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Hilliard v. Myers

United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, El Dorado Division

March 20, 2017

TERRELL SINCLAIR HILLIARD PLAINTIFF
v.
SERGEANT MYERS, Union County Detention Center UCDC; LIEUTENANT GREEN, UCDC; LIEUTENANT K. PENDLETON, UCDC; and SERGEANT TEMPLE, UCDC DEFENDANTS

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          HON. BARRY A. BRYANT UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         This is a civil rights action filed pro se by Plaintiff, Terrell Sinclair Hilliard, under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Before me is Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment. ECF No. 20. The parties have consented to the jurisdiction of a magistrate judge to conduct any and all proceedings in this case, including conducting the trial, ordering the entry of a final judgment, and conducting all post-judgment proceedings. ECF No. 14. Pursuant to this authority, I find this Motion is ready for decision and issue this Memorandum Opinion.

         BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff filed his Complaint on March 30, 2016, alleging he was subjected to excessive force and denied medical care during his incarceration in the Union County Detention Center (“UCDC”). ECF No. 1. Plaintiff is no longer incarcerated and currently resides in El Dorado, Arkansas. He is suing Defendants Sergeant Justin Myers, Lieutenant Steve Green, Lieutenant Kevin Pendleton, and Sergeant John Temple in both their official and individual capacities. Plaintiff's Complaint does not specify what relief he is seeking. ECF No. 1.

         Defendants filed a summary judgment motion and a brief in support thereof on February 17, 2017, alleging they are entitled to judgment as a matter of law because: 1) Plaintiff cannot show that a policy or custom of Union County was the moving force behind any alleged constitutional violations; 2) Defendants' use of force against Plaintiff was reasonable; and 3) Defendants were not deliberately indifferent to Plaintiff's medical needs. ECF Nos. 20, 21. Defendants submitted the following exhibits in support of their motion: Exhibit 1 - Affidavit of Defendant Justin Myers (ECF No. 21-1); Exhibit 2 - Plaintiff's Intake Sheet dated October 3, 2015 (ECF No. 21-2); Exhibit 3 - Plaintiff's Intake Sheet dated October 6, 2015 (ECF No. 21-3); Exhibit 4 - Affidavit of Christopher A. Smith; Exhibit 5 - Witness Statement signed by Plaintiff dated October 19, 2015; Exhibit 6 - Grievance dated October 21, 2015 (ECF No. 21-6); Exhibit 7 - Grievance dated October 6, 2015 (ECF No. 21-7); Exhibit 8 - October 25, 2015 Inmate Chart Notes List; and Exhibit 9 - Consent for Medical Treatment and Liability Waiver Form dated October 25, 2015 (ECF No. 21-9).

         To assist Plaintiff in responding to the motion, I sent a questionnaire asking him to agree or disagree with various statements set forth by Defendants as undisputed facts. Plaintiff filed the questionnaire as his Response to the summary judgment motion on March 3, 2017. ECF No. 24. Plaintiff states he was arrested and charged with residential burglary on October 6, 2015 and he was booked into the UCDC at 7:30 p.m.. ECF No. 24. Plaintiff alleges Defendant Myers “tased me over the amount of times required, busted my nose, slammed me. I was high on P.C.P so Im not fully aware of it all.” ECF No. 1. Plaintiff goes on to state “They did not use the restraint chair neither time, they tased and gased me over the required amount of times repeatedly for several day while in a cell alone. They took me straight out the cell knowing I was high they skipped over the restraint chair.” ECF No. 1. With respect to Defendant Pendleton, Plaintiff alleges he used “excessive force, left deep cuts on my wrist from handcuffs and admitted it!” “He tased me twice are more within a 10min frame.” ECF No. 1. Plaintiff claims Defendant Green used excessive force and denied him adequate medical care. As to Defendant Temple, Plaintiff claims he “restrained me and admitted to going overboard. He stated that to me.” ECF No. 1. Plaintiff also alleges his nose was bleeding as a result of Defendant Myers “slamming my head into the floor busting my nose. I wanted medical attention and they refused.” ECF No. 24.

