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Jason v. LeBlanc

United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana

June 13, 2018

CLARENCE JOSEPH JASON, Plaintiff
v.
JAMES LEBLANC, ET AL., Defendants

         SECTION: “E” (5)

          ORDER AND REASONS

          SUSIE MORGAN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Plaintiff Clarence Joseph Jason filed suit against Defendants James LeBlanc, Robert Tanner, Shane Ladner, and Bradley Pierce, seeking vindication of his Eighth Amendment rights pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983.[1] Before the Court is Defendants' renewed motion for summary judgment.[2] Defendants seek a judgment that they are entitled to qualified immunity on Plaintiff's claims. Plaintiff opposes the motion.[3]Defendants filed a reply memorandum.[4]

         BACKGROUND

         This case involves the August 27, 2014 attack on Plaintiff Clarence Jason, an inmate at Rayburn Correctional Center (“RCC”).[5] Plaintiff was attacked with a swing blade wielded by another inmate, Victor Cooper, who picked up the tool after finding it abandoned in the prison yard.[6] Plaintiff alleges Defendants Lieutenant Shane Ladner and Sergeant Master Bradley Pierce, in their individual capacities, violated his right to reasonably safe conditions of confinement when the Defendants provided inmates with unsupervised access to tools that could be used as dangerous weapons.[7] Plaintiff also brings claims against Defendants Robert Tanner, Warden of RCC, and James LeBlanc, Secretary of the Louisiana Department of Public Safety and Corrections, in their individual capacities, for failing to train RCC officers.[8]

         On December 27, 2016, Defendants filed a motion for summary judgment, asserting they are entitled to qualified immunity on Plaintiff's claims.[9] The Court was unable to determine the motion for summary judgment on the failure to protect claim because the second prong, deliberate indifference, could not be resolved at that time.[10] As explained by the Court, a prison official demonstrates deliberate indifference when he “knows of and disregards an excessive risk to inmate health or safety.”[11] The standard outlined by Farmer v. Brennan[12] requires an evaluation of both the subjective knowledge and objective reasonableness of each Defendant and, as a result, the Court was required to consider the individual roles of each defendant in the disputed incidents.[13] Based on the summary judgment record, the Court found it was unable to determine whether Pierce and Ladner were deliberately indifferent. Because the extent of Pierce's and Ladner's training was disputed, the Court also was unable to rule on Plaintiff's failure to train claim against Defendants Tanner and LeBlanc. The Court denied the motion for summary judgment as to all Defendants without prejudice, and allowed discovery limited to the relevant issues.[14] The Court allowed Defendants to refile their motion for summary judgment after the completion of the limited discovery.[15]

         On March 20, 2018, Defendants filed a renewed motion for summary judgment.[16]Defendants again assert they are entitled to qualified immunity on all of Plaintiff's claims.

         LEGAL STANDARD

         I. Summary Judgment

         Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56, summary judgment is appropriate if “there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.”[17] “An issue is material if its resolution could affect the outcome of the action.”[18] When assessing whether a material factual dispute exists, the Court considers “all of the evidence in the record but refrains from making credibility determinations or weighing the evidence.”[19] All reasonable inferences are drawn in favor of the nonmoving party.[20] There is no genuine issue of material fact if, even viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party, no reasonable trier of fact could find for the nonmoving party, thus entitling the moving party to judgment as a matter of law.[21] “A genuine dispute as to a material fact exists when, after considering the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, admissions on file, and affidavits, a court determines that the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the party opposing the motion.”[22]

         II. Qualified Immunity

         Defendants have moved for summary judgment that they are entitled to qualified immunity from suit.[23] “Qualified immunity shields federal and state officials from money damages unless a plaintiff pleads facts showing (1) that the official violated a statutory or constitutional right, and (2) that the right was ‘clearly established' at the time of the challenged conduct.”[24] “Qualified immunity ‘gives government officials breathing room to make reasonable but mistaken judgments, ' and ‘protects all but the plainly incompetent or those who knowingly violate the law.'”[25] As explained by the Supreme Court, “qualified immunity seeks to ensure that defendants reasonably can anticipate when their conduct may give rise to liability.”[26] In essence, qualified immunity “avoid[s] excessive disruption of government” by permitting officials to exercise their vested discretion without fear of civil liability.”[27]

