United States District Court, S.D. Georgia, Dublin Division
MAGISTRATE JUDGE'S REPORT AND
K. EFPS, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
an inmate at Telfair State Prison (“TSP”) in
Helena, Georgia, is proceeding pro se and in
forma pauperis in this case brought pursuant to 42
U.S.C. § 1983. For the reasons set forth below, the
Court REPORTS and
RECOMMENDS Defendant Castro's motion for
summary judgment be GRANTED, (doc. no. 71),
a final judgment be entered in favor of Defendant, and this
civil action be CLOSED.
February 8, 2017, the Court screened Plaintiff's
complaint and directed service of process on Defendants
Phillip Hall, Jacob Beasley, and Jorge Castro based on
Plaintiff's allegations of deliberate indifference to his
safety. (See doc. no. 7.) On April 10, 2017, those
three Defendants filed a pre-answer motion to dismiss. (Doc.
no. 18.) Plaintiff opposed the motion to dismiss and
requested to amend his complaint, which the Court granted.
(Doc. nos. 21, 22, 26.)
filed his amended complaint, (doc. no. 30), which supersedes
and replaces in its entirety the original pleading. See
Hoefling v. City of Miami, 811 F.3d 1271, 1277 (11th
Cir. 2016). Although Plaintiff originally named three
Defendants, he voluntarily dismissed his claims against
Warden Hall and CERT Sergeant Beasley. (See doc. no.
30, pp. 10-11.) The Court screened the amended complaint,
dismissed Defendants Hall and Beasley, along with any
official capacity claims for monetary damages against
Defendant Castro, and allowed Plaintiff to proceed with his
Eighth Amendment claim against Defendant Castro. (Doc. nos.
31, 32, 37.) Defendant Castro then withdrew his motion to
dismiss the original complaint and moved to dismiss the
amended complaint, which the Court denied. (Doc. nos. 38, 39,
46, 48.) In ruling on the second motion to dismiss, the Court
explained any claims related to alleged activities prior to
the attack were raised against the two Defendants whom
Plaintiff voluntarily dismissed. (Doc. no. 46, pp. 4-5.)
Thus, as specifically delineated by United States District
Judge Dudley H. Bowen, Jr., the case was allowed to
“proceed against Defendant [Castro] only as to the
individual capacity claim for money damages based on the
actions taken after Inmate Norwood attacked Plaintiff.”
(Doc. no. 48.)
then timely filed his answer, and the Clerk of Court issued a
Scheduling Notice setting deadlines for the case. (Doc. nos.
49, 50.) After several extensions of case deadlines,
Defendant timely filed a motion for summary judgment. (Doc.
no 71.) At that time, the Clerk issued a notice concerning
the summary judgment motion and the summary judgment rules,
the right to file affidavits or other materials in
opposition, and the consequences of failing to comply with
the requirements for responding. (See doc. no. 72.)
Therefore, the notice requirements of Griffith v.
Wainwright, 772 F.2d 822, 825 (11th Cir. 1985) (per
curiam), are satisfied.
of the extensive filings following Defendant's motion for
summary judgment, Plaintiff submitted a document titled,
“The Plaintiff Oppose the Defendant Motion for Summary
Judgment Because Violation of the Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 11. Alleging New Defense in Bad Faith.” (Doc.
no. 75.) Therein, Plaintiff complains defense counsel's
theory of the case set forth in the summary judgment motion
does not match the explanation he received from prison
officials who ruled on his grievance when the event at issue
occurred over two years ago. (Id.) Consistent with
the title, the Clerk of Court docketed the filing as a
Response in Opposition to the summary judgment motion.
However, Defendant interpreted the filing as motion for Rule
11 sanctions and filed his opposition to the perceived
request. (Doc. no. 81.)
the filing can in no way be interpreted as a viable motion
for Rule 11 sanctions. First, under Rule 11, a motion for
sanctions must be made separately from any other motion, and
must not be filed or presented to the Court if the challenged
filing is withdrawn or appropriately corrected within
twenty-one of service on the opposing party. Fed.R.Civ.P.
