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Santos v. White

United States District Court, M.D. Louisiana

January 7, 2020




         Before the Court are Defendants Craig White, John Wells, Allen Verret, and Ashley Martell's Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. 70). For the reasons that follow, Defendants' Motion is GRANTED.

         I. BACKGROUND

         A. Prison Altercation

         This matter arises from allegations of excessive force at a correctional facility. Plaintiff is a prisoner currently incarcerated in the Louisiana State Penitentiary but was incarcerated at Elayn Hunt Correctional Center in St. Gabriel, Louisiana at the time of the event on which this suit is based. On January 28, 2016, around 4:30 p.m., Plaintiff alleges that he was walking into his dorm when he witnessed six correctional officers beating an inmate named Charlie Morris. (Doc. 1 at p. 4). Plaintiff alleges that he pleaded with officers to stop hitting Morris. Plaintiff alleges that the officers told him, "shut up, this is not your business." Plaintiff alleges that these same officers then jumped on him and began to hit and kick him, knocking Plaintiff to the ground. Plaintiff claims that lie was forcefully and tightly handcuffed and thrown on an empty metal bed. (Id.).

         Plaintiff further claims that Colonel Allen Verret ("Col. Verret") then grabbed him by the throat and choked him while Captain Billy Verret ("Capt. Verret"), Lieutenant Jarrod Verret ("Lt. Verret"), Major Craig White ("Major White"), and Captain John Wells ("Capt. Wells") struck his face and body with their fists and radios. (Id.). Plaintiff alleges that the officers dragged him from his dorm to another unit while continuously beating him and causing his head to hit the poles in the walkway. (Id.). Upon arrival to the unit, the officers allegedly threw Plaintiff to the ground and continued to beat him.

         Plaintiff alleges that was he was placed in a shower cell alone for an extended period of time. Plaintiff claims he sustained cuts from the beating and that his hands were swollen from the tightness of the handcuffs (Id. at p. 5). Plaintiff alleges that Capt. Wells eventually came to the cell with Sergeant Justin Washington and ordered him to approach the bars of the cell door to remove his handcuffs. Plaintiff claims that when he approached the bars of the cell door, Capt. Wells sprayed him in the face with a chemical agent and made racially charged statements. (Id.). Soon thereafter, Plaintiffs handcuffs were removed, and Plaintiff claims he was ordered to remove his clothing. Plaintiff alleges that Capt. Wells then sprayed the chemical agent on his genitals and anus. (Id. at p. 6). When Plaintiff turned on the shower to wash away the chemical agent, he claims he was ordered by Capt. Wells to turn off the shower and put on a jumpsuit. Capt. Wells then allegedly escorted him from the shower cell to another area where Capt. Wells retrieved a folded knife, which Plaintiff alleges was about 5 inches long. (Id. at p. 7). Plaintiff claims that Capt. Wells cut him and threatened to kill him with the knife.

         B. Plaintiffs Alleged Injuries from the Incident

         Plaintiff was later transported to a diagnostic center where he was cleaned up. Plaintiff alleges that the Emergency Medical Technicians refused to stitch his hand and face to conceal the fact that he was beaten. (Id. at p. 8). Plaintiff asserts that the medical technicians refused to give him medicine for his pain. Plaintiff further asserts that he was kept in isolation for three to four days while his repeated requests for medical attention for his wounds were ignored. Plaintiff alleges that he was never allowed to see a doctor during his time at the diagnostic center. (Id.).

         Plaintiff further alleges that he suffered acute injury and multiple serious and prolonged injuries including, but not limited to, his anus, arm, back, chest, face, genitals, hands, shoulder, and ribs. (Id. at p. 11). Plaintiff further alleges that he suffered scarring on his legs and arms from the leg irons and handcuffs and has difficulty with sight since the incident. Plaintiff further claims that he has blood clots in both eyes, on the back of his legs, on his face, and suffers from discomfort, humiliation, burning in his respiratory system, mental and emotional injury, medical expenses, and lost wages. (Id.).

         C. Prison Disciplinary Proceeding

         As a result of the altercation, Plaintiff was issued several disciplinary reports for violations such as "aggravated disobedience", "defiance", "property destruction", "entrance into an unauthorized area."[1] On February 1, 2016, the prison disciplinary board found Plaintiff guilty on nine rule violations. Plaintiff received a combined sentence of isolation for a period of twenty days and the forfeiture of 180 days of good time. Plaintiff also received the loss of canteen privileges for a period of eighteen weeks and thirty weeks loss of phone restrictions.[2]

         D. Procedural History

         On September 10, 2016, Plaintiff filed a lawsuit under 42 U.S.C. ยง1983 (Doc. 1), alleging unreasonable use of excessive force. Plaintiff later amended his Complaint (Doc. 45) to add Sgt. Washington as a defendant. Defendants responded with an Answer (Doc. 20), denying all allegations. On August 14, 2018, Plaintiff filed a Motion to Dismiss (Doc. 63) to dismiss Defendants Sgt. Washington, Lt. Verret, and Lt. Troy Rogers, which the Court granted. (Doc. 69). Plaintiff filed his Second Amended Complaint (Doc. 66) on September 17, 2018, adding Lieutenant Ashley Martell as a ...

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