United States District Court, W.D. Louisiana, Lake Charles Division
ROBERT ALLEN RAMIREZ REG. #34540-177
FEDERAL CORRECTIONAL INSTITUTE OAKDALE, ET AL.
G. JAMES UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
a civil rights action brought by Plaintiff Robert Allen
Ramirez (“Ramirez”) pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §
1983. Ramirez is currently incarcerated at the Medical Center
for Federal Prisoners in Springfield, Missouri. However, he
complains about the alleged actions and inactions of
Defendants while he was incarcerated at the Federal
Correctional Institute at Oakdale, Louisiana
(“FCIO”). Ramirez brought suit against Defendants
who are or were employees at the FCIO: Lt. Isiah Williams,
Officer Caleb Gatreaux, Officer Roberto Rodriguez-Leon, and
Officer Thomas Voisine. He also brought suit against the FCIO
February 14, 2018, Magistrate Judge Kathleen Kay issued a
Report and Recommendation [Doc. No. 153] recommending that
the Court grant in part and deny in part Defendants'
Motion for Summary Judgment [Doc. No. 142]. She recommended
that the Court deny the Motion for Summary Judgment with
regard to Ramirez's claims about restroom access, but
grant the motion as to his claims about Defendants'
failure to use a stretcher to transport him after a fall. She
further recommended that FCIO be dismissed from the suit
because of Ramirez's failure to raise a claim against it.
As Magistrate Judge Kay noted, if the Court were to adopt her
Report and Recommendation, Defendants FCIO, Gautreaux, and
Voisine would all be dismissed from the suit.
the issuance of the Report and Recommendation, Defendants
filed objections [Doc. No. 155], and Ramirez filed a response
[Doc. No. 159]. In their objections, Defendants argued that
“Magistrate Judge Kay's does not address qualified
immunity, a key defense pled on behalf of the individual
defendants” and requested that the Court consider their
immunity defense. [Doc. No. 155, p. 2].
Court finds that Magistrate Judge Kay accurately stated and
applied the law to the facts and arguments presented to her.
After a de novo review of the record, including the
Ramirez's memorandum [Doc. No. 154] and the objections
and response to the Report and Recommendation, the Court
ADOPTS the Report and Recommendation of the Magistrate Judge.
the Court issues this ruling to address the qualified
immunity defense raised by Williams and Rodriguez-Leon. The
Court notes that Magistrate Judge Kay did not address the
defense because, while it was pled, it was not argued in the
motions for summary judgment. As Magistrate Judge Kay pointed
out in footnote 7 of her Report and Recommendation:
Though he raised the issue of qualified immunity in his
answer [doc. 48, p. 1');">p. 1], Rodriguez-Leon did not argue
qualified immunity in either this motion or his preceding
motion for summary judgment. See doc. 142, att. 2;
doc. 68, att. 2. Williams also asserted qualified immunity,
apparently for all claims, in his answer [doc. 119, p. 1');">p. 1] but
only argues the issue on the second claim, below, in his
motion for summary judgment. See doc. 142, att. 2,
pp. 9-10. Accordingly, we do not consider whether either
defendant is entitled to summary judgment on this claim on
the basis of qualified immunity.
[Doc. No. 153 n.7]. Nevertheless, Defendants have now raised
the argument, and Ramirez has had the opportunity to respond,
so the Court will now consider that defense.
Eighth Amendment “imposes duties on [prison] officials,
who must provide humane conditions of confinement; prison
officials must ensure that inmates receive adequate food,
clothing, shelter, and medical care, and must ‘take
reasonable measures to guarantee the safety of the
inmates.'” Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S.
825, 832 (1994) (quoting Hudson v. Palmer, 468 U.S.
517, 526-27 (1984)). A prison official's
“‘deliberate indifference' to a substantial
risk of serious harm to an inmate violates the Eighth
Amendment.” Farmer, 511 U.S. at 828. To be
liable under the Eighth Amendment, the prison official must
“know[ ] of and disregard[ ] an excessive risk to
inmate health or safety; 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.” Id. at 837; see also
Lawson v. Dallas Cty., 286 F.3d 257, 262 (5th Cir.2002)
(“The deliberate indifference standard is a subjective
inquiry; the plaintiff must establish that the jail officials
were actually aware of the risk, yet consciously disregarded
this standard, Magistrate Judge Kay found, and the Court
agrees, that Ramirez raised a genuine issue of material fact
for trial whether Defendants Williams and Rodrigues-Leon were
deliberately indifferent to his safety by failing to provide
him a wheelchair-accessible bathroom. However, Defendants may
still prevail on summary judgment if they are entitled to
qualified immunity for their actions or inactions.
qualified immunity, a public employee is protected from
liability if a plaintiff fails to show the deprivation of a
federal right and that the defendant's misconduct
violated a “clearly established statutory or
constitutional right of which a reasonable person would have
known.” Harlow v. Fitzgerald, 457 U.S. 800,
818 (1982). Importantly, once asserted by the defendant, the
burden shifts to the plaintiff to show that the defense is
inapplicable. See McCreary v. Richardson, 738 F.3d
651, 655 (5th Cir. 2013).
employ a two-step procedure to gauge the applicability of
qualified immunity. These steps can be reviewed in any order,
but the underlying inquiries are whether the plaintiff has
alleged facts sufficient to state a constitutional violation
and whether, at the time of the incident, the contours of the
right were clearly established so that every reasonable
officer would understand what he was doing violates that
right. Cutler v. Stephen F. Austin State Univ., 767
F.3d 462, 471 (5th Cir. 2014). On the other hand, the clearly
established prong does not necessarily require a case
“‘directly on point.'” See Morgan
v. Swanson, 659 F.3d 359, 372 (5th Cir. 2011) (quoting
Ashcroft v. al-Kidd, 563 U.S. 731, 741 (2011)).
Still, precedent must have placed the pertinent
constitutional issue beyond ...