Morgan v. Wayne County et al
ORDER denying 86 Plaintiff's Motion for Reconsideration. Signed by District Judge Robert H. Cleland. (LWag)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF MICHIGAN
FELICIA QUIZEL MORGAN, by
her next Friend, Laura Campbell,
Case No. 17-12094
WAYNE COUNTY, et al.,
ORDER DENYING PLAINTIFF’S MOTION FOR RECONSIDERATION
In an opinion and order dated September 30, 2020, the court granted a motion
for summary judgment filed by Defendants Leonard Davis, Keisa Clark, Arelia
Pendergrass, and Wayne County. (ECF No. 85.) Through the present motion, Plaintiff
Felicia Quizel Morgan, seeks reconsideration of the court’s September 2020 ruling,
arguing that it should not have granted summary judgment as to Defendants Davis,
Clark, and Wayne County. The court does not hold hearings on motions for
reconsideration. See E.D. Mich. LR 7.1(h)(2). For the reasons explained below, the
court will deny the motion.
In 2017, Plaintiff asserted federal civil rights claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and
state law claims against Defendants Defendant Community Healthcare Providers, Inc.,
(“CHCP”), Wayne County, and the counties’ employees, arising from a November 2005
sexual assault by another inmate, Eric Miles, at CHCP’s mental health care facility.
(ECF No. 1) Plaintiff was transferred to CHCP’s Detroit psychiatric facility from the
Wayne County Jail while still in custody. (Id., PageID.5-6.) Plaintiff contends that she
later gave birth to a child while she was still incarcerated as a result of the 2005 assault.
In the mental health ward at CHCP’s facility, both male and female inmates were
housed on different sides of the same floor. (ECF No. 66-8, PageID.1215.) Inmates of
both genders could interact in the dayroom on the floor. (Id.) At any given time, the ward
housed between three and ten inmates who were undergoing treatment. (Id.) The unit
was usually guarded by three Wayne County Sheriff’s deputies. (Id., PageID.1217.) It
was also staffed 24-hours-a-day with three hospital workers plus any doctors that came
in and out of the ward. (ECF No. 66-9, PageID.1231.) When patients of both genders
were allowed to interact in the day room, one of the hospital staff was always present in
the room. (ECF No. 66-7, PageID.1208.)
On the day of the alleged assault, Defendants Davis, Clark, and Hunter were the
deputies on duty. (Id., PageID.1207.) Two deputies were usually stationed at the front
desk by the ward’s entrance. From the desk, they used mirrors and cameras to observe
the ward’s hallways. (Id.) One of the deputies from the front desk would also do a round
every thirty minutes. (Id.) The third deputy was usually stationed in the day room
because that is where inmates interacted. (ECF No. 66-8, PageID.1217.) The deputy in
the day room could observe blind spots in the hallways that were not visible from the
front desk. (Id.) The written Wayne County security policy for the facility allowed the
deputies to be “self-relieving for lunch” allowing one of the three officers to leave at any
given time. (ECF No. 73-6, PageID.1629.)
At the time of the alleged assault, Deputy Hunter was off the ward on his “lunch
break.” (ECF No. 66-7, PageID.1208.) Deputy Davis, who was stationed in the day
room, left the ward for a short time to use the bathroom as there was no staff restroom
inside the ward. (ECF No. 66-8, PageID.1221.) This left only deputy Clark stationed at
the front desk. Deputy Davis stated in his deposition that he felt comfortable leaving the
day room because a CHCP worker was stationed in the room where some of the
inmates had congregated. (Id.)
Around the same time, Plaintiff and Miles were last seen by a CHCP staffer
talking and interacting in a friendly manner in the day room. (ECF No. 66-9,
PageID.1236.) A few minutes later, a CHCP staffer walking down the corridor observed
Miles and Plaintiff having sex in Miles’s room with the door open. (Id.) He immediately
reported the incident. (Id.) According to the staffer, Plaintiff appeared to consent to the
sexual encounter and did not appear in distress. (Id.) During the investigation following
the incident, Plaintiff signed a form indicating she did not wish for any further
investigation. (ECF No. 66-15, PageID.1284.) When transported to the emergency room
following the incident, Plaintiff refused a rape kit and told the attending physician that
she had consented to having sex with Miles. (ECF No. 66-22, PageID.1301.)
To prevail on a motion for reconsideration, a party “must not only demonstrate a
palpable defect by which the Court and the parties and other persons entitled to be
heard on the motion have been misled but also show that correcting the defect will
result in a different disposition of the case.” E.D. Mich. LR 7.1(h)(3); see also Indah v.
U.S. Sec. & Exch. Comm’n, 661 F.3d 914, 924 (6th Cir. 2011). “A ‘palpable defect’ is a
defect which is obvious, clear, unmistakable, manifest, or plain.” Hawkins v. Genesys
Health Sys., 704 F. Supp. 2d 688, 709 (E.D. Mich. 2010) (Borman, J.). “[T]he Court will
not grant motions for rehearing or reconsideration that merely present the same issues
ruled upon by the Court, either expressly or by reasonable implication.” E.D. Mich. L.R.
7.1(h)(3); see also Bowens v. Terris, No. 2:15-CV-10203, 2015 WL 3441531, at *1 (E.D.
Mich. May 28, 2015) (Steeh, J.).
Plaintiff’s present motion contends the court’s September 2002 opinion
“expressly” held that neither Defendant Clark nor Davis were entitled to qualified
immunity but that the opinion erroneously granted summary judgment to all Defendants
anyway. (ECF No. 86, PageID.1718 (citing ECF No. 85, PageID.1707).) In support,
Plaintiff selectively quotes language from the opinion suggesting the court actually held
that two deputies were not entitled to qualified immunity. (Id.)