         Typically, the movant on summary judgment bears the initial burden of demonstrating the absence of a material fact issue.[28] But “[a] good-faith assertion of qualified immunity alters the usual summary judgment burden of proof, shifting it to the plaintiff to show that the defense is not applicable.”[29] To defeat an assertion of qualified immunity, a plaintiff must “identify specific evidence in the summary judgment record demonstrating that there is a material fact issue concerning the essential elements of its case for which it will bear the burden of proof at trial.”[30] “Conclusory allegations and denials, speculation, improbable inferences, unsubstantiated assertions, and legalistic argumentation” are all insufficient to overcome immunity.[31]

         ANALYSIS

         Plaintiff raises claims against Defendants Ladner and Pierce for violating his right to reasonably safe conditions of confinement by distributing dangerous tools to RCC inmates and failing to adequately supervise the inmates' possession and use of those tools. Plaintiff also brings claims against Defendants LeBlanc and Tanner for failing to properly train RCC officials. Defendants assert they are entitled to qualified immunity as to all of Plaintiff's claims. The Court will address each of these claims in turn.

         I. Lieutenant Ladner and Sergeant Master Pierce

         The Supreme Court held in Farmer v. Brennan that the Eighth Amendment imposes a duty upon prison officials to protect prisoners in custody from violence at the hands of other prisoners.[32] The Fifth Circuit, relying on Farmer, set forth the analysis to be followed when a prisoner's Eighth Amendment rights allegedly have been violated by a failure to protect resulting in an attack by a fellow inmate:

         It is well established that prison officials have a duty . . . to protect prisoners from violence at the hands of other prisoners. 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. A prison official violates the Eighth Amendment only when the inmate shows that (1) he was incarcerated under conditions the official knew posed a substantial risk of serious harm and (2) the prison official was deliberately indifferent to such risk.[33]

         The Fifth Circuit has provided the standard for determining deliberate indifference in this context:

A prison official is deliberately indifferent to a risk when he knows of and disregards an excessive risk to inmate health or safety. To know of a risk, an official must be subjectively aware of the risk: that is, the official must both be aware of facts from which the inference could be drawn that a substantial risk of serious harm exists, and he must also draw the inference. This issue is a question of fact. Finally, even if a prison official was subjectively aware of the risk, he may be found free from liability if he “responded reasonably to the risk, even if the harm ultimately was not averted.”[34]

         The Court already has determined that the Plaintiff in this case was incarcerated under conditions posing a substantial risk of harm:

