MAYFIELD v. MCCOY et al
Entry Granting Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment And Directing Entry of Final Judgment - The Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment is GRANTED. Judgment consistent with this Entry shall now issue (SEE ENTRY FOR ADDITIONAL INFORMATION). Signed by Judge William T. Lawrence on 3/9/2018. (DW)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF INDIANA
TERRE HAUTE DIVISION
Case No. 2:15-cv-00409-WTL-MJD
Entry Granting Defendant’s Motion for Summary Judgment
And Directing Entry of Final Judgment
Plaintiff Cameron Mayfield, an Indiana state prisoner, alleges that his civil rights were
violated. Specifically, Mr. Mayfield alleges that on March 1, 2015, at 5:40 a.m., Officer Iain
McCoy was responsible for admitting offenders into the 11 South dormitory (“11 South”) at
Putnamville Correctional Facility (“Putnamville”) during a mass movement following breakfast.
During this time, offender Branden French was able to enter 11 South, even though it was not his
assigned dorm. Mr. French then proceeded to beat and injure Mr. Mayfield.
Mr. Mayfield alleges that Officer McCoy’s actions violated his Eighth Amendment rights
and state tort law. Mr. McCoy seeks summary judgment as to the claims alleged against him.
Counsel was recruited to assist the plaintiff.1 For the reasons explained below, Officer McCoy’s
motion for summary judgment, Dkt. No. 57, is granted.
This Court is grateful for the work of Blake Shelby, Dean Brackenridge and Jennifer Schuster of
Frost Brown Todd, LLC, in representing the plaintiff at the court’s request.
I. Standard of Review
Summary judgment should be granted “if the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute
as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law.” Fed. R. Civ. P.
56(a). A “material fact” is one that “might affect the outcome of the suit.” Anderson v. Liberty
Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). The Court views the facts in the light most favorable to the
non-moving party and all reasonable inferences are drawn in the non-movant’s favor. Ault v.
Speicher, 634 F.3d 942, 945 (7th Cir. 2011).
“The applicable substantive law will dictate which facts are material.” National Soffit &
Escutcheons, Inc., v. Superior Systems, Inc., 98 F.3d 262, 265 (7th Cir. 1996) (citing Anderson,
477 U.S. at 248).
II. Undisputed Facts
Officer McCoy was hired to work at Putnamville on December 1, 2014.
On March 1, 2015, Mr. Mayfield was housed in the “11 South” dormitory at Putnamville.
11 South is an “open” dormitory, which means that any offender within the dormitory has physical
access to the other offenders.
When it is time to eat, the officer on duty in 11 South calls for chow movement, opens the
door and allows the offenders to leave their dormitory to go to the cafeteria. Before the offenders
leave for the cafeteria they are supposed to line up. As the offenders leave the dormitory, the officer
should record each offender’s name and compare the offender’s identification with the bed board
roster. On March 1, 2015, offenders incarcerated in Putnamville had identification cards that they
were supposed to wear attached to their clothing.
When offenders return to the dormitory, the officer should check the offender’s name and
compare the offender’s identification with the bed board list. During mass movements, however,
it is much harder to do these checks, as a majority of offenders assigned to that housing unit are
leaving and returning at the same time.
On March 1, 2015, at approximately 5:40 a.m., Officer McCoy opened the 11 South doors
to allow offenders to return from chow.
Prior to March 1, 2015, Officer McCoy was not trained to check offender identification
during mass movements. Officer McCoy did not check the identification of offenders entering 11
South following breakfast on March 1, 2015. Officer McCoy was not aware that Mr. French had
entered 11 South during the return chow movement.
Mr. Mayfield did not go to chow that day; instead he continued sleeping. When Mr.
Mayfield woke up, Mr. French told him to jump down from his bunk bed. Mr. French said
something to Mr. Mayfield, but Mr. Mayfield does not remember what was said. Mr. French did
not say anything that gave Mr. Mayfield a reason to understand why Mr. French attacked Mr.
Mayfield. Mr. Mayfield told Mr. French that he did not know what Mr. French was talking about.
Mr. Mayfield jumped down from his bed and Mr. French hit Mr. Mayfield on top of the head.
Some other offenders pulled Mr. French away from Mr. Mayfield.
