United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Texarkana Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
O. Hickey Chief United States District Judge
the Court is a Motion for Summary Judgment filed by
Defendants. (ECF No. 24). Plaintiff Hollis Dean Martz filed a
Response. (ECF No. 30). Defendants filed a Reply.
(ECF No. 33). The Court finds this matter ripe for
a civil rights action filed pro se by Plaintiff
under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff is currently
incarcerated in the Arkansas Department of Correction
(“ADC”) - Randall L. Williams Correctional
Facility in Pine Bluff, Arkansas. Plaintiff's claims
arise from alleged constitutional violations that occurred
while he was a pretrial detainee in the Sevier County
Detention Center (“SCDC”).
approximately 9:00 p.m. on April 27, 2016, Sevier County
deputies were dispatched to the home of Plaintiff's
brother and sister in law in response to reports that
Plaintiff was disorderly, intoxicated, and that he shot a
gun. (ECF No. 26-2, p. 5). Defendants Barnes, Jackson, Webb,
Dowdle, Gentry, and Simmons responded, but did not locate
Plaintiff on the property. Two hours later, Plaintiff's mother
contacted the sheriff's office and informed officers that
he was at her home. Defendants Barnes, Webb, Hundley, and
Jackson arrived and found Plaintiff on his mother's front
deputies then arrested Plaintiff, utilizing force to do so.
However, the parties offer differing accounts of how the
arrest occurred. Plaintiff alleges that he complied with the
officers' orders, had his hands in plain view, and did
not “fight” them when they arrested him. He
claims that, despite his compliance, the officers slammed him
to the ground, thereby injuring his face, neck, hands, spine,
and ankle. (ECF No. 7, pp. 6-9). Defendant Webb submitted an
affidavit stating that Plaintiff was ordered to get on the
ground several times but did not comply, and when they
attempted to place handcuffs on him, he pulled one of his
hands back, causing Defendant Webb to fall to the ground.
Defendants state that, under those circumstances, they used
reasonable force to secure Plaintiff. (ECF No. 26-6).
April 28, 2016, Plaintiff was booked into the SCDC for
Criminal Mischief 1st Degree, Possession of Firearms by
Certain Persons, Aggravated Assault with Deadly Weapon, and
Terroristic Threatening. (ECF No. 26-2, pp. 2-3). That same
day, Plaintiff was taken to the Emergency Room at the De
Queen Medical Center to evaluate his claims of right ankle
pain and neck injury. Emergency room medical staff noted that
Plaintiff “is unaware of how his ankle was injured but
[states] that he was body slammed.” (ECF No. 26-8, p.
24). It was also noted that he complained of pain and there
was mild swelling and bruising on his outer ankle. An x-ray
showed no evidence of a fracture or dislocation of his ankle.
Id. at p. 27.
6, 2016, Defendant Randall pepper sprayed SCDC inmate Jason
Short, who is not a party to this case, for failure to obey
orders. (ECF No. 26-4, p. 13). Plaintiff claims
that he was in the cell with Short at the time and was hit
with some of the pepper spray, causing pain and irritation to
his eyes, ears, mouth, and throat. Plaintiff also claims that
the spray caused him to vomit and made it difficult to
breathe. (ECF No. 7, pp. 6-9). Defendants state Plaintiff may
have been housed with Short on May 6, 2016, but that
Plaintiff was never directly sprayed with pepper spray. (ECF
No. 26, p. 2).
alleges that he then told Defendants Randall, Gentry, and
Dowdle that he had been hit with pepper spray and asked for
permission to shower, change his clothes, and receive medical
attention. His requests were allegedly ignored because he
“had access to a sink, towel, and soap all in the cell
with him.” (ECF No. 33-1). At some point, Plaintiff
also submitted the same request to Defendants Cravens,
Wolcott, and Simmons, but they also allegedly took no action,
and Plaintiff had to wait until the following day to shower.
Plaintiff filed multiple grievances in May 2016, grieving
that he was sprayed with pepper spray on May 6, 2016, had
difficulty breathing, and was refused clean-up and medical
attention. (ECF No. 26-3, pp. 4, 8, 12, 20).
policy instructs its officers that detainees have certain
rights, including the entitlement to necessary and timely
medical care. SCDC detainees are permitted to submit medical
complaints daily for review by qualified medical personnel
(ECF No. 36, p. 3) and all jailers are required to fill out
and/or submit any and all inmate medical reports. (ECF No.