In order to show a violation of his Eighth Amendment right, Plaintiff must first demonstrate that he was incarcerated under conditions posing a substantial risk of serious harm.[35] “Whether a risk is substantial and the threatened harm is serious represents an objective test[.]”[36] As explained above, “Several courts . . . have noted that the Eighth Amendment may be violated when prison officials permit inmate access to objects that could be used as weapons, especially when this conduct is accompanied by a lack of adequate supervision over the inmates.”[37] In addition, similar to facts in Goka v. Bobbitt, “the risk to inmate safety from misuse of maintenance and other tools as weapons is evident on the fact of the tool control policy[.]”[38]Plaintiff attaches a copy of RCC's Tool Control Policy to his opposition to the Defendants' motion for summary judgment.[39] RCC's Tool Control Policy, which has the stated purpose of establishing “procedures that will ensure adequate control of tools, ” explicitly states that “[o]ffenders may only use certain tools, ” referred to as “Restricted Tools”, “because of their potential security risk, within the fenced compound under direct supervision of staff.”[40] RCC's Tool Control Policy further defines restricted tools as “implements that can be used to fabricate weapons, or that can be used as weapons; or that can be used to facilitate an escape.”[41] Although the Tool Control Policy does not include a sling blade in its non-exhaustive list of examples of restricted tools, the Court finds that it is clear the sling blade used in the assault at issue is a paradigmatic example of a restricted tool pursuant to RCC's own policy.
As the sling blade at issue is clearly a restricted tool, RCC's own policy mandates that inmates only be allowed to use the tool when under direct supervision. Defendants argue that offenders working on the Wind Yard “are monitored via video monitors by the Unit Key Officer and Lieutenant using the camera outside of the buildings” and “a Lieutenant and Unit Key Officer periodically make rounds on the yard to assess the status of all of the offenders including those working inside the buildings and outside on the yard.”[42] The Plaintiff argues it is clear there was no direct supervision in this instance. First, Plaintiff points to the affidavit of Darryl Mizell, the Chief Investigator for RCC, in which Mizell states there is no camera surveillance monitoring of the Wind recreational yard and that the surveillance cameras in place are only intended to prevent any escape and therefore are only directed at the perimeter fence.[43] In addition, Defendants admit that “After Sgt. Pierce issued the swing blade to offender Turner, he had no knowledge that offender Bernard Turner left his assignment or violated the prison disciplinary rules regarding the issued equipment.”[44] Defendants also admit it is undisputed that “[w]hile the swing blade was unattended on the yard, another offender picked it up and used it to attack the plaintiff.”[45]
Had there been direct supervision, as required by RCC's own Tool Control Policy, there would not have been an opportunity for an inmate to leave the swing blade unattended on the yard, leave the yard altogether, or for another inmate to pick up the abandoned tool and attack the Plaintiff. Since it is an undisputed [fact] that this occurred, the Court finds the prison did not follow its own policies with respect to the supervision of restricted tools and, thus, the Plaintiff has satisfied his burden in demonstrating that he was incarcerated under conditions posing a substantial risk of serious harm.[46]

         The Court also has determined that swing blades are restricted tools under the Tool Control Policy.[47] The parties agree that the policy defines restricted tools as “implements that can be used to fabricate weapons, or that can be used as weapons; or that can be used to facilitate an escape.”[48] It is clear that the list of examples of restricted tools is non-exhaustive.[49] The parties agree that the swing blade is described as flat, sharp metal plate, roughly three inches wide by twelve inches long, attached to a three-foot-long wood stick.[50] The parties further agree that swing blades can be used as a weapon.[51] The Court therefore reiterates its holding that the swing blade fits the definition of a restricted tool under the Tool Control Policy.[52]

         The issue remaining to be addressed as to the claims against Pierce and Ladner is whether these Defendants were deliberately indifferent to this substantial risk of harm.

         With respect to this issue, the parties agree there are quite a few undisputed material facts:

