Adams v. Mosley et al (INMATE2)

Filing 41

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER overruling plaintiff's 38 Objection; adopting 37 REPORT AND RECOMMENDATIONS; granting defendants' 16 MOTION for Summary Judgment; that all claims and this case are DISMISSED WITH PREJUDICE; that the Court will enter a separate final judgment taxing costs. Signed by Honorable Ira De Ment on 12/1/2008. (cc, )

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IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR T H E MIDDLE DISTRICT OF ALABAMA N O R T H E R N DIVISION T H O M A S OTTER ADAMS, P l a in tif f , v. G W E N D O L Y N MOSLEY, et al., D e f e n d a n ts . ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) C A S E NO. 2:06-cv-873-ID (W O ) M E M O R A N D U M OPINION AND ORDER T h is case involves claims brought by inmate Thomas Adams against several c o rre c tio n a l officers under 42 U.S.C. 1983, alleging the use of excessive force during A d a m s ' incarceration at Easterling Correctional Facility, located in Clio, Alabama. This c a u se is before the Court on the Report and Recommendation issued by Magistrate Judge C h a rle s S. Coody (Doc. # 37) on November 3, 2008. In the Recommendation, Judge Coody re c o m m e n d e d granting summary judgment in favor of all Defendants, with the exception of O f f ic e r Joel Tew. On November 17, 2008, Plaintiff Thomas Adams filed an Objection (Doc. # 38) to the Recommendation that summary judgment should be granted. A f te r a careful review of the record and the arguments made by the parties in this case, th e Court finds that the Recommendation of Judge Coody is due to be ADOPTED with r e s p e c t to the recommendation that summary judgment be granted in favor of Defendants M o s le y, Holett, Brown, and Fayson. Accordingly, Adams' Objection is due to be O V E R R U L E D . However, the Court also finds that the Recommendation is due to be M O D IF I E D with respect to Officer Tew's motion for summary judgment. For the reasons s ta te d below, the Court finds that summary judgment is due to be GRANTED in favor of O f f ic e r Tew. I . JURISDICTION AND VENUE T h e Court exercises subject matter jurisdiction over Plaintiff's claims pursuant to 28 U .S .C . 1331 (federal question). The parties contest neither personal jurisdiction nor v e n u e , and the Court finds an adequate factual basis for each. I I . SUMMARY JUDGMENT STANDARD U n d e r Rule 56(c) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, summary judgment is a p p ro p ria te "if the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, to g e th e r with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact an d that the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c). " A n issue of fact is `genuine' if the record as a whole could lead a reasonable trier of fact to f in d for the nonmoving party. An issue is `material' if it might affect the outcome of the c a se under the governing law." Redwing Carriers, Inc. v. Saraland Apartments, 94 F.3d 1 4 8 9 , 1496 (11th Cir. 1996) (citing Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1 9 8 6 )). "A genuine issue of material fact does not exist unless there is sufficient evidence f a v o rin g the nonmoving party for a reasonable jury to return a verdict in its favor." Chapman v . AI Transp., 229 F.3d 1012, 1023 (11th Cir. 2000) (en banc) (quoting Haves v. City of M ia m i, 52 F.3d 918, 921 (11th Cir. 1995) (internal quotation marks and citations omitted)). T h e party seeking summary judgment "always bears the initial responsibility of 2 in f o rm in g the district court of the basis for its motion, and identifying those portions of `the p le a d in g s , depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the a f f id a v its , if any,' which it believes demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of material f a ct." Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986). The movant can meet this burden b y presenting evidence showing there is no dispute of material fact, or by showing the n o n m o v in g party has failed to present evidence in support of some element of its case on w h ic h it bears the ultimate burden of proof. Id. at 322-23. O n c e the moving party has met its burden, Rule 56(e) "requires the nonmoving party to go beyond the pleadings and by [its] own affidavits, or by the `depositions, answers to in t e rr o g a to r ie s , and admissions on file,' designate `specific facts showing that there is a g e n u in e issue for trial.'" Id. at 324. To avoid summary judgment, the nonmoving party " m u s t do more than simply show that there is some metaphysical doubt as to the material f a cts ." Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986). On the o th e r hand, a court ruling on a motion for summary judgment must believe the evidence of th e nonmovant and must draw all justifiable inferences from the evidence in the nonmoving p a rty's favor. See, e.g., Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 255 (1986); M c C o r m ic k v. City of Fort Lauderdale, 333 F.3d 1234, 1243 (11th Cir. 2003) (the evidence a n d all reasonable inferences from the evidence must be viewed in the light most favorable to the nonmovant). After the nonmoving party has responded to the motion for summary ju d g m e n t , the court must grant summary judgment if there is no genuine issue of material 3 f a c t and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 5 6 (c). I I I . FACTS T h e Court has carefully considered all of the evidence submitted in support of and in o p p o sitio n to the motions. The