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Ellis v. Christopher

United States District Court, W.D. Tennessee, Western Division

January 30, 2015

ANTHONY ELLIS, Plaintiff,
v.
KENNETH CHRISTOPHER and LEE PRICE, Defendants.

ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANTS' MOTION TO DISMISS

S. THOMAS ANDERSON, District Judge.

Before the Court is Defendants' Motion to Dismiss (ECF No. 30) filed on June 18, 2014. Plaintiff has filed a letter in opposition to Defendants' Motion (ECF No. 34) and exhibits. For the reasons set forth below, Defendants' Motion to Dismiss is GRANTED.

BACKGROUND

On March 16, 2012, Plaintiff, a federal prisoner paralyzed from the waist down, filed this complaint under Bivens v. Six Unknown Named Agents of Federal Bureau of Narcotics, 403 U.S. 388 (1971).[1] (ECF No. 1 at 1.) Plaintiff alleges that on March 3, 2011, Defendants Christopher and Price shackled Plaintiff for travel to a medical appointment and lifted him from his wheelchair to place him in a transport van. ( Id. ) Plaintiff alleges that Defendants lost their grip and dropped him on his back and neck on the concrete. ( Id. ) Plaintiff alleges that, after a few minutes, the officers placed him back in his wheelchair and transported him to his housing unit without filling out an accident report or taking him to the medical department. ( Id. at 2.) Ellis contends that his injuries were aggravated on May 17, 2011, when he fell in a shower that was not equipped for handicapped inmates. ( Id. ) Plaintiff alleges that despite multiple visits to the medical department, he has not received proper care, remains in constant pain, and suffers daily from his injuries. ( Id. at 3.)

In the Motion to Dismiss, Defendants seek the dismissal of all claims against them contending that Plaintiff fails to satisfy the objective or subjective component of an Eighth Amendment claim and that they are entitled to qualified immunity. (ECF No. 30 at 9-14.) Plaintiff contends in the Response that his allegations demonstrate that Defendants showed "recklessness and disregard for safety." (ECF No. 34 at 1.)

STATEMENT OF MATERIAL FACTS

The following facts are material to the instant case.

Background

1. Plaintiff is currently serving a fifteen year sentence, to be followed by three years of supervised release, stemming from his conviction in the United States District Court for the Western District of Tennessee for "Felon in Possession of a Firearm, " a violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(g). See Exhibit 1, Declaration of Mary Ellen Graham, hereinafter "Graham Decl., " Attachment A (SENTRY computerized inmate history for inmate Anthony Ellis, Fed. Reg. No. 22149-076, dated June 13, 2014).

2. Plaintiff was designated to FCI Memphis on February 2, 2010. Id. at Attachment B (SENTRY computerized inmate history for inmate Anthony Ellis, Fed. Reg. No. 22149-076, dated June 2, 2014). Plaintiff is currently designated to the Federal Correctional Institution at Fort Worth, Texas ("FCI Ft. Worth"). Id.

Lieutenant Christopher

3. Lt. Christopher approached Plaintiff on March 11, 2011, to take Plaintiff to a transport van for a non-emergency appointment. See Exhibit 2, Declaration of Kenneth Christopher, hereinafter "Christopher Decl., " ¶ 3.

4. Because Plaintiff was being escorted out of the institution to an outside medical appointment, he was restrained with handcuffs, a Martin chain around his waist, and a black box to secure the waist chain. Id. These restraints were typical for inmates being escorted outside of the institution. Id.

5. In March 2011, FCI Memphis did not have a handicapped accessible van with a motorized platform to lift inmates into the van. Id. at ¶. Lt. Christopher, assisted by Officer Price, wheeled Plaintiff to the van and attempted to lift him out of his chair and into the van. Id.

6. Plaintiff was lifted slowly and in a manner that safely balanced his weight. Id. At no point did the officers lose control of Plaintiff or lose their grip on his body. Id.

7. Plaintiff weighed over 200 pounds and Lt. Christopher and Officer Price were unable to complete the lift. Id. When the officers realized that they were unable to lift Plaintiff all the way into the van, they slowly lowered him back into his wheelchair. Id. Plaintiff was not dropped, nor did he fall to any degree or strike any part of his body on the van or ground. Id.

8. After Plaintiff was returned to his wheelchair, he was wheeled back into the institution. Id. Lt. Christopher did not enter the institution at that time because he was still armed with a firearm for the outside medical escort trip. Id.

9. At no time during Lt. Christopher's interactions with Plaintiff on that occasion did Plaintiff indicate that he was injured ...


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