• In August of 2014, Plaintiff Clarence Jason was an inmate at Rayburn Correctional Center (“RCC”) in Washington Parish, Louisiana.[53]
• Plaintiff was housed in Wind Unit, a section of RCC that includes four inmate dormitories, a breezeway that runs between the dormitories, and a large open-air space referred to as the Wind Yard.[54] The Wind Yard is expansive, and includes a full-size football field, baseball field, basketball court, and other recreational spaces.[55]
• On work days, the Key Officer for Wind Unit chooses several inmates who have the appropriate work duty status, assigns each of these inmates a work area in the yard, and issues each of these inmates a specific yard tool-for example, a shovel, reel mower, or hoe.[56]
• After asking for volunteers, the Key Officer selects the inmates who receive yard tools at random from the roughly 300 inmates who are put out into the Wind Yard.[57]
• The issuance of tools is governed by the RCC Tool Control Policy, the stated purpose of which is to “ensure adequate control of tools.”[58]
• The policy governs the inventory and identification process for tools, and assigns various responsibilities to RCC officers.[59]
• The RCC Tool Control Policy includes a section on “Restricted Tools.”[60]
• According to the RCC Tool Control Policy, restricted tools are “implements that can be used to fabricate weapons, or that can be used as weapons; or can be used to facilitate an escape.”[61] Examples include axes, box cutters, files, and hacksaws.[62] Because of the potential security risk of issuing such tools to inmates, the policy mandates that “[o]ffenders may only use [restricted] tools . . . within the fenced compound under direct supervision of staff.”[63]
• Swing blades are not expressly listed as restricted tools in the RCC Tool Control Policy.[64]
• The inmates who are issued tools keep them for approximately two to three hours at a time.[65]
• On any given day, and on the day of the incident, the Wind Unit is assigned one Lieutenant Officer, a Key Officer, two Dorm Officers, and a Gate Officer.[66]
• The Lieutenant Officer is the supervisor over the entire Wind Unit, and makes several “rounds” throughout the unit during the day, but is not restricted to the Wind Unit premises.[67] On the day of the incident, Defendant Ladner was the Lieutenant Officer on duty.[68]
• The Wind Unit's Key Officer makes rounds all day throughout the entire unit, including the Wind Yard.[69] On the day of the incident, Defendant Pierce was the Key Officer on duty.[70]
• The Dorm Officers are assigned to work in the four dormitories, and do not conduct rounds on the Wind Yard.[71] Dorm Officers are able to view parts of the Wind Yard through the dormitory windows.[72]
• The Gate Officer has line of sight over the front portions of the Wind Yard.[73]
• There are cameras installed on several towers that monitor activity at the fence surrounding the Wind Unit.[74]
• No cameras monitor the area of the Wind Yard in which the attack took place.[75]
• On August 27, 2014, Defendant Sergeant Master Bradley Pierce issued a swing blade to inmate Bernard Turner to cut the grass on Wind Yard.[76]
• The swing blade consists of a flat, sharp metal plate, roughly three inches wide by twelve inches long, attached to a three-foot-long wooden stick.[77]
• At some point after Pierce issued the swing blade to Turner, Turner abandoned the tool in the Wind Yard.[78]
• No RCC officer was watching Turner when he abandoned the swing blade.[79]
• After Turner abandoned the swing blade, it was picked up by another inmate, Victor Cooper, who then beat Plaintiff in his head and back with it.[80]
• No RCC officer witnessed the attack.[81]

         To establish these two Defendants were deliberately indifferent, Plaintiff must show (1) Pierce and Ladner both had subjective knowledge of the substantial risk of harm, and (2) both disregarded that risk.[82] “Whether a prison official had the requisite knowledge of a substantial risk is a question of fact subject to demonstration in the usual ways, including inference from circumstantial evidence[.]”[83]

         Plaintiff points to competent summary judgment evidence showing that Pierce and Ladner had subjective knowledge of the substantial risk of harm. Defendant Pierce testified it was “foreseeable” that “the situation like what we're dealing with” could happen.[84] Pierce also testified that he had read the RCC Tool Control Policy, and was aware the Policy provided that “offenders may only use certain tools because of their potential security risk within the fence compound under direct supervision of staff.”[85]Defendant Ladner testified that “[i]t's common for [offenders] to use anything they can get their hands on as a weapon, anything.”[86] Ladner conceded that tools “could be used for assault, ” and prison staff “should always keep offender and tools in sight.”[87] Indeed, Ladner's testimony emphasizes the fact that prison inmates can turn almost any object into a weapon, and that the vigilance of the correctional officers is essential to maintain inmate safety.[88] Ladner testified that he was familiar with the RCC Tool Control Policy, including its requirements regarding restrictive tools.[89] Based on the evidence before the Court, it appears likely that these Defendants had subjective knowledge of the substantial risk of harm.[90]