A block quote of the whole paragraph, however, gives the reader greater context
and shows that the court’s language in the paragraph was a summarization of Plaintiff’s
argument not the court’s ultimate holding on qualified immunity issue in the present
[Plaintiff] argues that Defendants’ testimony shows she was incarcerated
under conditions posing a substantial risk of harm, and believes the facts
create a jury question as to whether Clark or Davis subjectively ignored
the risk to her safety. She relies on the decision in Bishop v. Hackel, 636
F.3d 757, 767 (6th Cir. 2011) to support her position. In that case, the
physical structure and the personal characteristics of the plaintiff rendered
him vulnerable, and she concludes that the same can be said here.
Specifically, just as was the case in Bishop, here Clark was subjectively
aware that Miles was sexually preoccupied and the layout of the ward
increased the risk of abuse without observation. Davis likewise is not
entitled to qualified immunity. He knew that Hunter had gone to lunch and
Clark was at the desk when he went to the restroom. Davis was aware of
the blind spots, the difficulty in keeping inmates separated by gender
because of the lack of space. . . .
Morgan ex rel. Campbell v. Wayne Cty., 2020 WL 5819570, at *6 (E.D. Mich. Sept. 30,
2020) (emphasis added).
The court later found that the evidence cited by Plaintiff in the preceding
blockquote was insufficient to show that a question of fact remained with regards to
whether Davis or Clark should be denied qualified immunity. Id. (“Plaintiff was not left
alone. Although Davis left to use the bathroom, there simply is no evidence that he
knew his conduct would expose [Plaintiff] to a high risk of harm.”). While the analysis
provided with regards to Clark and Davis perhaps could have been clearer, the holding
that both Davis and Clark are entitled to qualified immunity is correct.
In order to establish a failure to protect claim under the Eighth Amendment and
overcome a qualified immunity defense, a plaintiff must demonstrate that a prison
official, in this instance sheriff deputies guarding the psychiatric ward, acted with
“deliberate indifference” toward a risk. See Wilson v. Yaklich, 148 F.3d 596, 600 (6th
Cir. 1998). To show that the officer acted with “deliberate indifference” to an “excessive
risk” faced by a prisoner requires more than a showing of negligence. Farmer, 511 U.S.
at 835, 837. Instead, the subjective standard imposed requires an inquiry into “whether
[an officer] had knowledge about the substantial risk of serious harm to a particular
class of persons.” See Taylor v. Michigan Dep't of Corrs., 69 F.3d 76, 80 (6th Cir. 1995).
“Knowledge of the asserted serious needs or of circumstances clearly indicating the
existence of such needs, is essential to a finding of deliberate indifference.” Blackmore
v. Kalamazoo Cty., 390 F.3d 890, 896 (6th Cir. 2004) (quotation omitted). The
defendant must not only be subjectively aware of the facts from which an inference
could be drawn that a substantial risk of serious harm exists, but they must also draw
that inference and disregard the risk. Phillips, 534 F.3d at 539-40; Sours v. Big Sandy
Reg'l Jail Auth., 593 Fed. Appx. 478, 484 (6th Cir. 2014).
It is undisputed that both Clark and Davis possessed knowledge about the
physical layout of the ward where housed, including blind spots. And Defendants were,
as a general matter, aware of Plaintiff’s vulnerability as a female inmate being housed in
a co-ed ward. However, this evidence is simply not enough to establish a question of
fact regarding whether the officers subjectively believed that Davis’s momentary
decision to leave his post constituted a substantial risk to the inmates.
The deputies were not informed of the specific illnesses of each patient, and
there was no indication that the interactions between Plaintiff and Miles were anything
but friendly. (ECF No. 66-9, PageID.1242.) It also uncontested that prior to the 2005
incident, the deputies were aware of no incidents of “consensual or non-consensual
sexual contact” in the ward. (ECF No. 66-7, PageID.1207.) The deputies also believed
that one of the three hospital staffers on duty in the ward was present in the day room
and could observe both Plaintiff and Miles. (ECF No. 66-9, PageID.1231.) While both
Davis and Clark may have been aware that Davis’s short bathroom break somewhat
increased the risk of inappropriate interactions between the inmates, there is simply no
evidence suggesting that the officers were subjectively aware of the seriousness of the
situation. See Blackmore, 390 F.3d at 896. Consequently, the court was correct in
finding that no genuine dispute existed with regards to whether Clark and Davis acted
with deliberate indifference, and the court declines to revisit the finding that both officers
should be granted qualified immunity.
While Plaintiff also moves for reconsideration of the court’s decision to dismiss
her claim against Wayne State, she has presented no evidence of a palpable defect.
See E.D. Mich. LR 7.1(h)(3). The court directly addressed the claims against Wayne
County and concluded that Plaintiff had failed to demonstrate that the county’s policies
or training were constitutionally deficient. Morgan ex rel. Campbell, 2020 WL 5819570,
at *7-9 (E.D. Mich. Sept. 30, 2020). So, given this finding, it is clear that the Monell
claims against the county must also fail. Accordingly,
IT IS ORDERED that Plaintiff’s Motion for Reconsideration (ECF No. 86) is
s/Robert H. Cleland
ROBERT H. CLELAND
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Dated: April 1, 2021
I hereby certify that a copy of the foregoing document was mailed to counsel of record
on this date, April 1, 2021, by electronic and/or ordinary mail.
Case Manager and Deputy Clerk
S:\Cleland\Cleland\AAB\Opinions and Orders\Civil\17-12094.MORGAN.MotionforReconsideration.AAB.2.docx
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