United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Fort Smith Division
HOLMES, III CHIEF U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE
Aaron Flemons, proceeds in this matter pro se and
in forma pauperis pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983.
Currently before the Court is Defendants' Motion for
Summary Judgment. (ECF No. 48).
filed his Complaint on February 24, 2016. (ECF No. 1). He
filed his Amended Complaint on March 28, 2016. (ECF No. 6).
Plaintiff alleges excessive force was utilized against him on
two occasions during his incarceration in the Sebastian
County Detention Center (“SCDC”). (Id.
at 6-18). Plaintiff alleges the first incident occurred on
February 12, 2014, while he was being escorted to his
barracks by Defendants Steele, Woods, and Hobbs.
(Id. at 11-13). Plaintiff alleges Defendant Steele
pushed him through the barracks gate, forced him to the
ground, and instructed Defendant Woods to pepper-spray him.
Plaintiff alleges he was not resisting during the incident.
(Id. at 11-12). Plaintiff alleges Defendant Hobbs
was present and failed to protect him from the other
deputies. (Id. at 13). Plaintiff alleges Defendants
Devane, Taulbee, and Jackson failed to properly train their
deputies in the use of force. He further alleges they adopted
a custom or practice of improperly training deputies,
inadequately supervising deputies, failing to investigate
excessive force claims, and maintaining a “Code of
Silence” regarding the misuse of force. (Id.
alleges the second incident occurred on July 1, 2015, when he
was scheduled for a court appearance. (Id. at 15).
Plaintiff alleges he was called to go to court earlier than
his paperwork indicated. He alleges he asked Defendant
Frazier to check the times, and Frazier became upset with
him. While Plaintiff was gathering his paperwork for court,
Defendant Frazier stood in the cell doorway and aimed the
infrared laser sight of the taser at his stomach and chest.
(Id. at 15). When he reached the barracks gate,
Defendant Frazier pushed him, causing him to drop his
paperwork, pointed the taser at him again, and then charged
at him swinging fists at his head. (Id. at 15-16).
Plaintiff alleges a Deputy John Doe was present and
instructed to place him in handcuffs, and failed to protect
him from the other deputies. (Id. at 16-17).
Plaintiff alleges Defendant Partain then tased him after he
had been handcuffed. (Id. at 17-18). Plaintiff
alleges several other John Doe Deputies were present and
failed to protect him. (Id. at 18). Plaintiff
alleges he submitted to the restraints and did not resist.
(Id. at 16). The John Does were later identified as
Defendants Bunn, Fuller, Bates, Adams, Curry, Lindberg, and
Dumas. (ECF No. 19, 20).
alleges Jane Doe medical personnel was called after the
tasing. Plaintiff alleges this Defendant denied him any
medical care after the incident. (ECF No. 6 at 18-19). Jane
Doe was later identified as S. Overstreet, LPN. (ECF Nos. 19,
20). Plaintiff alleges Defendants Miller, Taulbee, and
Jackson failed to supervise and investigate force incidents.
(ECF No. 6 at 19).
filed their Motion for Summary Judgment on December 15, 2017.
(ECF No. 48). On December 18, 2017, the Court entered an
Order (ECF No. 51) directing Plaintiff to file his Response
to the Motion for Summary Judgment, which he did on February
9, 2018. (ECF No. 56). A Report and Recommendation was filed
on December 18, 2017 recommending that Defendants Steele,
Hobbs, Woods, L.P.N. Overstreet, Bunn, Fuller, and Lindberg
be dismissed without prejudice from the case because the
Plaintiff was unable to effect service of the Complaint upon
them. (ECF No. 52). The Report was adopted on January 8,
2018. (ECF No. 53).
judgment is appropriate if, after viewing the facts and all
reasonable inferences in the light most favorable to the
nonmoving party, Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith
Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986), the record
“shows that 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). “Once a party
moving for summary judgment has made a sufficient showing,
the burden rests with the non-moving party to set forth
specific facts, by affidavit or other evidence, showing that
a genuine issue of material fact exists.” National
Bank of Commerce v. Dow Chemical Co., 165 F.3d 602, 607
(8th Cir. 1999).
non-moving party “must do more than simply show that
there is some metaphysical doubt as to the material
facts.” Matsushita, 475 U.S. at 586.
“They must show there is sufficient evidence to support
a jury verdict in their favor.” National Bank,
165 F.3d at 607 (citing Anderson v. Liberty Lobby,
Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 249 (1986)). “A case founded
on speculation or suspicion is insufficient to survive a
motion for summary judgment.” Id. (citing
Metge v. Baehler, 762 F.2d 621, 625 (8th Cir.
1985)). “When 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).
argue summary judgment should be granted in their favor
because: (1) Defendants are entitled to qualified immunity
for Plaintiff's individual capacity excessive force
claims because the videos and other exhibits contradict
Plaintiff's allegations of excessive force; (2) due to
the extensive training and supervision procedures of SCDC,
Defendants Devane, Miller, Taulbee, and Jackson were not
aware of any risk to detainees, and alternatively,
Plaintiff's claims against these Defendants are based on
vicarious liability; and, (3) Plaintiff alleged no official
capacity claims. (ECF No. 49).
argues the videos do not show the entirety of the incidents
(ECF No. 57 at 19-21), but the footage is still sufficient to
support his claim and survive summary judgment. (Id.
at 3). For both incidents, Plaintiff alleges the guards
attempted to provoke him (Id. at 5-6), and his
actions were misinterpreted as resistance (Id. at
prison officials stand accused of using excessive physical
force in violation of the Eighth Amendment, the ‘core
judicial inquiry' is whether the force was applied in a
good faith effort to maintain or restore discipline, or
maliciously and sadistically to cause harm.” Jones
v. Shields, 207 F.3d 491, 495 (8th Cir. 2000) (citing
Hudson v. McMillian, 503 U.S. 1, 5 (1992)).
“Because the use of force is sometimes required in
prison settings, guards are liable only if they are
completely unjustified in using force, i.e., they are using
it maliciously and sadistically.” Irving v.
Dormire, 519 F.3d 441, 446 (8th Cir. 2008). Relevant
factors to be considered for this inquiry include “the
need for application of force, the relationship between that
need and the amount of force used, the threat ...