United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana
ORDER AND REASONS
M. DOUGLAS, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Delmon Marzett, a state prisoner, filed this civil action
pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 in the United States
District Court for the Western District of Louisiana. Because
some his claims arose during his incarceration at the Orleans
Justice Center in New Orleans, Louisiana, those claims were
severed and transferred to this Court. Marzett v.
Tigner, Civ. Action No. 1:18-CV-110, 2018 WL 3734221
(W.D. La. July 6, 2018), adopted, 2018 WL 3733614
(W.D. La. Aug. 6, 2018).
complaint, plaintiff stated the severed and transferred
claims as follows:
On January 19, 2017, I was arrested in New Orleans and
brought to the booking area of Central Lock-up. At the time,
the booking officers refused to admit me to jail because my
medical condition required more than their facility could
provide. Because I had recently undergone knee replacement
surgery and my knee was still badly swollen and appeared to
be infected, the jail sent me to LSU-University Medical
Center. Eventually I was released back to Orleans Parish Jail
and into police custody.
After being returned to the Lock-up the deputies informed me
that I was being called to appear in court. After a
disagreement between the transporting officers as to the use
of restraints on my legs I was fully restrained in shackles
on my hands and legs that were handcuffed with a metal box at
the hip which allowed no movement of my hands at all. This
type of restraint demands that a prisoner with severe medical
issues be assisted in every movement up or down stairs, or in
or out of any vehicle.
After I was secured in full restraints and without a
wheelchair, crutches or a cane, I was made to walk without
assistance to a van for transport. I was in severe pain and
discomfort and was very agitated telling the officers this
was wrong and they were risking future damages to my knee.
The officers ignored my pleas and eventually I was placed
into a waiting transport van. The trip was made to the
courthouse and after arrival the transporting officers stood
outside the van smoking cigarettes instead of assisting me in
getting out of the van. As a result I fell head first onto
the concrete and was knocked unconscious. I was immediately
rushed back to the LSU Medical Center. At UMC a MRI was done
which indicated severe damage to my spine. I remain in severe
pain and am unable to sleep for any extended period of time
without waking up due to the pain. I am unable to turn my
head but rather have to turn my entire body to see behind me.
I received no follow up treatment from Sheriff Gusman despite
my repeated pleas to him by correspondence and phone calls
from family members to be seen by medical again. As a result
Sheriff Gusman was personally aware of the situation and
deliberately failed to act due to his policies in place
regarding outside medical assistance.
has properly named only one defendant with respect to the
foregoing claims: Sheriff Marlin Gusman. To the extent that
plaintiff also intended to sue the transporting deputies or
any other jail or medical department employees, he never
amended the complaint to identify those individuals and, as a
result, they have never been properly named as
Motion for Summary Judgment
Gusman has now filed a motion for summary judgment pursuant
to Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil
Procedure. Plaintiff opposes that
reviewing a motion for summary judgment, the Court may grant
the motion when no genuine issue of material fact exists and
the mover is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.
Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c). There is no “genuine issue”
when the record taken as a whole could not lead a rational
trier of fact to find for the nonmovant. Matsushita
Electric Industrial Co., Ltd. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475
U.S. 574, 587 (1986).
the party moving for summary judgment bears the initial
burden of informing the district court of the basis for its
motion, and identifying those portions of the record which it
believes demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of
material fact.” Taita Chemical Co., Ltd. v.
Westlake Styrene Corp., 246 F.3d 377, 385 (5th Cir.
2001) (quotation marks and brackets omitted). The party
opposing summary judgment must then “go beyond the
pleadings and by [his] own affidavits, or by the depositions,
answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, designate
specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for
trial.” Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S.
317, 324 (1986) (internal quotation marks omitted);
accord Provident Life and Accident Ins. Co. v. Goel,
274 F.3d 984, 991 (5th Cir. 2001). The Court has no duty to
search the record for evidence to support a party's
opposition to summary judgment; rather, “[t]he party
opposing summary judgment is required to identify specific
evidence in the record and to articulate the precise manner
in which the evidence supports his or her claim.”
Ragas v. Tennessee Gas Pipeline Co., 136 F.3d 455,
458 (5th Cir. 1998). Conclusory statements, speculation, and
unsubstantiated assertions are not competent summary judgment
evidence and will not suffice to defeat a properly supported
motion for summary judgment. Id.; Douglass v.
United Services Auto. Ass'n, 79 F.3d 1415, 1429 (5th
lawsuit, plaintiff claims that his rights were violated
because he was transported in an unsafe manner. In connection
with his motion for summary judgment, Sheriff Gusman has
submitted an affidavit of Michael Laughlin regarding the
applicable policy for transporting inmates. In that
affidavit, Laughlin states:
1. I am employed by the Orleans Parish Sheriff's Office
and am commissioned at the rank of Chief.
2. I am familiar with the policies and procedures of the
Orleans Parish Sheriff's Office.
3. Inmates who were recently arrested and booked into the
Orleans Justice Center are transported to the Criminal
District Court within 48 hours of their arrest for purposes
of appearing before a magistrate pursuant to La. C.Cr.P. art.
4. All inmates in the custody of the OPSO are transported in
full restraints, consisting of handcuffs, belly-chains (a
belt to which handcuffs are secured at the waist to prevent
vertical movement) and shackles, which are restraints placed
on the ankles to prevent an individual from running, though
allowing sufficient movement to walk and traverse stairs.
This is done for the safety of OPSO staff, other inmates, the
Court, and the general public.
complaint, plaintiff did not specify his theory for holding
Sheriff Gusman liable with respect to his transportation
claim. However, two possible theories readily spring to mind,
although neither aids plaintiff.
Sheriff Gusman could be held liable with respect to the
transportation claim if he was personally involved
in the incident giving rise to the claim. See Thompson v.
Steele, 709 F.2d 381, 382 (5th Cir. 1983)
(“Certainly § 1983 does not give a cause of action
based on the conduct of subordinates. Personal involvement is
an essential element of a civil rights cause of
action.” (citation omitted)). However, there is no
allegation that Sheriff Gusman was personally involved in
transporting plaintiff on the occasion at issue in this case.
Sheriff Gusman could also be held liable if he was
deliberately indifferent to a need to protect plaintiff from
substantial risk of serious harm while being
transported. Specifically, under this theory, the claim
would be that Sheriff Gusman failed to properly train his
subordinates on safe methods of transportating restrained
prisoners who, like plaintiff, suffer from mobility
impairments. However, while it is true that such
failure-to-train claims are generally actionable,
plaintiff's allegations fall far short of what is
required to state such a claim for the following reasons.
United States Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals has held:
A supervisor may … be liable for failure to …
train if: (1) the supervisor … failed to …
train the subordinate official; (2) a causal link exists
between the failure to train … and the violation of
the plaintiff's rights; and (3) ...