26-5, p. 1). SCDC policy also provides that all detainees
should be provided access to necessary health care through
routine sick call procedures and that no county employee or
official may interfere with a detainee's access to sick
call. Id. at p. 5.
April 5, 2018, Plaintiff filed suit against the following
Defendants: Deputy Matthew D. Webb, Deputy Michael Barnes,
Deputy Thomas Jackson, Deputy Kris Hundley, Deputy Troy
Cravens, Deputy Chad Dowdle, Investigator Robert Gentry,
Deputy Wendell Randall, and Deputy Christopher Wollcot. (ECF
No. 1). Plaintiff also named several ADC officers as
defendants for alleged constitutional violations that
occurred at the North Central Unit of the ADC, located in
Calico Rock, Arkansas, which is within the Eastern District
of Arkansas, Northern Division. On April 5, 2018, the Court
granted Plaintiff's motion to proceed in forma
pauperis and transferred his claims against the ADC
defendants to the Eastern District of Arkansas for
adjudication. (ECF No. 3).
April 9, 2018, the Court ordered Plaintiff to file an Amended
Complaint to clarify his claims against each of the Sevier
County Defendants. (ECF No. 6). On April 18, 2018, Plaintiff
filed an Amended Complaint. (ECF No. 7). Plaintiff alleges
that Defendants Webb, Barnes, Jackson, and Hundley used
excessive force against him when he was arrested on April 28,
2016, and that they subsequently denied him medical
care. Plaintiff also alleges that on May 6,
2016, Defendants Randall, Gentry, Cravens, Dowdle, Wolcott,
and Simmons used excessive force against him when he was hit
with pepper spray, and that they denied him medical care.
Plaintiff sues Defendants in both their official and
individual capacities. He seeks compensatory and punitive
damages, asks that his “criminal 67-CR-16-53-2”
be removed and nolle prossed, and further requests
appropriate medical care. Id. at p. 16.
January 25, 2019, Defendants filed the instant Motion for
Summary Judgment, arguing: (1) there is no proof of any
personal involvement by Defendants; (2) Plaintiff was not
subjected to excessive force; (3) Defendants were not
deliberately indifferent to Plaintiff's medical needs;
(4) Defendants are entitled to qualified immunity; and (5)
there is no basis for official capacity
liability. (ECF Nos. 24, 25).
judgment is appropriate if, after viewing the facts and all
reasonable inferences in the light most favorable to the
nonmoving party, 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); Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio
Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986). “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.” Nat'l
Bank of Commerce v. Dow Chem. 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.” Nat'l
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).
noted above, Defendants argue they are entitled to qualified
immunity. When a defendant asserts qualified immunity at the
summary judgment stage, the plaintiff must produce evidence
sufficient to create a genuine issue of fact regarding
whether the defendant violated clearly established law.
Johnson v. Fankell, 520 U.S. 911, 915 (1997).
Qualified immunity “is an immunity from suit
rather than merely a defense to liability.”
Mitchell v. Forsyth, 472 U.S. 511, 526 (1985)
(emphasis in original). Determining whether a defendant is
entitled to qualified immunity requires a two-step inquiry.
Jones v. McNeese, 675 F.3d 1158, 1161 (8th Cir.
2012). First, the Court must determine whether the facts
demonstrate a deprivation of a constitutional right.
Id. (citing Parrish v. Ball, 594 F.3d 993,
1001 (8th Cir. 2010)). If so, the Court must decide whether
the implicated right was clearly established at the time of
the deprivation. Id.
determine if Plaintiff's right was clearly established at
the time of the alleged deprivation, the Court “must .
. . examine the information possessed by the governmental
official accused of wrongdoing in order to determine whether,
given the facts known to the official at the time, a
reasonable government official would have known that his
actions violated the law.” Langford v. Norris,
614 F.3d 445, 461 (8th Cir. 2010). “This is not to say
that an official action is protected by qualified immunity
unless the very action in question has previously been held
unlawful; but it is to say that in the light of preexisting
law the unlawfulness must be apparent.” Anderson v.
Creighton, 483 U.S. 635, 640 (1987). In other words, the
Court must ask whether the law at the time of the events in
question gave the officers “fair warning” that
their conduct was unconstitutional. Hope v. Pelzer,
536 U.S. 730, 741 (2002).
the issue of qualified immunity turns in part on whether the
facts indicate that a constitutional deprivation has
occurred, the Court will address Defendants' qualified
immunity claims ...