United States District Court, W.D. Kentucky, Paducah Division
TORI T. CURTIS
MICHAEL T. BRADFORD
of the jury, it is now time for me to instruct you about the
law that you must follow in deciding this case. I will start
by explaining your duties and the general rules that apply in
every civil case. Then I will explain the elements, or parts,
of the claims in question.
have two main duties as a juror: The first is to decide what
the facts are from the evidence that you saw and heard here
in Court. Deciding what the facts are is your job-not mine.
Nothing that I have said or done during this trial was meant
to influence your decision about the facts in any way.
second duty is to take the law that I give you and to apply
it to the facts. It is my job to instruct you about the law,
and you are bound by the oath you took at the beginning of
the trial to follow the instructions that I give you, even if
you personally disagree with them. This includes the
instructions that I gave you during the trial and these
instructions now. All of the instructions are important, and
you should consider them together as a whole.
lawyers may have talked about the law during their arguments.
But if what they said is different from what I say, you must
follow what I say. What I say about the law controls.
these duties fairly. Do not let any bias, sympathy, or
prejudice that you may feel toward one side or the other
influence your decision in any way. The law does not permit
you to be governed by sympathy, prejudice, or public opinion.
All parties expect that you will carefully and impartially
consider all of the evidence, follow the law as I give it to
you, and reach a just verdict, regardless of the
should consider and decide this case as a dispute between
persons of equal standing in the community, of equal worth,
and holding the same or similar stations in life. All persons
stand equal before the law and are to be treated as equals.
to consider only the evidence in the case. Unless you are
otherwise instructed, the evidence in the case consists of
the sworn testimony of the witnesses regardless of who called
the witness, all exhibits received in evidence regardless of
who may have produced them, and all facts and events that may
have been admitted or stipulated to. Statements and arguments
by lawyers are not evidence. The lawyers are not witnesses.
What they have said in their opening statement, closing
arguments, and at other times is intended to help you
understand the evidence, but it is not evidence.
part of your job as jurors is to decide how credible, or
believable, each witness was. This is your job, not mine. It
is up to you to decide if a witness's testimony was
believable and how much weight you think it deserves. You are
free to believe everything that a witness said, or only part
of it, or none of it at all. But you should act reasonably
and carefully in making these decisions.
required to evaluate the testimony of a corrections officer
as you would the testimony of any other witness. No. special
weight may be given to his or her testimony because he or she
is a corrections officer.
have heard the testimony of several witnesses, including Tori
Curtis, the Plaintiff in this case. You have also heard that
before this trial, the Plaintiff, as well as witnesses Thomas
Wilson, Sr., Brian Crabtree, and Jeffery Monn had been
convicted of crimes. The earlier convictions were brought to
your attention only as one way of helping you decide how
believable their testimony was. Do not use it for any other
purpose. It is not evidence of anything else. You may
consider other things that you think shed some light on the
witness's believability. Use your common sense and your
everyday experience in dealing with other people, and then
decide what testimony you believe and how much weight you
think it deserves. The weight of the evidence does not
necessarily depend upon the number of witnesses who testify
for either side.
Plaintiff has the burden of proving his case against the
Defendant by what is called a "preponderance of
the evidence." This means that the Plaintiff
has to produce evidence that, considered in light of all the
facts, leads you to believe that what the Plaintiff claims is
more likely true than not.
term "preponderance of the evidence" does not, of
course, require proof to an absolute certainty, since proof
to an absolute certainty is seldom possible in any case.
determining whether any fact in issue has been established by
a preponderance of the evidence in the case, you may-unless
otherwise instructed-consider the testimony of all witnesses,
regardless of who may have called them, and all exhibits
received into evidence, regardless of who may have produced
have heard of the term "proof beyond a reasonable
doubt." That is a stricter standard applicable in
criminal cases. It does not apply in civil cases, such as
this one. Therefore, you should disregard it.
Nature of a Retaliation Claim
now going to instruct you as to the law regarding the
Plaintiffs First Amendment Retaliation claim. I will first
explain the law generally, and then as it applies to the
42 of the United States Code, Section 1983 is the federal
civil rights statute under which the Plaintiff sues. It
provides that a person may seek relief in this Court by way
of damages against any person who, under color of state law,
subjects such person to the deprivation of any rights,
privileges, or immunities secured or protected by the
Constitution or laws of the United States.
of a First Amendment Retaliation Claim
case, the Plaintiff claims that the Defendant deprived him of
his rights under the First Amendment to the United States
Constitution by retaliating against him in response to his
engaging in activities protected by the First Amendment.
Plaintiff Curtis claims that Defendant Bradford violated his
constitutional rights by filing a Disciplinary Report Form
regarding the March 8, 2016 shower incident in retaliation
for filing a PREA (Prison Rape Elimination Act) complaint or
grievance against Defendant Bradford on November 7, 2015,
about four months prior.
convicted prisoner loses some constitutional rights, such as
the right to liberty, after being convicted of a criminal
offense. But a prisoner keeps other constitutional rights.
One of those retained rights is the First Amendment right of
access to the courts to challenge the constitutionality of
his confinement conditions.
constitutional right of access to the courts means that a
prisoner has the right to file claims or grievances and other
papers with the prison or with the court. The same holds true
with respect to the grievance-filing process within a prison
or jail. The exercise of these rights, or plan to exercise
these rights, cannot be the basis for a penalty or further
succeed on this claim, the Plaintiff must prove each of the
following facts by a preponderance of the
was engaged in a constitutionally protected
activity, which includes working on documents for
the purpose of filing an internal grievance with the prison,
a lawsuit or accessing the court system;
An "adverse action" was taken against him
by someone who acted under color of state
There is a causal connection between the
adverse action taken and the Plaintiffs constitutionally
protected activity, meaning that the adverse action taken
against the Plaintiff was ...