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McCarthian v. Wise

United States District Court, N.D. Georgia, Atlanta Division

September 10, 2014



WILLIAM S. DUFFEY, Jr., District Judge.

This matter is before the Court on Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment [89].[1]


A. Procedural History

Plaintiff filed his complaint in this action in August 2011. [1] Plaintiff complained that on July 27, 2011, while he was an inmate at the Fulton County Jail (the "Jail"), Jail officials placed a combative inmate in his cell, removed the inmate after an altercation, and later returned him to the cell. (Id. at 4-7.) The Court construed Plaintiff's complaint as asserting a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 alleging that in moving the inmate back to Plaintiff's cell, Defendants were deliberately indifferent to Plaintiff's safety in violation of the Eighth Amendment to the United States Constitution. [6, 13] The Court allowed this claim to proceed and dismissed Plaintiff's deliberate indifference to medical needs claim. [13] After the Court dismissed certain of the Defendants, Plaintiff dismissed the remaining Defendants except for Defendants Richard Melton and Khalid Wise, [13, 18, 81, 83].

On June 5, 2014, counsel entered his appearance on behalf of Plaintiff. [70] The parties conducted additional discovery, including the deposition of Plaintiff.

Discovery closed on July 7, 2014. On that day, Plaintiff moved to amend his complaint to add a state-law claim against Melton and Wise. [82] The new claim is that Defendants negligently failed to perform ministerial duties imposed by Jail policies.[2] (Id. at 6-10.)

On July 23, 2014, the Court granted Plaintiff's motion to add the state-law claims. [87] The pending claims against Defendants Melton and Wise thus are a deliberate indifference claim under § 1983 and a state-law claim for negligent performance of ministerial duties.

On July 28, 2014, Defendants filed their motion for summary judgment. [89] In his response, Plaintiff agreed to dismiss his § 1983 claim against Wise. [93 at 16 n.20, 23] Plaintiff opposes summary judgment on his § 1983 claim against Melton, and on his state-law claim against both Defendants. (Id.)

B. Facts[3]

On July 27, 2011, Plaintiff was an inmate in the "Three North" unit of the Jail, in which inmates with mental health issues are housed. (SUMF ¶ 1; SAMF ¶¶ 2, 13.) Melton was a detention officer in Three North who worked the 7:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. shift. (SUMF ¶¶ 2, 4.) Wise was a deputy sergeant and floor supervisor in Three North who worked the 3:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. shift. (Id. ¶¶ 3, 5.)

During the 7:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. shift on July 27, 2011, inmate Arthur Stinson was placed in Plaintiff's cell. (Id. ¶ 6.) Plaintiff testified that Melton brought Stinson to the cell and that Melton appeared to be coaching Stinson on "maintaining his emotion, I guess" as they arrived and to "motivate [Stinson]... to continue moving." (SAMF ¶ 15; Pl. Dep. [89-4] at 21.) Plaintiff further testified that after seeing Stinson's "bad attitude" upon entering the cell, he said to Melton something to the effect of "I don't like this guy." (Pl. Dep. at 21-22.) Melton shrugged, locked the cell door, and left. (Id.) Plaintiff did not tell Melton at the time that he was afraid of Stinson or that he had any issue regarding Stinson. (Id.) Melton does not recall transporting an inmate to Plaintiff's cell on July 27, 2011. (Melton Aff. [89-1] ¶ 8.)

Stinson did not speak to Plaintiff, but soon after entering the cell, Stinson became angry and began throwing his and Plaintiff's belongings around. (SAMF ¶¶ 16, 18.) Stinson used a cup to scoop feces out of the toilet and began hurling the feces around the cell, and under the cell door. (Id. ¶ 19.) Stinson ignored Plaintiff's command to stop. (Id. ¶ 20.) Stinson then began pushing Plaintiff. (Id. ¶ 21.) Believing Stinson was trying to hurt him, Plaintiff restrained Stinson from behind and called for help. (Id. ¶¶ 23, 26.) Plaintiff did not sustain any injury from this encounter, did not seek medical attention, and did not fear for his safety as a result of the altercation. (SUMF ¶¶ 8-9; Pl. Dep. at 45-46, 64.)

Melton and an unidentified officer arrived at the cell while Plaintiff was restraining Stinson. (SAMF ¶¶ 27, 29; Pl. Dep. at 66-67.) When they arrived, Melton looked through the window on the cell door and saw Plaintiff restraining Stinson, and that they were "tussling." (Id.) Melton unlocked the cell door, ordered Stinson to stop, grabbed Stinson and removed him from the cell. (SAMF ¶¶ 30-31.) Melton testified that he does not recall an altercation between Plaintiff and another inmate on July 27, 2011, he did not receive an oral or written report of any such incident that day, and he did not witness or respond to an incident in the cell. (Melton Aff. ¶¶ 9-13.)

Plaintiff remained in his cell after Stinson was removed. At some later point Plaintiff went to the Jail commissary. (SUMF ¶ 12; Resp. SUMF ¶ 11; SAMF ¶¶ 32-33.) There he saw Stinson, but did not interact with him. (Id.) Plaintiff returned to his cell and remained there alone for the remainder of the 7:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. shift. (SUMF ¶ 13; SAMF ¶ 33.)

Wise, the floor supervisor, began his shift at 3:00 p.m. (Wise Aff. [89-2] ¶¶ 7-8.) At the shift start, Wise discovered that Stinson had been removed from Plaintiff's cell, where he had been assigned. (Id.) Wise was not aware of an earlier altercation between Stinson and Plaintiff. (SUMF ¶ 11.) Because there was no documentation showing why Stinson was moved from his assigned cell, ...

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