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Kelly v. Jones

United States District Court, M.D. Georgia, Macon Division

June 21, 2017

Officer JONES, et al., Defendants



         Presently pending before the Court is Defendants' motion for summary judgment (ECF No. 50). The Court recommends that Defendants' motion be granted. Additionally pending is Plaintiff's “Dispositive Motion for Judgment in His Favor” (ECF No. 49). The Court recommends that Plaintiff's motion be denied. Also pending are Plaintiff's motions to compel (ECF Nos. 45, 57). Those motions are denied.


         Plaintiff filed claims for relief pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against multiple prison officials at Hancock State Prison (“HSP”) in Sparta, Georgia, arising from an alleged slamming of Plaintiff's hand in the tray slot on the door of Plaintiff's cell. See generally Compl., ECF No. 1. Plaintiff's claims for excessive force against Defendant Jones and for deliberate indifference against Defendant Pleas remain.

         Plaintiff generally alleges that while incarcerated at HSP on May 26, 2014 at approximately 5:35 pm, Plaintiff was in his cell awaiting delivery of his evening food tray from prison officials through the tray slot on his cell door. Compl. 2. Plaintiff contends that he did not receive his vegan food tray, and requested that Defendant Jones bring him his tray. While making this request, Plaintiff's right hand was positioned in the tray flap. Id. Plaintiff avers that Defendant Jones “then became very hostile and started slamming the tray flap close[d] on [Plaintiff's] hand.” Id. Plaintiff alleges that Defendant Jones slammed the try flap on Plaintiff's fingers four times, locked the tray flap closed with Plaintiff's pinky finger still trapped in the flap, and walked away. Id.

         Plaintiff contends that Plaintiff spoke to other officers about the incident who then called Defendant Pleas to Plaintiff's cell. Id. at 3. Plaintiff avers that he showed his injured pinky to Defendant Pleas, informing Defendant Pleas that he was experiencing “a lot of pain and [Plaintiff] needed to see medical right away.” Id. Plaintiff alleges that Defendant Pleas then “became deliberately indifferent” and refused to send Plaintiff for a medical evaluation. Id. Plaintiff contends that he was taken to medical the next day, May 27, 2014, and was eventually diagnosed with a fractured right pinky. Id.


         I. Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment

         A. Summary Judgment Standard

         Summary judgment may be granted only “if the movant shows that 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). In determining whether a genuine dispute of material fact exists to defeat a motion for summary judgment, the evidence is viewed in the light most favorable to the party opposing summary judgment, drawing all justifiable inferences in the opposing party's favor. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 255 (1986). A fact is material if it is relevant or necessary to the outcome of the suit. Id. at 248. A factual dispute is genuine if the evidence would allow a reasonable jury to return a verdict for the nonmoving party. Id.

         B. Undisputed Material Facts

         Defendant Jones was employed as an HSP officer from August 2013 to June 2014 and was on duty on May 26, 2014. Jones Aff. ¶ 5, ECF No. 50-5. Plaintiff was incarcerated at HSP in cell 217 of building G1 as a Tier II inmate posing “a threat to the safe and secure operation of the facility.” Jones Aff. ¶¶ 4-5; Kelly Dep. 27:23-25, ECF No. 50-6. The door to Plaintiff's cell has a rectangular, heavy, steel flap through which inmates are delivered their meal trays. Id. at ¶ 6; Kelly Dep. 36:03-15. The flap may only be opened by officers from the outside, and the flap must remain closed unless an officer has opened the flap to pass an inmate a tray or to handcuff an inmate. Jones Aff. ¶ 6.

         When Defendant Jones passed Plaintiff's cell on the afternoon of May 26, 2014, Plaintiff was propping the flap on his cell door open with his hand. Jones Aff. ¶ 8; Kelly Dep. 29:03-13, 31:06-19. Inmates are forbidden from “bucking the flap” by propping open a flap and placing hands through the flap without permission. Jones Aff. ¶ 8; Kelly Dep. 32:01-05, 41:16-42:02. Plaintiff was propping open the flap in an attempt to get an officer's attention to request service of his vegan meal tray. Jones Aff. ¶ 9; Kelly Dep. 31:06-25, 33:01-08. Defendant Jones ordered Plaintiff to remove his hand and cease propping open the flap. Jones Aff. ¶ 9; Kelly Dep. 27:13-20, 32:13-23. Plaintiff's hand was struck by the flap. Kelly Dep. 30:16-31:05, 34:16-35:02, 36:19-37:04, 38:13-39:01. Defendant Jones locked Plaintiff's flap so that Plaintiff could not open the flap from inside the cell. Jones Aff. ¶ 11; Kelly Dep. 31:03-05, 34:25-35:02. Defendant Jones then walked away from Plaintiff's cell. Jones Aff. ¶ 13; Kelly Dep. 31:03-05, 38:16, 42:21-43:02. Defendant Pleas was also an officer on duty at HSP on the afternoon of May 26, 2014. Pleas Aff. ¶ 6 & Ex. A, ECF No. 50-4.

         C.Excessive Force Claim Against ...

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