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Hmeid v. Nelson Coleman Correctional Center

United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana

October 18, 2019




         This is a civil action brought by Bashir Ibrahim Hmeid under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (“Section 1983”) against the Nelson Coleman Correctional Center (“Coleman”), Deputy Charles Floyd (“Floyd”), Deputy David Bailey (“Bailey”), Lieutenant Rocco Dominic (“Dominic”) and Sergeant Darryl Richardson (“Richardson”). Hmeid originally asserted six claims: (1) While incarcerated in Coleman on August 17, 2017, Deputies Floyd and Bailey, Lieutenant Dominic and Sergeant Richardson used excessive force against him when they tased and beat him during a strip search. (2) He did not receive adequate medical care for a wrist injury that existed before he was incarcerated or for the injuries he suffered on August 17, 2017. (3) His privacy rights were violated in the Coleman bathroom and shower areas, and the food and the jail are cold. (4) Jail officials tampered with his mail. (5) Coleman inmates do not receive adequate recreation time. (6) State Department of Corrections (“DOC”) and parish inmates should not be housed together because parish inmates are disruptive. Record Doc. No. 4 (Complaint at ¶ V).

         On May 22, 2018, I conducted a telephone conference in this matter. Participating were plaintiff pro se and Steven Mauterer, counsel for defendants. Plaintiff was sworn and testified for all purposes permitted by Spears v. McCotter, 766 F.2d 179 (5th Cir. 1985), and its progeny. After the Spears hearing and pursuant to my order, defense counsel submitted to me the videotape of the subject incident and the incident report that plaintiff referred to during his testimony, and I reviewed them. Record Doc. Nos. 16, 18-20. On August 15, 2018, I issued a report and recommendation in which I recommended that plaintiff's claims naming the jail as a defendant and concerning his medical care, conditions of confinement, mail tampering, recreation time and housing classification against the individual defendants be dismissed with prejudice. Record Doc. No. 21 at p. 41. I further recommended that further proceedings were required as to plaintiff's excessive force claim against the individual defendants. Id. at p. 42. The presiding district judge adopted my report and recommendation on October 10, 2018, and ordered that a preliminary conference be conducted to determine (1) if counsel should be appointed from this court's Civil Pro Bono Panel to represent plaintiff in this matter and (2) if all parties consent to proceed before a United States Magistrate Judge pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c). Record Doc. No. 22.

         The preliminary conference was conducted on November 1, 2018. Record Doc. No. 25. At the conference, all parties orally consented to proceed before a United States Magistrate Judge pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c), and plaintiff requested appointment of counsel. Id. Counsel was subsequently appointed to represent plaintiff in this matter. Record Doc. No. 26. This matter was then referred to a United States Magistrate Judge for all proceedings and entry of judgment in accordance with 28 U.S.C. § 636(c) upon written consent of all parties. Record Doc. Nos. 27, 28.

         Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment, Record Doc. No. 47, is now pending before me. Record Doc. No. 47. Plaintiff filed a timely opposition memorandum. Record Doc. No. 51. Defendants were permitted to file a reply. Record Doc. Nos. 52, 53, 54. Having considered the complaint, the record, the submissions of the parties and the applicable law, IT IS ORDERED that the motion is DENIED for the following reasons.


         The following material facts are accepted as undisputed solely for purposes of the pending motions for summary judgment.

         On August 17, 2017, Hmeid was an inmate at Coleman. Record Doc. Nos. 21 at p. 2; 56 at p. 4. On August 17, 2017, St. Charles Parish Sheriff's Deputies including defendants Floyd, Bailey, Dominic and Richardson conducted a search of Pod C6, plaintiff's dorm at Coleman, in response to the smell of smoke emanating from the dorm. Record Doc. Nos. 47-5 at pp. 34-36; 47-6 at pp. 14, 17. Of the named defendants, only Richardson and Dominic were authorized to carry and use a taser gun on the date of the incident. Record Doc. Nos. 47-3 at p. 27; 47-4 at p. 21; 47-5 at p. 13; 47-6 at p. 32; 47-9 at p. 2.

         As part of the search on August 17, 2017, correctional officers, including defendants, began to conduct strip searches of the inmates in Pod C6. Record Doc. No. 47- 4 at p. 34. Plaintiff's particular strip search procedure took place in the dorm shower area. Record Doc. No. 56 at p. 9. The incident was recorded on video by a prison surveillance camera. Record Doc. No. 20. During the search, Hmeid removed his clothes and proceeded to face the wall, raise his arms, squat and cough several times. Record Doc. Nos. 47-4 at pp. 56-57, 58-62; 47-5 at pp. 45; 56 at pp. 9-10. At some point during the search, defendant Richardson unholstered and pointed his taser at plaintiff. Record Doc. Nos. 47-4 at p. 34; 47-5 at p. 60. Soon after, Richardson grabbed Hmeid's left arm, and plaintiff was taken to the floor of the shower, surrounded by five guards and handcuffed. Record Doc. Nos. 47-4 at p. 35; 56 at pp. 11; 63-64; 20 (Video Footage at Time Stamp 00:31:46).

         After Hmeid was handcuffed, he was escorted from Pod C6 to the booking area, and then to a segregation cell. Record Doc. Nos. 47-4 at p. 35; 47-5 at pp. 61, 63. Plaintiff's handcuffs were removed once in the segregation cell. Id. at p. 63. An officer again instructed plaintiff to perform the strip search procedure by bending at the waist. Record Doc. No. 20 (Video Footage at Time Stamp 1:00:30). Hmeid squatted instead of bending at the waist as instructed. Id.

         Plaintiff received medical treatment for injuries after the incident. Record Doc. Nos. 47-7 at pp. 1-2, 4; 56 at pp. 15-16. The medical report provides that Hmeid suffered “abrasions to [right] shoulder, [left] index finger, [left and right knee], due to [an] altercation with deputies.” Record Doc. No. 47-7 at p. 4.

         II. ANALYSIS

         A. Legal Standards for Summary Judgment Motion

         Summary judgment is proper “if the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law.” Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986) (citing Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)). “Rule 56(c) mandates the entry of summary judgment, after adequate time for discovery and upon motion, against a party who fails to make a showing sufficient to establish the existence of an element essential to that party's case, and on which the party will bear the burden of proof at trial.” Id. A party moving for summary judgment bears the initial burden of demonstrating the basis for summary judgment and identifying those portions of the record, discovery and any affidavits supporting the conclusion that ...

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