later sodomized Walton. The jailer on duty the night of this assault was Ryszard Bilinski. Flennory pled guilty to forcible rape and was sentenced to fifteen years in the Missouri Department of Corrections.

         In 2011, prior to filing the instant action, Walton filed a different suit (Walton I) in this Court against various other defendants, including the sheriff of Macon County, Robert Dawson, and jail administrator, David Moore.[2] Pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, Walton alleged his constitutional rights were violated by Dawson and Moore when he was sexually assaulted by Flennory. The complaint contained claims against Dawson and Moore in their individual capacities for 1) failure to protect Walton from sexual assault and 2) failure to train and supervise Bilinski. The complaint also contained claims against Dawson and Moore in their official capacity for failure to train and supervise Bilinski. Walton sought actual and punitive damages.

         In Walton I, defendants Dawson and Moore filed a motion for summary judgment. The district court granted their motion in part and denied it in part. Specifically, the court granted summary judgment in defendants' favor on Walton's claim that Dawson and Moore in their individual capacities failed to personally protect him from assault.[3] The court denied summary judgment with respect to the remaining claims against Dawson and Moore in their individual capacities for failure to supervise and train Bilinski. Specifically, the court found Moore and Dawson were not entitled to qualified immunity on these claims. The court also concluded that the claims against Moore and Dawson in their official capacities for failure to train Bilinski set forth sufficient facts to survive summary judgment. Dawson and Moore took an interlocutory appeal to the Eighth Circuit.

         On appeal, Dawson and Moore argued that they were entitled to qualified immunity on Walton's claims against them in their individual capacities for failure to train Bilinski. The Eighth Circuit agreed that Dawson was entitled to qualified immunity. Walton v. Dawson, 752 F.3D 1109, 1126 (8th Cir. 2014). In contrast, the Court affirmed the denial of qualified immunity to Moore, reasoning that the district court made a careful, individualized assessment that Moore was indifferent to the risks of leaving cell doors unlocked. Id. In discussing the claim against Moore, the Eighth Circuit observed that in order to find Moore liable to Walton for a failure to train, the jury would first have to find that Bilinski violated Walton's constitutional rights. Id. The Court of Appeals explained that a supervisor cannot be held liable on a failure to train/supervise claim unless the subordinate officer violated the Constitution. Id. at 1122. Moreover, the Court stated that it would be necessary to instruct the jury on a failure to protect claim against Bilinski at trial.

         In October 2014, Walton I proceeded to a jury trial against Moore in both his individual and official capacity for failure to train Bilinski.[4] During the trial, Moore argued in his Rule 50(a) Motion that Walton could not proceed against him in either his official or individual capacity as Bilinski was entitled to qualified immunity and had committed no underlying constitutional violation. Ultimately, Walton decided not to submit his claim against Moore in his individual capacity to the jury. After trial concluded, the district court dismissed this claim with prejudice.

         The sole remaining claim, against Moore in his official capacity for failure to train and supervise Bilinski, was submitted to the jury. The trial court instructed the jury that prior to finding any liability on behalf of Moore, “they first had to find liability against Bilinki. Specifically, Jury Instruction Number 7 required the jury to find that Flennory sexually assaulted Walton without consent, that Bilinski was aware of a substantial risk of assault, and that Bilinski was deliberately indifferent to Walton's need to be protected from the assault. If the elements in Instruction Number 7 were established, the jury was then instructed to turn to Instruction Number 8, which addressed whether Moore in his official capacity failed to train/supervise Bilinski. The jury rendered a verdict in Walton's favor in the amount of $60, 000.00.

         After the verdict, Walton filed this suit against Bilinski in his individual capacity under 42 U.S.C. §1983. In his sole count, Walton alleges that Bilinski violated his constitutional rights by failing to protect him from the same sexual assault at issue in Walton I. Walton again seeks actual and punitive damages. As noted above, Bilinski filed the instant motion for summary judgment, asserting inter alia, that Walton is barred from recovery under the doctrine of res judicata and is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.[5]

         STANDARD OF REVIEW

         Rule 56(c) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides that summary judgment shall be entered “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.” In ruling on a motion for summary judgment, the Court is required to view the facts in the light most favorable to the non-moving party and must give that party the benefit of all reasonable inferences to be drawn from the underlying facts. AgriStor Leasing v. Farrow, 826 F.2d 732, 734 (8th Cir. 1987). The moving party bears the initial burden ...


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