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Clark v. Noe

United States District Court, N.D. Alabama, Southern Division

October 20, 2017

DANIEL BARTHOLOMEW CLARK, Plaintiff,
v.
GUY NOE, et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          MADELINE HUGHES HAIKALA UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         This prisoner civil rights action is before the Court for a review of the magistrate judge's November 18, 2016 report concerning the defendants' motion for summary judgment. In the report, the magistrate judge recommends that the Court enter judgment for the defendants on all of plaintiff Daniel Bartholomew Clark's claims. (Doc. 23). Mr. Clark has filed objections to the report (Doc. 24), and he has filed a “Writ of Mandamus/Equitable Tolling” (Doc. 26) and a “Motion to Leave to Suppl[e]ment Reply to Special Report/Objections” (Doc. 27).

         The Court treats the writ of mandamus as a motion to extend the deadline for submitting additional medical records. (Doc. 26, pp. 1-2).[1] In his motion for leave to supplement his reply to the special report and objections, Mr. Clark asks the Court to consider the additional medical records and other evidence. (Doc. 27, p. 1). The Court grants Mr. Clark's motion to extend the deadline to submit evidence and his motion to supplement his reply to the special report and objections. In this opinion, the Court considers Mr. Clark's objections to the report and recommendation together with the additional evidence and argument that Mr. Clark has submitted.

         STANDARD OF REVIEW

         A district court “may accept, reject, or modify, in whole or part, the findings or recommendations made by the magistrate judge.” 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(C). When a party objects to a report and recommendation, the district court must “make a de novo determination of those portions of the report or specified proposed findings or recommendations to which objection is made.” Id. The Court reviews for plain error proposed factual findings to which no objection is made, and the Court reviews propositions of law de novo. Garvey v. Vaughn, 993 F.2d 776, 779 n.9 (11th Cir. 1993); see also United States v. Slay, 714 F.2d 1093, 1095 (11th Cir. 1983) (per curiam), cert. denied, 464 U.S. 1050 (1984) (“The failure to object to the magistrate's findings of fact prohibits an attack on appeal of the factual findings adopted by the district court except on grounds of plain error or manifest injustice.”) (internal citation omitted); Macort v. Prem, Inc., 208 Fed.Appx. 781, 784 (11th Cir. 2006).

         DISCUSSION

         1. Equal Protection

         Mr. Clark argues that the defendants provided insufficient security in the dorms of his prison and that the inadequate security violated his equal protection rights. (Doc. 24, p. 2). “To establish an equal protection claim, ‘a prisoner must demonstrate that (1) he is similarly situated to other prisoners who received more favorable treatment; and [that] (2) the state engaged in invidious discrimination against him based on race, religion, national origin, or some other constitutionally protected basis.'” Muhammad v. Sapp, 388 Fed.Appx. 892, 899 (11th Cir. 2010) (quoting Sweet v. Sec'y Dep't of Corr., 467 F.3d 1311, 1318-1319 (11th Cir. 2006)) (alteration in Muhammad). “[P]urposeful discrimination requires more than intent as volition or intent as awareness of consequences. . . . It instead involves a decisionmaker's undertaking a course of action because of, not merely in spite of, the action's adverse effects upon an identifiable group.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 676-77 (2009) (internal quotation marks, citation, and editorial marks omitted). To demonstrate a violation of a clearly established right, a plaintiff must show that the defendants adopted and implemented the policy at issue “for the purpose of discriminating on account of race, religion or national origin.” Id. at 677.

         Mr. Clark has not submitted evidence to demonstrate that the defendants enforced the security policy in the dorms in a discriminatory manner. In fact, Mr. Clark asserts that everyone in the dorm was subjected to the same inadequate protection. Therefore, Mr. Clark has not presented a viable equal protection claim, and the Court overrules Mr. Clark's first objection.

         2. Eighth Amendment - Failure to Protect

         To the extent that Mr. Clark attempts to raise a failure to protect claim under the Eighth Amendment (see Doc. 24, pp. 1-2), the record does not support such a claim. Under the Eighth Amendment, prison officials must “protect prisoners from violence at the hands of other prisoners.” Caldwell v. Warden, FCI Talladega, 748 F.3d 1090, 1099 (11th Cir. 2014) (quoting Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 833 (1994) (internal marks omitted)). Although prison officials have a general duty to protect inmates from violence by other prisoners, prison officials are not the guarantors of a prisoner's safety. Morgan v. Toombs Cty., GA., 400 F.3d 1313, 1321 (11th Cir. 2005) (citing Popham v. City of Talladega, 908 F.2d 1561, 1564 (11th Cir. 1990)).

         To establish a violation of the Eighth Amendment, a plaintiff must show that he faced a “substantial risk of serious harm” and that the defendants were deliberately indifferent to that risk. Farmer, 511 U.S. at 834. An objective standard governs the “substantial risk of serious harm” element of the Eighth Amendment test. Caldwell, 748 F.3d at 1099 (citing Marsh v. Butler Cty., Ala., 268 F.3d 1014, 1028-29 (11th Cir. 2001) (en banc), abrogated on other grounds in Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544 (2007)). The deliberate indifference element has two components, one subjective and one objective. “To satisfy the subjective component, a plaintiff must produce evidence that the defendant ‘actually (subjectively) kn[ew] that an inmate [faced] a substantial risk of serious harm.'” Caldwell, 748 F.3d at 1099 (quoting Rodriguez v. Sec'y for Dep't of Corr., 508 F.3d 611, 617 (11th Cir. 2007)) (alterations in Caldwell). “To satisfy the objective component, a plaintiff must produce evidence that the defendant ‘disregard[ed] that known risk by failing to respond to it in an (objectively) reasonable manner.'” Id. (quoting Rodriguez, 508 F.3d at 617) (alteration in Caldwell). “[N]egligent failure to protect an inmate from attack does not justify liability under section 1983.” Carter v. Galloway, 352 F.3d 1346, 1350 (11th Cir. 2003) (internal quotation marks and citation omitted). Instead, a plaintiff must demonstrate that prison officials were aware of “specific facts from which an inference could be drawn that a substantial risk of serious harm exist[ed]-and the prison official must also [have drawn] that inference.” Carter, 352 F.3d at 1349 (internal quotation marks and citations omitted).

         Mr. Clark has not produced evidence that a particular defendant was aware or should have been aware of a strong likelihood that he (Mr. Clark) would be assaulted. See Brown v. Hughes, 894 F.2d 1533, 1537 (11th Cir. 1990). Mr. Clark has not demonstrated that anyone previously had threatened him, or that prison officials were aware that such a threat existed, that a fight was imminent, or that he feared attack. Therefore, to the extent that Mr. Clark objects to the report and recommendation based on the defendants' alleged failure to protect him from the inmate who attacked him, the Court overrules the objection.

         3. § 1983 Conspiracy

         Mr. Clark also argues that he is the victim of a conspiracy. (Doc. 24, p. 2). Mr. Clark contends that guards placed him in a holding cell pending a write up for fighting, but he never received a disciplinary report. (Doc. 24, p. 2). This bare set of facts, standing alone, is not sufficient to establish a conspiracy among the defendants. To the extent that Mr. Clark contends that absence ...


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