         Even if Ladner and Pierce did not have subjective knowledge of the substantial risk of harm, “[a] factfinder may conclude that a prison official knew of substantial risk from the very fact that the risk was obvious.”[91] In Goka v. Bobbitt, the Seventh Circuit considered a factually similar case.[92] An inmate had been assaulted by another inmate who was wielding a broom handle which he had been allowed to keep in his cell.[93] Under the tool control policy in effect at that prison, all tools were to be controlled by prison staff when not in use. The Seventh Circuit found that “the risk to inmate safety from misuse of maintenance and other tools as weapons is evident on the face of the tool control policy, which states that the primary purpose of the policy is ‘to minimize the potential danger to facility security from the misuses of tools.'”[94] The same is true in this case. RCC's Tool Control Policy, which has the stated purpose of establishing “procedures that will ensure adequate control of tools, ” explicitly states that “[o]ffenders may only use certain tools, ” referred to as “Restricted Tools, ” “because of their potential security risk, within the fenced compound under direct supervision of staff.”[95] The Court finds that, even if Defendant Pierce and Defendant Ladner did not have subjective knowledge of the substantial and obvious risk posed by handing out potentially dangerous tools to inmates without appropriate supervision, the risk was so obvious they should have known.[96]

         The final issue to be determined is whether Pierce and Ladner were deliberately indifferent when they disregarded the known risk of harm. The Supreme Court has explained that a prison official disregards a known risk “by failing to take reasonable measures to abate it.”[97] Defendants Ladner and Pierce rest their right to qualified immunity on their argument that there is “someone watching the inmates at all times” while the inmates are in Wind Yard and that this defeats a finding that either one of them disregarded the risk of substantial harm.[98] Defendant Tanner, the warden in charge of the facility, testified that the direct supervision required under the Tool Control Policy is “eyes on them, ”[99] and that “for a restricted tool they need to be in sight.”[100] To show that they were “watching” the inmates and, as a result, did not disregard the risk of substantial harm, Pierce and Ladner must show that an RCC official had a direct line of sight and was actually looking at all inmates while they used restricted tools.

         Plaintiff bears the burden of establishing that there are contested issues of material fact with respect to whether Ladner and Pierce were deliberately indifferent. To meet this burden, Plaintiff argues that whether the Defendants met this standard while the inmates with restricted tools were in the Wind Yard is a disputed issue of fact. Plaintiff notes that “Defendants' testimony establishes that at any given moment, Defendant Pierce might be the sole officer indirectly supervising 300 inmates, some armed with tools that can be used [as] dangerous weapons.”[101] Defendant Pierce testified that, as the Key Officer, he did not maintain a direct line of sight over all the inmates in the yard while he made rounds throughout the unit. When asked, “[y]ou didn't have a direct line of sight at all times, though?” Defendant Pierce responded, “No.”[102] As the officer most directly responsible for monitoring the inmates in Wind Yard, Defendant Pierce's view of the yard would be critical to satisfying the Policy's mandate of “direct supervision” over inmates using restricted tools.

         As noted above, the Wind Yard is quite large, and includes a full-size football field, a full-sized baseball diamond, and other recreational spaces.[103] It would likely be impossible for one officer to actually watch all the inmates with restricted tools while they were in the Wind Yard, and the assistance provided by other officers is far from clear.[104]Defendant Ladner testified that, as the Wind Unit Lieutenant, he is not restricted to the Wind Unit, and he would at times be “off-unit”[105] and, as a result, he could not have been in a position to observe the inmates in the Wind Yard. Defendant Ladner also conceded that “the two dorm officers are confined to the dormitory, ”[106] and, as a result, the dorm officers could only see the Wind Yard through various windows. Ladner, in what appears to be self-contradictory testimony, testified “they might not have their eyes on that offender, but there is someone watching them at all times.”[107] Ladner, in other deposition testimony, admitted that “there's not necessarily an officer there every minute.”[108] The parties do not dispute that the Gate Officer has only line of sight over the front portions of the Wind Yard.[109] The cited passages of the Defendants' depositions indicate, at best, that various staff members, assigned throughout the Wind Unit, have some line of sight over the inmates in Wind Yard at various times, and that these officers occasionally witness disciplinary infractions by inmates.[110] Ladner testified, pointing to locations on a photograph of Wind Unit, “you have officers stationed here (indicating), that can see all of this. You have officers stationed here that can see all of this. . . you have this camera that is watching all of this, a camera here that's watching all of this . . . .”[111] This testimony does not establish that officers were watching all inmates with restricted tools in the Wind Yard at all times. The Court cannot see to which areas of the Wind Yard Ladner was pointing and the Defendants did not capture the meaning of his testimony by having him mark up an exhibit that was then attached to his deposition.

