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Hacker v. Lincoln County Detention Center

United States District Court, E.D. Kentucky, Central Division, Lexington

November 4, 2014

DAVID HACKER, Plaintiff,



This is a civil rights action brought by David Hacker, a former Kentucky prisoner, under 42 U.S.C. ยง 1983. Hacker alleges violations of the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments and parallel Kentucky constitutional provisions arising from an assault by a fellow inmate at the Lincoln County Regional Jail ("LCRJ"), which resulted in the loss of one of Hacker's eyes. Hacker also alleges state law tort claims.

This case is before the Court on a motion for summary judgment by Defendants Lincoln County Detention Center, Jailer William Gooch, Deputy Dennis Ray, Deputy Rodney Price, and Deputy Stephanie McAnich (individually and in their official capacities).[1] (Doc. 62). The Court heard oral argument on September 9, 2014 and took this motion under advisement. After further study, the Court now issues the following Memorandum Opinion and Order.


On November 15, 2010, David Hacker was admitted to the LCRJ after being found in contempt of court for violating a no contact order and terms of his probation. Doc. 62-1, Docket Sheet. Previously, Hacker had been convicted of several other offenses and had been incarcerated at LCRJ multiple times. Doc. 71, Hacker Depo., pp. 106, 109-19. The catalyst for Hacker's criminal history was a 1998 motor vehicle accident, which caused Hacker to suffer a traumatic head injury that significantly changed his personality. Id. at 44; Doc. 65-1, Medical Questionnaire, pp. 1-2.

Defendant McAnich was the booking officer on duty when Hacker was admitted to LCRJ on November 15, 2010. Doc. 70, McAnich Depo., p. 95. At the time of his booking, Hacker completed a Medical Questionnaire, which stated that he had a serious medical condition of a "post closed head injury, " took medication for emotional problems, and had been separated from other inmates during previous incarcerations at LCRJ to keep from being beaten up. Doc. 65-1, Medical Questionnaire, pp. 1-2.

On that same form, Hacker answered "no" to the question, "Are you aware of any reason you should be separated from other inmates while you are here?" Doc. 71, Hacker Depo., pp. 197-99; Doc. 65-1, Medical Questionnaire, pp. 1-2. However, Hacker claims he told McAnich at the time of booking that he did not want to be placed in a cell with any felons because he would be in danger due to his disabilities. Doc. 71, Hacker Depo., p. 199. Hacker claims McAnich responded by laughing and saying no one wants to be housed with a felon and that everyone would like to be in isolation. Id.

McAnich booked Hacker in cell 119, a protective custody cell, designated as such because it was the "quietest, " "calmest, " and "safest" cell. Doc. 70, McAnich Depo., p. 42; Doc. 68, Gooch Depo., pp. 201-02. According to McAnich, cell 119 is for individuals with mental health, physical, and social issues affecting how they interact with other inmates. Doc. 70, McAnich Depo., p. 41. While McAnich does not recall what she reviewed during Hacker's booking, she testified that typically she would review the inmate's institutional history, including housing history and medical history. Id. at 41-46.

Hacker claims that problems began when defendants Jason Napier, David Walls, Brett Whitaker, and Billy Plummer were placed in cell 119 in early December 2010. Doc. 71, Hacker Depo., p. 163.

Hacker needed to use the restroom frequently due to continence issues. Id. at 155. Hacker alleges that beginning around December 6, 2010, for about three days, Plummer would intentionally occupy the bathroom when Hacker needed to use it. Id. at 155-57, 162-63, 167-68. Plummer's blocking of Hacker's access to the restroom caused Hacker to wet his pants and instead urinate in other receptacles, including a garbage can and, on or around December 7 or 8, an empty peanut butter jar. Id. at 169-70. During the peanut butter jar incident, Napier became upset because he believed Hacker had spilled urine from the jar on the floor beside Napier's bed. Id. at 157-58, 172.

As a result, on or around December 9 or 10, 2010, Napier told Deputy Ray about the peanut butter jar incident and asked that Hacker be removed from cell 119. Id. at 157-58, 172-73; Doc. 69, Ray Depo., pp. 129-33.

Ray spoke to Hacker about the incident, and Hacker told Ray that he had urinated in the peanut butter jar because Plummer and other cellmates blocked his access to the restroom. Doc. 69, Ray Depo., pp. 133-34. Ray told Hacker that he would move him to a new cell if he felt his safety was in jeopardy, but Hacker did not request a change of cells and told Ray that he was "okay." Id.; Doc. 71, Hacker Depo., p. 189. Then, Ray spoke to the men housed in cell 119 and told them he was aware that some men were preventing people from using the bathroom and asked that they not have any more problems with the issue. Doc. 69, Ray Depo., p. 134.

Hacker alleges that over the next few days he overheard Napier, Walls, and Whitaker trying to persuade Plummer that he could commit a crime in prison without being charged with a second crime - what the men called a "freebie." Doc. 71, Hacker Depo., pp. 176, 179. Hacker claims that on the afternoon of December 10, 2010, Plummer approached him and commented about the "freebie" concept. Id. at 178-79. Although Plummer did not threaten Hacker directly, Hacker testified that he perceived the statements as threatening. Id. at 180.

Hacker claims that at 11:00 p.m. on December 10, 2010, he asked Deputy Price to move him from cell 119. Id. at 150, 176. Hacker states that Price refused to move him and said: "We offered to move you out once. You will just have to get what they want to give to you." Id. at 150-51. Price, however, testified that he never had a conversation with Hacker in which Hacker asked to be moved out of cell 119. Doc. 67, Price Depo., p. 70. Price also testified that he was not working the evening of December 10, 2010 - a fact confirmed by LCRJ time records. Id. at 86-87; see also Doc. 62-3, Timesheet.

On December 11, 2010, at some point between 6:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., Plummer assaulted Hacker in his cell. Doc. 71, Hacker Depo., pp. 205-07. Holding a domino between his fingers, Plummer punched Hacker in the eye. Id. at 205, 209. The impact knocked Hacker's prescription eye glasses to the ground and caused Hacker to lose vision in his injured eye, as it filled with blood. Id. at 205-06, 209. Plummer hit Hacker two more times. Id. at 206, 209. Hacker yelled for help during the attack. Id. at 206. Hacker estimates that Plummer hit him three times in five minutes, with one to three minutes elapsing between each hit. Id. at 209. Hacker believes that it took seven minutes after the assault for the jail staff to enter the cell. Id.

Hacker testified that in between the additional punches from Plummer, he looked up at the cell window and saw three deputies watching the assault and failing to respond to his calls for help. Id. at 206, 209. Hacker is not certain which staff members he saw, but claims he saw two male deputies he believed to be Glover and Lay, and one female deputy, who he thought was McAnich or Mobley. Id. at 206-07.

Deputy McAnich was working as the control room operator during the time the assault occurred. Doc. 70, McAnich Depo., p. 81. McAnich was on her way back to the control room after performing checks on the female cells when she heard a commotion in cell 119. Id. at 81. Upon hearing the disturbance, McAnich called on her radio to report the fight in cell 119. Id. Because she was working the control room, McAnich did not have keys to the cell 119 door on her person. Id. at 81-82. McAnich then immediately returned to the ...

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