United States District Court, W.D. Missouri, Western Division
THEDRAL R. HARDRIDGE, Plaintiff,
JOE PICCININI, et al., Defendants.
ORDER AND OPINION GRANTING DEFENDANTS' MOTION FOR
D. SMITH, SENIOR JUDGE
is Defendants Jen-I E. Pulos and Chimezie Akanuligo's
Motion for Summary Judgment. Doc. #83. For the following
reasons, Defendants' motion for summary judgment is
October 2014, Plaintiff Thedral Hardridge was admitted to the
Jackson County Department of Corrections (“JCDC”)
on charges of Abuse or Neglect of A Child - Serious Physical
Injury. Doc. #83-2. Plaintiff remains incarcerated at a JCDC
facility. Doc. #66; Doc. #84-3.
has a grievance procedure, which permits inmates to
“seek formal resolutions, decisions, or answers to
serious issues or complaints regarding the conditions of
their confinement.” Doc. #83-4, at 1. Pursuant to the
procedure, an inmate first seeks informal resolution of a
non-emergency matter. Id. at 2, 5., and if that does
not work, files a formal grievance. Id. at 2.
“The grievance must be filed within ten (10) days of
the occurrence or discovery of the cause of the
grievance….” Id. at 1, 5. If
dissatisfied with the disposition of a grievance, “the
inmate may submit a written appeal within five (5) days
receipt of the adverse disposition.” Id. at
4-5. Upon receipt of the appeal, the Director of Corrections
(“Director”) designates a respondent, who is
responsible for “promptly and thoroughly investigating
the appeal and submitting a written disposition to the
Director.” Id. Unless otherwise explained to
the inmate, the response must be provided within ten days of
the Director's receipt of the appeal. Id.
December 1, 2014, and June 15, 2015, Plaintiff filed several
requests for administrative remedies. Doc. #1-1, at 3-7; Doc.
#83-1, at 4; Docs. #83-5, #83-6, #83-7, #83-10. On January
29, 2015, Plaintiff submitted a formal grievance related to
events that occurred on November 12, 2014. Doc. #1-1, at 1;
Doc. #83-8. The formal grievance was received by the Director
on March 9, 2015. Id. Ten days later, a response was
provided: “Sir, the above listed incidents were caused
by you. Each time you placed yourself in each predictament
[sic]. Captain Smith, the JCDC Support Administrator, has
already explained this to you…. I find this grievance
totally unfounded. Id. On June 4, 2015, Plaintiff
appealed his formal grievance. Doc. #1-1, at 2; Doc. #83-9.
This appeal was received by the Director on June 8, 2015.
Id. On June 18, 2015, Plaintiff was informed that
the “investigation will continue, ” and he will
be notified of the outcome of the investigation. Id.
29, 2015, George Indelicato, Acting Operation Support
Administrator, responded to Plaintiff's appeal. Doc.
#1-1, at 16; Doc. #83-14. With regard to the events that
occurred on November 12, 2014, Indelicato was “unable
to obtain any concert [sic] evidence of staff physical abuse
toward inmate Hardridge. No. recorded footage was archived or
downloaded.” Id. But Indelicato obtained six
reports from staff documenting the November 12, 2014
incident. Doc. #1-1, at 8-16; Doc. #83-14; Doc. #83-15. The
reports indicate Plaintiff “began the incident by
pulling the sprinkler head in his cell causing a
flood…. Upon DCT staff entering the inmate's cell,
…the inmate became combative and argumentative and
began to resist staff.” Id. As a result, the
staff had “to place the inmate to the cell floor which
could have caused the injuries described.” Id.
Plaintiff sustained lacerations on his left eye and chin.
Id.; see also Doc. #83-13. He received
sutures from the emergency room. Id. Indelicato
rejected Plaintiff's grievance “due to his
allegations of staff physical abuse being unfounded.”
regard to the events that transpired on November 12, 2014,
Plaintiff testified during his deposition that he told JCDC
staff members he would not be going back to his cell. Doc.
#83-17, at 8-9. After being placed back in his cell,
Plaintiff admitted he began yelling, “my attorney [is]
gonna whip [your] ass….” Id. at 10. He
then broke the sprinkler head in his cell: “I took my
cup, and I started hitting [the sprinkler head] with my cup,
hitting the tip of it with my cup, and it just popped and
started spraying the room with water.” Id. at
11. The water began pouring into his cell, and “pretty
much flooded the whole module almost.” Id. at
12. A few minutes after Plaintiff broke the sprinkler head,
officers arrived. Id. Plaintiff was directed to
“lay down on the bed and cross [his] legs and put [his]
hands behind [his] back, ” but he “told them
no.” Id. The officers entered Plaintiff's
cell and “held” him down on the bed and
“handcuffed” him behind his back. Id.
