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Green v. Hooks

United States District Court, S.D. Georgia, Statesboro Division

March 21, 2017

BRAD HOOKS, et al., Defendants.



         Presently before the Court is Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment. (Doc. 131.) Plaintiff, a former Georgia Department of Corrections ("GDC") inmate, alleges that Defendants violated the Eighth Amendment of the United States Constitution and brings suit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Defendants argue that they did not violate the Constitution and that they are immune from suit based upon the principle of qualified immunity. This Court agrees with Defendants.

         I. Background

         The Court notes, at the onset, that Plaintiff has made exceedingly difficult this Court's task of determining what material facts are in genuine dispute. As Defendants noted in their reply brief, Plaintiff's response to Defendants' Statement of Material Facts and Plaintiff's response to Defendants' motion for summary judgement repeatedly mystifies the facts, confuses the timeline of events, and makes multiple unsupported assertions.[1] These actions placed an excessive burden on the Court to continually parse through the record to determine fact from fiction, when in reality no genuine dispute of fact actually existed. S5ee Reese v. Herbert, 527 F.3d 1253, 1268 (11th Cir. 2008) (citing with approval the Seventh Circuit's admonition that "judges are not like pigs, hunting for truffles buried in briefs"); Smith v. Lamz, 321 F.3d 680, 683 (7th Cir. 2003) ("A district court is not required to 'wade through improper denials and legal argument in search of a genuinely disputed fact.'").

         A. Plaintiff 's Incarceration

         Plaintiff's story begins on May 10, 2012, in the Georgia Diagnostic and Correction Prison ("GDCP"). The GDCP houses and classifies new inmates so that they can be appropriately placed inside the Georgia Prison System. (Doc. 131-1 ¶¶ 15-26.) As part of the classification program, prison officials evaluate the inmate's criminal history, individual characteristics, and mental and physical health needs. (Id.) Prison officials make an initial security classification to determine appropriate housing, levels of supervision, and work-detail assignment. (Id.) They also screen inmates in accordance with the Prison Rape Elimination Act ("PREA") to determine if they are at risk of being either a sexual victim or a sexual aggressor. (Id.) The PREA screening considers many factors, including the inmate's actual and perceived sexual orientation and gender identity, disabilities, age, physical build, incarceration history, criminal history, prior experiences of sexual victimization, and the inmate's own perception of vulnerability. (Id.) Prison officials gave Plaintiff a minimum security classification fit for general population and designated her[2] as neither a PREA victim nor a PREA aggressor. (Id. at ¶¶ 124-128.)

         While at GDCP, Plaintiff also underwent orientation about prison life and the PREA. She acknowledged this orientation in writing, and she also acknowledged that she had the responsibility to request protective custody if she felt her safety threatened in the future. (Doc. 131-1 ¶¶ 121-123.) On July 19, 2012, prison officials transferred Plaintiff to Rodgers State Prison. (Id. at ¶ 130.)

         B. The Prison

         Rodgers State Prison is a medium-security facility that houses adult male felons for the Georgia Department of Corrections. (Doc. 131-1 ¶ 46.) Located in Reidsville, Georgia, it consists of 6 buildings: Buildings A, B, C, F, G, and H. (Id. ¶ 4 8.) Each building is composed of four dormitories numbered 1-4. Inside each dormitory are either rooms or cells. And inside each room or cell are beds, which are numbered and assigned to individual inmates. Prison officials placed Plaintiff in Building A, Dormitory 1, Room 3, Bed 5. (Doc. 163, Exhibit 30.)

         Al Dormitory was a general-population dormitory. Inmates in general population were usually well-behaved and were all cleared to live with each inmate in their dormitory. (Doc. 131-1 ¶¶ 56, 57, 71.) Al Dormitory housed inmates in an open format that allowed them to roam freely from room to room. (Id. at ¶ 55.) It had two halls with two bedrooms per hall, a television room, and a day room. (Id. at ¶¶ 58-64.) Each bedroom had eight bunkbeds and housed sixteen inmates. (Id. at ¶ 60.)

         The security in Al Dormitory reflected its general population status. Officers were not continuously present in the dormitory, but they daily conducted multiple "official counts." (Doc. 131-1 ¶ 66.) The parties dispute the frequency with which those occurred, (see id.; doc. 131-11 at 134-136), but the number appears to be at least twice per day, and potentially up to five times per day, with at least one count occurring at night (doc. 131-11 at 134-136). Officers would also regularly enter the dormitory to deliver mail, and they conducted "census counts" several times per day, "including at each shift change." (Doc. 131-1 ¶ 67; Doc. 163 ¶ 67; Doc. 131-11 at 134-136.) Additionally, an officer located in the control room of building A monitored the hallways and common rooms of the Al Dormitory 24 hours a day. (Doc. 131-1 ¶¶83-85; Doc. 141 at 41-44.)

