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Nimmons v. Clark

United States District Court, Northern District of Georgia, Atlanta Division

March 16, 2015

JEROME NIMMONS, Plaintiff,
v.
DUONE CLARK, Defendant.

OPINION AND ORDER

WILLIAM S. DUFFEY, Jr. UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

This matter is before the Court on Plaintiff Jerome Nimmons's Motion for Default Judgment Against Defendant Deputy Duone Clark [28] and the Court's January 26, 2015, Order for an evidentiary hearing on the Motion for Default Judgment [37].

I. BACKGROUND

On November 14, 2013, Plaintiff filed a four-count (4) Complaint against Defendants Deputy Duone Clark ("Clark"), Sheriff Conway and Gwinnett County, in which Plaintiff alleged that Defendants violated Plaintiffs rights under the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution, and "pendant state law [against] sexual assault." On December 23, 2011, Plaintiff, a transgender person, was housed as a male pre-trial detainee in the Gwinnett County Detention Center (“Detention Center”). Plaintiff alleges that Clark sexually assaulted Plaintiff at the Detention Center. On December 28, 2013, Clark was served with the Summons and Complaint. Clark did not file a responsive pleading.

On June 2, 2014, Plaintiff moved for a default judgment against Clark, (the “Default Judgment Motion”) [28].[1]

On August 25, 2014, the Court granted Sheriff Conway’s and Gwinnett County’s Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings, and dismissed them from this action.

On January 26, 2015, the Court entered its Order scheduling an evidentiary hearing on the Default Judgment Motion [28]. The hearing was conducted on March 2, 2015.

This matter is now before the Court following the March 2, 2015 evidentiary hearing conducted under Rule 55(b)(2) to determine if a default judgment may be entered and, if so, in what amount.

II. FACTS

A. The Assaults

Plaintiff stated she[2] was arrested in late 2011[3] for financial fraud. Transcript of Hearing on March 2, 2015 (“Tr.”) at 14. Because Plaintiff was a transgender person, she was, for protection purposes, placed in a segregated part of the Gwinnett County Jail. Tr. at 5. Defendant Clark and another guard were the jailers responsible for guarding the segregated unit. Tr. at 6. Defendant Clark told Plaintiff that detainees at the jail are required to follow the rules of the jail. Tr. at 7. Plaintiff stated she believed she was dependent on the jailers for her safety and daily sustenance. Tr. at 7, 13. She said that as an “inmate, you have to follow the rules of the jail, the officer has a lot of control over the dorm.” Tr. at 7. Jailers even have control of a complaint made by those detained and they can decide if a complaint gets processed. Id. Plaintiff felt compelled to obey the direction given by the officers because they could make your time harder or easier. Tr. at 7, 13.

It was within this environment that Plaintiff was approached by Defendant Clark, who, at first, wanted Plaintiff to masturbate in his presence. Id. Plaintiff, afraid of reprisals, complied with the demand. Tr. at 7. From there, “it got deeper, ” and turned physical at the end. Tr. at 6. On the day it got physical, Defendant Clark came to Plaintiff’s room early in the morning. Tr. at 7. Plaintiff was laying on her bed and Defendant stood over her. Id. He again wanted her to masturbate. Id. “Then he pulled his penis out and asked [her] to perform oral sex on him.” Tr. at 8. Believing she could not refuse, Plaintiff performed oral sex on Defendant as directed. Id. Over the next two months, she was required to perform oral sex on Defendant about four times. Id. She finally reported Defendant to another jail guard and an investigation was commenced. Tr. at 9. A review of videotapes of Plaintiff’s cell confirmed that Defendant entered the cell and required Plaintiff to perform oral sex on him. Id. Semen on Plaintiff’s boxer shorts and sheets also confirmed the conduct Plaintiff reported. Tr. at 10. Defendant ultimately was indicted and convicted of sexual assault against a person in custody and dereliction of duty by a public officer. Plaintiff’s Ex. 1. Defendant was sentenced to ten (10) years with three (3) to be served in confinement. Id.

Plaintiff testified about the trauma, sleepless nights, nightmares, depression and psychological impact of Defendant’s conduct towards her and her sexual assault. Plaintiff testified, credibly, that she suffers mental anguish and has required psychological counseling, which she is still receiving. Tr. at 13-15, 17-20. She believes she will need treatment in the future. Tr. at 21. She believes she should be compensated in the ...


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