         Defendants did not produce summary judgment evidence to show which portions of the Wind Yard can be seen from the dormitory windows or that the area in which the assault took place could be seen from them. Neither did Ladner or Pierce produce evidence that any of the Dorm Officers saw or could have seen Turner abandon the swing blade in the Wind Yard or the subsequent assault. Further, it is undisputed that cameras only monitor a portion of the Wind Yard, and that no cameras monitor the area in which the attack took place.[112]

         Neither Pierce nor Ladner, nor any other officer, saw Turner abandon the tool, and no officer witnessed the attack on the Plaintiff.[113] It appears from the record that the assault was not discovered until Defendant Ladner discovered “a large amount of blood and a broken swing blade” on the Wind Yard.[114] Had there been “eyes on”[115] supervision of the inmates in the Wind Yard “at all times, ”[116] as Defendants claim, a guard would have seen the abandonment of the tool and the assault.

         Summary judgment in qualified immunity cases is appropriate only if the plaintiff fails to “identify specific evidence in the summary judgment record demonstrating that there is a material fact issue concerning the essential elements of its case for which it will bear the burden of proof.”[117] The Court finds the Plaintiff has established that there are genuine disputes of material fact with respect to whether there were RCC officials actually looking at inmates with restricted tools all times while they were in Wind Yard. Because Ladner and Pierce rest their right to qualified immunity on this assertion, which remains in dispute, the Court is unable to determine whether Ladner and Pierce took, or failed to take, reasonable measures to abate the risk of substantial harm presented by the use of potentially dangerous tools by inmates in the Wind Yard.[118] Accordingly, the Court denies summary judgment on the issue of whether Pierce and Ladner are entitled to qualified immunity.[119]

         II. Warden Robert Tanner

         Defendants also move for summary judgment that Defendant Tanner is entitled to qualified immunity with respect to Plaintiff's claim that Tanner failed to properly train RCC officials on the use of dangerous tools by inmates. Officials are not subject to liability under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for acts or omissions of their subordinates on the basis of respondeat superior.[120] However, a supervisory official may be liable for a constitutional violation if (1) the supervisor failed to train the subordinate officer; (2) a causal link exists between the failure to train and the violation of the plaintiff's rights, and (3) the failure to train amounts to deliberate indifference.[121] To defeat qualified immunity, the Plaintiff must show that all three factors have been met or that disputed issues of material fact exist with respect to some or all of the factors.

         The undisputed facts relevant to Ladner's right to qualified immunity are:

• Warden Tanner was involved in the drafting and revisions of the RCC Tool Control Policy.[122]
• The issuance of tools is governed by the RCC Tool Control Policy, the stated purpose of which is to “ensure adequate control of tools.”[123]
• The policy governs the inventory and identification process for tools, and assigns various responsibilities to RCC officers.[124]
• According to the RCC Tool Control Policy, restricted tools “are implements that can be used to fabricate weapons, or that can be used as weapons; or can be used to facilitate an escape.”[125] Examples include axes, box cutters, files, and hacksaws.[126]
• The Tool Control Policy mandates that “[o]ffenders may only use [restricted] tools . . . within the fenced compound under direct supervision of staff.”[127]
• The Defendants produced Unusual Occurrence Reports (“UORs”) involving assaults or altercations between inmates from 2007-2009 and 2011-2017 as well as the Disciplinary Reports involving aggravated fighting from 2010.[128]
• During the seven-year period prior to the assault on Plaintiff, there were no incidents involving assaults with yard tools.[129]
• During the seven-year period prior to the assault on Plaintiff, there were only four incidents in which an item issued for inmate work assignments was used in an assault-three incidents involving brooms, and one incident involving a mop.[130]

