Franklin v. Mosley et al
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER : IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that defendant's motion for summary judgment [Doc. # 74 ] is denied.. Signed by District Judge Carol E. Jackson on 4/10/14. (KKS)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF MISSOURI
Case No. 4:11-CV-1606 (CEJ)
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
This matter is before the Court on defendant’s motion for summary judgment.
Plaintiff has responded in opposition, and the issues are fully briefed.
At all times relevant to the complaint, plaintiff Christopher Franklin was
incarcerated at Farmington Correctional Center (FCC) in Farmington, Missouri, and
defendant Jeffrey Young was an Assistant Caseworker at FCC. In November 2008,
plaintiff was assaulted and forcibly sodomized by another inmate, Charles Mosley. He
brings this action against defendant under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging that defendant
violated the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment by
failing to protect him from the assault.
The FCC housing units are divided into two sides: an A-side, comprised of
housing units numbered 1 through 5, and a B-side, with housing units 6 through 10.
The two sides are separated by a metal fence, which inmates cannot cross. When
plaintiff arrived at FCC in 2006 he was assigned to a cell on the A-side.
immediately approached by inmates demanding sexual favors. He was assaulted and
forcibly sodomized on a regular basis by his cellmate, Leo Kent. See Pl. Dep. [Doc.
#48-2 at 56-58]. Plaintiff did not report these assaults. Id. at 33; 59.
In September 2008, plaintiff was moved into administrative segregation in
Housing Unit 5 on the A-side. See Pl. Dep. [Doc. #73-1 at 17]. On October 1, 2008,
defendant was assigned to that unit as an Assistant Caseworker. Plaintiff alleges that
he informed defendant orally and in writing that inmates --- including one named
Mosley --- were stalking him and threatening him with sexual assault. He requested
to be moved from the A-side to the B-side, where he believed he could avoid assault.
Defendant has no recollection of any conversations with plaintiff, but testified that he
would have remembered had an inmate expressed a concern about sexual assault.
Def. Dep. [Doc. #73-1 at 43; Doc. #73-2 at 48].
On October 27, 2008, plaintiff was released from administrative segregation, and
was assigned a bed in Housing Unit 6 on the B-side --- the same housing unit where
Charles Mosley resided. Mosley approached plaintiff several times and asked for sexual
favors, and plaintiff refused. Plaintiff did not alert the prison guards of these advances.
On November 14, 2008, Mosley entered plaintiff’s cell, assaulted, and forcibly
sodomized him. See Pl. Dep. [Doc. # 48-3 at 78-87]. Plaintiff told prison authorities
about the attack, and he and Mosley were immediately separated and a formal
investigation began. Id. at 95; 96.
Rule 56(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides that summary
judgment shall be entered if the moving party 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.”
In ruling on a motion for summary judgment the court is required to view the facts in
the light most favorable to the non-moving party and must give that party the benefit
of all reasonable inferences to be drawn from the underlying facts. AgriStor Leasing
v. Farrow, 826 F.2d 732, 734 (8th Cir. 1987). The moving party bears the burden of
showing both the absence of a genuine issue of material fact and its entitlement to
judgment as a matter of law. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242 (1986);
Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586-87 (1986). Once
the moving party has met its burden, the non-moving party may not rest on the
allegations of his pleadings but must set forth specific facts, by affidavit or other
evidence, showing that a genuine issue of material fact exists. United of Omaha Life
Ins. Co. v. Honea, 458 F.3d 788, 791 (8th Cir. 2006) (quoting Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(e)).
Rule 56 “mandates the entry of summary judgment, after adequate time for discovery
and upon motion, against a party who fails to make a showing sufficient to establish
the existence of an element essential to that party’s case, and on which that party will
bear the burden of proof at trial.” Celotex Corporation v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322
The Constitution does not permit inhumane prisons, and it is well-settled that
the conditions under which prisoners are confined are subject to Eighth Amendment
scrutiny. Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 832 (1994). These conditions include the
protection inmates receive against other inmates. Id. at 833. Prison officials have a
duty to protect prisoners from violence at the hands of their fellows. “Being violently
assaulted in prison is simply not part of the penalty that criminal offenders pay for their
offenses against society.” Id. On the other hand, prisons are inherently dangerous,
and not every injury “suffered by one prisoner at the hands of another ... translates
into constitutional liability for prison officials responsible for the victim’s safety.” Id.
To succeed on his Eighth Amendment failure-to-protect claim, plaintiff must
show: (1) that his incarceration in housing unit 6 posed a substantial risk of serious
harm, and (2) defendant knew of and disregarded that risk. Farmer, 511 U.S. at 834;
see also Young v. Selk, 508 F.3d 868, 872 (8th Cir. 2007). The second prong of this
test requires a “subjective showing” that defendant had “a sufficiently culpable state
of mind.” Blackmon v. Lombardi, 527 Fed. Appx. 583, 585 (8th Cir. 2013). The
defendant “must be both aware of facts from which the inference could be drawn that
a substantial risk of serious harm exists, and he must also draw the inference.”
Farmer, 511 U.S. at 837; see also Pagels v. Morrison, 335 F.3d 736, 740 (8th Cir.
2003). The defendant may not be held liable if he was merely negligent. Pagels, 335
F.3d at 740.