11(c)(2). Plaintiff did not follow the proper procedural
requirements for filing a Rule 11 motion when he made his
filing with the Court without first serving it on Defendant
and waiting twenty-one days.
and more importantly, Plaintiff has not shown anything in
Defendant's summary judgment motion was filed in bad
faith, or otherwise presented for an improper purpose as
contemplated by Rule 11(b). Rather, for purposes of summary
judgment only, Defendant has adopted - but still disputes
(doc. no. 71-4, p. 3 & n.1) - Plaintiff's version of
events to argue he is entitled to summary judgment even
if the Court were to accept Plaintiff's version of
the facts. To the extent Plaintiff argues defense counsel has
taken a different approach to the case than that of
Department of Corrections officials investigating the
grievance, there is no evidence as to the standard by which
such internal investigations are judged, let alone that the
standard is the same as applies in a § 1983 case brought
in federal court. There is simply no basis for concluding the
defense of a claim in federal court must mirror
administrative proceedings regarding a prison grievance.
there was no properly filed motion for Rule 11 sanctions
filed. To the extent the document titled, “The
Plaintiff Oppose the Defendant Motion for Summary Judgment
Because Violation of the Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 11.
Alleging New Defense in Bad Faith, ” (doc. no. 75),
might be liberally construed as a request for Rule 11
sanctions, the Court REPORTS and
RECOMMENDS it be DENIED.
(Doc. no. 75.)
Court turns to the summary judgment motion.
general outline of relevant events occurring on May 6, 2016,
is undisputed. While Plaintiff was working as an ly in the
F-2 dormitory at TSP, an inmate on the second floor flooded
his cell, causing water to accumulate where Plaintiff was
working on the first floor. When Plaintiff opened a door
leading to the outdoor recreation area in order to squeegee
the water out of the building, Inmate Norwood, waiting
outside the door, unexpectedly attacked Plaintiff by stabbing
and cutting him with a weapon. Defendant Castro did not
physically interject himself between Inmate Norwood and
Plaintiff, and the altercation between the two inmates did
not end until another correctional officer from the F-1
dormitory joined Defendant at the scene.
Plaintiff's Version of Events
was assigned on May 6, 2016, as an orderly in the F-2,
administrative segregation dormitory where misbehaving
inmates are located, and his general duties included cleaning
up showers and floors. (Pl. Dep., doc. no. 71-2, pp. 44, 46.)
Inmates in F-2 could not get out of their cells and move
around at will, but they were given designated recreation
time in pens outside the dorm. (Id. at 45.) Two
officers were assigned to F-2: Floor Officer Newberry (Ofc.
Newberry) and Defendant, who was there to assist with the
showers and watch inmates. (Id. at 49-50.) Plaintiff
states in his “Declaration, or Affidavit of the
Plaintiff, ” that to the best of his knowledge,
Defendant was “a special trained officer, trained in
hand to hand combat and disarming inmates with a
weapon.” (Pl. Aff., doc. no. 79-8, p. 2.) There was
also an officer in the Control Room, Jones. (Pl. Dep., p.
50.) Ofc. Newberry and Defendant worked in tandem to escort
one inmate to the shower and the other back to his cell.
(Id. at 52.)
Plaintiff was performing his orderly duties, he saw Ofc.
Newberry and Defendant run the showers and take inmates to
the outside recreation yard. (Id. at 53-54.)
Eventually, Ofc. Newberry left Defendant to run the showers
by himself when Ofc. Newberry went to the central station for
lunch. (Id. at 53, 59.) Plaintiff was buffing the
floor when he saw water running down from the second floor to
the first while Defendant was by himself running the shower,
so Plaintiff went to ask Ofc. Newberry at the central station
to come back and open the back door so Plaintiff could push
the water out. (Id. at 59.) Ofc. Newberry
acknowledged Plaintiff's request, but stayed in the
central station. (Id. at 59, 62.) While standing by
the showers, at the opposite end of the dorm from the back
door, waiting for an inmate to finish, Defendant told
Plaintiff to go to the back door, and Defendant would tell
the control room officer to open it. (Id. at 63,
67-69, 71 & Dep. Ex. 7.) Plaintiff told Defendant he had
to open the door, but Defendant told Plaintiff to push the
door open. (Id. at 63, 67.) The door initially would
not open, so Defendant told Plaintiff to push again.