         A. Failure to Adequately Train

         The first prong of the analysis asks whether the supervisor failed to adequately train the individual officers under his or her command.[131] “For liability to attach based on an ‘inadequate training' claim, a plaintiff must allege with specificity how a particular training program is defective.”[132] Further, “the focus must be on the adequacy of the training program in relation to the tasks the particular officers must perform.”[133]

         On this issue, the Court finds a genuine dispute of material fact exists as to whether Defendants Pierce and Ladner, as well as other RCC officials, were adequately trained on the supervision required when inmates are using dangerous tools in the Wind Yard. Defendants assert “CSM Pierce and Lt. Ladner both testified that they received regular, on-going training as to the RCC Tool Control Policy as well as many other RCC policies to ensure the safety and security of the inmates and the institution itself.”[134] Defendant Ladner testified that “we train on tool policy year-round.”[135] However, Plaintiff has submitted competent summary judgment evidence calling into question the training the officers received with respect to the supervision of the use of dangerous tools.[136]

         Plaintiff relies in part on the training transcripts of Defendants Pierce and Ladner.[137] These transcripts reveal that in 15 years, Defendant Pierce received only 15 minutes of documented training related to “tools, ” and Defendant Ladner, in 24 years of service, received 5.5 hours of “tools” training, all prior to 2009.[138] Defendant Tanner testified that all training is documented.[139] As a result, if Ladner and Pierce had been trained on the Tool Policy or the supervision of inmates using dangerous tools generally, it is reasonable to expect that this training would have been documented in their employment records. Little or no training is reflected in the records and, in the event there was some limited training on tools, it is unclear what this training entailed, as Defendants could not produce any training materials, lesson plans, or other records documenting the content of the training sessions.

         Plaintiff also asserts that Defendants' own testimony demonstrates that they were inadequately trained. For example, in his response to interrogatories, Defendant Pierce represented that he was “not aware of any training dealing with tools, ”[140] and Defendant Ladner represented in his own response to interrogatories that he “can't recall any specific training regarding tools.”[141] Further, the Defendants' depositions demonstrate their misunderstanding of the Tool Control Policy, suggesting that whatever training they did receive was inadequate to prepare them to implement the policy. For example, Defendant Tanner, the warden who drafted and adopted the policy, testified that he's “not the guy that decides that [certain tools] are restricted, ”[142] and that the determination of which tools are restricted should be guided by “common sense.”[143] In contradiction, Defendant Ladner stated that restricted status “is what is decided by the warden as restricted.”[144]Moreover, Defendant Pierce's deposition suggests a troubling unfamiliarity with the RCC Tool Control Policy. Pierce is unable to articulate what types of tools would be considered “restrictive, ” how restrictive tools are identified, or who is responsible for making that determination.[145] Defendants also maintain different definitions of what constitutes “direct supervision.” Defendant Tanner, who approved the policy, testified that “direct supervision” means “eyes on them.”[146] Defendant Pierce, however, when asked whether his rounds in the Wind Yard qualified as “direct supervision, explained, “Well, direct supervision-I'm there. So, as long as I'm still moving, making the rounds, that's direct supervision, in my eyes.”[147] Defendant Ladner testified that “as long as an officer can see [the inmates], that's supervision.”[148] Ladner also testified there's “probably not” a distinction between direct and indirect supervision.[149]

         In sum, the Court finds that the Plaintiff has established genuine disputes of material fact with regard to whether Defendants Ladner and Pierce were adequately trained on the supervision required over use of dangerous tools by inmates.

