United States District Court, S.D. Alabama, Southern Division
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
KATHERINE P. NELSON UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
an Alabama prison inmate proceeding pro se and
in forma pauperis, filed a complaint under 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983. This action was referred to the undersigned
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B) and Local Rule
72(a)(2)(R), and is now before the undersigned on
Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. 23). After
careful review of the pleadings, and for the reasons set out
below, it is ordered that the motion be
GRANTED, in part, and
DENIED, in part.
Maurice Gladys brings this suit against Officer Vincent
Norman with claims of retaliation and excessive force in
violation of the Eighth Amendment. In his complaint, Gladys
alleges that while housed at Holman Correctional Facility, on
February 6, 2016,  Defendant Officer Vincent Norman cut him
with a pocketknife or box cutter and repeatedly beat him
while he was lying face down, compliant on the floor. (Doc.
to Gladys, on February 6, 2016, he was involved in minor and
quickly ended altercation with another inmate. (Id.
at 4). Following the incident, Sergeant Christopher Earl
ordered Gladys be taken to the infirmary to receive a body
chart. (Id.). Defendant Vincent Norman and Officer
Chris Quarles escorted Gladys to the infirmary, and it is
during this escort that Gladys alleges Defendant Norman used
excessive force against him in retaliation for the
“longstanding beef” between the two men.
(Id. at 4-5).
submits that inmates taken to the infirmary "must be
handcuffed in the front, " but that on this escort,
Defendant Norman attempted to handcuff Gladys to the rear by
screaming, "hands behind your back motherfucker".
(Id. at 5). Gladys claims that as he questioned
Defendant Norman regarding the words he used and the
necessity of being cuffed behind the back, and Defendant
Norman responded, “shut up bitch” and went
“into a rage, ” using further profanity.
(Id.). Defendant Norman radioed for the population
gate to be closed and then turned toward Gladys with a
pocketknife or box cutter in his hand. (Id.). Gladys
claims Officer Quarles, who had been attempting to secure
handcuffs on Gladys' left hand, released him and
Defendant Norman "picked the Plaintiff up in the air and
slammed the Plaintiff face down to the floor, stomping the
plaintiff in the back of the head, and neck area, " and
at some point during the incident, Defendant Norman cut
Gladys with the blade he was holding in his hand.
(Id.). According to Gladys, additional officers
arrived at the scene and witnessed the force used by
Defendant Norman, and the responding officers restrained
Defendant Norman, and Gladys was taken to the infirmary where
he received a body chart. (Id.). Gladys claims he
suffered pain from the assault as well as a cut on his neck
and a "close black eye." (Id.).
brings this suit against Defendant Norman, in his individual
capacity and seeks a jury trial and relief in the amount of
$150, 000.00 in the form of punitive, compensatory, and
mental damages. (Id. at 7).
Norman has answered the suit, denied all allegations against
him, and further asserted the defenses of absolute and
qualified immunity. (Docs. 20, 21). In support of his defense,
Defendant Norman has filed a Special Report, which includes
his personal affidavit, as well as affidavits of four
witnessing officers, and the medical, disciplinary, and
internal investigation records related to the February 6,
2016 incident complained of in this action. (Docs. 20-22).
The Court has converted Defendant's pleadings into a
Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. 23), and Plaintiff Gladys
has responded to the motion. (Doc. 26). After a review of the
record in its entirety, the Court has determined this motion
is ripe for consideration.
Summary Judgment Standard.
analyzing the propriety of a motion for summary judgment, the
Court begins with these basic principles. The Federal
Rules of Civil Procedure grant this Court authority
under Rule 56 to render "judgment as a matter of
law" to a party who moves for summary judgment. Federal
Rule of Civil Procedure 56(a) provides that "[t]he court
shall grant summary judgment if the movant shows that there
is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant
is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." The party
moving for summary judgment bears the "initial
responsibility of informing the district court of the basis
for [their] motion, and identifying those portions of
'the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories,
and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any,
' which [they] believe demonstrate the absence of a
genuine issue of material fact." Clark v. Coats
& Clark, Inc., 929 F.2d 604, 608 (11th Cir. 1991)
(bracketed text added) (quoting Celotex Corp. v.
Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323, 106 S.Ct. 2548, 91 L.Ed.2d
265 (1986)). If the moving party does not have the burden of
proof at trial, they may show that "there is an absence
of evidence to support the nonmoving party's case."
United States v. Four Parcels of Real Property, 941
F.2d 1428, 1437 (11th Cir. 1991) (citations omitted).
Alternatively, the moving party may support its "motion
for summary judgment with affirmative evidence demonstrating
that the nonmoving party will be unable to prove its case at
trial." Id. If the moving party meets this
burden, the non-movant, as the party bearing the burden of
proof at trial, must set forth specific facts, supported by
citation to the evidence, to support the elements of the case
at trial, and therefore, establish that there is a genuine
issue for trial. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c). See Anderson v.
Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248, 252, 106 S.Ct.
2505, 91 L.Ed.2d 202 (1986).
the Court must "resolve all issues of material fact in
favor of the [non-movant], and then determine the legal
question of whether the [movant] is entitled to judgment as a
matter of law under that version of the facts."
McDowell v. Brown, 392 F.3d 1283, 1288 (11th Cir.
2004) citing Durruthy v. Pastor, 351 F.3d 1080, 1084
(11th Cir. 2003). "[A]ll reasonable doubts about the
facts and all justifiable inferences are resolved in favor of
the non-movant." Citizens Trust Bank v. Lett,
2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 90849, 2015 WL 4254561, at *1 (N.D.Ala.
