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Thomas v. Grimes

United States District Court, M.D. Louisiana

February 11, 2019

ANTONIO THOMAS
v.
WARDEN DENNIS GRIMES, ET AL.

          RULING AND ORDER

          JUDGE JOHN W. DEGRAVELLES UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT.

         This matter comes before the Court on the Motion to Dismiss (Doc. 11) filed by Defendants Warden Dennis Grimes and Deputy Marvin Daniels.[1] Plaintiff Antonio Thomas opposes the motion. (Doc. 15.) Defendants have filed a reply. (Doc. 18.) Oral argument is not necessary. The Court has carefully considered the law, the facts in the record, and the arguments and submissions of the parties and is prepared to rule. For the following reasons, Defendants' motion is denied.

         I. Relevant Factual Allegations

         The following allegations are taken from Plaintiff's First Amended Complaint Under 42 USC 1983 (“FAC”) (Doc. 5). They are assumed to be true for purposes of this motion. Thompson v. City of Waco, Tex., 764 F.3d 500, 502-03 (5th Cir. 2014).

         On or about May 4, 2018, Plaintiff Antonio Thomas was incarcerated at the East Baton Rouge Parish Prison (“EBRPP”). (FAC ¶ 10, Doc. 5.) He was awaiting trial on a burglary charge. (Id.) “Plaintiff Thomas is what is called a ‘High Risk Sexual Victim' under the Prison Rape Elimination Act, the Federal Statute governing sexual violence in jails and prisons.” (Id. ¶ 11.) Because of Plaintiff's age (18), his then size (5' 10”, 138 lbs.), and his “mental makeup (mildly mentally handicapped because of Fetal Alcohol syndrome suffered as a child), ” Plaintiff “is at a high risk of being a victim of sexual violence in prison.” (Id.) Plaintiff alleges:

Special care must be taken to protect these High Risk Sexual Victims from the High Risk Sexual Predators found in prison. Upon intake, the warden's staff interviews prisoners and categorizes them according to their status regarding sexual violence. Despite these concerns, he was placed in a multi room dorm with adult offenders. On May 4, 2018, he was viciously attacked by inmates in his dorm.

(Id.)

         An inmate named Girbaud Eisley was also housed in the area of the prison in which Plaintiff was placed. (FAC ¶ 12, Doc. 11.) Eisley “was in jail awaiting trial for the brutal rape, battery and robbery of a woman at the Hollywood Casino women's bathroom in Baton Rouge in 2015.” (Id.) Plaintiff claims: “This inmate would be categorized as a ‘High Risk Sexual Predator', and special care must be taken to keep him away from high risk sexual victims to avoid sexual violence. On information and belief, Girbaud Eisley had been categorized as a High Risk Sexual Predator by the Warden's staff.” (Id.)

         Warden Grimes was the “warden at East Baton Rouge Parish Prison” and was “responsible for security of the prison, during the events that are the subject of this lawsuit[.]” (FAC ¶ 5, Doc. 5.) Plaintiff makes the following allegations about Grimes and Daniels' knowledge of the risk Eisley posed:

On information and belief, the Warden knew or should have known that he was putting a high risk plaintiff in the same line as Eisley, known as a violent rapist. On information and belief, neither the Warden nor Deputy Daniels took any steps to protect Plaintiff from Eisley. This is in violation of well established prison regulations and best practices. . . .
On information and belief, the Sheriff and the Warden knew or should have known that offenders like Thomas are at an increased risk of sexual assault from the general population, yet the Warden and the Sheriff took no steps to protect this plaintiff from sexual assault from Eisley, placing plaintiff in a two-man cell with a High Risk Sexual Predator. . . .
On information and belief, the Warden knew or should have known, based on his position and training, that Eisley was a sexual predator, and was therefore a heightened threat of sexual (sic) assaulting vulnerable inmates, like a young, underweight slightly mentally handicapped teenager like plaintiff. . . .
Even though the Warden knew or should have known of the extreme risks of sexual assault by Eisley on a high-risk sexual victim like the plaintiff, Warden Grimes allowed plaintiff to be housed with Eisley. . . .

(Id. ¶¶ 13-16.)

         On May 4, 2018, Plaintiff “was viciously attacked by inmates in his dorm.” (Id. ¶ 17.) According to the FAC:

On information and belief, among the attackers was Girbaud Eisley. Plaintiff suffered a broken nose and bruises and sought treatment from OLOL hospital. When he returned to prison, he was sent back to the cell with Girbaud Eisley, his attacker. The results were predictable. Within two weeks, Eisley raped plaintiff. After the rape, he was told if he told anyone, he would be murdered.

(Id.)

         Despite his fear, Plaintiff “smuggled a note out of his cell and got it to a deputy informing him of the rape.” (FAC ¶ 18, Doc. 5.) Deputies separated Plaintiff from Eisley and took Plaintiff to the infirmary. (Id.) Deputies also informed the police of the crime, at which time “the Sheriff had notice of this rape.” (Id.)

         Plaintiff alleges on information and belief that the rape was confirmed at the hospital when Eisley's DNA was found. (FAC ¶ 19, Doc. 5.) Plaintiff alleges:

Plaintiff suffered a fractured bone in his rectum area, along with the obvious physical and psychological trauma of being sodomized. He was given anti-HIV medication and told the hospital would check in six months to confirm he was not infected with HIV since HIV has a six-month incubation period. . . . Thomas was confused by the anti-HIV medication and believed he was infected with the virus. This turned out to be an incorrect belief. As of today's filing, Thomas is HIV negative.

(Id. ¶¶ 19-20.)

         Plaintiff asserts the following § 1983 claims against Grimes and Daniels:

Defendant Daniels knew or should have known that Thomas had just been attacked by Eisley, and that Plaintiff had had his nose broken in the attack; and that Eisley was a sexual predator, but he failed to protect Plaintiff and prevent the rape, in violation of Plaintiff's Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution. . . .
Defendant Warden Grimes knew that he had a legal obligation to protect plaintiff and other prisoners from assault and sexual attack and knew or should have known that his actions and omissions created a substantial risk of serious injury to Plaintiff. With deliberate indifference to Mr. Thomas' personal safety and federally protected rights, Defendant Grimes failed to protect him from substantial risk of serious harm, in violation of his rights under the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution, and 42 U.S.C. § 1983. . . .
The deprivations of Mr. Thomas' rights described herein constitute a risk of harm so grave that it violated contemporary standards of decency. No reasonable prison official would think it was acceptable to send a prisoner like plaintiff into a two man cell with a predator like Eisley, especially after the May 4th attack on plaintiff.

(Id. ¶¶ 21-23.) Plaintiff also asserts claims under state law that are not at issue in this motion. (Id. 24.)

         Plaintiff seeks a variety of damages for his physical and mental injuries, including punitive damages and ...


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