United States District Court, M.D. Louisiana
RULING AND ORDER
A. JACKSON, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
the Court is Defendants' Motion for New Trial
and/or Motion to Alter or Amend Judgement (Doc. 69).
In addition, for the first time, post-trial, in their
Amended Motion for New Trial and/or Alter Judgement
(Doc. 78), Defendants argue that the Court did not
have jurisdiction to hear this matter, based on the Supreme
Court's ruling in Heck v. Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477
(1994). For the reasons stated below, the court
DENIES Defendants' motions.
matter arises from an attack which occurred on or about
January 8, 2016 at the Elayn Hunt Correctional Center
("EHCC"). (Doc. 1). Gilbert O'Neil
("Plaintiff) alleged that an employee of the EHCC
attempted to strike him, after which Plaintiff retaliated.
(Id. at ¶ 6). Plaintiff claimed that he was
eventually brought to an x-ray room and was restrained, at
which point Major Shannon Lessard and an unnamed cadet began
to beat Plaintiff. (Id. at ¶¶ 9, 11).
Plaintiff alleged that Lieutenant Jarrod Verrett and Master
Sargent Eric Lane entered the room and joined in the attack.
(Id. at ¶ 12). Plaintiff claimed that Lane and
Verret continued beating him while he was restrained and
being transported back to his cell. (Id. at¶
alleged that as a result of the attacks, he was unable to
walk for three weeks, and had injuries to his head, arm, left
elbow, lower back, left hip, and left leg. (Id. at
¶ 20). Plaintiff further alleged that Lessard did not
have her body camera at the time of the incident and no
photographs of his injuries were taken. (Id. at
¶¶ 21, 23). Plaintiff argued that the force used
against him was unreasonable, that Defendants had treated
other inmates similarly, and that the internal policies of
the EHCC were violated by the attack. (Id. at
¶¶ 25; 26; 30).
in this matter was commenced on August 21, 2018 (Doc.
G&) and the jury returned a verdict form finding
1. It was more likely than not that Defendants used excessive
force against Plaintiff.
2. It was more likely than not that Plaintiff suffered harm
as a result of Defendants' use of force.
3. Defendants were not entitled to Qualified Immunity.
4. Plaintiff was owed Compensatory Damages resulting from
Defendants' use of force.
5. Plaintiff was entitled to $50, 000.00 in Compensatory
6. It was more likely than not that Defendants acted with
reckless indifference to Plaintiffs safety.
7. Lessard was assessed $7, 500.00 in Punitive Damages,
Verrett was assessed $5, 000.00 in Punitive Damages, and Lane
was assessed $5, 000.00 in Punitive Damages.
(Id.). Defendants now move for an Order setting
aside the verdict and judgment pursuant to Rule 59(a)(1)(A)
and Rule 59(e) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (Doc.
69). Defendants argue for the first time that the Supreme
Court's decision in Heck v, Humphrey, 512 U.S.
477 (1994) deprived this Court of jurisdiction over the
claims and that the matter should be dismissed. They argue
that because Plaintiff was subjected to prison disciplinary
procedures as a result of the incident, he was barred from
making a civil claim against Defendants based on the
Rule of Civil Procedure 59(a)(1)(A) provides that the Court
"may, on motion, grant a new trial on all or some of the
issues - and to any party - . . . after a jury trial, for any
reason for which a new trial has heretofore been granted in
an action at law in federal court." Fed.R.Civ.P.
59(a)(1)(A). "The decision to grant or deny a motion for
new trial is within the sound ...