Plaintiff He claims the officers picked him up and
“just dropped me to the floor right on my face, ”
and the officer then began “beating the crap out of
me.” Id. at 12-13.
September 2016, Plaintiff, proceeding pro se, filed this
matter, alleging claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against
JCDC staff members, the JCDC Director, and the Jackson County
Sheriff. Doc. #1. In his Complaint, Plaintiff acknowledges
JCDC had a grievance procedure, and he utilized the procedure
on December 20, 2014, January 12, 2015, January 29, 2015, and
June 4, 2015. Id. at 3. He states his “[f]inal
grievance [was] rejected as unfounded.” Id.
His claims related to the events that occurred on November
12, 2014, about which Plaintiff grieved. Id. at
5-13; Doc. #1-1. Plaintiff alleges Defendants “are
responsible for the unnecessary and wanton infliction of pain
when they had beaten, degraded, tortured and humiliated the
Plaintiff with the use of excessive force, verbal abuse and
lack of care and concern for Plaintiff's health and well
being.” Doc. #1, at 16. He contends Defendants violated
his rights under the Fourth, Eighth, and Fourteen Amendments,
and his right to medical care. Id. at 16-17.
October 2016, the Court dismissed Plaintiff's claims
against certain Defendants because he failed to state a claim
against those individuals. Doc. #8, at 4-5. The Court
directed the two remaining Defendants, Ronnie Rahe and
Lieutenant Brown, to respond to Plaintiff's Complaint.
Id. at 5. In January 2017, Plaintiff's lawsuit
was dismissed without prejudice because he did not provide
the Court with addresses at which Defendants could be served.
Doc. #16. Plaintiff appealed the dismissal. Doc. #18. The
Eighth Circuit affirmed in part and reversed in part this
Court's decision. Doc. #24. Among other things, the
Eighth Circuit found Plaintiff's claims against five
Defendants (Chimezie Akanuligo, Matai Ware, Jen-I E. Pulos,
Ryan Arnold, and Daniel McElroy) should be reinstated.
Id. at 2.
September 2017, this matter was reopened, and Plaintiff's
claims against Akanuligo, Ware, Pulos, Arnold, and McElroy
were reinstated. Doc. #26. Service was attempted on these
individuals at addresses provided by Plaintiff. Docs. #32-37.
Akanuligo was served, but service was not obtained on the
other Defendants. Doc. #33-37. The Court directed JCDC to
provide the last known addresses for Defendants. Doc. #38.
Service was attempted again. Pulos was served, but McElroy,
Arnold, and Ware were not served. Doc. #42, 46-50. The Court
directed Plaintiff to show cause why his claims against
McElroy, Arnold, and Ware should not be dismissed due to
failure to timely serve them. Doc. #51. Plaintiff did not
respond, and as a result, his claims against Ware, Arnold,
and McElroy were dismissed without prejudice. Doc. #53. As of
May 2018, only Plaintiff's claims against Pulos and
Akanuligo remained pending.
October 2018, the Court granted Plaintiff's motion for
appointment of counsel, and in November 2018, the parties
were granted additional time to conduct discovery. Docs. #73,
79. On April 22, 2019, Akanuligo and Pulos filed a motion for
summary judgment. Doc. #83. After Plaintiff failed to timely
respond to Defendants' motion, the Court directed
Plaintiff to show cause why the motion should not be granted.
28, 2019, Plaintiff's counsel responded to the
Court's Order, stating he was “filing an
Anders response to the motion to show cause.”
Doc. #85, at 1. Plaintiff's counsel stated “there
is a scant argument that given Plaintiff's incarceration
status he was unable to timely exhaust his administrative
remedies.” Id. at 1-2. He represented that
Plaintiff could not sustain his use of force claim because
there are “no non-frivolous arguments in
opposition” to the motion for summary judgment.
Id. at 2. That is, “the record is devoid of
any attacks on the Plaintiff by other inmates or the showing
of a[n] immediate fear for his safety.” Id.
Further, “Plaintiff created an incident by pulling on
the sprinkler head, ” which set off the device that
flooded his cell. Id. This incident, “coupled
with Plaintiff's refusal to follow orders allows the
correctional officers to apply reasonable constraints.”
Id. Defendants did not file a reply in further
support of their summary judgment motion, and the time for
doing so has passed.