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Beavers v. Bretherick

May 14, 2007

STANLEY BEAVERS, JR. PLAINTIFF
v.
BOB BRETHERICK, INDIVIDUALLY AND IN HIS OFFICIAL CAPACITY AS THE JAIL ADMINISTRATOR OF CRITTENDEN COUNTY; DICK BUSBY, INDIVIDUALLY AND IN HIS OFFICIAL CAPACITY AS THE SHERIFF OF CRITTENDEN COUNTY; AND CRITTENDEN COUNTY, ARKANSAS DEFENDANTS



The opinion of the court was delivered by: J. Leon Holmes United States District Judge

OPINION AND ORDER

Stanley Beavers brought federal claims for violation of his civil rights under the Fourth and Eighth Amendments and 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against Crittenden County, Arkansas, and two of its law enforcement officers, Sheriff Dick Busby and Jail Administrator Bob Bretherick, in their individual and official capacities. The defendants have filed a joint motion for summary judgment. For the following reasons, this motion is granted in part and denied in part.

A court should grant summary judgment when "the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law." FED. R. CIV. P. 56(c); see also Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 250 (1986). The party moving for summary judgment bears the initial responsibility of informing the district court of the basis of its motion and identifying the portions of the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, that demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of material fact. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986); Group Health Plan, Inc. v. Philip Morris USA, Inc., 344 F.3d 753, 763 (8th Cir. 2003). When the moving party has carried its burden under Rule 56(c), the non-moving party must "come forward with 'specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial.'" Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio, 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1985) (quoting FED. R. CIV. P. 56(e)). The non-moving party sustains this burden by showing that there are "genuine factual issues that properly can be resolved only by a finder of fact because they may reasonably be resolved in favor of either party." Anderson, 477 U.S. at 250. When a non-moving party cannot make an adequate showing on a necessary element of the case on which that party bears the burden of proof, the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Celotex, 477 U.S. at 323. In deciding a motion for summary judgment, the Court must view the facts and inferences in the light most favorable to the party opposing summary judgment. Boerner v. Brown & Williamson Tobacco Corp., 260 F.3d 837, 841 (8th Cir. 2001) (citing Rabuska v. Crane Co., 122 F.3d 559, 562 (8th Cir. 1997)). If the evidence would allow a reasonable jury to return a verdict for the non-moving party, summary judgment should be denied. Derickson v. Fidelity Life Assoc., 77 F.3d 263, 264 (8th Cir. 1996) (citing Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248).

I.

Beavers was arrested by the West Memphis Police Department on a charge of failure to comply with a previous suspended sentence and incarcerated in the Crittenden County Jail on July 24, 2001. The record does not reveal the length of Beavers's incarceration.

Beavers filed his complaint on September 10, 2004. Count I of Beavers's complaint alleges:

8. On or about September 10, 2001, Administrator Bretherick entered the cell of Plaintiff, Stanley Beavers, Jr., and used excessive force when kicking Plaintiff in the head until his skull split open.

11. Plaintiff alleges that his unlawful and unreasonable assault by Defendant Bretherick with the use of excessive force was in violation of his rights to equal protection of the laws and impeded the due cause of justice in violation of the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States and 42 U.S.C. 1983.

Count II of the complaint alleges:

Plaintiff was assaulted by Administrator Bretherick while he was acting under the color of law as an employee, policy maker and officer of Crittenden County and the State of Arkansas constituting a deprivation of Plaintiff's rights and privileges secured by the Constitution and laws of the United States as defined by 42 U.S.C. 1983. Those rights include, but are not limited to, Plaintiff's Eighth Amendment rights to be (1) free from cruel and unusual punishment, (2) free from inhumane conditions of confinement, (3) free from deliberate indifference to his health and safety, (4) free from excessive force and (5) free from unreasonable bodily intrusions. Beavers further alleged that "prior to September 10, 2001, Sheriff Busby and Crittenden County, Arkansas had knowledge that Administrator Bretherick was assaulting inmates including, but not limited to, Plaintiff."

The defendants filed a joint motion for summary judgment on August 25, 2005. Beavers failed to respond to this motion, but later filed a motion for voluntary non-suit without prejudice. The Court granted Beavers's motion, dismissing his complaint without prejudice.*fn1 On appeal, however, the Eighth Circuit reversed and remanded with instructions to rule on the defendants' motion for summary judgment.*fn2

Because Beavers failed to respond to the defendants' motion for summary judgment, the defendants' statement of material facts is deemed admitted.*fn3 For purposes of ruling on the motion for summary judgment, the following facts are therefore not in dispute.

On September 10, 2001, Beavers threw himself onto the floor of his cell several times, causing his head to split open. He was taken to a local emergency room where he received treatment for his head wound. Upon his return to the jail, Beavers was placed in a holding cell in the front of the jail so that he could be more closely observed. Later that day, Beavers was released to the custody of a local mental health hospital.

Bretherick did not kick Beavers on September 10, 2001. Bretherick testified in his affidavit: "I never kicked or struck Stanley Beavers on September 10, 2001. I have pled guilty to striking Beavers, but that was on December 11, 2001."*fn4

As the law enforcement and jail policymaker for Crittenden County, Busby has adopted and implemented a set of policies and procedures to govern the conduct of all personnel in the Sheriff's Department, including jailers, and to govern the treatment of inmates. These policies require all county deputies, including jailers, to comply with all applicable law with regard to any law enforcement or jail operational activity, including any use of force against an inmate. Any use of force must consist only of the minimum amount of force necessary to achieve a legitimate law enforcement objective, such as maintaining the safety of officers and inmates. Any risk to an inmate's health or safety made known to a county employee in any way is to be immediately reported to a superior officer. When a risk ...


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