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Jackson v. Catanzariti

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

October 2, 2019

MIGUEL JACKSON; and KELVIN STEVENSON, Plaintiffs,
v.
JOSEPH CATANZARITI, et al., Defendants.

          ORDER

          R. STAN BAKER, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Before the Court is Defendants Andrew McFarlane, Nathaniel Milton, Melvin Wells, Jarrod Bennett, Gordon Pittman, and Gary Mitchell's Motion for Summary Judgment. (Doc. 240.) This case arises out of a December 31, 2010 disturbance at Smith State Prison in Glennville, Georgia, where Plaintiffs allege that Defendants, corrections officers, either subjected them to excessive force or failed to intervene on their behalf, or both, in violation of their constitutional rights. (Doc. 24.) Against Defendants McFarlane, Milton, Wells, Bennett, Pittman, and Mitchell, Plaintiffs bring Eighth Amendment excessive force and failure to intervene claims pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. (Id.) Plaintiffs allege these Defendants participated or failed to intervene in the unlawful use of force against them in their prison dorm, during their escort outside the dorm to the infirmary, and while they were in the infirmary. (Id.)

         In their Motion for Summary Judgment Brief, Defendants McFarlane, Milton, Wells, Bennett, Pittman, and Mitchell argue that the undisputed evidence shows they neither used excessive force against Plaintiffs nor were they in a position to intervene in other officers' use of force during the events in question. (Doc. 240-2.) They also contend that qualified immunity bars Plaintiffs' claims against them, and Defendant McFarlane asserts that the Prison Litigation Reform Act (“PLRA”), 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(e), applies to limit the extent to which Plaintiff Jackson may recover monetary damages against him. (Id.) Plaintiffs filed a Response in Opposition, arguing that genuine disputes of material fact preclude summary judgment, (doc. 283), to which Defendants filed a Reply, (doc. 290).

         For the reasons set forth below, the Court GRANTS in part and DENIES in part Defendants McFarlane, Milton, Wells, Bennett, Pittman, and Mitchell's Motion for Summary Judgment. (Doc. 240; see also doc. 240-2.) Specifically, the Court:

GRANTS Defendant McFarlane summary judgment as to all failure to intervene and excessive force claims alleged against him by Plaintiffs as well as to Plaintiffs' supervisory liability claim. As such, the Court DISMISSES with prejudice all claims brought against Defendant McFarlane in this action and DIRECTS the Clerk of Court to TERMINATE him as a Defendant upon the docket and record of this case.
GRANTS Defendant Wells summary judgment as to all failure to intervene and excessive force claims alleged against him. As such, the Court DISMISSES with prejudice all claims brought against Defendant Wells in this action and DIRECTS the Clerk of Court to TERMINATE him as a Defendant upon the docket and record of this case.
GRANTS Defendant Milton summary judgment as to all failure to intervene and excessive force claims alleged against him by Plaintiffs. As such, the Court DISMISSES with prejudice all claims brought against Defendant Milton in this action and DIRECTS the Clerk of Court to TERMINATE him as a Defendant upon the docket and record of this case.
GRANTS Defendant Mitchell summary judgment as to all failure to intervene and excessive force claims alleged against him by Plaintiffs. As such, the Court DISMISSES with prejudice all claims brought against Defendant Milton in this action and DIRECTS the Clerk of Court to TERMINATE him as a Defendant upon the docket and record of this case.
DENIES Defendant Pittman summary judgment as to both Plaintiffs' escort failure to intervene and excessive force claims alleged against him, but GRANTS Pittman summary judgment as to both Plaintiffs' in-dorm failure to intervene and excessive force claims and their claims regarding failure to intervene and excessive force in the prison's infirmary. As such, the Court DISMISSES with prejudice these claims; however, Plaintiffs' failure to intervene and excessive force claims against Defendant Pittman that arise from their escort outside of D-2 to the infirmary shall remain pending before the Court.
DENIES Defendant Bennett summary judgment as to Plaintiff Stevenson's in-dorm failure to intervene claim, but GRANTS Bennett summary judgment as to Plaintiff Stevenson's in-dorm excessive force claim, Plaintiff Jackson's in-dorm excessive force and failure to intervene claims, and both Plaintiffs' claims regarding excessive force and failure to intervene during their escort outside of D-2 and during their time in the prison's infirmary. As such, the Court DISMISSES with prejudice these claims; however Plaintiff Stevenson's in-dorm failure to intervene claim against Defendant Bennett shall remain pending before the Court.

         Accordingly, some of Plaintiffs' Eighth Amendment failure to intervene and excessive force claims against Defendants Pittman and Bennett remain pending for the reasons explained more fully below.

         In light of this disposition, the Court ORDERS the remaining parties to file one updated joint status report within twenty-one (21) days of the date of this Order.[1] The parties shall address the status of this case and whether the parties are prepared to proceed to trial. The parties' report must also address the status of those Defendants who were not subject to this Order or the companion Order filed contemporaneously herewith, (doc. 312). As previously indicated, (docs. 174, 231), the parties have discussed voluntarily dismissing, pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 41(a), the following yet to be dismissed Defendants: Carolyn Carrol, Kim Hardee, Jeffery Mullis, and Joseph White. However, in their Stipulation of Dismissal, (doc. 232), the parties declined to dismiss these Defendants and they remain in this case. The parties must update the Court on the status of these defendants and their relevancy to this case. Furthermore, Plaintiffs have failed to file the requisite proof of service as to Defendants Brandon Cearnel, Christopher Henderson, Candice Hill, John Jones, Justin Swope, and Gene Tootle. Pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 4(m), the Court ORDERS Plaintiffs to show cause, within twenty-one (21) days of the date of this Order, as to why these Defendants should not be dismissed from this action for lack of timely service. In so doing, Plaintiffs must explain these Defendants' continued relevancy to this case and what actionable claims, if any, remain against them. Alternatively, Plaintiffs may move to dismiss these Defendants rather than showing cause regarding their failure to properly comply with Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 4(m).

