United States District Court, N.D. Alabama, Southern Division
C. BURKE UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
plaintiff, Kamiles Crews, is an inmate currently incarcerated
by the Alabama Department of Corrections
(“ADOC”). On January 23, 2017, acting pro
se, plaintiff filed an amended complaint pursuant to 42
U.S.C. § 1983, alleging violations of his civil rights.
The plaintiff named ADOC employees Warden Leon Bolling,
Captain Jeffery Baldwin, Lieutenant Deaundra Johnson,
Correctional Officer David Mason, and Correctional Officer
Rodney Smith as defendants. The plaintiff sought injunctive
and monetary relief based on allegations that the defendants
conspired to have two inmates assault him on June 3, 2016.
Additionally, the plaintiff claimed that Officer Smith and
Officer Mason violated his Eighth Amendment rights by failing
to protect him from the assault, and that Warden Bolling and
Captain Baldwin failed to investigate the incident.
7, 2018, the magistrate judge issued a Report and
Recommendation that all of the plaintiff's claims be
summarily dismissed except for his individual-capacity claim
against Officer Rodney Smith. (Doc. 53). The judge previously
assigned to this case adopted the magistrate judge's report,
accepted her recommendation, and granted summary judgement in
favor of Warden Bolling, Captain Baldwin, Lieutenant Johnson,
and Officer Mason. Summary judgment was denied as to Officer
Smith in his individual capacity. (Doc. 54-1).
Court conducted a bench trial on the remaining claim on July
10, 2019. The plaintiff testified on his own behalf and also
called Officer Smith as a witness. For the reasons stated
below, the Court finds that the plaintiff failed to prove his
claim, and judgment should be entered in favor of the
Report and Recommendation, the magistrate judge thoroughly
and accurately laid out the plaintiff's factual
assertions underlying his claim. (Doc. 53, at 5-10). Thus, a
brief recitation of the plaintiff's claims is all that is
to the plaintiff, Lieutenant Johnson was angry with him
because, he said, he had written her a series of letters. The
plaintiff claimed that Johnson, along with the other
defendants, conspired to have two other inmates, Raphael
Landrum and Anthony Jones, assault the plaintiff and break
his hand. It is undisputed that the plaintiff was assaulted
and injured by other inmates on June 3, 2016. As noted, the
only claim to survive summary judgment was the
failure-to-protect claim against Officer Smith. Thus, the
testimony presented at trial was focused on that issue.
trial, the plaintiff testified that, on June 3, 2016, he was
attending a chapel service when he was approached by inmates
Landrum and Jones who asked him to accompany them to the A
and B unit to get money for another inmate. The plaintiff
admitted that he was not housed in A and B unit, but admitted
that he went to the unit with Landrum and Jones anyway.
According to the plaintiff, the door to A and B unit was
controlled by Officer Smith on the day in question. As the
three inmates were about to enter the unit, the plaintiff
said, Officer Smith called his name, shook a pen at him, and
said, “you are about to get the stick.” The
plaintiff stated that he and the other two inmates were then
allowed into the unit where the plaintiff was assaulted in a
closed room. The plaintiff testified that one of the inmates
used a stick to hit his hands. After the assault, the
plaintiff stated that he got Officer Smith to let him back
out of the unit. The plaintiff was later treated for his
injuries at a local hospital.
Smith testified that, on the day in question, he was the cube
officer. According to Officer Smith, the cube officer sits in
an enclosure approximately 50 feet from the doors and
controls the locks on the doors to the units. Officer Smith
denied that he ever told the plaintiff that he was
“about to get the stick.” Officer Smith testified
that, on the day in question, he observed the plaintiff,
along with Landrum and Jones, attempt to enter the A and B
unit. Officer Smith stated that he did not allow the
plaintiff to enter the unit because he knew that the
plaintiff was not assigned to that area. However, Officer
Smith said, he was the plaintiff about 30 minutes later
trying to exit the unit through the front door. Smith stated
that he believed the plaintiff surreptitiously entered the
unit during a time when many inmates were coming and going to
various chapel services. Smith denied that he had any
knowledge that the plaintiff was ever in any danger
Eighth Amendment's prohibition on cruel and unusual
punishment requires institutional officers to "take
reasonable measures to guarantee the safety of the
inmates" in their custody. Farmer v. Brennan,
511 U.S. 825, 832-33 (1994) (internal quotation marks and
citations omitted). It is clear, however, that not every
injury suffered by an inmate at the hands of another inmate
"translates into constitutional liability for prison
officials responsible for [the inmate's] safety."
Farmer, 511 U.S. at 834; see Zatler v.
Wainwright, 802 F.2d 397, 400 (11th Cir. 1986). "In
order to state a § 1983 cause of action against prison
officials based on a constitutional deprivation resulting
from cruel and unusual punishment, there must be at least
some allegation of a conscious or callous indifference to a
prisoner's rights, thus raising the tort to
constitutional stature." Williams v. Bennett,
689 F.2d 1370, 1380 (11th Cir. 1982) (quoting Wright v.
El Paso Cty. Jail, 642 F.2d 134, 136 (5th Cir. 1981));
see Gullatte v. Potts, 654 F.2d 1007, 1012 (5th Cir.
1981). In these contexts, a constitutional violation occurs
only when institutional officials' deliberate
indifference to a known danger or risk exposes an inmate to
objectively "sufficiently serious" harm.
Farmer, 511 U.S. at 834 (quoting Wilson v.
Seiter, 501 U.S. 294, 298 (1991)); see Brown v.
Hughes, 894 F.2d 1533, 1537 (11th Cir. 1990) ("When
officials become aware of a threat to an inmate's health
and safety, the eighth amendment's proscription against
cruel and unusual punishment imposes a duty to provide
danger or risk is "known" only if the institutional
official is both "aware of facts from which the
inference could be drawn that a substantial risk of serious
harm exists, and he . . . draw[s] th[at] inference."
Farmer, 511 U.S. at 837. An "official's
failure to alleviate a significant risk that he should have
perceived but did not," is insufficient to establish
liability on the part of the official. Id. at 838.
Furthermore, there must be a "'strong
likelihood' of injury, 'rather than a mere
possibility,' before an official's failure to act can
constitute deliberate indifference." Brooks v.
Warden, 800 F.3d 1295, 1301 (11th Cir. 2015)
(quoting Brown, 894 F.2d at 1537).
institutional official's knowledge of a substantial
danger or risk to an inmate is established, a plaintiff must
show that the official was deliberately indifferent to that
risk. An "Eighth Amendment claimant need not show that a
prison official acted or failed to act believing that harm
actually would befall an inmate; it is enough that the
official acted or failed to act despite his knowledge of a
substantial risk of serious harm." Farmer, 511
U.S. at 842. Deliberate indifference requires "a state
of mind more blameworthy than negligence." Id.
at 835. Finally, a plaintiff must produce evidence sufficient
to show a defendant's ...