Dunning v. Jenkins et al
MEMORANDUM OPINION. Signed by Judge L Scott Coogler on 2/21/2017. (PSM)
2017 Feb-21 AM 10:24
U.S. DISTRICT COURT
N.D. OF ALABAMA
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE NORTHERN DISTRICT OF ALABAMA
MOHAMMAD JENKINS, et al.,
Case No. 2:16-cv-00110-LSC-JHE
The magistrate judge filed a report on January 30, 2017, recommending that
the defendants’ motion for summary judgment be granted.
plaintiff filed objections to the report and recommendation on February 13, 2017
(Doc. 27). Specifically, the plaintiff asserts that because the defendants do not
dispute that the plaintiff was sprayed with chemical spray and taken to the ground,
this demonstrates that he is entitled to relief. (Id., at 1).
Under established law, not all uses of force against an inmate are
unconstitutional. “Under the Eighth Amendment, force is deemed legitimate in a
custodial setting as long as it is applied ‘in a good faith effort to maintain or restore
discipline and not maliciously and sadistically to cause harm.’” Skrtich v.
Thornton, 280 F.3d 1295, 1300 (11th Cir. 2002) (quoting Whitley v. Albers, 475
U.S. 312, 320–21 (1986) (alteration omitted)). The Supreme Court has crafted
factors for a court to consider in making this determination, specifically a) the need
for the application of force; b) the relationship between the need and the amount of
force that was used; c) the extent of the injury inflicted upon the prisoner; d) the
extent of the threat to the safety of staff and inmates; and e) any efforts made to
temper the severity of a forceful response. Cockrell v. Sparks, 510 F.3d 1307,
1311 (11th Cir. 2007) (quoting Whitley v. Albers, 475 U.S. 312, 321 (1986)).
When considering these factors, a court must afford “a wide range of deference to
prison officials acting to preserve discipline and security, including when
considering decisions made at the scene of a disturbance.” Fennell v. Gilstrap, 559
F.3d 1212, 1217 (11th Cir. 2009). Moreover, the court must examine the facts as
reasonably perceived by the prison official on the basis of the facts known to him
at the time. Whitley v. Albers, 475 U.S. 312, 321 (1986).
According to the plaintiff, because he asserted that the defendants hit him
with batons after spraying him and taking him to the ground, he created a genuine
issue of material fact. (Doc. 27 at 1). However, as the magistrate judge found, the
only documented injuries the plaintiff suffered were inconsistent with the
plaintiff’s version of events. (Doc. 26 at 7). Rather, the plaintiff had red eyes and
three scratches on his upper right cheek. (Id. at 5, citing doc. 19-3 at 1). The
magistrate judge also noted that the plaintiff did not contest the complete lack of
any evidence which supported the claim he was beaten by batons. (Doc. 26 at 5
n.6). Thus, the plaintiff introduced no “specific facts” to refute the lack of injuries
from the alleged beating. See Burke v. Bowns, 653 Fed.App’x 683, 697 (11th Cir.
2016) (citing Allen v. Board of Public Education for Bibb County, 495 F.3d 1306,
1314 (11th Cir. 2007)). See also Howard v. Memnon, 572 Fed.App’x 692, 694-95
(11th Cir. 2014) (holding that a plaintiff’s claim of serious injury unsupported by
any physical evidence, medical records, or witness testimony is insufficient to
create a genuine issue of material fact).
As found in the report and recommendation, the undisputed facts established
that upon the plaintiff’s arrival at Donaldson Correctional Facility, he was told to
continue moving toward intake. (Doc. 26 at 4 n.2). Rather than comply, the
plaintiff stopped to talk with other inmates. (Id.). When defendant Gadson told
the plaintiff to proceed, the plaintiff used profane language.
(Doc. 24 at 2).
Defendants Jenkins and Gadson then attempted to escort the plaintiff to intake but
the plaintiff pulled away, at which point defendant Jenkins sprayed him. (Doc. 26
at 4 n.2).
“Prison guards may use force when necessary to restore order and need not
wait until disturbances reach dangerous proportions before responding.” Bennett v.
Parker, 898 F.2d 1530, 1533 (11th Cir. 1990). Moreover, courts must give “broad
deference” to prison officials acting to preserve discipline. Pearson v. Taylor, -Fed.App’x--, 2016 WL 7367785 *4 (11th Cir. Dec. 20, 2016).
plaintiff’s failure to comply with the defendants’ legitimate orders precipitated the
use of force, the force used was not out of proportion to the threat created by the
plaintiff. See id., at *5 (“[a] short burst of pepper spray is not disproportionate to
the need to control an inmate who has failed to obey a jailer’s orders.”) (citation
omitted)). The plaintiff’s abjections are therefore OVERRULED.
Having carefully reviewed and considered de novo all the materials in the
court file, including the report and recommendation and the objections thereto, the
magistrate judge’s report is hereby ADOPTED and the recommendation is
ACCEPTED. Accordingly, the defendants’ motion for summary judgment (doc.
19) is due to be GRANTED, the court finding no genuine issues of material fact
exist and the defendants are entitled to judgment in their favor as a matter of law.
A final judgment will be entered.
DONE and ORDERED on February 21, 2017.
L. Scott Coogler
United States District Judge
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