         BACKGROUND

         I. Procedural History

         Plaintiffs, formerly inmates at Smith State Prison (“Smith State”) in Glennville, Georgia, brought this 42 U.S.C. § 1983 action on December 10, 2012, alleging that Defendants violated their constitutional right to be free from excessive force while they were incarcerated at Smith State. (Doc. 1.) Plaintiffs filed their First Amended Complaint on January 25, 2013, specifically claiming that, during a prison disturbance occurring the night of December 31, 2010, Defendants used excessive force against them, failed to intervene in other officers' use of excessive force against them, or both. (Doc. 24, pp. 5-17.) Plaintiffs set forth these claims under two general counts: Count One against all Defendants for violations of the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments, and Count Two against Defendant McFarlane, and two other Defendants, for Supervisory Liability. (Id. at pp. 17-21.) After Plaintiffs filed their First Amended Complaint, the Court stayed the proceedings in this case while criminal proceedings against Plaintiffs, stemming from the December 31, 2010 incident at Smith State, ran their course. (Doc. 81.)

         Over three years later, following the end of criminal proceedings against Plaintiffs, the Court lifted the previously imposed stay. (Doc. 118.) A lengthy, disputed, and heavily litigated discovery period ensued. (See, e.g., Docs. 168, 175, 177, 196, 202, 221, 222, 224-26, 228.) After multiple extensions and the resolution of several disputes, discovery in this case finally closed on December 15, 2017, with motions for summary judgment due on February 5, 2018. (Docs. 221, 228.) Pursuant to this deadline, Defendants McFarlane, Milton, Wells, Bennett, Pittman, and Mitchell (“Defendants”) jointly filed the present Motion for Summary Judgment.[2] (Docs. 240, 240-2.)

         II. Factual Background

         The Court begins this Background section by setting forth the general, undisputed facts of the case relevant to the disposition of Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment. Subsequently, the Court delves into the facts, both undisputed and disputed, particular to each Defendant.

         At the time of the subject events, Plaintiffs were inmates in the custody of the Georgia Department of Corrections (“GDC”) and assigned to the D-2 dorm at Smith State.[3] (Doc. 282-1, p. 1.) On the night of December 31, 2010, corrections officers in charge of D-2 instituted a lockdown to search for contraband and released the inmates to dinner. (Doc. 278-1, p. 1.) While searching cell D-234, located on the second story of the dorm and assigned to Plaintiff Jackson, Defendant Joseph Catanzariti uncovered a substance resembling marijuana hidden in a pillow. (Doc. 277-1, p. 2.) Defendant Catanzariti continued his search and located cellphones hidden behind a heater vent; he then requested that Defendant Bennett retrieve a screwdriver, hammer, and channel locks from so that he could open the vent and seize the contraband. (Id.)

         Defendant Catanzariti and the other officers had not yet finished conducting their contraband search when inmates returned to D-2 from dinner.[4] (Doc. 278-1, p. 2.) Inmates were moving freely about the dorm on the top and bottom ranges as Defendant Catanzariti searched cell D-234. (Doc. 277-1, p. 2.) Before the disturbance began, multiple inmates dressed in heavy clothing and boots congregated outside of D-234, which caused officers concern that an incident was imminent and prompted a call for assistance. (Id. at pp. 2-4; doc. 282-1, pp. 2-3.) Defendants Bennett and Ritchie were present with Defendant Catanzariti at that time, and over ten additional officers eventually arrived on the top range. (Doc. 277-1, p. 4.) In total, approximately ninety-six inmates who reside in D-2 were in various parts of the dorm at this time. (Doc. 282-1, p. 2.) At some point after inmates returned from dinner, Defendants McFarlane and Catanzariti ordered the inmates to “lockdown” by going into their cells and closing the door. (Doc. 291, pp. 7-8.) Some inmates, however, refused to lockdown. (Id.)

         After the lockdown was ordered and the additional officers had arrived on scene, (id.), Defendant Catanzariti finished searching D-234 and exited onto the walkway carrying tools and contraband seized from the cell, (doc. 277-1, pp. 3-4; doc. 278-1, p. 2). Plaintiffs went upstairs to ask Defendant Catanzariti about the lockdown. (Doc. 291, p. 8.) As Defendant Catanzariti walked on the second-story range outside of cell D-234, Plaintiff Jackson, who resided in the searched cell, confronted Catanzariti and told him to “give me that stuff.” (Doc. 282-1, p. 3.) The two exchanged words, and Plaintiff Jackson then, according to him, “playfully swiped” at Catanzariti, causing Catanzariti to turn away to protect the tools and contraband he held in his hands. (Id. at pp. 3-4; doc. 278-1, pp. 2-3.) Defendant Catanzariti then struck Plaintiff Jackson in response.[5](Doc. 277-1, pp. 6, 16.) Immediately following this altercation, the disturbance erupted with several inmates and officers fighting in a skirmish close by on the upper level range. (Doc. 277-1, pp. 4-6; see also doc. 278-1, p. 3; doc. 282-1, p. 4.)