2015). The Court is obligated to construe the record,
including all evidence and factual inferences, in the light
most favorable to the nonmoving party. See Skop v. City
of Atlanta, 485 F.3d 1130, 1136 (11th Cir. 2007).
the mere existence of any factual dispute will not
automatically necessitate denial of a motion for summary
judgment; rather, only factual disputes that are material
preclude entry of summary judgment. Lofton v. Secretary
of Dept. of Children and Family Services, 358 F.3d 804,
809 (11th Cir. 2004). "An issue of fact is material if
it is a legal element of the claim under the applicable
substantive law which might affect the outcome of the case.
It is genuine if the record taken as a whole could lead a
rational trier of fact to find for the nonmoving party."
Reeves v. C.H. Robinson Worldwide, Inc., 594 F.3d
798, 807 (11th Cir. 2010) (citation omitted). A genuine
dispute of material fact exists "if the evidence is such
that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the
nonmoving party." Allen v. Bd. of Public Education
for Bibb County, 495 F.3d 1306, 1313 (11th Cir. 2007).
order for a plaintiff to establish a claim under 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983, he must prove (1) a violation of a
constitutional right, and (2) that the alleged violation was
committed by a person acting under the color of state
law." Martinez v. Burns, 459 Fed.Appx. 849,
850-851 (11th Cir. 2012) (citing Holmes v. Crosby,
418 F.3d 1256, 1258 (11th Cir. 2005)). The parties do not
dispute that Defendant, as a correctional officer for the
State of Alabama was acting under color of law.
Eighth Amendment, applicable to the states through the
Fourteenth Amendment, governs the conditions under which
convicted prisoners are confined and the treatment they
receive while in prison." Id. (citing
Farrow v. West, 320 F.3d 1235, 1242 (11th Cir.
2003); Bass v. Perrin, 170 F.3d 1312, 1316 (11th
Cir. 1999)). The Amendment states that "[e]xcessive bail
shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel
and unusual punishments inflicted." U.S. Const. amend.
VIII. "'[T]he unnecessary and wanton infliction of
pain ... constitutes cruel and unusual punishment forbidden
by the Eighth Amendment.'" Whitley v.
Albers, 475 U.S. 312, 319, 106 S.Ct. 1078, 89 L.Ed.2d
251 (1986) (some internal quotation marks omitted).
"Among 'unnecessary and wanton' inflictions of
pain are those that are 'totally without penological
justification.'" Rhodes v. Chapman, 452
U.S. 337, 346, 101 S.Ct. 2392, 2399, 69 L.Ed.2d 59 (1981);
Hudson v. McMillian, 112 S.Ct. 995, 998, 503 U.S. 1,
5, 117 L.Ed.2d 156 (1992) ('[T]he unnecessary and wanton
infliction of pain ... constitutes cruel and unusual
punishment forbidden by the Eighth Amendment.'")
(citations omitted). "Therefore, the "Eighth
Amendment prohibits prison officers from using excessive
force against prisoners." Pearson v. Taylor,
665 F. App'x 858, 863 (11th Cir. 2016) (citing Thomas
v. Bryant, 614 F.3d at 1303-04). Thus, "[t]he
'core judicial inquiry' for an excessive-force claim
is 'whether force was applied in a good- faith effort to
maintain or restore discipline, or maliciously and
sadistically to cause harm.'" Id. (quoting
Wilkins v. Gaddy, 559 U.S. 34, 37, 130 S.Ct. 1175,
175 L.Ed.2d 995 (2010) (quoting Hudson, 503 U.S. at
Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit has
"identified five factors to help evaluate whether force
was applied maliciously or sadistically." Id.
(citing Danley v. Allen, 540 F.3d 1298, 1307 (11th
Cir. 2008), overruled on other grounds as recognized by
Randall v. Scott, 610 F.3d 701, 709 (11th Cir. 2010)):
"(1) the need for force; (2) the relationship between
that need and the amount of force used; (3) the extent of the
resulting injury; (4) the extent of the threat to the safety
of staff and inmates, as reasonably perceived by the
responsible official on the basis of facts known to that
official; and (5) any efforts made to temper the severity of
the use of force." Id. (citations omitted). The
court will review the evidence of record against these
On February 6, 2016, I along with Officer Quarles was
escorting Gladys to the shift office, after an officer had
asked that Gladys be removed from his area. Inmate Gladys did
not want to go to the shift office, which is where inmates
are typically taken under these circumstances. Inmate Gladys
was not handcuffed when we first started escorting him.
However, given how belligerent and angry inmate Gladys was
acting, at some point from a safety and security standpoint,
Gladys needed to be handcuffed.
Gladys strongly objected to being handcuffed. As Officer
Quarrels was trying to handcuff him, inmate Gladys swung at
me with his left fist. I avoided contact with inmate
Gladys' fist by ducking under it. Around this time a code
for assistance was called and other officers came to assist
us in getting control of the situation by trying to handcuff
inmate Gladys. With other officers' assistance, I placed
inmate Gladys face down on the ground, where Gladys continued
to actively physically resist being handcuffed. Once inmate
Gladys was handcuffed he became compliant and was then taken
to the infirmary for a body chart.
(Doc. 20-1 at 2). Officer Quarles corroborates the facts laid
out by Defendant but articulates that Gladys was being
escorted to the shift office after fighting ...