United States District Court, E.D. Arkansas, Pine Bluff Division
RONNIE L. CHAPMAN ADC #100054 PLAINTIFF
SHAY BAKER, Training Officer, Delta Regional Unit, ADC; and TONI PERRY, Sergeant, Delta Regional Unit, ADC DEFENDANTS
Marshall Jr, United States District Judge
de novo review, the Court declines the
recommendation, No. 110, and sustains Baker and Perry's
objection, No. 113. Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b)(3). Viewing the
admissible evidence in the light most favorable to Chapman,
Baker and Perry are entitled to qualified immunity.
Prosser v. Ross, 70 F.3d 1005, 1007 (8th Cir. 1995).
There's an evidentiary objection. No. 113. In opposing
the motion, Chapman relies on several statements from fellow
prisoners. Ne 100 at Exhibit K. Baker and Perry
object to those statements; and the Court sustains this
objection. The statements reflect that they were made
"freely, under no duress, and without undue
coercion[.]" But they weren't made under penalty of
perjury and thus aren't admissible
"declarations" within the meaning of Rule 56 or 28
U.S.C. § 1746. The Court therefore will not consider
these statements in deciding the motion for summary judgment.
FED. R. Civ. P. 56(c); Shanklin v. Fitzgerald, 397
F.3d 596, 602 (8th Cir. 2005); see also Watkins v.
Perkins, 618 Fed.Appx. 299, 299-300 (8th Cir. 2015)
(unpublished per curiam).
Chapman's claims against Baker and Perry are in two
baskets: (1) they should have prevented the attack in the
first place; and (2) they should have intervened sooner once
they knew the attack was happening. The Court addresses each
argues that Baker knew Tanner intended to attack other
inmates. Here, Chapman relies on a particular line in
Tanner's deposition: "I let [Perry] know what I told
[the classification committee]." No. 100, Exhibit B
at 65. But this is a selective reading of Tanner's
testimony. This sentence is among Tanner's repeated
testimony that he never specifically told Perry that he
intended to harm other inmates. No. 100, Exhibit B at
64-66. Instead, he told her only that he was "going
through it." Ibid. He told the committee, on
the other hand, that he intended to hurt others if he
wasn't transferred. No. 100, Exhibit B at 28-31.
Read in context, Tanner's testimony doesn't support a
finding that Perry knew Tanner intended to harm Chapman or
other inmates. This is a surprise-attack case, not a
targeted-threat case. Compare Prosser, 70 F.3d at
1007-08, with Young v. Selk, 508 F.3d 868 (8th Cir.
2007). Indeed, "[Chapman] himself admitted in his
deposition that the attack took him by surprise."
Prosser, 70 F.3d at 1007. Chapman's claim
requires Baker and Perry to have done what Chapman
didn't-anticipate the attack. In the circumstances, Baker
and Perry had no such duty. The guards are therefore entitled
to qualified immunity on the prevention issue.
Chapman argues that Baker and Perry should have stopped
Tanner's multi-inmate attack sooner than they did. But
Chapman hasn't established that Baker and Perry were
deliberately indifferent in failing to intervene more
saw Baker and Perry looking into the barracks at least three
times - once during an argument that preceded the attack;
once while the attack was ongoing; and again after Tanner
struck Chapman. Chapman says that roughly ten minutes went by
between each of these events. No. 100, Exhibit A at
62-67. Chapman asks the Court to conclude that a jury
could reasonably find that Baker and Perry were standing
idly, watching the violence during that entire twenty-minute
stretch. The record, though, doesn't go that far.
more importantly, the evidence doesn't show that Baker
and Perry realized, or should have realized, that an attack
was happening before Tanner hit Chapman. Notably, even
Chapman -who was in the barracks - didn't realize Tanner
was attacking other inmates until Tanner hit him. Chapman
presses hard on the fact that Baker and Perry "stood
around and did nothing." Arnold v. Jones, 891
F.2d 1370, 1373 (8th Cir. 1989). His frustration is
understandable: he was hurt in what he believes was a
preventable attack. But the record simply doesn't show
that the guards had a duty to intervene sooner or that, in
failing to do so, they callously disregarded a known risk to
Chapman. E.g., Williams v. Willits, 853 F.2d 586,
591 (8th Cir. 1988). "The qualified immunity standard
gives ample room for mistaken judgments by protecting all but
the plainly incompetent or those who knowingly violate the
law." Latimore v. Widseth, 7 F.3d 709, 713 (8th
Cir. 1993) (quotation omitted). At most, a jury could
conclude that Baker and Perry were negligent, not
deliberately indifferent, in their intervention. Qualified
immunity therefore shields Baker and Perry from liability on
the intervention issue.
* * *
No. 113, sustained. Recommendation, No. 110, declined. Motion
for summary judgment, No. 93, granted. Chapman's claims
against Baker and Perry will be dismissed with prejudice.
Court relieves Chapman's appointed counsel with thanks
for her services. Any motion for reimbursement of remaining