         During the disturbance, both Plaintiffs were involved in separate physical altercations with officers on the upper range. (Doc. 282-1, p. 2.) Defendant Ritchie called for backup and more officers arrived on the scene. (See Doc. 291, pp. 12-14.) After Plaintiff Stevenson was handcuffed and restrained in a prone position on the ground by two officers, Defendant Catanzariti struck Stevenson multiple times toward his head area.[6] (Doc. 291, pp. 21-22; HHV at 11:02:47- 11:02:52PM.) Elsewhere in the dorm, inmates were in their cells or assumed prone positions on the ground as officers worked to regain control of the situation. (CAM 7 at 22:04:30-22:09:45.) In order to quell the disturbance, officers deployed pepper spray and were able to quickly subdue the inmates. (Doc. 278-1, p. 3; doc. 282-1, p. 25.) Starting from when the commotion began until the time at which corrections officers on the scene had largely quelled the situation, approximately two minutes passed. (See HHV at 11:00:00-11:03:45PM; CAM 9 at 22:07:20-22:09:30.)

         However, soon after officers regained control of the situation, Defendant Catanzariti became involved in another physical altercation with Plaintiff Jackson. (Doc. 282-1, pp. 26-28; HHV 11:04:00-11:07:43PM.) In this instance, Defendant Catanzariti made an arm movement toward Plaintiff Jackson's head with an object in his hand-while Jackson was handcuffed, held, and surrounded by other officers-that caused Jackson to collapse to the ground.[7] (Doc. 291, pp. 124-29; HHV at 11:07:25-11:07:40PM.) Officers then escorted a bloodied Plaintiff Jackson down the stairs from the upper range and out of the D-2 dormitory. (Doc. 282-1, pp. 29-32, 36; HHV at 11:07:40-11:08:03PM; CAM 8 at 22:14:10-22:14:32.) Less than one minute prior to this escort, Defendant Harrison and another officer escorted a bloodied Plaintiff Stevenson down the same stairs and out of D-2, toward the infirmary. (Doc. 268, pp. 7, 11-12, 25-27; HHV at 11:06:51-11:06:59PM; CAM8 at 22:13:18-22:13:40.)

         Once out of the dormitory, Plaintiffs were taken to the prison infirmary for treatment. (Doc. 278-1, p. 9.) Plaintiffs allege that, after being steered through D-2's sally port and brought outside, multiples officers repeatedly beat them during the rest of their escort to the infirmary and while they were held there.[8] (Id.; doc. 282-1, pp. 36-39.) Plaintiffs' medical conditions required that they be taken to the hospital that night for evaluation and treatment, but they did not stay overnight and later returned to Smith State's medical unit. (Doc. 291, pp. 22-23, 63-64; see doc. 233-2, pp. 84-94 (Plaintiffs' medical records).)

         Plaintiff Stevenson suffered extensive injuries to his head area, including a fractured right eye orbital socket (upper and lower), a broken jaw, damage to a vertebra in his neck, severe facial damage on the right side of his face, nerve damage in his shoulder and neck, lost teeth, headaches, and PTSD. (Id. at pp. 22, 60; see also doc. 259-2, pp. 52-54 (photographs of Plaintiff Stevenson's injuries); doc. 233-2, pp. 89-94 (Plaintiff Stevenson's medical records.)) Plaintiff Jackson's injuries were not as significant, but per his testimony, he suffered a broken nose, facial lacerations, a knocked-out tooth, knee complications, a ruptured ear drum, headaches, and PTSD. (Doc. 291, p. 145; see also doc. 282-2, pp. 10-11 (photographs of Plaintiff Jackson's knee injury); doc. 281, pp. 46-48 (photographs of Plaintiff Jackson's head injuries); doc. 233-2, pp. 84-88 (Plaintiff Jackson's medical records).) The medical evidence of record shows that both Plaintiffs' main injuries were to their head areas. (See Doc. 282-1, pp. 34, 41.)

         With this general overview in mind, the Court now turns to detailing what the evidence shows Defendants did, or did not do, in relation to the prison disturbance incident and Plaintiffs' ensuing excessive force and failure to intervene claims. The Court begins each section by outlining the specific claims Plaintiffs maintain against each Defendant at summary judgment, based on their stipulations to the evidence of record. To parallel Plaintiffs' alleged claims, the Court will recount what the evidence shows as to these Defendants' conduct in the D-2 dorm, during the escort to the prison's infirmary, and in the infirmary. As will be seen, the parties dispute much of the evidence in this regard.

         A. Defendant Andrew McFarlane

         Against Defendant McFarlane, Plaintiffs are pursuing claims for his alleged: (1) failure to intervene in Plaintiff Stevenson's dorm altercation with officers, (2) use of excessive force against Plaintiff Jackson in the dorm, and (3) failure to intervene and use of excessive force during both Plaintiffs' escort outside. (See Doc. 283-1, pp. 3-7, 10; see also doc. 283, pp. 1-2, 20-21.)

