United States District Court, E.D. Arkansas, Northern Division
KEVIN W. WARD PLAINTIFF
LYNN CROSLIN DEFENDANT
Kevin W. Ward (“Ward”), formerly held in the
custody of the Independence County Jail (“IDJ”),
filed a pro se civil rights complaint on June 9,
2015, naming IDJ employees Myles Massennelli
(“Massennelli”) and Lynn Croslin
(“Croslin”) as defendants. Docket entry no. 2.
Service of process was never accomplished on Massennelli, and
he has been dismissed from this lawsuit, leaving Croslin as
the lone remaining defendant. See docket entries nos. 26
to Ward's complaint, he was escorted out of his IDJ cell
for recreation call on February 1, 2015, by Massennelli and
Croslin. He was restrained with handcuffs, belly chain, and
shackles. After Ward left his cell, Croslin left and went
upstairs, leaving Ward with Massennelli. According to the
complaint, Massennelli refused to let Ward go outside for
recreation call. Ward started to return to his cell when
Massennelli allegedly pushed him in the back, grabbed him
from behind in a choke hold, and slammed him to the floor.
Then, Massennelli sat on top of him, placed his hand on
Ward's throat and began to choke him. “Then Sgt.
Croslin came and got Myles off me and put me back in my cell
with no other problems.” Complaint, page 4. “Sgt.
Croslin should not of left me alone with Cpl. Myles for any
reason.” Id. Ward was taken to the local
hospital emergency room for medical treatment after
seeks summary judgment, filing a motion and supporting the
motion with a brief and statement of facts. Docket entries
nos. 32-34. Ward has responded to the pending motion. Docket
entry no. 36.
Standard of Review
Rule 56(c) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, summary
judgment is proper “if 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); Celotex v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 321 (1986).
When ruling on a motion for summary judgment, the court must
view the evidence in a light most favorable to the nonmoving
party. Naucke v. City of Park Hills, 284 F.3d 923,
927 (8th Cir. 2002). The nonmoving party may not rely on
allegations or denials, but must demonstrate the existence of
specific facts that create a genuine issue for trial.
Mann v. Yarnell, 497 F.3d 822, 825 (8th Cir. 2007).
The nonmoving party's allegations must be supported by
sufficient probative evidence that would permit a finding in
his favor on more than mere speculation, conjecture, or
fantasy. Id. (citations omitted). A dispute is
genuine if the evidence is such that it could cause a
reasonable jury to return a verdict for either party; a fact
is material if its resolution affects the outcome of the
case. Othman v. City of Country Club Hills, 671 F.3d
672, 675 (8th Cir. 2012). Disputes that are not genuine or
that are about facts that are not material will not preclude
summary judgment. Sitzes v. City of West Memphis,
Ark., 606 F.3d 461, 465 (8th Cir. 2010).
in his statement of facts in support of his motion for
summary judgment, agrees with Ward's complaint that
Croslin was not present when the incident occurred on
February 1, 2015. Croslin also states he “did not know
or believe that Plaintiff was at risk of harm from former
Defendant Massennelli and then disregard that risk of
harm.” Docket entry no. 32. Ward, in his response to
the motion for summary judgment, provides some additional
details. He states that he was returned to IDJ in January
2015 after escaping. Further, he asserts he gave statements
to the U.S. Marshals, state police, and a local detective
stating that Massennelli assisted in his escape. Ward
reiterates that Croslin left him unattended with Massennelli
on February 1, 2015, “[k]nowing that I had snitched on
Massennelli Croslin neglected me.” Docket entry no. 39,
page 2. Ward concludes: “If Mr. Croslin had not of left
me alone and left his post none of this would have happened
to me. B/c why? Mr. Croslin would have been able to stop what
Mr. Massennelli was doing to me. Mr. Croslin was not so Mr.
Croslin should be held accountable.” Id.
to Protect: The focus with regard to Croslin is whether
there are genuine issues of fact which support Ward's
claim of failure to protect from Massennelli's alleged
attack. In Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825,
834 (1994), the Court held that, in order for a prisoner to
recover against prison officials for failing to protect him,
he must prove that: (1) “he [was] incarcerated under
conditions posing a substantial risk of serious harm”;
and (2) the prison official was deliberately indifferent to
that substantial risk of serious harm. In defining deliberate
indifference, the Court, in Farmer, explained:
[A] prison official cannot be found liable under the Eighth
Amendment for denying an inmate humane conditions of
confinement unless the official knows of and disregards an
excessive risk to inmate health or safety; the official
must both be aware of facts from which the inference could be
drawn that a substantial risk of serious harm exists, and he
must also draw the inference.
Id. at 837 (emphasis added). Additionally, the
Eighth Circuit has explained that this rigorous standard of
proof is appropriate because “only the unnecessary and
wanton infliction of pain implicates the Eighth
Amendment.” Jensen v. Clarke, 73 F.3d 808, 810
(8th Cir. 1996) (citing Wilson v. Seiter, 501 U.S.
294, 297 (1991)).
construing Ward's allegations, we ask: (1) did Croslin
know of facts from which the inference could be drawn that
Ward faced a substantial risk of serious harm?; and (2) did
Croslin actually draw the inference of substantial risk of
serious harm to Ward?
pleadings, liberally construed, suggest Croslin may have
known that Ward had “snitched” on Massennelli.
Assuming Croslin knew this fact, it does not follow that this
single fact was a sufficient basis for Croslin to believe
that Ward faced a substantial risk of serious harm on
February 1, 2015. Indeed, it appears from Ward's version
of the incident that he did not necessarily believe
he faced a substantial risk of serious harm from Massennelli
until after the attack occurred, as he did not object to
Croslin leaving him in the care of Massennelli, nor had Ward
alerted any IDJ officials to such a possibility. If Ward did
not sense this risk, it follows that Croslin would be even
less likely to infer the risk. There is no allegation that
Croslin conspired with Massennelli, and Ward states that
Croslin would have prevented the attack had he been there,
and that Croslin came to his aid when the attack occurred.
The two questions posed by the language from the
Farmer case must be answered in the negative -
Croslin did not know of facts which would lead him to believe
Ward faced a substantial risk of serious harm, and he did not
actually infer that such a risk was present. As a result,
Croslin is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.
Ward sued Croslin in both his official and personal capacity.
Croslin is correct in contending that he is entitled to
sovereign immunity in his official capacity. Because a suit
against defendant in his official capacity is in essence a
suit against the State of Arkansas, any official capacity
claim for monetary damages against him is barred by the
doctrine of sovereign immunity and should be dismissed.
Will v. Michigan Department of State Police, et al,491 U.S. 58, 71 (1989); Nix v. Norman,879 F.2d 429,
431-432 (8th ...