United States District Court, M.D. Tennessee, Columbia Division
DANIEL L. WILLIAMS, Plaintiff,
SGT. DUSTIN LEE, et al., Defendants.
WILLIAM J. HAYNES, Jr., Senior Judge.
Before the Court is the Defendants' motion for summary judgment (Docket Entry No. 93), to which Plaintiff filed a response (Docket Entry No. 99) to which the Defendants' replied (Docket Entry No. 102) to Plaintiff's response.
Plaintiff, Daniel L. Williams, an inmate at the Morgan County Correctional Complex in Wartburg, Tennessee, filed this pro se action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, against the Defendants: the Lawrence County Jail, Sargent Dustin Lee, Sargent Mahar (full name unknown), Officer Ferguson (full name unknown), Officer Haddeoku (full name unknown), Nuruse Bobby (last name unknown), and Lieutenant Kellum (full name unknown), members of the staff at the Lawrence County Jail. Plaintiff asserts claims for excessive force to restrain him and that the Defendants then denied him medical care for his injuries.
A. Findings of Fact
On September 18, 2011, Plaintiff was arrested and charged with aggravated assault after allegedly beating another man with a baseball bat. (Docket Entry No. 56-1 at 2-3). A General Sessions Judge found probable cause for the charge and Plaintiff was confined at the Lawrence County Jail.
According to the Jail Incident Report, three days later, Plaintiff disobeyed an order from defendant Ferguson and threatened the officer in a vulgar manner. Plaintiff was instructed to exit his cell, but he refused to do so. Defendant Ferguson, with the assistance of two other officers, removed Plaintiff from his cell and transferred Plaintiff to an administrative segregation cell. (Docket Entry No. 56-2 at 2).
Later that morning, the Plaintiff began to scream and bang on his cell door. Defendant Ferguson instructed Plaintiff to stop his disruptive behavior, but Plaintiff refused and continued to yell and bang on his cell door. (Docket Entry No. 55-2, at ¶ 5). Because Plaintiff continued to kick his cell door and there was concern that Plaintiff might injure himself as a result, deputies believed it was necessary to remove Plaintiff from his cell and place him in a restraint chair. Id. at ¶ 8. Defendant Lee's subsequent attempt to calm Plaintiff was unsuccessful. With the assistance of three other officers, Defendant Lee and Defendant Ford, entered Plaintiff's cell to restrain him. When Plaintiff ignored Lee's order to sit down, the officer took the Plaintiff to the ground. Plaintiff began kicking the officers and would not stop. Defendant Lee then sprayed the Plaintiff with freeze plus p. Despite the spray, Plaintiff continued to kick the officers. The officers then dragged the Plaintiff from his cell into the hallway. (Docket Entry No. 56-2 at 3). Defendant Ferguson was injured attempting to restrain the Plaintiff. Id. at 10. Defendants Lee and Ford attempted to restrain the Plaintiff's legs while the other officers grabbed his arms. Officers heard a loud pop and the Plaintiff ceased his resistance. (Docket Entry No. 63-1 at 2).
Plaintiff was taken to the nurse for examination. Defendant Ford, a registered nurse, examined Plaintiff and determined that Plaintiff would need medical care. Plaintiff was escorted to an outside clinic where x-rays were taken of his left arm. (Docket Entry No. 56-4 at 6). The x-rays revealed that the Plaintiff had suffered a fracture to his left arm and the recommendation was for further examination and treatment by an orthopedic surgeon. Plaintiff was taken to Crockett Orthopedics where he was examined by an orthopedic surgeon who instructed Plaintiff to keep his arm in a sling for a week and prescribed pain medication. (Docket Entry No. 57 at 2). The following day, Plaintiff was released from the Lawrence County Jail on bond. (Docket Entry No. 56 at 2).
B. Conclusions of Law
"The very reason of the summary judgment procedure is to pierce the pleadings and to assess the proof in order to see whether there is a genuine need for trial." Advisory Committee Notes on Rule 56, Federal Civil Judicial Procedure and Rules (West Ed. 1989). Moreover, "district courts are widely acknowledged to possess the power to enter summary judgment sua sponte, so long as the opposing party was on notice that she had to come forward with all of her evidence." Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 326, 106 S.Ct. 2548, 91 L.Ed.2d 265 (1986). Accord, Routman v. Automatic Data Processing, Inc., 873 F.2d 970, 971 (6th Cir. 1989).
In Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 106 S.Ct. 2505, 91 L.Ed.2d 202 (1986), the United States Supreme Court explained the nature of a motion for summary judgment:
Rule 56(c) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides that summary judgment shall be rendered forthwith if the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law.' By its very terms, this standard provides that the mere existence of some alleged factual dispute between the parties will not defeat an otherwise properly supported motion for summary judgment; the requirement is that there be no genuine issue of material fact.
As to materiality, the substantive law will identify which facts are material. Only disputes over facts that might affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law will properly preclude the entry of summary judgment. Factual disputes that are irrelevant or unnecessary will not be counted.
477 U.S. at 247-48 (emphasis in the original and added in part). Earlier the Supreme Court defined a material fact for Rule 56 purposes as "[w]here the record taken as a whole could not lead a rational trier of fact to find for the nonmoving party, there is no genuine issue for trial.'" Matsushita Electrical Industrial Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587, 106 S.Ct. 1348, 1356, 89 L.Ed.2d 538 (1986) (citations omitted).
A motion for summary judgment is to be considered after adequate time for discovery. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 326, 106 S.Ct. 2548, 91 L.Ed.2d 265 (1986). Where there has been a reasonable opportunity for discovery, the party opposing the motion must make an affirmative showing of the need for additional discovery after the filing of a motion for summary judgment. Emmons v. McLaughlin, 874 F.2d 351, 355-57 (6th Cir. 1989). But see Routman v. Automatic Data Processing, Inc., 873 F.2d 970, 971 (6th Cir. 1989).
There is a certain framework in considering a summary judgment motion as to the required showing of the respective parties as described by the Court in Celotex
Of course, a party seeking summary judgment always bears the initial responsibility of informing the district court of the basis for its motion, and identifying those portions of "the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, " which it believes demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of material fact.... [W]e find no express or implied requirement in Rule 56 ...