         (1) Events in the D-2 Dormitory

         Defendant McFarlane was a supervising lieutenant on the night in question. (Doc. 283-1, p. 10; doc. 290, p. 8.) Prior to the start of the disturbance, Defendant McFarlane arrived at D-2 to to assist in locking inmates down. (Doc. 240-9, p. 2.) An area of major dispute with regard to Defendant McFarlane concerns where he was at certain key points in time-specifically whether he was on the upper or lower level of D-2. Defendant McFarlane claims that he was helping with the lockdown process on the bottom range, and that he looked up and witnessed Plaintiff Jackson punch Catanzariti in the face on the upper range (marking the start of the disturbance). (Doc. 240-15, pp. 4-6.) He claims he then went to the top of the stairs where he was physically confronted by two unnamed inmates, prompting him to strike one of them with a closed fist. (Id. at pp. 5-6.) From this position, Defendant McFarlane claims he could not see Catanzariti or Plaintiffs, as the ensuing chaos obstructed his view. (Id.) After subduing the two inmates, McFarland avers that he descended the stairs where he was once again able to see, while looking up, Catanzariti on the upper range. (Id.)

         Other officers, however, place Defendant McFarlane on the top range when the incident began. According to Defendant Ritchie, who was assisting Catanzariti with the search of cell D- 234 when the disturbance began, Defendant McFarlane was “for certain” on the top range when the fighting broke out. (Doc. 260, p. 15.) Defendant Ritchie claims she saw McFarlane “up on the top range walking down towards” D-234 just before Catanzariti was confronted by Plaintiff Jackson. (Id. at pp. 14-15.) Additionally, Catanzariti testified that he saw Defendant McFarlane “c[o]me up” right after Plaintiff Jackson swiped at him (thereby commencing the disturbance).[9](Doc. 274, p. 15.) What is more, Plaintiff Stevenson testified Defendant McFarlane was one of the officers who was upstairs while Catanzariti and Ritchie searched for contraband before the disturbance began.[10] (Doc. 240-3, p. 10.)

         Several minutes prior to the disturbance, Defendant McFarlane identified himself on the bottom range, closing cell doors near the staircase.[11] (Doc. 240-15, p. 26; CAM 8 at 22:03:22- 22:30.) Surveillance camera video subsequently shows Defendant McFarlane on the upper range after the disturbance began but before Catanzariti is shown striking a prone Stevenson on the corresponding handheld video footage. As backup officers entered D-2, Defendant McFarlane was kneeling near an inmate on the upper range, just to the right of the staircase. (Doc. 240-15, p. 26; CAM 8 at 22:08:04-22:08:45.) He remained on the upper range, in the vicinity of this staircase, assisting with inmates until descending the stairs approximately forty-seconds later. (Doc. 240-15, p. 26; CAM 8 at 22:08:45-22:08:55.) Defendant McFarlane then began speaking with an inmate, who was lying on the ground to the left of the stairs. (Doc. 240-15, p. 26; CAM 8 at 22:08:55-22:09:25.)[12]

         At some point soon after the disturbance began, Defendant McFarlane was back on the bottom range where he observed Catanzariti “trying to get some restraints on the offender upstairs, ” which included Catanzariti striking the unspecified inmate “[m]aybe once or twice.” (Doc. 240-15, pp. 6-7.) Defendant McFarlane, however, testified that he did not see Catanzariti have any object in his hand and noted that he “looked away” to ensure other inmates were locked down. (Id. at p. 7.) Upon review of the handheld video, Defendant McFarlane agreed the strikes shown from 11:02:47PM to 11:02:52PM depict Catanzariti's actions that he witnessed from the bottom range. (Id. at p. 21.) Defendant McFarlane also qualified his earlier testimony about Catanzariti attempting to put restraints on this inmate, stating that Catanzariti “might have been trying to get [the inmate's] hands out to put handcuffs on him.” (Id. at p. 22 (emphasis added).) As set forth above, this portion of video evidence depicts Catanzariti using force against Plaintiff Stevenson.

         As for Plaintiff Jackson, he alleges that Defendant McFarlane (known by Plaintiff Jackson as “Deebo”) came up to him while he was standing, handcuffed on the upper ramp and scratched his eyes. (Doc. 240-4, p. 14; doc. 240-2, pp. 3, 10; see also 283-1, pp. 3-4.) According to Plaintiff Jackson, Defendant McFarlane “put a finger in each one of [his] eyes and scratched them.” (Doc. 240-4, p. 14.) This action occurred just before Catanzariti approached a restrained, nonresistant Plaintiff Jackson and struck at his face with an object. (Id.; see HHV at 11:07:25- 11:07:40PM.) Defendant McFarlane, however, denies using any force against Plaintiff Jackson. (Doc. 240-9, p. 2; doc. 240-2, pp. 9-10.)

         (2) Escort Outside of the D-2 Dormitory

         After correctional officers got control of the disturbance, Defendant McFarlane exited the D-2 dormitory and “went towards medical to . . . make sure everybody was okay.” (Id. at p. 25.) He noted that at least five minutes had passed, if not more, between the time officers escorted Plaintiffs outside of D-2 and when he went out to the infirmary to check on everyone.[13] (Id.) On his way there, Defendant McFarlane did not see or pass by any other officers.[14] (Id.) Once at the infirmary, he saw that the injured inmates were already bandaged and shackled, and he assumed that they were slated to be transported to the hospital due to their injuries. (Id. at pp. 25-26.) Defendant McFarlane then returned to D-2 where he provided a brief narration of the incident on the handheld video. (Id. at pp. 23-25; HHV 11:20:26-11:22:15PM.) Other than Defendant McFarlane's statement that he went towards medical at some point in the evening, Plaintiffs offer no evidence tending to show that McFarlane was present during their escorts to the infirmary. (See Doc. 283-1, p. 10.)

