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Crews-Bey v. Johnson

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

May 7, 2018

KAMILES CREWS-BEY, Plaintiff,
v.
LIEUTENANT D. JOHNSON, et al., Defendants.

          MAGISTRATE JUDGE'S REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          STACI G. CORNELIUS U.S. MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         The plaintiff has filed a pro se second amended complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for violations of his civil rights. (Doc. 21). The second amended complaint names the following defendants: Warden Leon Bolling, Captain Jeffery Baldwin, Lieutenant Deaundra Johnson, Correctional Officer Rodney Smith, and Correctional Officer David Mason. (Id. at 1). The plaintiff seeks injunctive and monetary relief . (Id. at 9). In accordance with the usual practices of this court and 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1), the second amended complaint was referred to the undersigned for a preliminary report and recommendation. See McCarthy v. Bronson, 500 U.S. 136 (1991).

         I. PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         On March 10, 2017, and May 22, 2017, the plaintiff filed motions seeking orders requiring the defendants to: (1) separate him from Raphael Landrum, an inmate the plaintiff alleges assaulted him in June 2016; and (2) transfer the plaintiff to another facility and refrain from retaliating against him. (Docs. 22, 28). The undersigned ordered the defendants to respond to the plaintiff's motions for preliminary injunction. (Doc. 25). On August 8, 2017, the court accepted the undersigned's recommendation-to which the plaintiff did not object-and denied the plaintiff's motions for preliminary injunction. (Doc. 35; see Docs. 32, 33).

         On August 17, 2017, the undersigned entered an Order for Special Report directing the Clerk to forward copies of the second amended complaint to each of the named defendants and directing the defendants to file a Special Report addressing the plaintiff's factual allegations. (Doc. 36). The order advised the defendants the Special Report could be submitted under oath or accompanied by affidavits and, if appropriate, would be construed as a motion for summary judgment under Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. (Id.). On August 30, 2017, the plaintiff filed a response noting that the court had accurately interpreted his claims. (Doc. 37).

         On November 15, 2017, the defendants filed a Special Report and supporting evidence. (Doc. 45). On December 22, 2017, the undersigned notified the parties the Special Report would be construed as a motion for summary judgment and ordered the plaintiff to respond by filing affidavits or other material within twenty-one (21) days. (Doc. 51). The order also advised the plaintiff of the consequences of any default or failure to comply with Rule 56. (Id.). See Griffith v. Wainwright, 772 F.2d 822, 825 (11th Cir. 1985). Although the plaintiff filed responses to the defendants' Special Report on November 29, 2017 (Doc. 47), and December 4, 2017 (Doc. 48), he did not submit any additional material after the court's December 22, 2017 order.[1] Accordingly, the defendants' motion for summary judgment is fully briefed and ripe for adjudication.

         II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

         Because the court has construed the defendants' Special Report as a motion for summary judgment, Rule 56 governs. Under Rule 56(a), summary judgment is proper "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." In making that assessment, the court must view the evidence in a light most favorable to the non-moving party and must draw all reasonable inferences against the moving party. Chapman v. AI Transport, 229 F.3d 1012, 1023 (11th Cir. 2000). The moving party bears the burden to establish prima facie entitlement to summary judgment by showing the absence of genuine issues of material fact such that judgment as a matter of law is due. See Clark v. Coats & Clark, Inc., 929 F.2d 604, 608 (11th Cir. 1991). Unless the plaintiff, who carries the ultimate burden of proving his action, is able to show some evidence with respect to each element of his claim, all other issues of fact become immaterial, and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. See Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322-23 (1986); Bennett v. Parker, 898 F.2d 1530, 1532-33 (11th Cir. 1990). As the Eleventh Circuit has explained:

Facts in dispute cease to be material facts when the plaintiff fails to establish a prima facie case. In such a situation, there can be no genuine issue as to any material fact, since a complete failure of proof concerning an essential element of the non-moving party's case necessarily renders all other facts immaterial. Thus, under such circumstances, the public official is entitled to judgment as a matter of law, because the plaintiff has failed to carry the burden of proof. This rule facilitates the dismissal of factually unsupported claims prior to trial.

Bennett, 898 F.2d at 1532 (citations and quotation marks omitted).

         However, "specific facts" pled in a pro se plaintiff's sworn complaint must be considered in opposition to summary judgment. See Caldwell v. Warden, FCI Talladega, 748 F.3d 1090, 1098 (11th Cir. 2014) (citing Perry v. Thompson, 786 F.2d 1093, 1095 (11th Cir. 1986)). Additionally, because the plaintiff is pro se, the court must construe the complaint more liberally than it would pleadings drafted by lawyers. Hughes v. Rowe, 449 U.S. 5, 9 (1980). "Pro se pleading are held to a less stringent standard than pleadings drafted by attorneys and will, therefore, be liberally construed." Boxer X v. Harris, 437 F.3d 1107, 1110 (11th Cir. 2006).

         III. SUMMARY JUDGMENT FACTS[2]

         In May 2016, the plaintiff wrote a letter to defendant Johnson. (Doc. 21 at 4). A few days later, Lieutenant Johnson instructed an officer to escort the plaintiff to the West Classification Offices where Johnson was waiting. (Id.). Johnson told the plaintiff the letter was "a slap in the face" and that she and the plaintiff should be allies rather than enemies. (Id.). Johnson also stated that if the plaintiff or "anybody else wrote her it had better be correct." (Id.). About a week later, the plaintiff wrote Lieutenant Johnson a second letter.[3] (Id.).