(Id. at 68.) When the door opened, Inmate Norwood
attacked Plaintiff with a knife. (Id. at 68, 71.)
was standing at the showers when Inmate Norwood attacked
Plaintiff in the doorway from the recreation yard to the
dorm. (Id. at 72.) Facing his attacker, Plaintiff
“was just fighting him off. He hitting and [Plaintiff
was] fighting the knife off on this side because he . . . .
everything is on this side because [Plaintiff] would not
turn. [Plaintiff] turned, fighting him off . . . .”
(Id. at 73.) Defendant ran toward Plaintiff with his
“taser and stuff, ” and Plaintiff said to
Defendant, “Help me, man.” (Id. at 74.)
However, when Defendant got within fifteen feet of the
altercation, he “dropped the radio and turned and ran
back and left [Plaintiff].” (Id. at 75.)
Defendant had a Taser and pepper spray with him. (Pl. Aff.,
“went back to trying to fight” and does not know
how much time passed before Defendant came back with another
officer. (Id. at 76.) Plaintiff does not know
exactly how much time passed during the attack but estimates
the time Defendant was gone at “a little while, ”
maybe five minutes, but not ten minutes, before he came back
with another officer. (Id. at 76, 77.) Plaintiff
does not know where Defendant went when he left, but in the
interim Plaintiff managed to break away from Inmate Norwood,
who was “holding [Plaintiff] while he was stabbing
[him].” (Id. at 78.) Plaintiff initially could
not get away because Inmate Norwood was holding Plaintiff by
the shirt collar and hitting him with the other hand.
(Id. at 78-79.)
Plaintiff broke free of Inmate Norwood's hold on his
shirt collar, he fell to one knee. (Id.) As
Plaintiff got back up, Defendant and another officer
returned, and Defendant put out his Taser and told Inmate
Norwood to drop his weapon, which he did. (Id. at
79-80.) As a result of the attack, Plaintiff sustained a
bruised knee and cuts to his head, behind his ear, over his
eye, and on his arm. (Id. at 90.) After receiving
stiches and staples for his cuts, Plaintiff's wounds
healed within approximately six to eight weeks. (Id.
Defendant's Version of Events
was employed as a correctional officer assigned to work as a
member of the TSP CERT Team on May 6, 2016. (Def. Decl. I,
doc. no. 71-3, ¶ 2.) That day, he carried a Taser and
O.C. spray with him on duty. (Id., ¶ 7; Def.
Decl. II, doc. no. 87-1, ¶ 7.) As a correctional
officer, Defendant received training prior to May 6th on how
to respond to inmate-on-inmate physical altercations, to
include use of force, use of a Taser, and use of O.C. spray.
(Def. Decl. I, ¶ 4; Def. Decl. II, ¶ 6.) Regardless
of whether the physical altercation began as a fight or
unprovoked attack by one inmate against another, Defendant
had been instructed to always have a backup officer present
before attempting physical intervention and to never attempt
to break up or interject himself between fighting inmates
without the presence of a backup officer. (Def. Decl. I,
¶ 4; Def. Decl. II, ¶ 5.) No inmates, including
Plaintiff, were present during his training. (Def. Dec. II,
¶ 6.) Inmates have not been permitted, since at least
August 2014, to be present or observe officer training on
security protocols, including use of force, use of a Taser,
use of O.C. spray, or responding to inmate-on-inmate physical
altercations, because of the serious risk such observation
would pose for prison security, as well as for the safety of
inmates and staff. (Williams Decl., doc. no. 87-2,
his training, Defendant learned several reasons for the
policy not to attempt to break up a physical altercation
between inmates without a backup officer present: (1) the
altercation might be a ploy to lure an officer into the fray;
(2) the inmates might quit fighting each other and turn the
altercation into a two-on-one attack on a lone officer; and
(3) the inmates might overpower or incapacitate on an
officer, disarm the officer, or take the officer's keys,
resulting in exposing the officer to further attack, an