         B. Defendant Melvin Wells

         Against Defendant Wells, Plaintiffs are pursuing claims regarding his alleged: (1) failure to intervene in Plaintiff Stevenson's dorm altercation with officers, and (2) failure to intervene in the excessive force used against both Plaintiffs during their escort outside. (See Doc. 283-1, p. 11; doc. 283, pp. 2, 13, 18-20.)

         Defendant Wells was also a presiding lieutenant at Smith State on the night in question. (Doc. 240-2, p. 4.) During the disturbance, Defendant Wells deployed pepper spray and a pepper ball gun from the first floor of D-2 in an effort to restore order. (Id.) He did not, however, use his status as a supervisor to intervene during any of the force used against Plaintiffs, whether in the dormitory or during their escort to the infirmary. (Doc. 283-1, p. 11.) Apart from noting his supervisory position, Plaintiffs offer no further factual allegations or evidence regarding their claims against Defendant Wells. (See id.; doc. 259, p. 57; see also doc. 290, p. 8.)

         C. Defendant Nathaniel Milton

         Against Defendant Milton, Plaintiffs are pursuing claims regarding his alleged: (1) failure to intervene in Plaintiff Stevenson's dorm altercation with officers, and (2) failure to intervene in the excessive force used against both Plaintiffs during their escort outside and to the infirmary. (See Doc. 283-1, pp. 11-14; see also doc. 283, pp. 2, 13, 18-20.)

         (1) Milton's Involvement in the Events in the D-2 Dormitory

         Before the disturbance broke out, Defendant Milton was present in D-2 acting as “standby” while other officers conducted the contraband search. (Doc. 283-1, p. 14.) He stood on the bottom range and remained there once fighting between officers and inmates began. (Id. at pp. 12, 14.) In this position, Defendant Milton picked up several items from the floor as the disturbance was ongoing: a shank that was slid out beneath a cell door, a cell phone that fell from the upper ramp, and a hammer that also fell from the upper ramp. (Id. at p. 12; see also CAM 9 at 22:07:24- 22:07:42, 22:09:12-22:09:24; doc. 290-1.) According to Defendant Milton, the hammer he retrieved-and then later handed off to correctional officer Darryl Davis-did not have any blood on it.[15] (Doc. 283-1, p. 12; CAM 8 at 22:09:23-22:09:37.)

         Plaintiffs, however, point out that many witnesses testified to seeing blood around where Catanzariti and other officers used force against Plaintiff Stevenson, (id.), which is the area from which one of the objects fell approximately twenty seconds into the incident, (CAM 9 at 22:07:42; doc. 290-1). For example, inmate William Satterfield saw Plaintiff Stevenson lying face down on the upper ramp after the incident was over, his face “mangled” and blood spattered “all over the handrails [and] walls.” (Doc. 262, p. 13.) Catanzariti admitted to seeing “a lot of blood” that night, (doc. 274, p. 41), and Plaintiff Stevenson was covered in blood following the disturbance, (e.g., doc. 259-2, p. 52). Nonetheless, both Defendant Milton and Davis denied seeing any blood on the hammer they handled. (Doc. 212, p. 19; doc. 240-11, p. 1.)

         Defendant Milton, moreover, pointing to the video, shows that the hammer he retrieved fell from the upper ramp before Catanzariti struck Plaintiff Stevenson as shown on the handheld video. (See Doc. 290-1.) Even so, inmate Satterfield testified that he witnessed a hammer-beating incident that occurred before Catanzariti's strikes that are captured on the handheld video, (doc. 262, pp. 16-18). The object that fell from near Plaintiff Stevenson's location, which Defendant Milton retrieved, fell twenty seconds into the disturbance and before Catanzariti can be seen on the handheld video repeatedly striking Plaintiff Stevenson. (See Doc. 290-1).

         (2) Milton's Involvement in the Escorts Outside of the D-2 Dormitory

         As to the events outside of D-2, Plaintiffs contend that Defendant Milton was one of the officers who escorted either Plaintiff Jackson or Plaintiff Stevenson from the dorm to the infirmary. (Doc. 283-1, pp. 13-14.) Officer Christopher Henderson wrote, in his witness statement, that he and Defendant Milton escorted Plaintiff Jackson to the infirmary following the disturbance. (Doc. 266-2.) At his deposition, however, Henderson did not have an independent recollection of escorting Plaintiff Jackson out of the dorm, and he testified that he could have possibly escorted Plaintiff Stevenson rather than Jackson; he could not be sure either way. (Doc. 266, pp. 6, 8.) Plaintiffs did not depose Defendant Milton and offer no other evidence in this regard. (Doc. 283-1, p. 13; see doc. 259, pp. 53, 75.) Defendant Milton denies ever seeing an officer use force on Plaintiffs during the events in question, and his witness statements do not mention his being involved in escorting either Plaintiff to the infirmary.[16] (Doc. 240-11.)

         D. Defendant Gary Mitchell

         Against Defendant Mitchell, Plaintiffs pursue claims regarding his alleged: (1) failure to intervene and excessive force during Plaintiff Stevenson's dorm altercation with officers, and (2) failure to intervene and excessive force during Plaintiffs' escort outside. (See Doc. 283-1, pp. 14- 17; see also doc. 283, pp. 2, 12-13, 19-20.)

