United States District Court, S.D. Georgia, Brunswick Division
LISA GODBEY WOOD, Chief Judge.
Presently before the Court is Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment. Dkt. No. 55. Plaintiff has filed a Response in Opposition to this Motion, and Defendants have filed a Reply. Dkts. No. 62 & 65. After careful consideration of these pleadings, and for the reasons that follow, Defendants' Motion is GRANTED in part and DENIED in part. The Court grants summary judgment to Defendants on Plaintiff's claims that Defendants were deliberately indifferent to his safety by placing him in the same recreation cage as another inmate. However, Plaintiff's claims that Defendants violated his Eighth Amendment rights by failing to intervene in the ensuing assault by that inmate survive summary judgment.
Plaintiff is currently housed at the Federal Correctional Institution in Sheridan, Oregon. From February 2008 until June 2010, he was housed at the Federal Correctional Institution in Jesup, Georgia, ("FCI Jesup"). Dkt. No. 49-1, p. 1. He brings this action against correctional officers at FCI Jesup alleging that they were deliberately indifferent to his safety before and during an incident where Plaintiff was beaten by another inmate. This incident took place on May 27, 2010, while Plaintiff was housed in FCI Jesup's Special Housing Unit ("SHU").
The SHU is a unit for inmates with disciplinary problems or a disruptive history who require greater management. Inmates in the SHU were allowed recreation time once a day for one hour. Dkt. No. 50, p. 4. Plaintiff alleges the SHU staff compiled a list of the inmates who wanted to have recreation on any particular day. The officers in the SHU review the profiles of the inmates desiring recreation time to keep inmates separated from each other, if necessary. Id. at p. 5. According to Plaintiff, as a matter of BOP policy and practice, inmates of different races are not placed in the same recreation cages. Id. at p. 8.
Plaintiff, who is black, wanted to have recreation on May 27, 2010. Id . Plaintiff asserts that another inmate, Gutierrez, who is Mexican, was considered to be a "separatee" or "separate" regarding black inmates in general and Plaintiff in particular and posed a substantial danger to Plaintiff and other black inmates and was scheduled for recreation time on this same date. Id. at pp. 5-6. Plaintiff alleges that Defendant Bowen knew of Gutierrez's racism and violence against black inmates, as this was documented in Bureau of Prisons' ("BOP") records, and knew that Gutierrez is a member of the Sureno gang, a group which does not like blacks. Id. at p. 7. Plaintiff contends Defendant Bowen assigned him to the same recreation cage as Gutierrez on May 27, 2010. Plaintiff also contends that Defendant Pickett escorted him while he was handcuffed to a recreation cage where several Mexican inmates, including Gutierrez, were also handcuffed. Id. at p. 8. Plaintiff further avers that Defendant Pickett knew of Gutierrez's history of violent behavior against black inmates and that Gutierrez was a member of the Sureno gang. Id. at p. 9.
According to Plaintiff, inmates in other recreation cages expressed their concerns about Plaintiff being placed in the same cage as Gutierrez and the other inmates, but Defendant Pickett ignored these concerns. Id . Plaintiff avers he also informed Defendant Pickett that he did not want to be put in that particular recreation cage, yet Defendant Pickett placed him in that cage. Plaintiff states Defendant Pickett told him he was assigned to that cage, and he would go into this cage if he wanted recreation time. Plaintiff maintains he would have been deprived of recreational time that day had he insisted on being placed in a different cage. Id. at p. 10.
Plaintiff contends Gutierrez was the first inmate in that recreation cage to have his handcuffs removed, and he began beating Plaintiff within seconds of Plaintiff entering the cage. Id. at p. 12. Plaintiff claims he yelled for Defendant Pickett to remove his handcuffs, but Pickett did not do so and backed away from the cage. Plaintiff contends that Defendants Arnett, Bowen, Moseley, and Wolford were at or near the cage when he began getting attacked, but these Defendants did nothing to help Plaintiff in this situation. Id. at pp. 12-13. Plaintiff also contends Defendants watched Gutierrez assault Plaintiff and only entered the cage after Gutierrez tired himself out and stopped beating Plaintiff on Gutierrez's own volition. Id. at p. 14. Plaintiff asserts he lost consciousness and suffered "significant injuries" and continues to suffer physical and mental injuries as a result of the assault. Id. at p. 15.
Defendants move for summary judgment on several grounds. First, Defendants maintain Plaintiff fails to state an Eighth Amendment claim against Defendants Pickett or Bowen. Defendants also assert Plaintiff fails to state a failure to intervene claim against them. Lastly, Defendants claim they are entitled to qualified immunity.
SUMMARY JUDGMENT STANDARD
Summary judgment "shall" be granted if "the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and that the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." FED. R. CIV. P. 56(a). "A dispute about a material fact is genuine and summary judgment is inappropriate if the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party. However, there must exist a conflict in substantial evidence to pose a jury question." Hall v. Sunjoy Indus. Grp., Inc., 764 F.Supp.2d 1297, 1301 (M.D. Fla. 2011) (citing Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242 (1986), and ( Verbraeken v. Westinghouse Elec. Corp., 881 F.2d 1041, 1045 (11th Cir. 1989)).
The moving parties bear the burden of establishing that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and that they are entitled to judgment as a matter of law. See Williamson Oil Co., Inc. v. Philip Morris USA, 346 F.3d 1287, 1298 (11th Cir. 2003). Specifically, the moving parties must identify the portions of the record which establish that there are no "genuine dispute[s] as to any material fact and the movant[s are] entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Moton v. Cowart, 631 F.3d 1337, 1341 (11th Cir. 2011). When the nonmoving party would have the burden of proof at trial, the moving parties may discharge their burden by showing that the record lacks evidence to support the nonmoving party's case or that the nonmoving party would be unable to prove his case at trial. See id. (citing Celotex v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322-23 (1986)). In determining whether a summary judgment motion should be granted, a court must view the record and all reasonable inferences that can be drawn from the record in a light most favorable to the nonmoving party. Peek-A-Boo Lounge of Bradenton, Inc. v. Manatee Cnty., Fla., 630 F.3d 1346, 1353 (11th Cir. 2011).
The instant Motion requires the Court to apply the above-explained summary judgement standard to each claim within Plaintiff's Second Amended Complaint. Accordingly, the Court proceeds to address whether summary judgment ...