United States District Court, E.D. Arkansas, Pine Bluff Division
Kristine G. Baker United States District Judge
the Court are the Proposed Findings and Recommendations
submitted by United States Magistrate Judge Jerome T. Kearney
(Dkt. No. 59). Plaintiff Jessie Terrell Radford filed
objections to the Proposed Findings and Recommendations (Dkt.
No. 60). After careful consideration of the Proposed Findings
and Recommendations, the objections, and a de novo
review of the record, the Court adopts the Proposed Findings
and Recommendations as its findings in all respects (Dkt. No.
Radford filed this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983
alleging that defendant Temeka Pickett, a correctional
officer, sexually assaulted him (Dkt. No. 11). Mr.
Radford's other claims against separate defendants have
been dismissed. The Court writes separately to address Mr.
Radford's objections. In his objections, Mr. Radford
argues that “at some point on 12/7/2017 athe [sic] AM
in 3 barracks I was sexu[ally] harassed by defendant
Pickett inside the barrack at the doorway not in the
hallway” and that “the video and photo is to lead
you a stray of the plaintiff[‘s] rights getting
violated . . . .” (Dkt. No. 59).
the Court agrees with Judge Kearney that, as a matter of law,
Mr. Radford's claims for damages against Ms. Pickett in
her official capacity are barred by sovereign immunity.
See Will v. Michigan Dep't of State Police, 491
U.S. 58, 71 (1989) (“[A] suit against a state official
in his or her official capacity is not a suit against the
official but rather is a suit against the official's
office.”); Murphy v. State of Ark., 127 F.3d
750, 754 (8th Cir. 1997) (holding that Arkansas state
employees are protected by sovereign immunity when sued for
damages in their official capacity).
after reviewing the record evidence, including the video
submitted by Ms. Pickett, the Court agrees with Judge Kearney
that Ms. Pickett is entitled to summary judgment as a matter
of law on Mr. Radford's sexual assault claim because no
reasonable juror could conclude that Ms. Pickett sexually
assaulted Mr. Radford. Therefore, Mr. Radford's sexual
assault claim against Ms. Picket is barred by qualified
immunity. See Pearson v. Callahan, 555 U.S.S 223,
232 (2009) (holding that plaintiff must establish a violation
of a constitutional or statutory right in order to be
entitled to qualified immunity). The uncontroverted video
evidence shows that at approximately 3:20 a.m. on December 7,
2017, Ms. Pickett exited the control booth and walked down
the hallway towards “barracks 3” (Dkt. No. 50).
When she opened the door to barracks 3, Mr. Radford was at
the door and threw something out of the barracks
(Id.). Another officer, Corporal P. Jackson, walked
up and joined Ms. Pickett at the doorway to barracks 3
(Id.). Ms. Pickett and Ms. Jackson stood in the
doorway of barracks 3 and spoke to Mr. Radford
(Id.). At one point, Ms. Jackson does step into
barracks 3, out of view of the video, but Ms. Pickett remains
in the video's line of site for the entire encounter with
Mr. Radford (Id.). At no time in the video does Ms.
Pickett make physical contact with Mr. Radford.
Court concludes that, once Ms. Pickett satisfied her initial
burden under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56 to
demonstrate through record evidence that there are no genuine
issues of material fact in dispute, the burden then shifted
to Mr. Radford to “discard the shielding cloak of
formal allegations and meet proof with proof” as to the
sexual assault claim. Conseco Life Ins. Co. v.
Williams, 620 F.3d 902, 909 (8th Cir. 2010) (quotation
and citation omitted). Mr. Radford has presented no
additional proof to rebut the evidence presented by Ms.
Pickett and instead relies on his prior arguments and
allegations. Mr. Radford presents no evidence or arguments
that his alleged assault occurred at a different time or that
the video is somehow altered or misleading. Accordingly, Mr.
Radford has failed to meet proof with proof, and the Court
grants summary judgment as a matter of law to Ms. Pickett on
Mr. Radford's sexual assault claim against her in her
therefore ordered that:
1. The Court adopts the Proposed Findings and Recommendations
in their entirety as the Court's findings in all respects
(Dkt. No. 59);
2. The Court grants Ms. Pickett's motion for summary
judgment and dismisses with prejudice Mr. Radford's
claims against Ms. Pickett in both her official and
individual capacities (Dkt. No. 47);
3. Dismissal of this action constitutes a
“strike” within the meaning of the Prison
Litigation Reform Act (“PLRA”), 28 U.S.C. §
4. The Court certifies that, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §
1915(a)(3), an in forma pauperis appeal this Order
and an accompanying Judgment ...