         Defendant Mitchell was on the upper range when inmates and officers began fighting and the disturbance broke out. (Doc. 283-1, p. 14.) An unidentified inmate wearing a grey sweatshirt attacked Defendant Mitchell, punching him in the face. (Id.) To defend himself, he swung his flashlight at the inmates nearby. (Id. at pp. 14-15, 16-17.) According to Defendant Mitchell, this is the only force he used during the incident, and moreover, he never observed any officers on the upper ramp use force against a restrained, non-combative inmate. (Id. at p. 15.) After the incident, Defendant Mitchell had to be taken to the hospital for treatment of the injuries he sustained. (Id. at pp. 15, 17.)

         Plaintiffs argue Defendant Mitchell's injuries resulted from a skirmish that also involved Defendant Attical, a fellow correctional officer. (Id. at pp. 15-16.) According to some eyewitnesses, Defendant Attical was involved in the altercation that resulted in Catanzariti attacking Plaintiff Stevenson while he was restrained on the ground, not resisting. (Id.) Because an eyewitness, inmate Travis Cratic, identified Defendant Mitchell as being with Defendant Attical in some instance where force was used, Plaintiffs conclude that his “presence with Attical at the same time places Mitchell at the scene when [Catanzariti] was beating Stevenson with the hammer-with the clear opportunity to intervene.” (Id. at p. 16.) As discussed in the related Summary Judgment Order, which addresses Defendant Attical's Motion for Summary Judgment, the Court has determined that genuine disputes of material fact exist regarding whether Defendant Attical used excessive force against Plaintiff Stevenson or failed to intervene in the use of excessive force against him on the upper ramp of D-2. (Doc. 312.)

         In pertinent part, Cratic testified that he observed Defendant Attical respond to the call for backup, at which point Attical came and helped Defendant Mitchell up from the floor. (Doc. 190, p. 9.) Defendant Mitchell had a bloody nose by this time. (Id.) Defendant Mitchell and Attical then, according to Cratic, proceeded to use their flashlights to strike “maybe one or two inmates” who had yet to lockdown. (Id. at p. 10.) With respect to Defendant Mitchell and Plaintiffs, Cratic specifically testified that Mitchell had no interaction with Plaintiff Stevenson that night. (Id. at p. 23.) He explained that what he witnessed of Defendant Mitchell with Attical was activity “unrelated” to “the two guys in question, ” meaning the Plaintiffs.[17] (Id. at pp. 23-24.) Cratic further explained that this event occurred when “the conflict was pretty much over with.” (Id. at p. 31.)

         As to their escort claims against Defendant Mitchell, Plaintiffs offer no supporting facts or evidence. (See Doc. 283, pp. 14-17; doc. 283, pp. 13, 19-20; doc. 259, p. 53.) In his declaration, moreover, Defendant Mitchell does not indicate that he was ever involved with either Plaintiffs' escort to the prison's infirmary. (See Doc. 240-12.)

         E. Defendant Gordon Pittman

         Against Defendant Pittman, Plaintiffs are pursuing claims regarding his alleged: (1) failure to intervene in Plaintiff Stevenson's dorm altercation with officers, and (2) failure to intervene or, in the alternative, participation in the excessive force used against Plaintiffs during their escort outside of D-2. (See Doc. 283-1, pp. 17-18; see also doc. 283, pp. 2, 13, 16, 18-20.)

         (1) Pittman's Involvement in the Events in the D-2 Dormitory

         When the disturbance began, Defendant Pittman was in the K building waiting to be relieved from working. (Doc. 283-1, p. 17.) As he waited, he saw two officers running toward the D-2 dorm, so he joined them. (Id.) Upon arrival, Defendant Pittman saw officers and inmates on the upper range, but by this point the inmates were already subdued on the ground. (Id.) According to Defendant Pittman, he neither used force on an inmate nor witnessed the use of force by other officers on any inmates. (Id.) After helping to lockdown the inmates on the upper range who had yet to return to their cells, Defendant Pittman was tasked with transporting Plaintiff Stevenson to Evans Memorial Hospital. (Id.) He did not return to Smith State after this transport. (Id.)

         Plaintiffs do not dispute this general overview of Defendant Pittman's actions that night, but they assert he had the opportunity to intervene in the force used against Plaintiff Stevenson. (Id. at pp. 17-18.) When he arrived in D-2, Defendant Pittman surveyed the scene and went up the stairs to where inmates and officers, including Catanzariti and Plaintiff Stevenson, were still engaged. (Id. at p. 17; HHV at 11:02:48-11:02:50PM.) During the time in which Catanzariti delivered strikes to a prone Plaintiff Stevenson, Defendant Pittman was still coming up the stairs. (HHV at 11:02:47-11:02:52PM; CAM 8 at 22:09:14-22:09:21; see also doc. 290, p. 11.) Plaintiffs concede that he made it over to this location “after” Catanzariti struck Plaintiff Stevenson. (Doc. 283-1, p. 18; HHV at 11:02:56-11:02:58PM, 11:06:52-11:06:54PM.)

