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Edwards v. Frazier

United States District Court, E.D. Arkansas, Jonesboro Division

August 12, 2019

VICTOR LAMAR EDWARDS, ADC #500959 PLAINTIFF
v.
TODD FRAZIER, et al. DEFENDANTS

          ORDER

         I. Background

         Victor Lamar Edwards, formerly an inmate at the Craighead County Detention Center (Detention Center), filed this civil rights lawsuit without the help of a lawyer under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. (Docket entry #1) In his complaint, Mr. Edwards alleges that Defendants Frazier, Bowers, and Boyd failed to protect him from an attack by a fellow inmate, and that Defendant Herald [1] failed to properly train Defendants Frazier, Bowers, and Boyd.

         Defendants have now moved for summary judgment on Mr. Edwards's claims (#34); and Mr. Edwards has responded (#39).

         II. Discussion

         A. Standard

         In a summary judgment, the Court decides the case without a trial. A moving party is entitled to summary judgment if-but only if-the evidence shows that there is no genuine dispute about any fact important to the outcome of the case. See Fed.R.Civ.P. 56 and Odom v. Kaizer, 864 F.3d 920, 921 (8th Cir. 2017). In this case, the important facts are not in dispute.

         B. Failure to Protect Claim

         On October 17, 2018, Defendant Frazier approached Mr. Edwards after observing that his eye was swollen shut. (#35-1 at p.186) Mr. Edwards told Defendant Frazier that he had fallen down the stairs. (Id.) Not satisfied with that explanation, Defendant Frazier reviewed video footage of Mr. Edwards's cell. He saw inmates Mathis, Donovan, and Syrell “approach inmate Edwards and take an aggressive stance.” (Id.) Mr. Edwards then struck inmate Mathis, and the two began to fight.[2] Mr. Edwards was taken to the hospital following the incident for medical treatment.

         Prison officials have a duty to protect prisoners from violence at the hands of other prisoners. Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 833 (1994). But, to succeed on a failure-to-protect claim, Mr. Edwards must demonstrate that he faced a substantial risk of serious harm; that the defendants actually knew of the risk; and that they chose to ignore the risk. Holden v. Hirner, 663 F.3d 336, 341 (8th Cir. 2011); Young v. Selk, 508 F.3d 868, 872 (8th Cir. 2007); Lenz v. Wade, 490 F.3d 991, 995-996 (8th Cir. 2007) (quotation omitted).

         1. Defendant Frazier

         Defendant Frazier has filed an affidavit in support of the motion for summary judgment. (#35-2) According to his sworn statement, before the fight between Mr.

         Edwards and inmate Mathis, he knew of no incidents or altercations between the two. (Id. at p.2) Furthermore, neither inmate had reported that the other was a threat to his safety; and neither had requested to be separated from the other. (Id.) Defendant Frazier testified that he had no reason to suspect that either inmate posed a safety risk to the other.

         Mr. Edwards has not come forward with any evidence to contradict Defendant Frazier's testimony. The only conclusion that can be drawn from the evidence in the record, therefore, is that Defendant Frazier had no knowledge that Mr. Edwards faced a risk of attack prior to the fight giving rise to ...


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