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Riggs v. Jordan

United States District Court, W.D. Louisiana, Monroe Division

October 23, 2018


         SECTION P




         Before the court is a Motion for Summary Judgment, filed by Plaintiff Clay Riggs. [doc. # 60]. The motion is opposed. [doc. # 64]. For reasons set forth below, it is recommended that the motion be DENIED.


         On May 12, 2017, Riggs properly filed a Complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against Crawford Jordan, Timmy Ducote, Robert Bannon, Jeremy Underwood, Steven D. Crews, R. Christopher Nevils, Judge Derr, the 8th Judicial District Court, Judge 8th Judicial District Court and the State of Louisiana. [doc. # 6]. On May 24, 2017, he filed an Amended Complaint, adding Justin Keith Gates and Herman Castette as defendants. [doc. # 12]. On September 8, 2017, he filed a second Amended Complaint and requested a restraining order be placed against the Jackson Parish Correctional Center (“JPCC”), Crawford Jordan, and all members of the Winn Parish Sheriffs Department and the City of Winnfield Police Department. [doc. # 21].

         On October 6, 2017, Riggs filed a third Amended Complaint, asserting claims against prison officials Kevin Kelly, Garrison Williams, and Michael Stewart (“Defendants”). [doc. # 22]. In his Complaint, Riggs alleges that on September 15, 2017, Defendants entered his bunk at JPCC after he requested to speak with Warden Ducote about Kelly's abusing his authority. (Id. at 1). Riggs claims he was standing in his bunk area with both of his hands raised above his head “in a non threat[en]ing manner, ” when he was approached by Defendants and shot in the eyes with a G9 Mace Gun, “paint ball gun, ” by Stewart. (Id. at 2). He received medical treatment, but alleges that his eyes have still not healed, and he suffers from pain and blurriness. (Id.). Riggs claims Defendants maced him in retaliation for filing his prior Complaint. (Id. at 1).

         On February 7, 2018, all claims against the defendants, except for Riggs' excessive force and retaliation claims against Kelly, Williams, and Stewart, were dismissed with prejudice as frivolous, for failing to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, and for seeking monetary relief against a defendant who is immune from such relief. [doc. # 29; see doc. # 25].

         On August 6, 2018, Riggs filed the instant motion for summary judgment. (“MSJ, ” [doc. # 60]). He claims Stewart used excessive force when he “just razed [sic] a mase [sic] gun that fires mace at approx 409 miles an hour at point blank range and shoots [sic] me directly in my eyes.” (Id. at 3-4). Defendants filed a response on August 27, 2018. (“Opp. MSJ, ” [doc. # 64]). The matter is now ripe.[1]

         Standard of Review

         Summary judgment is appropriate “if the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). A fact is “material” if proof of its existence or nonexistence would affect the outcome of the lawsuit under the applicable law in the case. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). A dispute about a material fact is “genuine” if the evidence is such that a reasonable fact-finder could render a verdict for the nonmoving party. Id.

         The party seeking summary judgment “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 Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986) (quoting Anderson, 477 U.S. at 247). Once the moving party demonstrates the absence of a genuine issue of material fact, the nonmoving party “must go beyond the pleadings and designate specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial.” McCarty v. Hillstone Rest. Grp., Inc., 864 F.3d 354, 357 (5th Cir. 2017) (citations and quotations omitted). This burden cannot be satisfied “by conclusory allegations, by unsubstantiated assertions, or by only a scintilla of evidence.” Id.

         In deciding a motion for summary judgment, the “evidence of the non-movant is to be believed, and all justifiable inferences are to be drawn in his favor.” Anderson, 477 U.S. at 255. The court will resolve factual disputes in favor of the nonmoving party, “but only where there is an actual controversy, that is, when both parties have submitted evidence of contradictory facts.” McCarty, 864 F.3d at 358. The court will not assume without proof that the nonmoving party could prove the necessary facts. Id. In such a situation, there is no genuine issue as to a material fact and the moving party is “entitled to a judgment as a matter of law” because ...

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