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Oden v. Stewart

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

August 10, 2018

CYNTHIA STEWART, et. al, Defendants.



         Plaintiff Brandon Martell Oden, an Alabama prison inmate proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis, filed a complaint under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. This action has been referred to the undersigned for appropriate action pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B) and S.D. Ala. GenLR 72(a)(2)(R). After careful review, it is recommended that summary judgment should be GRANTED in favor of Defendant Stewart and that Plaintiff Oden's action against this Defendant be DISMISSED with prejudice.

         Furthermore, Plaintiff is hereby placed on Notice by the filing of this Report and Recommendation of the Court's intention to recommend the granting of summary judgment for Defendants Jesse Wilson and C. Arthur, who have not been served with this complaint to date.

         I. Procedural Aspects of the Case.

         Plaintiff Oden brings this action against Warden Cynthia Stewart, Officer C. Arthur, and Officer Jesse Wilson, for excessive use of force, denial of medical care, false disciplinary charges, and deprivation of property. (Doc. 7 at 5, 7-8, 10, 14-15). The action was served on Defendant Warden Cynthia Stewart, and she has answered the suit and filed a special report, [1] complete with incident reports, medical records, internal investigation reports, and affidavits. (Docs. 20, 21, 26). After review of the pleadings, the Court converted the answer and special report into a Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. 22), to which Plaintiff Oden has responded. (Doc. 25).

         Oden filed a Motion for Extension of Time to Respond to Defendant's Supplement to the Special Report (Doc. 27). Defendant's supplement (doc. 26) is comprised entirely of the Internal Investigation of the November 9, 2016 incident subject of this complaint and presents no new arguments, facts, or issues to which Plaintiff has not previously mentioned in his complaint or responded to in opposition to the Motion for Summary Judgment. (See Doc. 25). For this reason, the Court denies Plaintiff's Motion for an Extension of Time to Respond (doc. 27) as futile.

         Plaintiff Oden also filed a Motion to Subpoena documents from Holman Correctional Facility. (Doc. 28). In his motion, he requests the bed rosters for November 7-9, 2016, as well as access to a computer, printer, and Internet for assistance in bringing this suit. (Id. at 1). Given that Plaintiff has sufficiently pleaded the facts related to his asserted claims (and they are not complex in nature), Plaintiff has shown no need for Internet and computer assistance beyond that to which he currently has access. Importantly, the Court is required to take Plaintiff's version of the facts as true for purposes of this motion; thus, Plaintiff's request for copies of the prison bed assignments are futile and not necessary at this stage of the action. Consequently, the Court hereby denies Plaintiff's motion (doc. 28).

         After a thorough review of the record, the Court determines that Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment is ripe for consideration.

         II. Summary Judgment Standard.

         Summary Judgment is proper "if the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and that the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a); see Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 247-48, 106 S.Ct. 2505, 2510, 91 L.Ed.2d 202 (1986); see also Ce-lotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322, 106 S.Ct. 2548, 91 L.Ed.2d 265 (1986); Garczynski v. Bradshaw, 573 F.3d 1158, 1165 (2009) ("[S]ummary judgment is appropriate even if 'some alleged factual dispute' between the parties remains, so long as there is 'no genuine issue of material fact.'"(emphasis omitted)).

         The party asking for summary judgment "always bears the initial responsibility of informing the district court of the basis for its motion, and identifying those portions of the 'pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any,' which it believes demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of material fact." Celotex, 477 U.S. at 323. The mo-vant can meet this burden by presenting evidence showing there is no dispute of material fact, or by showing, or pointing out to, the district court that the nonmov-ing party has failed to present evidence in support of some element of its case on which it bears the ultimate burden of proof. Id. at 322-24.

Once the moving party has met its burden, Rule 56(e) "requires the nonmoving party to go beyond the pleadings and by [its] own affidavits, or by the 'depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file,' designate 'specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial.'" Id. at 324. To avoid summary judgment, the nonmov-ing party "must do more than show that there is some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts." Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586, 106 S.Ct. 1348, 89 L.Ed.2d 538 (1986). On the other hand, the evidence of the nonmovant must be believed and all justifiable inferences must be drawn in its favor. See Anderson, 477 U.S. at 255.

ThyssenKrupp Steel USA, LLC v. United Forming, Inc., 926 F.Supp.2d 1286, 1289-90 (S.D. Ala. Jan. 29, 2013) (citations omitted).

         The requirement to view the facts in the nonmoving party's favor extends only to "genuine" disputes over material facts. A genuine dispute requires more than "some metaphysical doubt as to material facts." Garczynski, 573 F.3d at 1165 (internal citations omitted). A "mere scintilla" of evidence is insufficient; the nonmoving party must produce substantial evidence in order to defeat a motion for summary judgment. Id. In addition, "[t]here is no burden upon the district court to distill every potential argument that could be made based upon the materials before it on summary judgment." Resolution Trust Corp. v. Dunmar Corp., 43 F.3d 587, 599 (11th Cir. 1995). More importantly, where "opposing parties tell two different stories, one of which is blatantly contradicted by the record, so that no reasonable jury could believe it, a court should not adopt that version of the facts for purposes of ruling on a motion for summary judgment." Scott v. Harris, 550 U.S. 372, 380, 127 S.Ct. 1769, 1776, 167 L.Ed.2d 686 (2007); see also Logan v. Smith, 439 Fed.Appx. 798, 800 (11th Cir. Aug. 29, 2011) ("In cases where opposing parties tell different versions of the same events one of which is blatantly contradicted by the record-such that no reasonable jury could believe it- a court should not adopt the contradicted allegations." (citations omitted) (un-published)).[2]

         III. Summary Judgment Facts.

         The claims asserted against the defendants center around two incidents: (1) November 9, 2016 Incident and (2) November 19, 2016 Incident.[3] The parties' allegations and facts relevant to these incidents are summarized below.