Objective Substantial Risk of Harm
“Rape or sexual assault at the hands of other prisoners is, of course, sufficiently
serious to amount to a deprivation of constitutional dimension.” Spruce v. Sargent,
149 F.3d 783, 785 (8th Cir. 1998) (quotations and citations omitted). Plaintiff has
produced sufficient evidence to create a genuine dispute of material fact regarding
whether his housing assignment posed an objective risk of harm. Plaintiff was a victim
of previous sexual assaults, and had been approached by multiple inmates for sexual
favors. He was targeted by sexual predators immediately upon his arrival at FCC due
to his youth. Objectively, plaintiff’s housing assignment among the general prison
population, in a housing unit in which an inmate known among prisoners as a “booty
bandit” (i.e., an older inmate who habitually pursues younger inmates for nonconsensual sexual activity) placed plaintiff at substantial risk of serious harm.
Genuine issues of material fact also exist regarding defendant’s knowledge of
the risk faced by plaintiff. Plaintiff testified that he told defendant that inmates on the
A-side were harassing and pressuring him, and requested a general population bed on
the B-side. Pl. Dep. I [Doc. #48-2, p. 30-33]; Pl. Dep. II [Doc. #73-1, p. 45]. Plaintiff
also testified that, in addition to in-person conversations, he sent “kites” (i.e.,
messages) to defendant, asking to be assigned to the B-side, and explaining that he
wanted to move to avoid contact with the “booty bandits.” Plaintiff produced the kites
that he alleges he sent to defendant stating that he was “being followed” by “booty
bandits” who wanted him to “tie down with them,” Pl. Ex. 2 [Doc. #50-2], and stating
that he could not take the “booty bandits” any longer. Pl. Ex. 3 [Doc. #50-3]. In a
kite from September 2008, plaintiff named all of the “booty bandits” he knew, including
his former cell-mate Kent and Mosley.
The kites contain responses from
defendant, stating that he could do nothing to help. Defendant argues that these kites
are forgeries, and are so “blatantly unreliable” that they should not be considered for
the purposes of this motion for summary judgment. However, the credibility and
reliability of evidence are issues for the jury to determine.
Defendant denies that plaintiff expressed any concerns about sexual assault.
He argues that plaintiff could not have voiced concerns about Mosley in October 2008,
when defendant was plaintiff’s caseworker, because plaintiff admits he did not know
Mosley at that time. While plaintiff gave conflicting testimony regarding the date he
first learned Mosley’s name, became aware of Mosley’s reputation as a “booty bandit,”
and was first approached by Mosley for sexual favors, “[a]mbiguities and even conflicts
in a deponents testimony are generally matters for the jury to sort out....” Gaston v.
The Restaurant Co., 260 F.Supp.2d 742, 755 (N.D. Iowa 2003). Plaintiff testified that
he knew of Mosley’s reputation and apprised defendant of his fears.
testified that he did not. This is a dispute of fact to be resolved by the jury.
Defendant focuses his argument on the ways in which plaintiff could have
prevented the assault. Defendant points out that plaintiff could have listed Mosley on
his “enemy list,” or told the guards in Housing Unit 6 when Mosley began harassing
him. The fact that plaintiff did not exhaust every available self-help option prior to the
assault does not conclusively establish that he was not at risk or that defendant did not
know about it. The Court concludes that plaintiff has produced sufficient evidence to
support a finding that defendant knew of the risk plaintiff faced and failed to protect
Defendant also argues that he is entitled to qualified immunity.
immunity shields an officer from suit when [he] makes a decision that, even if
circumstances [he] confronted.”
Brosseau v. Haugen, 543 U.S. 194, 198 (2004)
(citing Saucier v. Katz, 533 U.S. 194, 206 (2001)). Qualified immunity “provides
ample protection to all but the plainly incompetent or those who knowingly violate the
law.” Malley v. Briggs, 475 U.S. 335, 341 (1986).
Courts employ a two-part inquiry to determine whether an official is protected
by qualified immunity. First, the Court must decide “whether the facts shown by the
plaintiff make out a violation of a constitutional or statutory right.” Brown v. City of
Golden Valley, 574 F.3d 491, 496 (8th Cir. 2009) (citing Saucier v. Katz, 533 U.S. 194,
Second, the Court must determine “whether that right was clearly
established at the time of the defendant’s alleged misconduct.” Id. To be “clearly
established,” “[t]he contours of the right must be sufficiently clear that a reasonable
official would understand that what he is doing violates that right.”
Creighton, 483 U.S. 635, 640 (1987). “This is not to say that an official action is
protected by qualified immunity unless the very action in question has previously been
held unlawful, but it is to say that in the light of pre-existing law the unlawfulness must
be apparent.” Id. (internal citation omitted). If the Court finds that the right was not
clearly established at the time of the incident, then the official is entitled to qualified
As discussed above, factual disputes prevent the Court from determining
whether defendant violated plaintiff’s right under the Eighth Amendment. However,
the facts as shown by plaintiff do make out a violation of plaintiff’s right to be free from
cruel and unusual punishment. Moreover, it was clearly established long before 2008
when plaintiff was assaulted, that the Eighth Amendment requires prison officials “to
protect prisoners from violence at the hands of other prisoners.” Farmer v. Brennan,
511 U.S. 825, 832 (1994). The two-pronged test for failure-to-protect claims was
explained by the United States Supreme Court in Farmer. Viewing the evidence in the
light most favorable to the plaintiff, defendant knew of a substantial risk faced by
plaintiff and disregarded that risk. Defendant had fair warning that such conduct
violated the Eighth Amendment and, therefore, he is not entitled to qualified immunity.
For the reasons discussed above,
IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that defendant’s motion for summary judgment [Doc.
#74] is denied.
CAROL E. JACKSON
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Dated this 10th day of April, 2014.
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