Mr. Mayfield then went to use the restroom. Mr. French followed Mr. Mayfield to the
restroom and beat Mr. Mayfield upside his head and mashed his head against the wall. Mr. French
left the restroom and attacked two other offenders. The attack occurred on the C-side of 11 South.
Officer McCoy was still in the dormitory when the attack occurred, but Officer McCoy
was sitting at the desk on the D-side. No one yelled to Officer McCoy that there was a fight. Officer
McCoy was not aware of the incident, or that Mr. French had entered 11 South until he was notified
upon his return to the facility for his next shift the following work day.
After Mr. French’s attack, Mr. Mayfield went to the other side of the dormitory and talked
to his uncle. Mr. Mayfield’s uncle told Mr. Mayfield to notify Officer McCoy, but Officer McCoy
had already been relieved from his duty by Officer Willett.
Some offenders tried to shield Mr. French so that he could leave the dormitory without
being detected, but Correctional Officer Willett discovered Mr. French. Officer Willett and Sgt.
Lowe escorted Mr. French out of the dormitory.
After Mr. French was escorted out of the dormitory, Mr. Mayfield notified Officer Willett
that he had been attacked. Officer Willett and Sgt. Lowe escorted Mr. Mayfield to the medical
Mr. Mayfield has no idea why Mr. French came into the dormitory and attacked him. Mr.
Mayfield had never met Mr. French before the attack. Before this incident, Mr. Mayfield had never
been attacked in prison. Before this incident, Mr. Mayfield had never received threats from anyone.
Mr. Mayfield never told anyone that works for the Indiana Department of Correction that he had
a problem with Mr. French. There was not any way for Officer McCoy to know that Mr. French
was going to attack Mr. Mayfield.
Officer McCoy did not intentionally allow Mr. French into the dormitory, but instead made
a mistake due to his lack of experience with facial recognition of offenders assigned to 11 South.
Officer McCoy testified, that “whenever you work a dorm enough you start recognizing your
offenders that are regularly . . . in that dorm, and it just becomes easier to run the dorm whenever
you can recognize them by face and name.” Officer McCoy attributed his failure to check the
identifications when he did not know the offenders’ faces to a “lack of experience in that situation.”
Officer McCoy testified that he was directed to watch security footage of the incident involving
Mr. Mayfield and Mr. French, “to show [him] that [he] made a mistake, and [he] needed to learn
and improve upon it.” Officer McCoy also testified that he received a written reprimand resulting
from this incident.
At the time of this incident, Officer McCoy was not even aware of who Mr. French was.
As Officer McCoy did not know Mr. French, Officer McCoy was not aware that he created a risk
to any offender in 11 South. Officer McCoy was not aware of any issues between Mr. French and
At the time of the altercation, Officer McCoy was not aware that there was any risk to Mr.
Mayfield from any other offenders. Officer McCoy testified that he now checks offender
identification if he does not already recognize the offender. Mr. McCoy testified that he believes
that officers check offenders’ identifications to ensure that offenders are in the right places, to
help keep offenders safe, and to prevent incidents such as the one between Mr. Mayfield and Mr.
French from happening.
Mr. Mayfield brings two claims as a result of the March 1, 2015, incident in which he was
attacked by Mr. French. First, Mr. Mayfield alleges that Officer McCoy failed to protect Mr.
Mayfield in violation of Mr. Mayfield’s Eighth Amendment rights. Second, Mr. Mayfield alleges
a state law negligence claim against Officer McCoy.
A. Eighth Amendment
Mr. Mayfield alleges that Officer McCoy failed to protect him in violation of his Eighth
Amendment rights. This claim is brought pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Mr. Mayfield asserts
Officer McCoy’s failure to stop Mr. French from entering 11 South following breakfast resulted
in Mr. French attacking Mr. Mayfield.
Not every harm caused by another inmate translates into constitutional liability for the
corrections officers responsible for the prisoner’s safety. Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 834
(1994). The Seventh Circuit has repeatedly held that deliberate indifference is not a strict liability
standard requiring jail officials to ensure the safety of their inmates. Palmer v. Marion County,
327 F.3d 588, 593 (7th Cir. 2003).
Prison officials have a duty to protect those in their custody from violence at the hand of
other inmates. But liability of a prison official for failure to protect an inmate only materializes if
the official ‘knows of and disregards an excessive risk to inmate health or safety.’” Gevas v.
