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Daniels v. Dunn

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

February 14, 2019

KENDARRIUS DANIELS, #218223, Plaintiff,
JEFFERSON S. DUNN, et al., Defendants.



         Plaintiff Kendarrius Daniels, 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 Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment be GRANTED. It is further recommended that Plaintiff Kendarrius Daniels' action be dismissed with prejudice.

         I. Complaint Allegations.

         While imprisoned at Holman Correctional Facility (Holman), Plaintiff Kendarrius Daniels (Daniels) claims that Defendants, Alabama Department of Corrections Commissioner Jefferson Dunn, Warden Cynthia Stewart, Warden Terry Raybon, Warden Phillip Mitchell, Lieutenant Regina Bolar, [1] and Officer Tamekio Roberts, failed to protect him from being assaulted by another inmate, Heath McCray.[2] (Doc. 1).

         In his complaint, Daniels alleges that on or about October 30, 2016, at approximately 9:30 p.m., while housed on death row in cell P-1, he was holding a hand mirror out of the bars of his cell looking into the hallway. (Doc. 1 at 4). According to Daniels, as Inmate Heath McCray (McCray) passed by his cell, “[he] ask[ed] Inmate Heath McCray for a cigarette, [and McCray] then cut [Daniels] across the arm several times with razors wrapped around a tooth brush causing blood to flow from [his] arm.” (Id.). Daniels alleges he screamed for help but no officers came to assist him, so he started a fire in his cell to “get the officers attention.” (Id.). Lieutenant Bolar, Sergeant Day, and Officer Roberts arrived to assist; the fire was extinguished, and Daniels was taken to the health care unit and received medical treatment for his cuts. (Id. at 4-5).

         Daniels claims that, prior to this incident, he submitted several letters to Defendant Dunn and notified Defendant Wardens Stewart, Raybon, and Mitchell requesting to be moved because his life was in danger at the institution. (Id. at 5). In his complaint, Daniels alleges that Defendants are liable for failing to protect him from the inmate assault occurring on October 30, 2016, for providing inadequate security, and for denying him medical care in violation of the Eighth Amendment. Daniels seeks compensation in the amount of $250, 000.00 for his injuries.

         Defendants have answered the suit, denying the allegations against them, and filed a special report in support of their position. (Docs. 23, 24). In an Order dated January 3, 2019, the Court converted Defendants' Special Report and Answer into to a Motion for Summary Judgment, explained to the parties the procedure under Federal Rule 56, and afforded the parties an opportunity to respond to the motion by February 4, 2019. (Doc. 39). The Court also directed Daniels to notify the Court if he desired to continue with this litigation. Daniels has filed no response to the Court's Order. Following a careful review of the parties' pleadings, Defendants' motion for summary judgment, and supporting materials, the Court determines that the motion 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 Celotex 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 movant 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 nonmoving 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 nonmoving 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) (unpublished)).

         III. Discussion

         “The Eighth Amendment imposes a duty on prison officials to take reasonable measures to guarantee the safety of the inmates.” Caldwell v. Warden, FCI Talladega, 748 F.3d 1090, 1099 (11th Cir. 2014) (quoting Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 832, 114 S.Ct. 1970, 128 L.Ed.2d 811 (1994)) (alterations and quotations omitted). “It is not, however, every injury suffered by one prisoner at the hands of another that translates into constitutional liability for prison officials responsible for the victim's safety.” Farmer, 511 U.S. at 834; Purcell v. Toombs Cnty., 400 F.3d 1313, 1321 (11th Cir. 2005) (“[A] prison custodian is not the guarantor of a prisoner's safety.”) (quotation omitted).

         In this action, it is undisputed that Daniels set a fire on P-side of death row on October 30, 2016;[3] that Daniels had four cuts on his right forearm;[4] that Lt. Regina Bolar and Sgt. Day escorted Daniels to the health care unit on October 30, 2016 after he set a fire in his cell;[5] that Daniels received treatment for the cuts in the health care unit until the cuts were noted as “healed” on November 4, 2016;[6] that Inmate Heath McCray denied cutting Daniels' arm on October 30, 2016;[7] that Daniels stated he was going to use his crisis cell for his own personal gain;[8] that Officer Tameakio Roberts witnessed Daniels set fire to his cell;[9]that Daniels was found guilty of intentionally creating a security or health hazard by setting the October 30, 2016 fire in his cell.[10]

         1. ...

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