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Gray v. White

United States District Court, M.D. Louisiana

November 9, 2018




         Before the Court is the Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. 64), filed by Defendants. Plaintiff filed a Memorandum in Opposition (Doc. 65). For the reasons stated herein, the Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. 64), is GRANTED.

         I. BACKGROUND

         On March 20, 2016, Plaintiff was a Louisiana Department of Corrections inmate housed at the Elayn Hunt Correctional Center ("Elayn Hunt"). Plaintiff alleges that at approximately 8:00 A.M., Defendant Captain John Wells ("Wells") came to Plaintiffs cell and began calling him derogatory names. (Doc. 26 at pp. 3-4). Defendants dispute this and further allege that Wells entered Plaintiffs cell with the purpose of conducting a targeted search. (Doc. 64-4 at p. 2). During the search, Wells allegedly discovered synthetic marijuana. (Id.). At this point, Defendant Major Craig White ("White") was also called into the cell. (Doc. 64-4 at p. 4). Plaintiff appeared to be intoxicated, allegedly displaying slurred speech and difficulty holding himself upright. (Id.). Plaintiff also allegedly vomited while White was speaking with him. (Id. at p. 4). Plaintiff asserts that Wells attacked him without provocation while they were in the cell. The officers then transported Plaintiff to the showers, during which Plaintiff also alleges Wells assaulted him. (Doc. 26 at p. 4). The beating in the cell and during transport are the first basis of Plaintiffs excessive force claim. (Doc. 26 at p. 4).

         Defendants allege that while in the shower, Plaintiff refused repeated direct verbal orders to come to the shower bars to be searched. (Doc. 64-4 at p. 4). Plaintiff, in contrast, asserts that he complied with all orders. (Doc. 26 at p. 4). Defendants claim that White gave Plaintiff a final warning and then sprayed him with a chemical agent to force him to comply. (Doc. 64-4 at p. 5). The use of the chemical agent is the second basis for Plaintiffs excessive force claim.

         Defendants assert that Plaintiff continued to disobey their orders and that he started hitting his head against the floor and walls. (Id.). Defendants and other prison officials then conducted an emergency extraction from the shower cell. (Id.). The extraction team included Wells and White, as well as Defendants Lieutenant Michelle Sullivan ("Sullivan") and Lieutenant Lindell Slater ("Slater"). (Id.). During the extraction, Plaintiff allegedly began kicking his feet, swinging his arms, and spitting. (Id.). Ultimately, the officials gained control and placed Plaintiff in a jumpsuit, restraints, and a spit mask. (Id.). Plaintiff was then transported to the Assessment and Triage Unit (ATU), during which Plaintiff alleges he was also beaten. (Doc. 26 at p. 5). This appears to be the third basis for Plaintiffs excessive force claim.

         Plaintiff was then medically assessed by an EMT and transported to Our Lady of the Lake Hospital for additional assessment and treatment for possible injuries. (Doc. 64-4 at p. 5). Plaintiff alleges that the excessive force used by Defendants caused him ankle and wrist lacerations, a blackened eye, a fractured nose, and a bruised kidney. (Doc. 26 at pg. 5).

         On March 28, 2016, Plaintiff pled guilty to being intoxicated in his cell. (Doc. 64-2 at p. 1). The disciplinary board also found Plaintiff guilty of three counts of "Defiance", four counts of "Aggravated Disobedience", and one count of "Property Destruction." (Id.). On April 1, 2016, Plaintiff was found guilty by the Prison Disciplinary Board of possessing contraband in his cell. (Id.). Because of these charges, Plaintiff was issued multiple disciplinary sanctions including loss of phone and canteen privileges, ten days in isolation, and the forfeiture of 90 days of good time credit. (Doc. 64-1 at p. 2).

         On March 24, 2017, Plaintiff filed a complaint seeking damages pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for violations of Defendant's Eighth and Fourteenth Amendment rights to be free from excessive force. (Doc. 26). On October 10, 2018, Defendants filed a Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. 64). Plaintiff filed a Response (Doc. 65).


         Pursuant to Rule 56, "[t]he [C]ourt shall grant summary judgment 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). In determining whether the movant is entitled to summary judgment, the Court views the facts in the light most favorable to the non-movant and draws all reasonable inferences in the non-movant's favor. Coleman u. Houston Independent School Dist, 113 F.3d 528, 533 (5th Cir. 1997).

         After a proper motion for summary judgment is made, the non-movant must set forth specific facts showing there is a genuine issue for trial. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 250 (1986). At this stage, the Court does not evaluate the credibility of witnesses, weigh the evidence, or resolve factual disputes. Int'l Shortstop, Inc. v. Rally's, Inc., 939 F.2d 1257, 1263 (5th Cir. 1991), cert, denied, 502 U.S. 1059 (1992). However, if the evidence in the record is such that a reasonable jury, drawing all inferences in favor of the non-moving party, could arrive at a verdict in that party's favor, the motion for summary judgment must be denied. Int'l Shortstop, Inc., 939 F.2d at 1263.

         On the other hand, the non-movant's burden is not satisfied by some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts, or by conclusory allegations, unsubstantiated assertions, or a mere scintilla of evidence. Little v. Liquid Air Corp., 37 F.3d 1069, 1075 (5th Cir. 1994). Summary judgment is appropriate if the non-movant "fails to make a showing sufficient to establish the existence of an element essential to that party's case." Celotex Corp. u. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 324 (1986). In other words, summary judgment will be appropriate only "if the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with affidavits if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact, and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Sherman v. Hallbauer, 455 F.2d 1236, 1241 (5th Cir. 1972).

         III. ...

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