         (2) Pittman's Involvement in the Escort Outside of the D-2 Dormitory

         Thereafter, Defendant Pittman, along with Defendant Harrison, escorted Plaintiff Stevenson from D-2. (HHV at 11:06:52-11:07:59; CAM 8 at 22:13:18-22:13:40; doc. 263, p. 18; doc. 192, p. 11.)[18] Plaintiffs contend that Defendant Pittman was also involved in Plaintiff Jackson's escort from the dorm, noting that inmate Clinton Briscoe identified Pittman as an officer walking out after Jackson on video. (Doc. 283-1, p. 18.) However, the surveillance camera footage that shows Defendant Pittman escorting Plaintiff Stevenson out of the dorm does not show him reentering the dorm prior to Plaintiff Jackson's escort. (CAM 8 at 22:13:18-22:13:40.) Moreover, none of the individuals present in the subject video scene-which inmate Briscoe contends shows Defendant Pittman following Plaintiff Jackson's escort-appear to be Defendant Pittman.[19] (See Doc. 191, pp. 9-10; HHV at 11:07:29-11:08:05PM; CAM 8 at 22:14:10-22:14:32.) Nevertheless, Defendant Pittman was undisputedly involved with Plaintiff Stevenson's escort outside of D-2 approximately one minute before officers escorted Plaintiff Jackson out. (See CAM 8 at 22:13:18- 22:13:40.)

         F. Defendant Jarrod Bennett

         Against Defendant Bennett, Plaintiffs are pursuing claims regarding his alleged: (1) failure to intervene in Plaintiff Stevenson's dorm altercation with officers, and (2) failure to intervene or, in the alternative, participation in the excessive force used against Plaintiffs during their escort outside of D-2. (See Doc. 283-1, pp. 19-20; see also doc. 283, pp. 2, 13-14, 16, 18.)

         (1) Bennett's Involvement in the Events in the D-2 Dormitory

         Defendant Bennett was in D-2 before the disturbance began, assisting Catanzariti's search for contraband on the upper ramp. (Doc. 283-1, pp. 19-20.) To help recover contraband hidden in cell D-234, Plaintiff Jackson's cell, Catanzariti sent Defendant Bennett to get a hammer and channel-lock pliers. (Id.) He went and retrieved these tools and carried them back to Catanzariti. (Id.) At this point in the progression of events, Plaintiffs' and Defendant Bennett's accounts diverge. (See id.)

         In his declaration, Defendant Bennett avers that, after giving Catanzariti the requested tools, he “left D-2 and went to the south side of the prison where [he] assisted with count.” (Doc. 240-14, p. 1.) Later, upon hearing the call for assistance, he returned to D-2 where he “observed officers and inmates on the second floor, ” and he observed Plaintiff Jackson swinging at officers. (Id.) Defendant Bennett claims that his participation was limited to “cuffing one inmate who was already on the ground” and then, afterward, transporting Plaintiff Jackson to the hospital and back to Smith State. (Id. at pp. 1-2.) He states he neither used force nor witnessed any use of force. (Id. at p. 1.)

         Plaintiffs, however, contend that Defendant Bennett was on the upper ramp as the disturbance broke out. (Doc. 283-1, p. 20.) According to inmate Neely's testimony, Defendant Bennett and Defendant Ritchie went into a cell together approximately six to seven minutes before the fighting occurred.[20] (Doc. 263, p. 26.) Inmate Neely further claims that several inmates confronted them as they came out of the cell. (Id.) One of these inmates, Neely states, tried to snatch something from Defendant Ritchie, causing Defendant Mitchell to react, and the “brawl” started from there.[21] (Id.) However, earlier in his deposition, Neely had testified that Defendant Bennett arrived on scene “later on” as opposed to being there “when it first started.”[22] (Id. at p. 8.) Nonetheless, Neely also indicated that, “if [he] was not mistaken, ” Defendant Bennett was one of the officers around the inmate being beaten with the hammer. (Id. at p. 11.) The handheld video shows Defendant Bennett on the upper ramp eighty seconds after the use of force had ceased, standing over Plaintiff Stevenson, who was handcuffed on the ground. (HHV at 11:04:04- 11:04:09PM; doc. 240-15, p. 23.)

         (2) Bennett's Involvement in the Escort Outside of the D-2 Dormitory

         Plaintiffs also contend the facts show that Defendant Bennett participated in Plaintiff Stevenson's escort out of D-2, placing him at the scene when Plaintiffs were beaten outside of the dorm on the way to the infirmary. (Doc. 283-1, p. 20.) The Court has reviewed the video footage which shows the following: after remaining on the upper ramp for some time after the disturbance was over, Defendant Bennett followed Harrison and Defendant Pittman down the steps as they escorted Plaintiff Stevenson from the dorm. (HHV at 11:06:57-11:07:02; doc. 263, p. 18; doc. 267, p. 29.) However, once this group reached the bottom of the stairs, Defendant Bennett turned away as Harrison and Defendant Pittman continued to escort Plaintiff Stevenson out. (CAM 8 at 22:13:30-22:13:41.) Defendant Bennett then exited the frame in the opposite direction of the escorting officers. (Id.)

         STANDARD OF REVIEW

         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 fact is “material” if it “might affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law.” FindWhat Inv'r Grp. v. FindWhat.com, 658 F.3d 1282, 1307 (11th Cir. 2011) (quoting Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986)). A dispute is “genuine” if the “evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party.” Id.