submissions of the parties, viewed in the light most favorable to the non-moving party, establish the following relevant facts: O n the morning of August 10, 2006, Adams was experiencing chest pains. He alerted O f f ice r Fayson of his condition. Officer Fayson reported Adams' health concern to Sgt. H o le tt, who instructed Officers Fayson and Brown to escort Adams to the lobby. Adams was th e n handcuffed behind his back, removed from his cell, and escorted to the segregation lo b b y. Once in the lobby, Adams and the officers waited for an escort to the health care unit. O f f ic e r Tew arrived in the segregation lobby with a wheelchair to take Adams to the h e a lth care unit. Officer Tew then began berating Adams and told him to get to the health c a re unit the best way he could. Adams then got up from his chair intending to walk to the h e a lth care unit by himself. Officer Tew then grabbed Adams and body-slammed him to the f lo o r. The officers then picked Adams up, put him in the wheelchair, and escorted him to the h e a lth c a re unit. T h e healthcare personnel examined Adams and found nothing wrong with him. He w a s then taken back to his cell. Later in the day, Adams complained about a pain in his w rist. Adams was taken to the healthcare unit a second time for his wrist pain. Healthcare 4 p e rs o n n e l also observed a three-inch red mark on Adams' wrist and a tiny scratch that was n o t bleeding. Adams' right lower forearm above the wrist also showed some swelling. A d a m s was given an ice pack for his wrist and scheduled for an x-ray. The following day, A u g u s t 11, 2008, healthcare personnel x-rayed Adams' lower back, right-side ribs, and right w r is t. The x-ray showed no recent fracture or other significant bone abnormality. Adams re c eiv e d a wrist splint, which he wore for two weeks. Adams complains that he still has back p a in and numbness in his right wrist. I V . DISCUSSION In order to establish a claim of excessive force, a prisoner must prove that his injury w a s caused by an "unnecessary and wanton infliction of pain." Harris v. Chapman, 97 F.3d 4 9 9 , 505 (11th Cir. 1996). The "core judicial inquiry" is whether force was applied in a g o o d - f a ith effort to maintain or restore discipline, or maliciously and sadistically to cause h a rm . Id. The absence of "serious injury" alone is insufficient to dismiss a prisoner's e x c e s s iv e force claim. Id. Rather, a court must analyze the following factors: "the need for th e application of force, the relationship between that need and the amount of force used, the th re a t reasonably perceived by the responsible officials, and any efforts made to temper the s e v e rity of a forceful response." Id. Furthermore, a "de minimis" use of force is beyond c o n s titu tio n a l recognition. Id. 5 A correctional officer's use of force against a prisoner is excessive and u n c o n stitu tio n a l when it constitutes an "unnecessary and wanton infliction of pain." Harris, 9 7 F.3d at 505. The use of force must be "gratuitous or disproportionate" and must have "no o b je c t but to inflict pain." Skrtich v. Thornton, 280 F.3d 1295, 1304 (11th Cir. 2002). The C o u rt finds that the facts as alleged by Adams do not constitute an "unnecessary and wanton in f l ic tio n of pain." First, the force allegedly used by Officer Tew was significantly less s e v e re than the force used in the cases where the Eleventh Circuit has found excessive force a g a in s t inmates that have been subdued or incapacitated. See Harris, 97 F.3d at 505-06 (re p e ate d kicks and beatings from six officers, while one officer shouted racial slurs and tau n ts); Davis v. Locke, 936 F.2d 1208, 1213 (11th Cir. 1991) (pulling shackled inmate out o f truck in such a manner that he landed on his head, causing severe mental damage); W illia m s v. Cash, 836 F.2d 1318, 1320 (11th Cir. 1988) (purposefully breaking subdued in m a te' s arm); Perry v. Thompson, 786 F.2d 1093, 1095 (11th Cir. 1986) (multiple guards re p e ate d ly struck inmate on head, shoulder, arms and legs, and then when inmate fell to the f lo o r they repeatedly kicked him in the side, ribs, back, and head); Skrtich, 280 F.3d at 1300 (m u ltip le guards repeatedly kicking and punching inmate in the back, ribs, and side, and s la m m in g inmate's head against the wall). Second, the force was applied while Adams was a tte m p tin g to walk away from Officer Tew, after Officer Tew had instructed Adams into the w h e e lc h a ir so that he could escort Adams to the healthcare facility. U n d e r these circumstances, Adams has failed to show that Officer Tew used excessive 6 f o rc e against him in violation of the Eighth Amendment. Accordingly, because Adams has f a ile d to state a constitutional violation, Officer Tew is entitled to summary judgment. See S k rtic h , 280 F.3d at 1301. V . CONCLUSION F o r the reasons set forth above, it is CONSIDERED and ORDERED that: (1 ) Plaintiff's Objection to the Magistrate Judge Recommendation (Doc. # 38) be a n d the same is hereby OVERRULED; (2 ) The Recommendation of the United States Magistrate Judge (Doc. # 37) be and th e same is hereby ADOPTED and MODIFIED as set forth herein; (3 ) Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. # 16) be and the same is h e re b y GRANTED; (4 ) All claims and this case are DISMISSED WITH PREJUDICE; ( 5 ) This Court will enter a separate final judgment taxing costs. D O N E this 1st day of December, 2008. /s/ Ira DeMent SENIOR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE 7

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