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Moredock v. United States

United States District Court, E.D. Kentucky, Southern Division London

March 7, 2018

TIM MOREDOCK, Plaintiff,
v.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION & ORDER

          GREGORY F VAN TATENHOVE, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Plaintiff Tim Moredock is an inmate formerly confined at the United States Penitentiary-McCreary in Pine Knot, Kentucky.[1] Proceeding without an attorney, Mr. Moredock filed a civil action against the United States of America pursuant to the Federal Tort Claims Act, 28 U.S.C. § 2670 et seq. (“FTCA”). [R. 4.] The United States has filed a motion to dismiss or, in the alternative, motion for summary judgment. [R. 13.] Mr. Moredock has filed two responses [R. 20, 25] and the United States has filed replies to both [R. 23, 26]. Thus, this matter has been fully briefed and is ripe for review.

         I

         In his Amended Complaint, Mr. Moredock alleges that, on October 26, 2015, he was assaulted with a homemade weapon while he was in his housing unit (“Unit A”) by an inmate who lived in a different housing unit (“Unit B”). [R. 4 at 2.] He alleges that he was stabbed 68 times. Id. The parties do not dispute that the assault occurred, nor that Mr. Moredock's injuries were life threatening. Mr. Moredock was first treated by EMS at USP-McCreary, and then subsequently airlifted to the University of Kentucky Medical Center (“UKMC”), where he underwent emergency surgery for his injuries. Mr. Moredock spent 21 days at UKMC. [R. 13-1 at 2-3; R. 13-3 at ¶ 5; R. 13-8 at ¶ 4.] The assault was subsequently referred for prosecution. [R. 13-1 at 4.]

         According to the United States, while Mr. Moredock was being escorted to the ambulance, he stated to staff that he had been stabbed by the “Soldiers of the Aryan Culture” (“SAC”) because he was an SAC member and he had refused an order to stab his cellmate. He further identified two SAC members, identified here as Inmate A and Inmate B for privacy and confidentiality purposes, as his assailants. He stated that Inmate B stabbed him, while Inmate A assisted. [R. 13-1 at 3; R. 13-10 at ¶ 4.]

         This information was confirmed by a subsequent investigation, which revealed that Mr. Moredock was assaulted by Inmate A and Inmate B, both of whom belonged to SAC. Id. At the time of the incident, Mr. Moredock and Inmate A were both housed in Unit 4A, while Inmate B was housed in Unit 4B. Units 4A and 4B are side by side in separate buildings connected by a Unit Team Area in the middle. However, the unit team remains locked and inmates are not allowed to cross through the Unit Team Area from one unit to the next. [R. 13-10 at ¶ 3.]

         This information was confirmed by a subsequent investigation, which revealed that Mr. Moredock was assaulted by Inmate A and Inmate B, both of whom belonged to SAC. Id. At the time of the incident, Mr. Moredock and Inmate A were both housed in Unit 4A, while Inmate B was housed in Unit 4B. Units 4A and 4B are side by side in separate buildings connected by a Unit Team Area in the middle. However, the unit team remains locked and inmates are not allowed to cross through the Unit Team Area from one unit to the next. [R. 13-10 at ¶ 3.] him in the Special Housing Unit (“SHU”), and/or giving him the option to enter Protective Custody, including a potential transfer to another institution. Id. at ¶ 6. However, prior to the October 26, 2015 assault, “[t]here were no known specific or immediate threats to [Moredock] and there were no known or perceived threats to [Moredock].” Id. at ¶ 7.

         Mr. Moredock alleges that, after he returned to USP-McCreary from UKMC, a Special Investigative Services (“SIS”) officer who was investigating the assault identified the inmate who had stabbed Mr. Moredock, which was when he realized that this inmate was from a different unit. [R. 4.] According to Mr. Moredock, the fact that one of the inmates was from another unit shows that the prison staff failed in their duty to “monitor the unit door and make sure only inmates housed in the unit are allowed in the unit.” He further alleges negligence on the part of prison staff for their failure to discover the metal knife during the daily pat-down searches and/or when the inmate passed through the metal detector when he entered the unit door. [R. 4 at 2-3.] In sum, Mr. Moredock alleges that the Bureau of Prisons (“BOP”) staff failed in their duties to monitor the unit door and metal detector, which led directly to his stabbing, and, therefore, that they failed to provide a safe environment. Id. at 4.

         After the assault, Mr. Moredock filed an administrative tort claim (later assigned the designation “TRT-MXR-2016-04050”) construed as a Claim for Damage, Injury, or Death dated April 28, 2016.[2] In his claim, he stated that he had been assaulted on October 26, 2015 resulting in serious injuries requiring emergency medical care and attributing the assault to the negligence of the prison staff in failing to adequately monitor the metal detectors, thus permitting Inmate B to enter Unit A with the metal weapon. [R. 4-1.] This claim was denied by the Regional Counsel. [R. 4-1.] Mr. Moredock then filed this Complaint seeking monetary damages in compensation for his injuries. [R. 4 at 8.]

         II

         A

         A motion to dismiss pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6) tests the sufficiency of the plaintiff's complaint. Gardner v. Quicken Loans, Inc., 567 F. App'x 362, 364 (6th Cir. 2014). When addressing a motion to dismiss, the Court views the complaint in the light most favorable to the plaintiff and accepts as true all ‘well-pleaded facts' in the complaint. D'Ambrosio v. Marino, 747 F.3d 378, 383 (6th Cir. 2014). Because Mr. Moredock is proceeding without the benefit of an attorney, the Court reads his complaint to include all fairly and reasonably inferred claims. Davis v. Prison Health Servs., 679 F.3d 433, 437-38 (6th Cir. 2012).

         Here, the United States moved both to dismiss and for summary judgment, attaching and relying upon declarations extrinsic to the pleadings in support of their motion. [R. 13.] Thus, the Court will treat the defendant's motion to dismiss the complaint as a motion for summary judgment under Rule 56. Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(d); Wysocki v. Int'l Bus. Mach. Corp., 607 F.3d 1102, 1104 (6th Cir. 2010); see also Ball v. Union Carbide Corp., 385 F.3d 713, 719 (6th Cir. 2004) (where defendant moves both to dismiss and for summary judgment, plaintiff is on notice that summary judgment is being requested, and the court's consideration as such is appropriate where the nonmovant submits documents and affidavits in opposition to summary judgment).

         A motion under Rule 56 challenges the viability of another party's claim by asserting that at least one essential element of that claim is not supported by legally-sufficient evidence. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a); Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 324-25 (1986). A party moving for summary judgment must establish that, even viewing the record in the light most favorable to the nonmovant, there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and that the party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law. Loyd v. St. Joseph Mercy Oakland, 766 F.3d 580, 588 (6th Cir. 2014). The burden then shifts to the nonmoving party to “come forward with some probative evidence to support its claim.” Lansing Dairy, Inc. v. Espy, 39 F.3d 1339, 1347 (6th Cir.1994). However, if the responding party's allegations are so clearly contradicted by the record that no reasonable jury could adopt them, the court need not accept them when determining whether summary judgment is warranted. Scott v. Harris, ...


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