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Dickerson v. Ky Correctional Psychiatric Ctr.

United States District Court, W.D. Kentucky, Louisville Division

March 22, 2017



          David J. Hale, Judge United States District Court

         When Plaintiff Malcolm K. Dickerson initiated this 42 U.S.C. § 1983 action, he was a pretrial detainee incarcerated at Kentucky Correctional Psychiatric Center (KCPC). While there, another inmate assaulted him and broke his jaw. In this lawsuit, Plaintiff claims that the attack occurred because KCPC Defendant Captain Darlene Brown and an unknown Defendant failed to protect him. Before the Court are three motions by Plaintiff for summary judgment (DNs 26, 29, & 41) and a motion for summary judgment by Defendant Brown (DN 48). Fully briefed, these motions are ripe for decision. For the following reasons, Plaintiff's motions for summary judgment will be denied, and Defendant Brown's motion for summary judgment will be granted. The Court will also dismiss Plaintiff's claim against the unknown Defendant.


         Plaintiff initiated this § 1983 action on September 11, 2015, against Defendants KCPC, Defendant Brown, and an unknown KCPC staff member. On January 21, 2016, this Court conducted an initial review of Plaintiff's complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A and dismissed Plaintiff's claims against KCPC for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted. (DN 9). The Court, however, allowed Plaintiff's individual-capacity failure-to-protect claims against Defendant Brown and the unknown KCPC staff member to proceed for compensatory and punitive damages. (DNs 9 & 10).

         II. FACTS

         On August 4, 2015, Plaintiff was admitted to KCPC. He had been sent to KCPC for a court-ordered in-patient evaluation. After Plaintiff completed the admissions process, he was told to wait to be escorted to his living area while another inmate completed the admissions process. Defendant Brown then began to escort both Plaintiff and the other inmate to their assigned shared living area. As they were walking to their living area, the other inmate turned and struck Plaintiff without warning. Defendant Brown then lunged to restrain the other inmate to prevent a further assault on Plaintiff. Several other officers also responded to help fully restrain the aggressive inmate. Plaintiff was taken to receive medical assistance and was ultimately diagnosed with a fractured jaw, which required the surgical implantation of a metal plate and screws.

         The evidence in this action includes surveillance video of the KCPC admissions area. This video shows the other inmate, before the assault, sitting in a chair at a desk, unrestrained, as he calmly and cooperatively assists a KCPC officer complete his admissions paperwork for KCPC. As Defendant Brown points out, the inmate is so calm that the video shows an officer giving the inmate nail clippers so that he can clip his nails during the admissions process.

         The second surveillance video shows Defendant Brown escorting Plaintiff and the other inmate down a hall. Both inmates are unrestrained. This video then shows the inmate, Plaintiff, and Defendant Brown waiting for a security door to open. At that moment, the other inmate abruptly turns and punches an unsuspecting Plaintiff in the jaw. As soon as the assault occurs, Defendant Brown lunges to restrain the other inmate and several other officers immediately join her to ensure that the inmate is fully restrained.

         After the incident occurred, KCPC conducted an investigation. Based upon the investigation, KCPC officials concluded that the other inmate had assaulted Plaintiff to show KCPC officials that he was mentally ill in the hope that that he would not be returned to jail and that the state charges pending against him would be dropped. The exhibits provided by Defendant Brown reveal that, during the course of the investigation, it was also noted that it was standard practice at KCPC for inmates to be escorted in small groups and to be allowed to freely interact with other inmates in their respective living areas unless a particular inmate was exhibiting hostile or threatening behavior or had been ordered to be placed in restraints or seclusion by a physician.


         Before the Court may grant a motion for summary judgment, it must find that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). The moving party bears the initial burden of specifying the basis for its motion and identifying that portion of the record that demonstrates the absence of a genuine issue of material fact. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986). Once the moving party satisfies this burden, the non-moving party thereafter must produce specific facts demonstrating a genuine issue of fact for trial. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 247-48 (1986).

         The evidence of the non-moving party is to be believed, Anderson, 477 U.S. at 255, and all reasonable inferences that may be drawn from the facts placed before the Court must be drawn in favor of the opposing party. Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co., Ltd. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986). However, where disputed facts are captured on a video whose accuracy is not in question, the Court must take the facts in the light depicted by the video. Rudlaff v. Gillispie, 791 F.3d 638, 639 (6th Cir. 2015) (citing Scott v. Harris, 550 U.S. 372, 378 (2007); Standifer v. Lacon, 587 F. App'x 919, 920 (6th Cir. 2014)). In addition, the non-moving party must do more than merely show that there is some “metaphysical doubt as to the material facts.” Id. at 586. Instead, the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure require the non-moving party to present specific facts showing that a genuine factual issue exists by “citing to particular parts of materials in the record” or by “showing that the materials cited do not establish the absence . . . of a genuine dispute[.]” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(1). “The mere existence of a scintilla of evidence in support of the [non-moving party's] position will be insufficient; there must be evidence on which the jury could reasonably find for the [non-moving party].” Anderson, 477 U.S. at 252. It is against this standard that the Court reviews the facts presented.


         As stated above, Plaintiff has filed three motions for summary judgment and Defendant Brown has filed ...

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