         A. November 9, 2016 Incident.

         In his complaint, Plaintiff Oden claims:

On Nov. 9, 2016, ADOC Cert team entered B-Dorm at Holman Correction around 5:00 a.m. They entered B-Dorm brutally beating inmates waking them up out of their sl[ee]p, then tying our hands behind our back in zip tie's making us lay face down. In full compliance, they continue[d] beating us. They had a list of twenty inmate[s'] names they were suppose to apprehended using the proper precautions to do so. They beat 3/4 ‘s of 114 inmates. Officer Jesse Wilson and C-Author step on my private part and step on my neck [and] beat on an Inmate sleeping on Bed B-46, stepping onto my Bed B-45. I was denied medical attention for several day[s] until Nov. 17, 2016.
I have been in server[sic] pain since [and] have [had] difficulties since.

(Doc. 7 at 13). The prison incident report regarding the force used on November 9, 2016 describes preceding events to the dormitory raid and clarifies why the CERT team entered to seize certain inmates; notably, Plaintiff does not refute the facts contained in the incident report. The report states:

On November 7, 2016, the Southern CERT members entered B-Dor-mitory and ordered all inmates to remove sticks and tied up blankets from their beds. The inmates refused to comply and became very hostile and aggressive toward the CERT members. The inmates gathered in a threatening and intimidating manner around the CERT members stating, “This is 2016, and we run this, slavery is over with, we already done killed one of y'all.” Several unidentified inmates were observed with handmade knives in their possession. The CERT members were able to exit the dormitory without incident. The inmates with handmade knives were later identified by the CERT members through IMAS. On November 9, 2016, at approximately 6:35 a.m., the North Central, South Central, and Southern Team CERT Teams entered B-Dormitory to arrest the suspects. . . . The inmates were arrested and escorted to the health care unit for medical assessments. . . .

(Doc. 21-1 at 5). The CERT team's search resulted in the confiscation of thirty (30) handmade knives and twenty-one (21) inmates were transferred to segregation pending disciplinary actions for failing to obey a direct order, gathering in a threatening or intimidating manner, and unauthorized possession of a weapon or device that could be used as a weapon. (Id. at 6). It is undisputed that Plaintiff Oden was not one of the inmates who was arrested and/or charged by the CERT team on November 9, 2016.

         The medical records show, however, that Plaintiff received a body chart on November 9, 2016, at 7:45 a.m., at the request of the CERT team. (Doc. 21- 1 at 65). Oden's single statement to the nurse was, “My side hurts” and no distress or signs of injury were noted. (Id.).

         On November 10, 2016, Oden submitted a sick call request stating:

On Nov. 9th the CERT team entered into B-dorm and brutally beat me and almost 50 individuals - applying an extreme amount of pressure with their knee causing it to hurt with abnormal pain, as well as hitting me on my left side above the lungs, smashing my hand with a black jack with metal in it. In intensive pain which my head hurt badly.

(Id. at 63). Oden was examined that same day and Ibuprofen was prescribed for Oden's complaints of “neck and hand” soreness, but no signs of injury were noted, including no edema or bruising. (Id. at 61-62, 64).

         On November 13, 2016, Oden was involved in an altercation with an inmate and was treated in the healthcare unit for a 1.5 cm superficial laceration to his right cheek and abrasions to the knuckles on his left hand. (Id. at 53-60)

         On November 14, 2016, Oden submitted another sick call request stating:

On Nov. 9, 2016 the CERT team come in and place us in zip tie's and beat us. One of them was standing on my neck and stepped on my private part which they have been swollen since and if I turn my neck to the left or right it sends a sharp pain down my spain[sic] threw[sic] the entire left side of my body. Which hurts extremely bad which I believe one of my shoulder bones are broken or out of place because my back is in pain. . .

(Id. at 53). Oden was provided a left shoulder sling and scrotal support and orders were made for an x-ray and appointment with the physician. (Id. at 46, 54-57). The chest x-ray revealed no acute disease and reported normal findings of the heart and lungs, with no pleural effusions, pneumothorax, or fracture. (Id. at 68).

         On November 23, 2016, Oden was examined by the institution's doctor for complaints of genital pain initiating on November 9, 2016. (Doc. 21-1 at 49). The chart notes detail that Oden “was involved in an altercation” two weeks prior and was suffering from neck, low back, and groin pain. (Id.). An x-ray revealed unremarkable findings, specifically detailing that Oden's spine was intact without significant depression or ...

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