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Arman v. Davis

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

July 24, 2019

ANDREW ARMAN, Plaintiff,
JASON DAVIS, et al., Defendants.



         This matter is before the Court on a motion for summary judgment filed by defendants Jason Davis, Cindy Griffith, and Alan Earls (collectively “defendants”). Pro se plaintiff Andew Arman, a Missouri prisoner, brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging defendants violated his Eighth Amendment rights by use of excessive force and his First Amendment rights by moving him into a different housing unit in retaliation for filing grievances. Plaintiff opposes the motion for summary judgment and it is fully briefed. For the following reasons, the motion for summary judgment will be granted as to all defendants.

         I. Background

         In January of 2017, plaintiff was incarcerated at the Potosi Correctional Center (“PCC”) in Potosi, Missouri. Plaintiff filed this action on September 1, 2017 pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging numerous violations of his civil rights stemming from an altercation between himself and PCC corrections officers on January 16, 2017. (Doc. 1). Plaintiff filed an amended complaint on October 16, 2017. (Doc. 10).[1] Named as defendants in the amended complaint are Jason Davis (corrections offer), Cindy Griffith (warden), and Alan Earls (deputy division director of adult institutions).

         Upon review of plaintiff's amended complaint, this Court dismissed plaintiff's due process, deliberate indifference, failure to protect, supervisory liability, and equal protection claims for failure to state a claim. (Docs. 13, 14). As a result, only two claims remain: (1) use of excessive force by Jason Davis; and (2) retaliation by Cindy Griffith and Alan Earls.

         Specifically, plaintiff alleges that while he was confined to a restraint chair and situated in a “submissive and non-threatening posture, ” Davis punched him in the face with a closed fist. (Doc. 10 at 5). Regarding Griffith and Earls, plaintiff claims that after he filed grievances and complaints regarding his alleged assault by Davis, Griffith and Earls transferred plaintiff to another housing unit “in an attempt to silence and hinder” him. (Id. at 6). Plaintiff sues the defendants in their individual capacities.

         Defendants have filed a motion for summary judgment on the remaining two claims. In addition to seeking summary judgment on the merits, defendants also assert they are protected as government officials by the doctrine of qualified immunity.

         II. Legal Standard

         A. Summary Judgment Standard

         The standards applicable to summary judgment motions are well settled. Pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(c), a court may grant a motion for summary judgment if all of the information before the court shows “there is no genuine issue of material fact and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” See Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986).

         The initial burden is placed on the moving party. City of Mt. Pleasant, Iowa v. Associated Elec. Co-op., Inc., 838 F.2d 268, 273 (8th Cir. 1988) (the moving party has the burden of clearly establishing the non-existence of any genuine issue of fact that is material to a judgment in its favor). Once this burden is discharged, if the record shows that no genuine dispute exists, the burden then shifts to the non-moving party who must set forth affirmative evidence and specific facts showing there is a genuine dispute on a material factual issue. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 249 (1986).

         Once the burden shifts, the non-moving party may not rest on the allegations in his pleadings, but by affidavit and other evidence must set forth specific facts showing that a genuine issue of material fact exists. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e); Herring v. Canada Life Assur. Co., 207 F.3d 1026, 1029 (8th Cir. 2000); Allen v. Entergy Corp., 181 F.3d 902, 904 (8th Cir. 2000). The non-moving party “must do more than simply show that there is some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts.” Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co., Ltd. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986). A dispute about a material fact is “genuine” only “if the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party.” Herring, 207 F.3d at 1029 (quoting Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248). A party resisting summary judgment has the burden to designate the specific facts that create a triable question of fact. See Crossley v. Georgia-Pacific Corp., 355 F.3d 1112, 1114 (8th Cir. 2004). Self-serving, conclusory statements without support are not sufficient to defeat summary judgment. See Conolly v. Clark, 457 F.3d 872, 876 (8th Cir. 2006).

         With this standard in mind, the Court accepts the facts below as true for purposes of resolving this motion for summary judgment.

         B. Qualified ...

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