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Stephens v. Ballard

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

September 27, 2018



          Charles R. Simpson III, Senior Judge United States District Court

         This matter is before the Court on Defendants' motion for summary judgment (DN 43). Plaintiff Donnie R. Stephens, who is proceeding pro se, filed a response (DN 53), and Defendants filed a reply (DN 57). For the reasons that follow, the motion will be granted.


         Plaintiff, a convicted prisoner at the Kentucky State Reformatory (KSR), filed a 42 U.S.C. § 1983 action on a complaint form (DN 1) and, along therewith, filed a “Memorandum of Facts” (DN 3). Plaintiff alleged an Eighth Amendment claim of deliberate indifference to his safety and security against Kentucky Department of Corrections Commissioner Rodney Ballard, KSR Warden Aaron Smith, and KSR Internal Affairs Captain Mike Williams (DN 1). He sued Defendants in their individual and official capacities and sought monetary and punitive damages; “injunctive relief by issuing injunctions to secure institution”; and an order directing the “Dept of Justice to investigate KSR.” Id.

         In the verified complaint, Plaintiff alleged that on May 6, 2016, “I was assaulted by two inmates due to being labled as a sex-offender - on May 8, 2016 I was assaulted - beaten A.2d time due to being labled a sex-offender. Because a letter was mailed into the institution for a planned hit to be made on me” (DN 1, p. 4). He alleged that following the assault, “I was detained and placed in segregation, my injuries were reported to KSR Medical staff, with x-rays etc.” (DN 3, Mem. of Facts, p. 1). He continued:

I contacted KSR internal Affairs - I.A. did not responde to my letters - I filed a Grievance it was denied as none Grieable. I went to KSR medical dept due to injuries I got from the assault - I got a concussion - severe headaches blurred vision - I wrote I.A. concerning the hate crime comitted against me due to a letter coming in through the mail room - all mail at this institution is intercepted by internal affairs due to the severe drug and assault problems at KSR[.] I filed a criminal complaint against the conspirators no investigation was taken by I.A. it has been swept under the rugs.
I was assault due to hate crimes and being a sex-offender because this prison is short (150) staff members where over (1800) inmates are housed - no security is present for inmates - assaultive behavior is taken lightly - hate crimes - are rampant - drugs - alcohol - weapons are all over the yard because of a lack of security - The Commissioner - Warden - Internal Affairs are all knowledgable of the incidents and turn blind eyes - The overcrowding is also a major factor - especially with (150) staff members being short - not employed - sex offenders are mixed with (max-custody-assaultive inmates) no measure is taken to secure the yard with officers, to clear weapons and drugs, no officers are placed around the yard to help with security: The matters have been taken to the Commissioner - warden - Internal Affairs-

(DN 1, Compl., pp. 4-5). Plaintiff claimed that “KSR started allowing maximum custody inmates into the medium security prison without a proper assessment of the back grounds of max custody inmates. Therefore allowing increase of assaultive measures to be taken against other inmates” (DN 3, Mem. of Facts, p. 3).

         To the complaint, Plaintiff attached a copy of a May 18, 2016, letter he sent to Defendant Williams (DN 1-1, p. 3). In the letter, Plaintiff reported the May 8, 2016, incident that occurred when he was coming out of the chapel. Id. He indicated, “I was attacked from behind [], by a black guy that they call Tay Tay. . . . I had a hit put on me by this guy named Paul his nickname in Wolverine up in dorm 1.”[1] Id. He continues:

“[T]he hit came from the outside and I know who it was, it was over my charges, and it is a hate crime. . . . These guys that did this need to be shipped, because I'm not the only one they have done this to, and they made their threats that their gonna get more people with these charges. They are in a gang, one is called the Flight Team, and the other is called the 246 gang. The Kentucky State Police need to be called in on this matter due to a lack of security to protect all the inmates and staff members as well. This same guy that attacked me also pulled a metal rod out on one of my co-workers brother up in dorm 1. He made a threat to him that he would stab him. I'ts not safe for me to be out on the yard by myself. When I go to work I walk with one of my co-workers. No. one on this yard is safe that have a sex charge. . . .


         Plaintiff attached another handwritten document describing the May 8, 2016, incident, but the document is not dated and is not directed to anyone (DN 1-1, p. 4). In that document, Plaintiff states that “Paul was paid by a citizen on the street by the name of Malina Bell, who is the one that has custody of my three childred. She put this hit on me b/c of my charge which is a hate crime[.]” Id. Relatedly, Plaintiff also attached a Commonwealth of Kentucky Criminal Complaint form, wherein he sought to file charges against Malina Bell (DN 1-1, p. 2). He alleged that Bell had used the U.S. Postal Service to mail a letter to an inmate at KSR to conspire to place a hit on Plaintiff and that “the inmate who placed the hit - assault was related to [Bell]” (DN 1-1, p. 2).

         As another attachment to the complaint, Plaintiff provided the grievance referenced in the body of the complaint (DN 1-1, p. 1). The grievance is dated June 16, 2016, and as his statement of the problem, Plaintiff wrote:

On 5-6-16, I was approached by a guy by the name of Paul in dorm 1. He tried to start a conflict with me due to my charge, b.c there was a letter sumitted to him from the outside to put a hit on me over my charge, and due to a lack of security the letter was not caught by staff members, so on 5-8-16 I was coming out from the chapel on Sunday night and, I was assaulted for the same reason, that is a hate crime. I have written the internal Afairs about the matter two differant times to find out if they would do something about the situation, but they have not answered me back to let me know anything about the matter. I have been waiting to get a respond from them, but no answer.

Id. The grievance was found to be non-grievable because it was against another inmate (DN 1-1, pp. 6-7).

         Finally, Plaintiff attached medical records showing that he was diagnosed with a “Post concussion type headache” after his May 2016 altercation(s) (DN 1-1, pp. 8-12).

         On initial review of the complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A (DN 8), the Court allowed Plaintiff's 42 U.S.C. § 1983 Eighth Amendment claim of deliberate indifference to his safety and security to proceed against Defendants Commissioner Ballard, Warden Smith, and Internal Affairs Captain Williams in their official capacities for injunctive relief and in their individual capacities for damages and injunctive relief.

         II. ...

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