Searching over 5,500,000 cases.

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Irving v. Wells

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

December 16, 2019

DANIELLE WELLS, et al., Defendants.



         This matter is before the Court on defendants' motion for summary judgment. Plaintiff, who proceeds pro se, has filed a motion for continuance pursuant to Rule 56(f), Fed.R.Civ.P. The parties have consented to the jurisdiction of the undersigned United States Magistrate Judge pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c).

         The events giving rise to this dispute occurred in January and February 2018 while plaintiff was an inmate at the Southeast Correctional Center (SECC). He alleges that defendant Correctional Officer Danielle Wells conspired with prisoners and gang members who threatened plaintiff's life. Plaintiff also alleges that defendant Functional Unit Manager Lorene Armstrong recommended against plaintiff's request for protective custody and that defendants Shift Captains Travis Wilhite and Alex Clinton attempted to move him to a housing unit where he would be assaulted. Plaintiff filed suit pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, seeking declaratory and injunctive relief and $300 in compensatory damages and $300 in punitive damages from each defendant.[1]Defendants move for summary judgment, arguing that plaintiff suffered no physical injury and thus is not entitled to damages. They further argue that his claim for injunctive relief became moot when he was transferred to SCCC and that his request for declaratory judgment should be denied.

         I. Background

         Plaintiff alleges that in January and early February 2018, he submitted complaints “in relation to” defendant Wells and gang members in Housing Unit 5 who were threatening him. Amended Complaint § VI(a) [Doc. # 6]. On February 5, 2018, he was again threatened and “declared protective custody. Id. § VI(b); Lorene Armstrong Affidavit ¶ 6(a) [Doc. # 51-12]. On February 8, 2018, plaintiff appeared for an initial classification hearing, chaired by defendant Armstrong. Classification Hearing Form dated Feb. 8, 2018 [Doc. # 51-4]. According to the hearing form, which he signed, plaintiff stated that he did not need protective custody but needed to move from Housing Unit 5 before he got into a fight over “a game [his] celly was trying to run with an Officer.” Armstrong Aff. ¶ 6(b). Plaintiff also signed a waiver form, stating that he did not believe he needed protective custody, was not aware of any enemies among the inmates, and did not believe he was in danger. The form was witnessed by defendant Armstrong. Protective Custody Needs Assess/Waiver Form dated Feb. 9, 2018 [Doc. # 51-3].

         Plaintiff testified at deposition that he was released to the general population on February 15, 2018. Plaintiff Deposition at 58 [Doc. # 51-1]. That same day, he had several encounters with groups of prisoners who threatened him. Amended Complaint §§ VI(e)-(h). In his first encounter, he was told that defendant Wells said that plaintiff had “ratted on them” and caused their cells to be searched. Plaintiff's Dep. at 20. Later in the day, he was threatened with stabbing unless he transferred out of the housing unit. He declared protective custody and was moved to Temporary Administrative Segregation. Id. at 22. On February 21, 2018, plaintiff was assigned to administrative segregation, where he was placed in a single-man cell. Classification Hearing Form dated Feb. 21, 2018 [Doc. # 51-5]; Armstrong Aff. ¶ 6(c); Plaintiff's Dep. at 74. His protective custody status was continued on March 16, 2018, April 11, 2018, May 9, 2018, and June 6, 2018. Classification Hearing Forms [Docs. ## 51-6 through 51-9]. At the hearing on June 6, 2018, SECC staff recommended that plaintiff be transferred to another facility due to the presence of “unwaived enemies” at SECC. Classification Hearing Form dated June 6, 2018. He remained on protective custody status until he was transferred to South Central Correctional Center on October 2, 2018. Plaintiff's Dep. at 23. He was never assaulted or physically injured while at SECC. Id. at 43.

         II. Legal Standard

         Summary judgment is appropriate where “there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). Under Rule 56, a party moving for summary judgment bears the burden of demonstrating that no genuine issue exists as to any material fact. See Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986). A dispute is genuine “if the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party, ” and a fact is material if it “might affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law.” Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986).

         Once the moving party discharges this burden, the non-moving party must set forth specific facts demonstrating that there is a dispute as to a genuine issue of material fact, not the “mere existence of some alleged factual dispute.” Anderson, 477 U.S. at 247. The non-moving party may not rest upon mere allegations or denials in the pleadings. Id. at 256. “Factual disputes that are irrelevant or unnecessary” will not preclude summary judgment. Id. at 248. The Court must construe all facts and evidence in the light most favorable to the non-movant, must refrain from making credibility determinations and weighing the evidence, and must draw all legitimate inferences in favor of the non-movant. Id. at 255.

         Plaintiff here did not file a response to defendants' motion for summary judgment and statement of uncontroverted material facts. In this district, the movant's facts are deemed admitted if not specifically controverted by the party opposing the motion. E.D. Mo. L.R. 4.01(E). Nonetheless, where a plaintiff fails to respond to a motion for summary judgment, the Court should not treat this nonresponse as sufficient to dispose of the motion. Roland v. Wallace, No. 1:14CV166 ACL, 2017 WL 1196426, at *2 (E.D. Mo. Mar. 31, 2017) (citing Lowry v. Powerscreen USB, Inc., 72 F.Supp.2d 1061, 1064 (E.D. Mo. 1999)). “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.” Id.

         III. Discussion

         A. Plaintiff's Rule 56(f) Motion

         Defendants filed their motion for summary judgment on May 3, 2019. Plaintiff filed several motions to compel defendants to provide him with access to his legal documents that he contended he needed in order to prepare his response. Counsel for defendants informed the Court that plaintiff had been provided the opportunity to review his documents and, on July 8, 2019, plaintiff's motions were denied as moot. Plaintiff was thereafter given several extensions of time to file his response to defendants' summary judgment motion. Finally, on September 30, 2019, the Court gave plaintiff one final extension of time until November 1, 2019.

         On December 2, 2019, plaintiff filed a motion for continuance pursuant to Rule 56(f), in which he asserts that he is unable to respond to defendants' summary judgment motion without further discovery, specifically “I.R.R, /Grievance complaints, ” “misconduct reports against defendants, ” and “assaultive histories of” other ...

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.