McLaughlin, 798 F.3d 475, 480 (7th Cir. 2015) (quoting Farmer, 511 U.S. at 837 (1994)). Thus,
a claim that a prison official was deliberately indifferent to such a risk has both an objective and a
subjective component. First, the harm to which the prisoner was exposed must be an objectively
serious one. See Gevas, 798 F.3d 475 (being stabbed by cellmate constitutes serious harm); Brown
v. Budz, 398 F.3d 904, 910 (7th Cir. 2005) (“a beating suffered at the hands of a fellow detainee
... clearly constitutes serious harm”).
Second, the subjective prong of the deliberate indifference claim “requires that the official
must have actual, and not merely constructive, knowledge of the risk in order to be held liable;
specifically, he ‘must both be aware of facts from which the inference could be drawn that a
substantial risk of serious harm exists, and he must also draw that inference.’” Gervas, 798 F.3d
at 481 (quoting Farmer, 511 U.S. at 837). In addition to knowing that the inmate faced a substantial
risk of serious harm, an official will only be liable when he disregards that risk by failing to take
reasonable measures to abate it. Farmer, 511 U.S. at 847; see also Borello v. Allison, 446 F.3d
742, 747 (7th Cir. 2006).
There is no dispute that the harm to which Mr. Mayfield was subjected was objectively
serious. The parties’ dispute instead focuses on the subjective prong of the deliberate indifference
claim, which requires that the official must have actual knowledge of the risk in order to be held
1. Actual Knowledge
In this case, there is no dispute that Officer McCoy did not have actual knowledge of any
risk to Mr. Mayfield. There is no evidence that Officer McCoy could have known that there was
a chance that Mr. French would attack Mr. Mayfield. Mr. Mayfield never met Mr. French before
the attack and has no idea why Mr. French came into the dormitory and attacked him. In addition,
Officer McCoy did not have actual knowledge that Mr. French posed a risk to anyone in the
dormitory. Before this incident, Mr. Mayfield had never been attacked, or even threatened, in
prison. Finally, Officer McCoy was not aware of any general or specific risk to Mr. Mayfield.
2. Failure to Check Identifications
Mr. Mayfield argues that “a prison official [may not] escape liability for deliberate
indifference by showing that, while he was aware of an obvious, substantial risk to inmate safety,
he did not know that the complainant was especially likely to be assaulted by the specific
prisoner who eventually committed the assault.” Farmer, supra, at 843. He suggests that Mr.
McCoy’s failure to check Mr. French’s identification card creates a material fact in dispute
regarding whether Officer McCoy ignored an obvious risk to Mr. Mayfield.
Mr. Mayfield’s argument is rejected in this instance, because there is no evidence to
contradict Officer McCoy’s claim that he did not intentionally allow Mr. French into the dormitory
and that he made a mistake by not checking Mr. French’s identification and denying him entry.
Prior to March 2, 2015, Officer McCoy was not trained to check inmate identifications during
mass movements. In addition, there is no evidence that Officer McCoy’s actions contradicted the
Indiana Department of Correction’s policies. But see Langston v. Peters, 100 F.3d 1235, 1238 (7th
Cir. 1996) (“Ignoring internal prison procedures does not mean that a constitutional violation has
Instead, all the evidence points to Officer McCoy being negligent. Negligence is not
sufficient to sustain a claim of deliberate indifference. To demonstrate “deliberate indifference,”
the plaintiff must prove that the defendant acted with more than mere inadvertence, negligence,
gross negligence, or even recklessness in a civil context. Billman v. Ind. Dep’t of Corr., 56 F.3d
785, 788 (7th Cir. 1995). “Mere negligence (for example if a prison guard should know of a risk
but does not) is not enough to state a claim of deliberate indifference under the Eighth
Amendment.” Pope v. Shafer, 86 F.3d 90, 92 (7th Cir. 1996).
The evidence reflects that on March 1, 2015, Officer McCoy inadvertently allowed Mr.
French to enter 11 South. Inadvertent conduct is insufficient to justify the imposition of liability.
