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Curtis v. Bradford

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

May 23, 2018

TORI T. CURTIS, PLAINTIFF
v.
MICHAEL T. BRADFORD, et. al., DEFENDANTS

          COUNSEL PRO SE PLAINTIFF TORI T. CURTIS EASTERN KENTUCKY CORRECTIONAL COMPLEX

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          Thomas B. Russell, United States District Court Senior Judge

         This matter comes before the Court on motions for summary judgment by Plaintiff Tori Curtis, [DN 64], and Defendants, Michael T. Bradford, Samantha M. Wyatt (formerly Samantha M. Paris), William B. Morrison, and Randy White, [DN 67.] For the reasons discussed below, Defendants' motion for summary judgment is GRANTED IN PART AND DENIED IN PART and Plaintiff's motion for summary judgment, [DN 64], is DENIED.

         BACKGROUND

         Tori Curtis brings this action against Defendants Michael Bradford, Samantha Wyatt, William Morrison, and Randy White, alleging that each Defendant retaliated against Curtis in violation of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution for filing a Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) grievance against Officer Bradford on November 7, 2015. [DN 23 at 9 (Amended Complaint); DN 67-2 at 1-2 (Extraordinary Occurrence Report).]

         At all times relevant to this action, Curtis was an inmate at Kentucky State Penitentiary (KSP). [See DN 67-2 at 1.] Curtis alleges that on November 7, 2015, Officer Bradford was making his rounds in the cell house at the same time as Curtis had a privacy screen in his cell “up half way up on the cell bars because [he] was shaving [his] body.” [DN 23 at 9.] According to Curtis, as Bradford walked passed his cell, he stopped and stepped back in front of the cell, saw Curtis shaving, and said “I thought only sissies shaved their bod[ies] yard punk or yard sissie, ” and then he “continued off the walk.” [Id.] As a result, Curtis filed a complaint under the PREA.

         The “Extraordinary Occurrence Report” completed by KSP related to Curtis's complaint states that, at approximately 8:40 a.m. on November 7, 2015, Curtis reported Officer Bradford for the statement “I thought only sissies shave their chest.” [DN 67-2 at 2.] Accordingly, KSP commenced a PREA investigation. Lieutenant Derek Roberts interviewed Curtis around 10:00 the same morning. [Id.] During the interview, Curtis stated that Officer Bradford's comment was “I thought only gay people shave their bodies.” [Id.] According to the Report, Curtis was “afraid that Officer Bradford will judge who he is and if he has a diabetic incident [Office Bradford] would not report it to the medical department.” [Id.] The Report further notes that “Curtis did not claim any type of voyeurism or sexual comment only the degrading comment about his sexual preference.” [Id.]

         Lieutenant Roberts next interviewed Officer Bradford around 10:48 a.m. [Id.] “Officer Bradford stated he never made the statement and never spoke to Inmate Curtis” that day. [Id.] Next, around 12:12 p.m., Lieutenant Roberts reviewed the video footage, of the area at issue, Five Cellhouse First Floor A&B Walk, for the day and time in question. [Id.] The Report summarizes the video footage as follows:

Officer Bradford made a round at approximately 7:10 a.m. on A&B Walk with his lock down sheet and at no time stop[ped] and step[ped] back to cell B10 and ma[d]e conversation. At approximately 7:49 a.m. Officer Bradford was on the walk passing out property bags for cell moves. At approximately 8:18 a.m., Officer Bradford entered the walk proceeded to the area of B10 and turned and exited the walk. The video footage provided no additional information for the investigation and due to no audio it could not be verified if the statement was made or not.

[Id. at 2.] Ultimately, “Lieutenant Roberts found no evidence to support Inmate Curtis's claim of Staff Sexual Harassment against Officer Bradford. Lieutenant Roberts [ ] determined the claim to be unsubstantiated and therefore the Kentucky State Police were not notified.” [Id.]

         Four months later, on March 8, 2016, Officer Bradford filed a Disciplinary Report Form for Curtis and another inmate, Tommy Wilson. [DN 67-3 at 1-2 (Bradford Affidavit).] According to Officer Bradford, on that date, he was monitoring the inmate showers when he observed Wilson approach Curtis “and kiss him on his right shoulder while they were in the back of the showers with no clothes on.” [Id. at 1.] Because “Curtis did not make an effort to stop Inmate Wilson nor did he give any indication that Inmate Wilson's behavior was non-consensual, ” Office Bradford believed that the contact was consensual. [Id. at 2.] Therefore, he completed Disciplinary Report Forms for both Curtis and Wilson for inappropriate sexual activity, which is against KSP policy. [Id.]

         Defendant Samantha Wyatt, a Correctional Lieutenant at KSP, was “assigned to investigate the Disciplinary Report issued to Inmate Curtis as required by Corrections Policy and Procedure (CPP) 15.6.” [DN 67-4 at 1 (Wyatt Affidavit).] Wyatt interviewed Officer Bradford, Curtis, reviewed available documentation, and determined “there was sufficient evidence to support the charge against” Curtis. [Id. at 2.]

         On June 13, 2015, “the Adjustment Committee [ ] found [ ] Curtis guilty of inappropriate sexual behavior with another person.” [DN 67-5 at 1 (Morrison Affidavit).] Defendant Morrison, Chairman of the Adjustment Committee, states in his Affidavit that, “[b]ased on the evidence presented at the disciplinary hearing, [he] believed there was sufficient evidence to support the charge against” Curtis. [Id.]

         Curtis appealed the Disciplinary Report and the Adjustment Committee's findings to Warden Randy White, who is responsible for “the administrative and appellate review of all disciplinary reports prepared at the prison.” [DN 67-6 at 1 (White Affidavit).] White states that, “[b]ased on [his] review of the disciplinary report and the Adjustment Committee's finding, [he] believed there was sufficient evidence to support the charge ...


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