United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Hot Springs Division
O. HICKEY UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
a civil rights action filed pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §
1983. Plaintiff proceeds pro se and in forma
claims arose during his incarceration in the Hot Spring
County Detention Center (HSCDC) from February 21, 2013, to
June 14, 2013, at which time he was transferred to the
Arkansas Department of Correction (ADC). Defendants'
Exhibit (hereinafter Defts' Ex.) 1.
Plaintiff is currently incarcerated in the ADC, Wrightsville
asserts the following claims: (1) failure to protect; (2)
excessive force; and (3) denial of medical care. The claims
all stem from an altercation Plaintiff had with another
inmate on May 27, 2013.
August 1, 2016, a bench trial was held. At the conclusion of
Plaintiff's presentation of evidence, Defendant was
granted judgment as a matter of law on the failure to protect
conclusion of the trial, the two remaining claims were taken
under advisement pending preparation of this opinion. The
following shall constitute the Court's findings of fact
and conclusions of law in accordance with Rule 52 of the
Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.
Background & Evidence Presented
following is a summary of witnesses' testimony and the
Court's findings of fact:
Plaintiff was booked on February 21, 2013, an intake
screening form was completed. Although his inmate booking
sheet, Defts' Ex. 1, indicated that Plaintiff
was hospitalized following a car accident during which he had
fainted or had a head injury, Plaintiff testified that he was
in a car accident but suffered no injury and did not see a
22, 2013, Benjamin Cash began working at the HSCDC. He
testified that he had not been working in any type of law
enforcement for fourteen months prior to his being hired. He
did have past experience working at the ADC for two years and
at Saline County Detention Center for seven months. While at
the ADC, he attended the training academy and received
training on the use of force and inmate policies and
procedures. Prior to the incident at issue in this case, he
had received no training at the HSCDC. Plaintiff's
Exhibit (hereinafter Plff's Ex.) 6.
was housed in D-pod because he was awaiting transfer to the
ADC. On Monday, May 27, 2013, at approximately 8:49 p.m.,
Plaintiff and Inmate Duddles were involved in an altercation.
Defts' Ex. 3. Deputy Cash testified that he and
Deputy Ellis were in the control tower looking down into
D-pod. They saw Plaintiff pacing and yelling. Deputy Cash
went down to the pod and asked if everything was alright.
Plaintiff responded that "everything's cool man
Cash returned to the control tower and observed that
Plaintiff continued pacing, yelling, and striking the tables
with his fist. Deputy Cash returned to the pod and as he
walked into the pod he saw Plaintiff in an aggressive stance
with his fist closed. The two inmates began to hit each
other. Deputy Cash testified he ordered the inmates to stop
fighting. Deputy Cash indicates that Inmate Duddles quit
fighting but that Plaintiff did not.
Cash testified that Plaintiff was hovering over Inmate
Duddles striking him with a closed fist. Plaintiff's side
was turned toward Deputy Cash. Deputy Cash stated that he
told Plaintiff to stop fighting three times. Deputy Cash
testified he grabbed Plaintiff by the waist, took him to the
floor, and placed his knee on the Plaintiff's back. There
were about twenty inmates in the pod. Plaintiff was not
handcuffed because he complained of his shoulder hurting.
to Deputy Cash, he used the minimum amount of force necessary
to bring an end to the altercation. Deputy Cash contends the
use of force was necessary to maintain order and protect
Plaintiff, himself, and others. Deputy Cash pointed out that
the officers were out numbered by the inmates. Because of
this, Deputy Cash testified he tried to put an end to the
altercation before it escalated.
Cash testified he called Sergeant Martin and reported that
the Plaintiff appeared to be hurt and was complaining of
shoulder pain. Deputy Cash indicated that Plaintiff began
complaining of shoulder pain as soon as he hit the floor.
Plaintiff appeared to be in a lot of pain.
Cash's incident report provides:
At this time I Deputy Cash had Deputy Ellis open the D-pod
door, as I Deputy Cash entered D-pod I witnessed Inmate
McAdoo and Inmate Duddles exchanging punches, I Deputy Cash
gave both inmates a direct order to stop fighting, both
inmates refused my direct order and continued to fight.
At this time I Deputy Cash ran and grabbed Inmate McAdoo in
attempt to restrain him, as I Deputy Cash grabbed Inmate
McAddo[.] Inmate Duddles stopped fighting but Inmate McAdoo
continued to try and fight. At this time I Deputy Cash took
Inmate McAdoo to the floor with the minimal amount of force
necessary to gain control of Inmate McAdoo. After gaining
control of Inmate McAdoo I Deputy Cash escorted him to the
booking area and placed him in Holding Cell 1.
Defts' Ex. 3. Deputy Cash also submitted a
defense action report on which he indicated that Inmate
McAdoo' shoulder was injured during the takedown.
Defts' Ex. 5.
27, 2013, Sergeant Amy Martin was the acting jail
administrator. She was not at the jail when the altercation
occurred. Instead, she testified she was contacted at home at
approximately 8:30 to 9:00 p.m. and informed of the
altercation. She was also informed that Plaintiff might be
injured. She advised jail personnel to contact the transport
officer and have him take the Plaintiff to the hospital.
time, Sergeant Martin testified the jail was staffed by only
two deputies, Deputy Cash and Deputy Ellis. Sergeant Martin
testified that one deputy stayed in the tower at all times
while the other deputy stayed up front to book inmates. The
jail does have a video system to monitor the inmates but it
does not record. Sergeant Martin believed the jail was at
capacity--fifty inmates--at the time of the incident.
the transport officer could not be reached, Sergeant Martin
went to the jail. Sergeant Martin testified she lived about
twenty to twenty-five minutes from the jail. Once she
arrived, she had Deputy Ellis take the Plaintiff to the
hospital. By then it was approximately 11:34 p.m.
Defts' Ex. 6. When Plaintiff returned to the
jail, he was wearing a splint to hold his shoulder in place
against his body. He also had a prescription for ten
hydrocodone tablets to be taken by mouth every four hours, as
needed. Plff's Ex. 1.
Martin testified that Sheriff Ed Hollingworth established the
policy that the facility would be narcotic drug free. Instead
of narcotic pain relievers, inmates would receive Tylenol
and/or Ibuprofen. In Plaintiff's case, Sergeant Martin
testified he was put in a one man holding cell to be