Pinkston v. Madry, 440 F.3d 879, 889 (7th Cir. 2006) (citing Watts v. Laurent, 774 F.2d 168, 172
(7th Cir. 1985)). See also Boyce v. Moore, 314 F.3d 884, 889 (7th Cir. 2002) (“At most, any failure
to review the logbooks would be characterized as negligence, which is insufficient to constitute
deliberate indifference.”) “Exercising poor judgment, however, falls short of meeting the standard
of consciously disregarding a known risk to his safety.” Lewis v. Richards, 107 F.3d 549, 554
(7th Cir. 1997). Under these circumstances, Officer McCoy is entitled to judgment as a matter of
law as to the Eighth Amendment claim alleged against him.
3. Qualified Immunity
Because there was no constitutional violation, Officer McCoy’s assertion that he is entitled
to qualified immunity need not be discussed further. Officer McCoy’s motion for summary
judgment as to the claim of deliberate indifference is granted.
B. State Law Negligence Claim
Mr. Mayfield also brings a state law claim against Officer McCoy based on a negligence
theory. Officer McCoy seeks judgment as a matter of law as to this claim, stating that the Indiana
Tort Claims Act bars a claim against an individual employee.
“Under the Indiana Tort Claims Act, there is no remedy against the individual employee
so long as he was acting within the scope of his employment.” Ball v. City of Indianapolis, 760
F.3d 636, 645 (7th Cir. 2014). “In fact, a lawsuit against a government employee in his personal
capacity must specifically allege that the employee acted outside of the scope of his employment
or that the employee’s act or omission was criminal, malicious, willful and wanton, or calculated
to benefit the employee personally.” McConnell v. McKillip, 573 F. Supp.2d 1090, 1103 (S.D. Ind.
2008) (citing Ind. Code § 34–13–3–5(c)).
Mr. Mayfield claims that Officer McCoy is not entitled to immunity on the state law
claims because his actions were willful and wanton. “’The elements of willful or wanton
misconduct are: (1) the defendant must have knowledge of an impending danger or
consciousness of a course of misconduct calculated to result in probable injury; and (2) the
actor’s conduct must have exhibited an indifference to the consequences of his conduct.’” Frazee
v. Dearborn Cty. Sheriff’s Dep’t, 2017 WL 4650874, at *10 (S.D. Ind. Oct. 17, 2017) (quoting
Ellis v. City of Martinsville, 940 N.E.2d 1197, 1204–05 (Ind. Ct. App. 2011) (internal citations
and quotation marks omitted)).
Officer McCoy argues that his actions do not satisfy either element. This Court agrees.
There is no evidence that Officer McCoy knew what he was doing was incorrect. Mr. McCoy
had not been trained to check prisoners’ identification during mass movements. And, the only
thing Officer McCoy would have realized is that he was letting a large group of offenders into
a dormitory—when he was supposed to be letting a large group of offenders into a dormitory.
Officer McCoy did not have knowledge of an impending danger, nor a “consciousness
of a course of misconduct calculated to result in probable injury.” Specifically, Officer McCoy
was not aware of French’s identity, was not aware of any issues between French and Mayfield,
and was not aware that there was any risk to Mayfield from any other offenders. Under these
circumstances, a reasonable fact-finder could not conclude that Officer McCoy acted willfully
or wantonly toward Mr. Mayfield.
In addition, the evidence reflects that Officer McCoy was acting within the scope of his
employment. “To be within the scope of the employment, conduct must be of the same general
nature as that authorized, or incidental to the conduct authorized.” Celebration Fireworks, Inc. v.
Smith, 727 N.E.2d 450, 453 (Ind. 2000) (quoting Restatement (Second) Agency § 229 (1958)).
Officer McCoy was authorized to identify offenders and allow them back into the dormitory.
Because Officer McCoy’s “actions are clearly within the scope of his employment as a
[correctional] officer and therefore are cloaked with immunity under ITCA.” Ball v. Jones, 52
N.E.3d 813, 821 (Ind. Ct. App. 2016).
Accordingly, Officer McCoy’s motion for summary judgment is granted as to the state
law negligence claim.
The Defendant’s Motion for Summary Judgment is GRANTED.
Judgment consistent with this Entry shall now issue.
IT IS SO ORDERED.
Hon. William T. Lawrence, Judge
United States District Court
Southern District of Indiana
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