         A3 and A4 Dormitories, on the other hand, were used for Administrative Segregation. (Doc. 131-1 ¶¶ 80-81.) Prisoners placed in Administrative Segregation, unlike those placed in general population, usually have reason to be isolated from other prisoners. Thus, A3 Dormitory contained twenty-three double-occupancy cells and one single-occupancy cell, and A4 Dormitory contained twenty-four single-occupancy cells. (Doc. 131-4 ¶ 23.)

         The security in A3 and A4 was also commensurate to its population. Prison policy required A3 and A4 security officers to perform 30-minute security and safety checks. (Doc. 131-1 ¶ 87.) Officers would document these safety checks by marking on a "door sheet" or “30-minute Check Sheet." (Doc. 143 at 18-20.) Additionally, Officers would notate information about individual inmates, such as whether an inmate ate his meals, took a shower, or went to the yard for exercise. (Id.)

         C. Plaintiff's Arrival

         When Plaintiff arrived at Rodgers on July 19, the prison did not have enough beds to accommodate her in a general-population dormitory. (Doc. 131-1 ¶ 133.) Thus, prison officials put Plaintiff in Administrative Segregation and placed her in A4 Dormitory until they could find a permanent spot for her in the prison. Four days later, Prison officials moved Plaintiff to her permanent spot in the general-population Al Dormitory. (Doc. 163, Exhibit 30.)

         Plaintiff s troubles began almost immediately upon stepping foot into the Al Dormitory. Prior to arriving at Rodgers, Plaintiff supposedly had breast enhancement surgery, and she maintained a feminine appearance upon entering Rodgers. (Doc. 163-3; Doc. 162 at 19.) Because of Plaintiff's feminine appearance, Plaintiff's arrival did not go unnoticed. (Id.)

         On Plaintiff s first day in the dormitory, inmate Darryl Ricard, a retired member of the Vice-Lord gang who was serving a life sentence without parole for the malicious rape of an eleven-year-old child in retaliation for her father's unpaid debts, approached Plaintiff to offer protection. (Doc. 131-1 ¶ 166.) Ricard claimed he was a lifer and only looking a friend. (Doc. 132-1 at 8.) Plaintiff assented. (Id.) But while Plaintiff and Ricard both agree that this initial encounter was not threatening or coercive, Plaintiff alleges that the relationship quickly turned sour. (Id. at 7-9.)

         Plaintiff alleges that within two weeks Ricard demanded Plaintiff perform sexual acts upon him or else risk serious bodily harm. (Doc. 131-1 ¶ 171.) Plaintiff also alleges that Ricard threatened to have Plaintiff harmed if Plaintiff transferred to another building. (Doc. 132-1 at 11-12.) Thus, despite an initial resistance, Plaintiff states she relented to Ricard's demands and performed sexual favors for him for fear of her life.

         Ricard, naturally, denies Plaintiff's allegations. Ricard alleges that he was Plaintiff's prison "husband" and that any sexual acts between the two were consensual. (Doc. 163-3 at 10:00-12:00.) Nonetheless, regardless of their differing views about whether such acts were consensual, Plaintiff and Ricard agree that during the next several weeks Plaintiff performed sexual acts upon Ricard multiple times. (Id.; Doc. 132-1 at 18.)

         D. The Meeting

         On or around August 24, 2012, Plaintiff penned a letter to her mother stating that her "life was in great danger" and asking her mother for help. (Doc. 131-28 (emphasis in original).) Plaintiff's mother responded as any good mother would: She called Warden Bradley Hooks and informed him of the situation. (Doc. 131-1 ¶ 210.) On the same day, Warden Hooks summoned Plaintiff to his office to discuss the situation with him and Deputy Warden of Security John Brown. (Doc. 131-1 ¶ 214.)

         In the confines of his office, Warden Hooks inquired into Plaintiff's personal well-being. The parties, however, cannot agree on exactly what questions the Warden asked. Defendants assert that Warden Hooks asked Plaintiff whether she was in any danger or wanted to go into protective custody. (Doc. 131-1 ¶¶ 219-222.) But Plaintiff denies that Warden Hooks ever "specifically asked Plaintiff if she was in danger" or that he ever "ask[ed] Green directly if she wanted to be placed in protective custody." (Doc. 163 ¶¶ 219-222.) Nevertheless, the parties agree that, whatever questions were asked, Warden Hooks elicited from Plaintiff statements that she was not afraid and that she did not have any problems. (Doc. 131-1 ¶¶ 223-224.) The parties also agree that Plaintiff never disclosed to Warden Hooks or Deputy Warden Brown that Ricard, or anyone, was sexually assaulting her in Al Dormitory, that she never asked to be moved to a different dormitory or camp, and that she never admitted to being so much as uncomfortable in Al Dormitory. (Doc. 144 at 85-88.)