         B. Causal Connection

         The second prong of the failure-to-train inquiry asks whether “a causal connection existed between the failure to supervise or train and the violation of the plaintiff's rights.”[150] The Fifth Circuit requires the “failure to train be the ‘moving force' that caused the specific constitutional violation.”[151] The causal connection “must be more than a mere ‘but for' coupling between cause and effect. The deficiency in training must be the actual cause of the constitutional violation.”[152] Although “[t]he requirements of proof of inadequacy of training and causation are, in many respects, intertwined, ” a plaintiff must submit “competent summary judgment evidence of [the] causal relationship between any shortcoming of the officers' training . . . and the injury complained of.”[153] The summary judgment record must “put at issue whether additional training would have avoided the accident.”[154]

         As explained above, disputed issues of fact prevent the Court from determining whether a failure to train is established. Assuming the failure to train is established, however, Plaintiff has put forward sufficient evidence for a reasonable jury to find that the failure to train is causally connected to the violation of Plaintiff's right. According to their deposition testimony, Defendants Ladner and Pierce lacked basic knowledge about the RCC Tool Control Policy; the officers failed to articulate the policy's standards for supervision over the use of tools, and misunderstood what tools qualified as “restricted tools.”[155] Based on the summary judgment record, a jury could reasonably infer that additional training on the RCC Tool Control Policy would have caused Ladner and Pierce to comply with the Tool Control Policy by providing direct supervision over the use of the tools in the Wind Yard, thereby averting the assault.[156] Accordingly, a reasonable jury could conclude that the lack of training constituted the moving force of Plaintiff's injury.[157]

         C. Deliberate Indifference

         The third prong of the failure to train inquiry is whether the failure to train amounts to deliberate indifference. There are two ways to show deliberate indifference in a failure to train claim. Usually, a plaintiff presents evidence of a pattern of similar violations resulting from the deficient training policy.[158] In the alternative, a plaintiff may establish deliberate indifference under the “single incident exception.”[159] “This exception is narrow and requires proof that the highly predictable consequence of a failure to train would result in the specific injury suffered, and that the failure to train represented the moving force behind the constitutional violation.

         Plaintiff has not presented any evidence showing a pattern of similar violations at RCC. Plaintiff did not allege such a pattern in his complaint, and, despite Defendant's production of nearly a thousand pages of RCC incident reports, is not able to demonstrate a pattern based on the summary judgment record. Defendants submitted as undisputed facts that: (1) from at least as far back as 2007 until August 27, 2014, there were no prior assaults by inmates with a yard tool at RCC;[160] and (2) during the seven-year period prior to the assault on Plaintiff, there were only four incidents in which an item issued for inmate work assignments was used in an assault.[161] Although Plaintiff asserts that these facts are immaterial or lacking context, [162] Plaintiff nevertheless fails to submit any summary judgment evidence to dispute their truth. As a result, there is no evidence in the summary judgment record suggesting any pattern of yard-tool-related assaults as a result of the alleged training deficiency.[163]

         As Plaintiff has not introduced evidence of similar incidents, he must establish deliberate indifference under the single incident exception. As the Fifth Circuit has explained in the context of Fourth Amendment claims, “typically, application of the single incident exception requires evidence of the proclivities of the particular officer involved” in the specific incident or other evidence demonstrating that the constitutional violations would have appeared to the supervisor as a “highly predictable consequence” of the training deficiencies.[164]

         The Fifth Circuit cases examining the single incident exception-ordinarily addressing Fourth Amendment claims involving the use of excessive force by an untrained officer-give little guidance with respect to the issues presented in this matter. For example, in Brown v. Bryan County the Fifth Circuit considered a claim that a sheriff had failed to train an inexperienced deputy, leading to the use of excessive force by the deputy against the plaintiff in violation of the Fourth Amendment.[165] In that case, the court found the jury could have reasonably concluded that it was obvious to the sheriff that his decision not to train the deputy would result in a constitutional deprivation, even though the plaintiff had not demonstrated a history of similar violations.[166] As later decisions have emphasized, the Brown court based its decision in part on the fact that the particular deputy involved demonstrated a proclivity for excessive force that put the sheriff on notice that ...


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