         On June 3, 2016, the plaintiff was at Chapel, talking with inmates, when two other inmates, Raphael Landrum and Anthony Jones, approached.[4] (Doc. 21 at 4). At another inmate's request, the plaintiff agreed to go to B-Block to "retrieve funds" from Landrum. (Id.). Between 1:15-1:30 p.m., the plaintiff, Landrum, and Jones left Chapel and walked together to A/B Unit. (Doc. 21 at 4). Defendant Mason was standing at the entrance on the main hall. (Id.). Although Mason knew the plaintiff was not assigned to A/B Unit, he allowed the plaintiff to enter with Landrum and Jones. (Id. at 4-5). When the inmates walked down the corridor, the door to B-Block was locked. (Id. at 5). Landrum asked defendant Smith, the cubicle operator, to open the door to B-Block. (Id.). Smith observed the inmates standing at the door. (Id.). Smith also knew the plaintiff was not assigned to A/B Unit. (Doc. 21 at 5). However, Smith unlocked the door and allowed the inmates through. (Id.). As the inmates entered, Smith called the plaintiff's name, shook an ink pen, and stated he was about "to get the stick." (Id.).

         The plaintiff entered a cell with Jones and Landrum, and after Landrum locked the door, he and Jones immediately began assaulting the plaintiff. (Doc. 21 at 5). During the assault, Jones kept repeating, "Write Lt. Johnson another letter." (Id.). After the inmates beat and "stomped" on the plaintiff, Landrum began hitting the plaintiff's hands with a stick and asking which hand he wrote with. (Id.). While Landrum hit the plaintiff's hands, Jones said, "She want that b[**]ch broke, break that b[**]ch." (Id.).

         After the assault was finished, Landrum told the plaintiff to leave the cell and go to the exit door of the cell block. (Doc. 21 at 5). When the plaintiff reached the exit door, Landrum got defendant Smith's attention and pointed to the plaintiff; Smith then opened the door for the plaintiff to leave. (Id.). Defendant Mason was still at the front door, and when he noticed the plaintiff's bruised and swollen face, he told the plaintiff he had to stay in the corridor for two hours before he could leave. (Id.). However, after looking down the hall and seeing it was empty, Mason told the plaintiff to leave.[5] (Id.).

         The plaintiff went to his assigned unit and returned to the Chapel when Moorish Science Service was called. (Doc. 21 at 5-6). At approximately 4:30 p.m., Correctional Officer Robert Williams, a non-party, called for a supervisor to report to the Chapel. (Doc. 45-6 at 1). Sergeant William Bradford, also a non-party, responded to the Chapel, and Williams said he thought the plaintiff had been beaten and was about to pass out. (Id.). Inmates assisted the plaintiff to the infirmary. (Doc. 21 at 6).

         Defendants Bolling and Baldwin visited the plaintiff in the infirmary and inquired who assaulted him. (Doc. 21 at 6). The plaintiff said he did not know. (Id.). The plaintiff did not respond when Baldwin again asked the assailants' identities. (Doc. 45-2). Sgt. Bradford notified Correctional Investigator Charles Hedrick of the Investigations & Intelligence Division ("I&I") that the plaintiff had been assaulted. (Doc. 45-6 at 1, 9-10). The plaintiff sustained multiple contusions to his head, face, arms, and left knee; he was transported to Brookwood Hospital for treatment. (Id. at 1, 7). The plaintiff returned to prison with arm braces and a splint on his left pinky finger.[6] (Id. at 8).

         On November 16, 2016, during a Segregation Review Board, Landrum stated someone had placed two black gloves and a threatening note underneath his cell door. (See Doc. 45-6 at 1). Landrum stated his belief that the note was from the plaintiff. (Id.). When asked why he thought the plaintiff was responsible, Landrum admitted he had attacked the plaintiff on orders from inmate Earl Manassa.[7] According to Landrum, Manassa wanted the plaintiff's hand broken because he was writing letters to Lieutenant Johnson and masturbating while looking at female staff. (Id.).

         On November 17, 2016, Warden Errol Pickens, a non-party, interviewed the plaintiff; the plaintiff stated Landrum and Jones assaulted him "because of Lieutenant Johnson." (Doc. 45-6 at 1; Doc. 48 at 4). Specifically, the plaintiff stated Landrum and Jones informed him they were going to break his hands because Lieutenant Johnson wanted them broken. (Doc. 45-6 at 1). On the same day, the plaintiff submitted a written statement detailing the assault. (Doc. 45-6 at 4). The plaintiff claimed that, during the assault, Landrum and Jones stated Johnson wanted his wrists broken. (Id.). The plaintiff claimed someone later warned him Johnson did not believe the first assault was sufficient and that she would send inmates to complete the job.[8] (Id.). The plaintiff further claimed an unknown inmate told him Johnson entered B-Block with "some big dude," announcing the plaintiff was an "example" and if other inmates were caught "gunning," she would have their wrists broken as well. (Id.).

         Also on November 17, 2016, Landrum submitted a written statement claiming someone had placed a pair of black gloves and a threatening note in his cell. (Doc. 45-6 at 5). Landrum expressed his belief that an inmate who had his hands broken was responsible. (Id.). Landrum claimed the inmate believed Lieutenant Johnson "put a hit out on him and that [he] took the hit." (Id.). Landrum claimed ...


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