         During their meeting, Warden Hooks also went beyond merely talking to Plaintiff. In response to questions he had about the veracity of Plaintiff's assurances in light of her mother's grave complaints, he telephoned Plaintiff's mother. (Doc. 144 at 84.) He spoke with Plaintiff's mother himself, and he also gave Plaintiff the opportunity to speak with her mother. (Id. at 84-85.) But Plaintiff continued to assure Warden Hooks she had no problems. (Id.) Unable to substantiate any of the claims made by Plaintiff's mother, Warden Hooks arranged for Plaintiff to return to Al Dormitory in a manner that would not raise suspicion among the other inmates. (Id. at 85.)

         Several weeks later, on September 17, 2012, Plaintiff, allegedly, made another cry for help. Plaintiff claims she wrote a letter alleging that Ricard was forcing her to perform sexual acts in Al Dormitory. (Doc. 131-1 ¶ 225.) Plaintiff claims that she addressed the letter to the Deputy Warden of Security and placed it in the prison mailbox. (Id. ¶ 226.) Defendants claim no Defendant ever received or read this letter. (Id. ¶¶ 257-259.) Plaintiff claims Defendants are lying, but she can offer no proof for this assertion beyond her own testimony. (Doc. 163 ¶¶ 257-259.)

         E. "Put on the Door"

         On the night of Thursday, September 21, 2012, inmates in Al Dormitory, allegedly tired of having too many open homosexuals in the dormitory, forced Plaintiff and two other inmates to exit the dormitory. (Doc. 131-1 ¶¶ 261-263.) In prison parlance, Plaintiff and the other ousted inmates were "put on the door." (Id.) Plaintiff packed her belongings, exited the dormitory, and waited for a security officer so that she could request protective custody. She viewed her departure from Al Dormitory as a blessing, because it finally granted her freedom from Ricard without any fault of her own. (Doc. 132-1, p. 24.)

         Unfortunately, Plaintiff's relief was short lived. When Ricard learned that Plaintiff had been put on the door, he informed Plaintiff that he would join her. (Doc. 131-1 ¶ 266.) Whether Ricard joined because he feared retaliation for protecting homosexual inmates, as he claimed, or because he desired to follow Plaintiff to her next location for more nefarious purposes, is not clear. What is clear, however, is that Ricard requested protective custody in response to the ouster of inmates Green, Reid, and Kiya, and that prison officials placed him in Administrative Segregation because of his request. (Id. ¶ 267.) Also clear, despite Plaintiff's averments to the contrary, is that Ricard left Al Dormitory at the same time as the other three inmates. (Doc. 132-1 at 23-24; Doc. 131-1 ¶ 277.)

         Once outside the dormitory, all four inmates were met by Lieutenant Terrie Grubbs, and they requested protective custody. (Doc. 131-1 ¶ 272; Doc. 132-1 at 24.) Another officer then escorted Plaintiff to the shower room of A4 Dormitory, while a third officer placed Ricard in A3 Dormitory. (Doc. 131-1 ¶¶ 292A-294.)

         For the next five hours, from 11:00 p.m. on September 20, 2012, to 4:00 a.m. on September 21, 2012, Plaintiff remained in the shower room of A4 Dormitory. (Doc. 131-1 ¶ 298.) During that time, she wrote a statement detailing her request for protective custody, and she made small talk with officers. (Id. at ¶ 296-299.) At no point in either her written statement or casual conversation with officers did she mention that Ricard had sexually assaulted her in Al Dormitory. (Id. ¶ 300.) Then, around 4:00 a.m. an unknown officer, but not Lt. Grubbs, escorted Plaintiff to Cell 22 of A3 Dormitory - the cell of inmate Darryl Ricard. (Id. ¶¶ 302-303.)

         F. The Assault

         Once in Cell 22, Plaintiff's situation allegedly went from bad to worse. After a short reprieve in which Ricard allowed Plaintiff to get some sleep, Plaintiff alleges that Ricard demanded Plaintiff perform sexual acts on him. (Doc. 131-1 ¶¶ 319-320; 347-351.) Plaintiff alleges that Ricard threatened her with a razor blade and then proceeded to orally and anally rape her. (Id. ¶¶ 350-351.) After the assault, Plaintiff returned to her bed and wrote a letter claiming that she had just been raped. (Id. ¶ 354.) When Ricard was not looking, Plaintiff slipped the note under the cell door. (Id. ¶ 355.) Approximately two minutes later, guards opened the door of Cell 22 to see Ricard threatening Plaintiff with a razor blade. (Id. ¶ 363.) The responding sergeant convinced Ricard to drop the blade, guards removed Ricard from the cell, and the Sexual Assault Response Team arrived to investigate the situation. (Id. ¶¶ 364-367.)

         After the alleged assault, Plaintiff and Ricard submitted to an interview with the GDC s Internal Investigation Unit. In her interview, Plaintiff informed investigators that Ricard had been sexually assaulting her for weeks and that none of their sexual contact had been consensual. (Doc. 132-1 at 9-14.) Ricard, for his part, asserted that the sexual contact was consensual and that Plaintiff admitted to him she was setting him up in order to fabricate a lawsuit against the prison. (Doc. 163-3.) State prosecutors subsequently twice attempted to indict Ricard. (Doc. 171 at 15.) The ...

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