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Garrison v. Deville

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

June 19, 2019


          DRELL JUDGE



         Defendants filed a Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. 33). Because Defendants admit they punched and tripped Plaintiff while he was handcuffed, Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. 33) should be DENIED IN PART AND GRANTED IN PART.

         I. Background

         Carey Garrison (“Garrison”) filed a complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and state law, alleging excessive force and battery claims, as well as vicarious liability of the warden (Docs. 1, 12). The named Defendants are Warden James Deville (“Deville”) (warden of the Winn Correctional Center (“WCC”) in Winnfield, Louisiana), Major Chelette (“Chelette”) (a corrections officer at WCC), Captain Bobby Toler (“Toler”) (a corrections officer at WCC), and Captain Curry (“Curry”) (a corrections officer at WCC). Defendants are sued in their individual capacities only (Doc. 1).

         Garrison contends that, while he was incarcerated in WCC in August 2016, Toler and Chelette handcuffed him and escorted him to the Cypress Unit-a segregated housing unit (“SHU”)-for a rule infraction. Garrison claims Toler caused him to fall face-first onto the concrete floor while his hands were cuffed behind him, then lifted him to his feet so Chelette could punch him in the face. At the Cypress Unit, Curry caused him to fall face-first again, then lifted him and punched him twice. Garrison contends he was then locked in a shower stall, still handcuffed, where Curry and Chelette began punching him in the body and face. When Garrison asked why they were beating him, Chelette told him he was hallucinating. Garrison contends that, while he was with Toler, Chelette, and Curry, he did not resist, provoke, disobey, or misbehave in any manner. Garrison alleges Defendants injured him.

         Garrison contends: (1) Toler has been terminated in the past for use of excessive force; (2) Warden Deville condones the use of excessive force; and (3) Warden Deville has been put on notice of Toler's, Chelette's, and Curry's use of excessive force through grievances, incident reports, unusual occurrence reports, medical records, and narratives. Garrison further contends Warden Deville was deliberately indifferent to Garrison's safety and is vicariously liable for the acts of his subordinates. Garrison seeks compensatory, general, and punitive damages.

         Defendants answered the complaint (Doc. 14) and filed a Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. 33). Garrison filed an opposition to the motion (Doc. 41), to which Defendants replied (Doc. 42).

         II. Law and Analysis

         A. The standard for summary judgment.

         Under Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, a court must 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.” Paragraph

         (e) of Rule 56 also provides the following:

If a party fails to properly support an assertion of fact or fails to properly address another party's assertion of fact as required by Rule 56(c), the court may:
(1) give an opportunity to properly support or address the fact;
(2) consider the fact undisputed for purposes of the motion;
(3) grant summary judgment if the motion and supporting materials--including the facts considered undisputed--show that the movant is entitled to it; or
(4) issue any other appropriate order.[1]

         “A genuine dispute of material fact exists ‘if the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party.'” Hefren v. McDermott, Inc., 820 F.3d 767, 771 (5th Cir. 2016) (quoting Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986)). In deciding a motion for summary judgment, a court must construe all facts and draw all inferences in the light most favorable to the non-movant. See Dillon v. Rogers, 596 F.3d 260, 266 (5th Cir. 2010). However, a mere scintilla of evidence is insufficient to defeat a motion for summary judgment. See Stewart v. Murphy, 174 F.3d 530, 533 (5th Cir. 1999).

         B. There are genuine issues of material fact that preclude a summary judgment in favor of Toler, Chelette, and Curry.

         Defendants contend the alleged use of excessive force resulted in only de minimis injuries to Garrison. Therefore, Garrison has not shown Defendants used excessive force.

         1. Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment should be denied as to Garrison's § 1983 claims against Toler, Chelette, and Curry.

         In his deposition, Garrison testified that, on August 25, 2016, while he was walking with his hands cuffed behind him, Toler lifted Garrison's handcuffs up, causing Garrison to bend over until his head was between his legs. (Doc. 33-3, p. 4). In that position, Garrison depended on Toler to hold him up while they walked. (Doc. 33-3, p. 4). Garrison testified he walked bent over from the Ash unit to the main walk, down the main walk, past the canteen, and past the control room. (Doc. 33-3, pp. 4-5). As they walked past the canteen, Garrison tried to stand erect and Toler pushed up on his handcuffs and let go, causing Garrison to fall to the ground and “scar”[2] his knee and face. (Doc. 33-3, pp. 5-6). Garrison did not recall Toler giving him an order before he pushed him to the ground. Doc. 33-3, p. 5). Toler then picked Garrison up by the handcuffs.

         Garrison testified that Chelette began walking with them somewhere between the Ash unit and the main walk. (Doc. 33-3, p. 6). Chelette was close by when Garrison fell to the ground. (Doc. 33-3, p. 6). When Garrison got up from the ground and tried to stand up straight, Chelette hit him with a closed hand on the left side of his face in the jaw area. (Doc. 33-3, p. 6). Garrison testified he did not have any discoloration or swelling in his jaw, but it was sore. (Doc 33-3, pp. 8-9).

         When they arrived at the Cypress unit, Toler pushed Garrison toward Curry, and Curry grabbed Garrison's handcuffs and escorted him into Cypress (Doc. 33-3, p. 7). Curry then tripped Garrison and let go of the handcuffs, slamming Garrison onto the ground face-first. (Doc. 33-3, p. 7). Garrison testified there was no visible injury from Curry tripping him. (Doc. 33-3, p. 7). Curry then picked Garrison up and put him in a shower that was used as a holding cell. (Doc. 33-3, p. 7). The officers left Garrison, still handcuffed, standing in the shower for a little while. (Doc. 33-3, p. 8). When they returned, Curry unlocked the shower door and Toler stepped in and hit Garrison with closed ...

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