         The moving party bears the burden of establishing that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and that it is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. See Williamson Oil Co. v. Philip Morris USA, 346 F.3d 1287, 1298 (11th Cir. 2003). Specifically, the moving party must identify the portions of the record which establish that “there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Moton v. Cowart, 631 F.3d 1337, 1341 (11th Cir. 2011) (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a)). When the nonmoving party would have the burden of proof at trial, the moving party may discharge his 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 Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322-23 (1986)). If the moving party discharges this burden, the burden shifts to the nonmovant to go beyond the pleadings and present affirmative evidence to show that a genuine issue of fact does exist. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 257.

         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 the light most favorable to the nonmoving party. Peek-A-Boo Lounge of Bradenton, Inc. v. Manatee County, 630 F.3d 1346, 1353 (11th Cir. 2011) (citing Rodriguez v. Sec'y for Dep't of Corr., 508 F.3d 611, 616 (11th Cir. 2007)). However, “facts must be viewed in the light most favorable to the non-moving party only if there is a ‘genuine' dispute as to those facts.” Scott v. Harris, 550 U.S. 372, 380 (2007) (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)). “[T]he mere existence of some alleged factual dispute between the parties will not defeat an otherwise properly supported motion for summary judgment; the requirement is that there be no genuine issue of material fact.” Id. (emphasis and citation omitted).

         DISCUSSION

         Plaintiffs' excessive force and failure to intervene claims, as presented on Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment, require analysis of the Eighth Amendment's proscription against cruel and unusual punishment.

         That proscription governs the amount of force that prison officials are entitled to use against inmates. Campbell v. Sikes, 169 F.3d 1353, 1374 (11th Cir. 1999). An excessive force claim has two requisite parts: an objective and a subjective component. Sims v. Mashburn, 25 F.3d 980, 983 (11th Cir. 1994). To satisfy the objective component, the inmate must show that the prison official's conduct was “sufficiently serious.” Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 834 (1994) (quoting Wilson v. Seiter, 501 U.S. 294, 298 (1991)). The subjective component requires a showing that the official acted with a “sufficiently culpable state of mind.” Sims, 25 F.3d at 983 (citing Hudson v. McMillan, 503 U.S. 1, 8 (1992)). “The core judicial inquiry . . . is whether force was applied in a good-faith effort to maintain or restore discipline, or maliciously and sadistically to cause harm.” Wilkins v. Gaddy, 559 U.S. 34, 37, 39 (2010) (citation and internal quotations omitted) (holding that there is no “significant” or “non-de minimis” threshold injury requirement).

         In order to determine whether the official used force maliciously and sadistically to cause harm or in good faith to restore order, courts consider the following factors: (1) the need for the exercise of force; (2) the relationship between the need for force and the amount of force applied; (3) the extent of injury inflicted on the inmate; (4) the extent of the threat to the safety of staff and other inmates; (5) and any efforts taken to temper the severity of a forceful response. Fennell v. Gilstrap, 559 F.3d 1212, 1217 (11th Cir. 2009)). These factors are viewed from the correctional officer's point of view based on the facts known at the relevant time, and courts are to “give a wide range of deference to prison officials acting to preserve discipline and security.” Id. Deference, however, “is not absolute and does not insulate from review actions taken in bad faith or for no legitimate purpose.” Id. (citing Ort v. White, 813 F.2d 318, 322 (11th Cir. 1987)). “Once a prisoner has stopped resisting there is no longer a need for force, so the use of force thereafter is” unconstitutionally excessive. Danley v. Allen, 540 F.3d 1298, 1309 (11th Cir. 2008).

         The Eighth Amendment also “imposes a duty on prison officials” to “take reasonable measures to guarantee the safety of the inmates.” Caldwell v. Warden, FCI Talladega, 748 F.3d 1090, 1099-1100 (11th Cir. 2014) (quoting Farmer, 511 U.S. at 832). Pursuant to this duty, “an officer can be liable for failing to intervene when another officer uses excessive force.” Priester v. City of Riviera Beach, 208 F.3d 919, 924 (11th Cir. 2000) (“If a police officer, whether supervisory or not, fails or refuses to intervene when a constitutional violation such as an unprovoked beating takes place in his presence, the officer is directly liable[.]” (alteration in original) (quoting Ensley v. Soper, 142 F.3d 1402, 1407-08 (11th Cir. 1998))); see also Skrtich v. Thornton, 280 F.3d 1295, 1301 (11th Cir. 2002). “Even if an officer personally did not use excessive force, an officer who is present at the scene can be alternatively liable for failing to take ‘reasonable steps to protect the victim of another officer's use of excessive force.'” Johnson v. White, 725 Fed.Appx. 868, 878 (11th Cir. 2018) (per curiam) (quoting Hadley v. Gutierrez, 526 F.3d 1324, 1330-31 (11th Cir. 2008)).

         “This liability, however, only arises when the officer is in a position to intervene and fails to do so.” Priester, 208 F.3d at 924. A successful claim requires “facts showing the necessity or real opportunity for the defendant-officers to intervene in a fellow officer's unlawful conduct.” Keating v. City of Miami, 598 F.3d 753, 764 (11th Cir. 2010). When events occur so quickly that the officer cannot intervene in the use of excessive force, he or she is not liable for another's constitutional violation. Fils v. City of Aventura, 647 F.3d 1272, 1290 n.21 (11th Cir. 2011) (citing Brown v. City of Huntsville, 608 F.3d 724, 740 n.252 (11th Cir. 2010)). Moreover, if there is no underlying use of excessive force, there is no obligation to intervene. Crenshaw v. Lister, 556 F.3d 1283, 1294 (11th Cir. 2009).

         I. Summary Judgment as to ...


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