United States District Court, M.D. Louisiana
RULING AND ORDER
A. JACKSON UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT JUDGE.
the Court is a Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc.
42) filed by Defendants Master Sergeant Bobby Earl,
Master Sergeant Brian Nettles, Colonel Orville Lamartiniere,
and Lieutenant Melvin McDowell. Plaintiff Alfred Deal did not
file an opposition. For the reasons that follow, the
Motion (Doc. 42) is GRANTED IN
PART and DENIED IN PART.
dispute arises from a fight between inmates at the Louisiana
State Penitentiary in Angola, Louisiana. (Doc. 1, ¶ 1).
Plaintiff is an inmate at the Louisiana State Penitentiary.
(Doc. 1, ¶ 8). Defendants are prison security officials.
(Doc. 1, ¶¶ 9-16). Plaintiff sued Defendants under
42 U.S.C. § 1983 after Defendants failed to stop inmate
Myles Allen from stabbing Plaintiff. (Doc. 1, ¶¶
15). The undisputed facts follow.
December 11, 2012, Plaintiff and inmate Myles Allen argued
over control of a prison television. (Doc. 42-4, p. 37).
Allen told Plaintiff to "[w]ait until tomorrow"
because Allen was "going to kill" Plaintiff.
(Id. at p. 39). The next morning, Master Sergeant
Earl escorted Allen from his cell to the transitional unit
yard. (Doc. 42-3, p. 4). Master Sergeant Earl
did not check Allen for weapons before he escorted Allen to
the transitional unit yard pen near Plaintiff.
(Id.). When Allen reached the transitional unit
yard, he broke free of his restraints and stabbed Plaintiff
with a homemade knife. (Doc. 42-4, p. 32).
officer assigned to the transitional unit yard, Sergeant
Terry LeBlanc, saw the attack and called for help. (Doc.
42*3, p. 3). According to Plaintiff, Sergeant LeBlanc
"was fighting, just trying to keep [Allen] away"
until help arrived. (Doc. 42-4, p. 51). About 20 to 25
minutes after the attack began, Colonel Lamartiniere,
Lieutenant McDowell, and Master Sergeant Nettles responded
and broke up the attack. (Doc. 42-4, p. 59). The attack was
the first fight between Plaintiff and Allen. (Id. at
January 29, 2016, Plaintiff invoked the Court's federal
question jurisdiction and sued Defendants, in their
individual and official capacities, for negligence and
violations of § 1983. (Doc. 1, ¶¶ 28-36). The
Court dismissed all but one of Plaintiffs federal claims-a
§ 1983 failure-to-protect claim against Master Sergeant
Earl-at the motion to dismiss stage. (Doc. 23). Defendants
now move for summary judgment, asking the Court to dismiss
Plaintiffs lone federal claim and decline jurisdiction over
Plaintiffs state-law claims. (Doc. 42).
judgment is proper if Defendants show that there is no
genuine dispute as to any material fact and that they are
entitled to judgment as a matter of law. FED. R. CIV. P.
56(a). The Court cannot grant summary judgment simply because
Defendants' motion is unopposed; Defendants must point to
the absence of a material factual dispute. Hetzel v.
Bethlehem Steel Corp., 50 F.3d 360, 362 n.3 (5th Cir.
1995). In deciding whether Defendants have done so, the Court
views facts and draws reasonable inferences in Plaintiffs
favor. Vann v. City of Southaven, Miss., 884 F.3d
307, 309 (5th Cir. 2018). Because Plaintiff failed to file a
response, Defendants' properly-supported assertions of
fact are undisputed. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e)(2).
only remaining federal claim is a § 1983
failure-to-protect claim against Master Sergeant Earl. (Doc.
23). Plaintiff alleges that Master Sergeant Earl violated
Plaintiffs rights under the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments
when Master Sergeant Earl failed to stop Allen from stabbing
Plaintiff. (Doc. 1, ¶¶ 32-36). Because the legal
standards governing Plaintiffs right to protection under the
Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments are "virtually
identical," the Court "construe[s] Plaintiffs
Complaint as raising a claim under only the Eighth
Amendment." Austin v. Johnson, 328 F.3d 204,
210 n.10 (5th Cir. 2003).
Eighth Amendment prohibits "cruel and unusual
punishment." U.S. CONST. amend. VIII. That prohibition
extends to prison officials, who "have a constitutional
duty to protect prisoners from violence at the hands of their
fellow inmates." Longoria v. Texas, 473 F.3d
586, 592 (5th Cir. 2006) (citing Farmer v. Brennan,
511 U.S. 825, 832-33 (1994)). To recover on his Eighth
Amendment failure-to-protect claim, Plaintiff must show that
(1) he was "incarcerated under conditions posing a
substantial risk of serious harm," and (2) Master
Sergeant Earl was "deliberately indifferent" to
this risk. Farmer, 511 U.S. at 834.
Court assumes that Plaintiff was "incarcerated under
conditions posing a substantial risk of serious harm,"
and turns to the deliberate indifference requirement.
Id. Deliberate indifference is "an extremely
high standard to meet." Domino v. Teocas Dep't
of Criminal Justice, 239 F.3d 752, 756 (5th Cir. 2001).
It requires proof that the prison official "is both
'aware of facts from which the inference could be drawn
that a substantial risk of harm exists,' and that
official actually draws that inference." Norton v.
Cockrell, 70 F.3d 397, 401 (5th Cir. 1995) (quoting
Farmer, 511 U.S. at 837).
offers no facts showing that Master Sergeant Earl was
"deliberately indifferent" to the "substantial
risk of serious harm" Allen posed. By contrast,
Defendants point to sworn testimony showing that Master
Sergeant Earl neither knew nor had reason to know that Allen
posed a "substantial risk of serious harm" to
Plaintiff before the December 12, 2012 attack. (Doc. 42-1, p.
12). Allen was not listed on Deal's "enemy
list" before the attack. (Doc. 42-6, pp. 1-11). And
Master Sergeant Earl attests that he did not know that Allen
had threatened Deal. (Doc. 42-5, ¶¶ 12-15). So it
is undisputed that Master Sergeant Earl was not aware of any
facts from which he could have inferred that Allen posed a
substantial risk of harm to Plaintiff before December 12,
2012. (Doc. 42-1). The Court therefore GRANTS Defendants'
Motion for Summary Judgment as to Plaintiffs § 1983
claim against Master Sergeant Earl.