         Defendants state there were two separate incidents that occurred soon after Plaintiff was booked into the UCDC On October 6, 2015. First, Defendants claim upon being placed in the holding cell in the booking area, Plaintiff became loud and disruptive, kicking his cell door and screaming threats at detention officers. ECF No. 20. Plaintiff was ordered to stop kicking the door and screaming and was warned if he did not stop he would be pepper sprayed. ECF No. 21-1. Despite the warning, Plaintiff continued to scream threats and kick his cell door disrupting the booking process. ECF No. 21-1. Defendant Myers then deployed pepper spray on Plaintiff. ECF No. 21-1. The detention officers then placed Plaintiff in a shower in the nurse's station for decontamination. According to Defendants, while in the shower Plaintiff pulled the shower curtain down, took the shower curtain rods and backed into the corner of the shower in a combative stance. ECF No. 21-1. Defendant Myers was able to get Plaintiff to give him the shower rods without further incident. After Plaintiff's cell was decontaminated, he was placed back in the cell.

         At 2:45 a.m. on October 7, 2015, Plaintiff again became loud and disruptive in the holding cell. ECF No. 21-1. Upon opening his cell door, Defendant Green advised Plaintiff he was being moved to F-Pod due to his disruptive behavior. Plaintiff was ordered to gather his belongings at which time Plaintiff refused the order and became verbally aggressive. He was then told to place his hands behind his back in order to be handcuffed. Plaintiff then began swinging his arms violently. Plaintiff physically fought with Defendant Green and Officer Christopher Smith (a non-party to this lawsuit). As Plaintiff began to pull away from both officers, he was given multiple commands to stop fighting or he would be tased. ECF No. 21-1. Plaintiff was tased but one of the barbs struck a towel and did not make contact with Plaintiff. ECF 21-4. Plaintiff continued to struggle and Defendant Green then deployed his taser which had little effect. Defendant Temple then arrived on the scene. Defendant Green, Temple and Officer Smith were eventually able to gain control of Plaintiff. Plaintiff was then handcuffed, leg shackled and taken to his cell in F-Pod. ECF No. 21-4.

         In his Response Plaintiff admits he does not have knowledge to agree or disagree with the following allegations made by Defendants: 1) Plaintiff took the shower curtain rods and backed into the corner of the shower in a combative stance; 2) As a result of the incident in the booking area and the shower, Defendant Myers made a report of the incident and noted Plaintiff violated several USCO policies; 3) Defendant Green opened Plaintiff's cell door and advised him he was being moved to F-Pod due to his disruptive behavior - Plaintiff was ordered to gather his belongings and Plaintiff refused the order and became verbally aggressive; 4) Plaintiff was told to place his hands behind his back in order to be handcuffed and instead began swinging his arms violently; 5) Plaintiff physically fought with Defendant Green and Officer Christopher Smith; 6) When Plaintiff began to pull away from Defendant Green and Officer Smith, he was given multiple commands to stop fighting or he would be tased; 7) Plaintiff refused to stop fighting and was then tased; 8) Despite being tased, Plaintiff continued to struggle and Defendant Green then deployed his taser which had little effect on Plaintiff; 8) Defendant Temple then arrived on the scene and three officers - Temple, Green and Smith - were able to gain control of Plaintiff even though Plaintiff continued to physically resist them; 9) Plaintiff was then handcuffed and leg shackled and taken to his cell in F-Pod. ECF No. 24. Despite the fact Plaintiff has no memory of these events, he claims he remembers “being slammed, dragged, tased & gased at the same time while handcuffed.” ECF No. 24.

         LEGAL STANDARD

         The Court “shall grant summary judgment if the movant shows there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). “[A] genuine issue of material fact exists if: (1) there is a dispute of fact; (2) the disputed fact is material to the outcome of the case; and (3) the dispute is genuine, that is, a reasonable jury could return a verdict for either party.” RSBI Aerospace, Inc. v. Affiliated FM Ins. Co., 49 F.3d 399, 401 (8th Cir. 1995). The moving party has the burden of showing the absence of a genuine issue of material fact and they are entitled to judgment as a matter of law, but the nonmoving party may not rest upon mere denials or allegations in the pleadings and must set forth specific facts to raise a genuine issue for trial. See Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 256 (1986); Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 324 (1986). The Court must view all evidence and inferences in a light most favorable to the nonmoving party. See McCleary v. ReliaStar Life Ins. Co., 682 F.3d 1116, 1119 (8th Cir. 2012). However, “[w]hen opposing parties tell two different stories, one of which is blatantly contradicted by the record, so that no reasonable jury could believe it, a court should not adopt that version of the facts for purposes of ruling on a motion for summary judgment.” Scott v. Harris, 550 U.S. 372, 380 (2007).

         DISCUSSION

         1. Official Capacity Claim

         Section 1983 provides a federal cause of action for the deprivation, under color of state law, of a citizen's "rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution and laws" of the United States. In order to state a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, a plaintiff must allege a defendant acted under color of state law and they violated a right secured by the ...


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