United States District Court, E.D. Tennessee, Greeneville
W. Phillips SENIOR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
pro se prisoner's civil rights action for injunctive
relief and damages under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 was brought by
Anthony Lee Grindstaff (“Plaintiff”), who is now
confined in the Hardeman County Correctional Facility in
Whiteville, Tennessee. Defendants are Chris Mathes, former
Sheriff of Carter County, Tennessee; Tom Smith, Captain and
former Carter County Jail Administrator; Gene Moreland, a
timekeeper; Dwight Lacey, a timekeeper; and Michael Cox, a
former correctional officer. Plaintiff alleges that
Defendants failed to protect him from an assault by another
inmate, which occurred on August 3, 2013, while Plaintiff was
housed in protective custody at the Carter County Detention
Center (“CCDC”) in Elizabethton, Tennessee.
motions are currently pending. Plaintiff has moved for
summary judgment, and Defendants Tom Smith, Dwight Lacey, and
Gene Moreland (“Defendants”) have responded in
opposition [Docs. 36, 44]. Likewise, Defendants have filed a
motion for summary judgment, which is supported by a
memorandum brief and declarations submitted by each of these
three Defendants [Docs. 42, 42-1, 42-2, 42-3, and 43].
Plaintiff opposes the motion [Doc. 45].
reasons which follow, the Court finds that Plaintiff's
summary judgment motion should be DENIED and
that Defendants' motion should be
are the facts as Plaintiff portrays them in his verified
complaint [Doc. 1].
was placed in protective custody in the CCDC, due to his
status as an informant for the drug task force. On August 3,
2013, he was beaten by Houston Hartley
(“Hartley”), an inmate in disciplinary
segregation, after Defendant Correctional Officer Michael Cox
opened Plaintiff's cell door and allowed the assailant to
enter Plaintiff's cell. As a result, Plaintiff sustained
personal injuries which still affect him. Plaintiff has been
beaten several times in the past in the CCDC and has had to
be transferred from the CCDC to other facilities for safety
reasons. Defendants Gene Moreland and Dwight Lacey are CCDC
Time Keepers, who control unit to unit transfers at the
facility, as well as transfers from the CCDC to other
facilities. Defendants Moreland and Lacey denied
Plaintiff's requests to be moved to another unit or to be
transferred to another facility, though he advised them that
he was in danger in the protective custody unit and also in
the jail. Defendant Tom Smith denied Plaintiff's
grievances about being unsafe in the jail and his requests to
be transferred to another unit or facility.
Chris Mathes has had Plaintiff transferred to other
facilities in the past but has ignored Plaintiff's
requests and grievances concerning Plaintiff's safety
concerns. Defendant Mathes also allowed Defendant Cox to work
on the unit wherein Plaintiff is housed in the months
following Plaintiff's assault, even though Defendant Cox
was written up for allowing Plaintiff to be assaulted.
Plaintiff has been assaulted twice after making all those
requests for a transfer to another unit or facility. The
Court views these facts in favor of Plaintiff.
declarations contain facts which fill in the gaps in
Plaintiff's factual scenario [Doc. 42-1, Declaration of
Thomas Smith; Doc. 42-2, Declaration of Gene Moreland; Doc.
42-3, Declaration of Dwight Lacey]. On August 3, 2013,
Plaintiff requested shampoo from Hartley, who was housed in a
nearby cell. Based on Plaintiff's request, Defendant Cox
opened Hartley's cell door and obtained the shampoo from
Hartley. Defendant Cox closed Hartley's cell door, but
did not make sure that the cell door was secured. Defendant
Cox then opened Plaintiff's cell door to provide him with
the shampoo. At that point, Hartley pushed out of his cell,
burst into Plaintiff's cell, and attacked Plaintiff.
Defendant Cox pulled Harley off Grindstaff, placed Hartley in
handcuffs, and removed Harley from Plaintiff's cell.
Defendant Cox made arrangements for Plaintiff to be provided
did not authorize the actions of Defendant Cox in
transferring the shampoo from Hartley to Plaintiff and were
unaware of Defendant Cox's actions until after he took
those actions. Defendant Cox's conduct violated a CCDC
policy which prohibits the transfer of such items between
inmates. The event was investigated, and Hartley was
disciplined as a result of his attack on Plaintiff. Defendant
Cox was also disciplined through written letters of
counseling for his violation of CCDC procedural mandates.
Plaintiff was advised, in response to a grievance he filed
complaining about the attack, of the disciplinary actions
taken against Hartley and Defendant Cox and further advised
that no such incident should recur.
was released on bond on September 4, 2013, but was rearrested
on additional charges and incarcerated in the CCDC on
September 16, 2013. On September 19, 2013, Plaintiff filed a
grievance, complaining that he was not safe in the CCDC, and
requesting a transfer to another facility. Plaintiff's
request was denied; he was notified that he would be placed
in protective custody; and he was subjected to no further
attacks by other inmates. Plaintiff filed numerous grievances
during his second incarceration in the CCDC.
the time at issue in this suit, Defendant Tom Smith was the
CCDC Jail Administrator and he, in consultation with other
CCDC officials, including Defendant Mathis, would have made
the decision as to whether to transfer Plaintiff. Based on
his assessment of the safety issues surrounding
Plaintiff's incarceration in the CCDC, he did not believe
a transfer to be necessary and believed that Plaintiff could
be protected adequately through the use of protective
Gene Moreland and Dwight Lacey were CCDC time keepers and
neither was a decision maker as to whether to transfer
SUMMARY JUDGMENT STANDARDS
judgment will be granted to the movant, as long as what is
before the Court by way of cited materials in the record,
including documents, affidavits or declarations, admissions,
interrogatory answers or other materials, demonstrate that
there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and that
the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.
Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a), (c); Celotex Corp. v. Catrett,
477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986). In ruling on a motion for summary
judgment, the Court must view the facts contained in the
record and all inferences that can be drawn from those facts
in the light most favorable to the non-moving party.
Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp.,
475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986); Nat'l Satellite Sports,
Inc. v. Eliadis, Inc., 253 F.3d 900, 907 (6th Cir.
2001). The Court cannot weigh the evidence, judge the
credibility of witnesses, or determine the truth of any
matter in dispute. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc.,
477 U.S. 242, 249 (1986). The moving party bears the initial
burden of demonstrating that no genuine issue of material
fact exists. Celotex Corp, 477 U.S. at 323. The
moving party does not have to offer evidence disproving the
nonmoving party's claim but may carry its burden by
showing an absence of evidence to support the nonmoving
party's case. Id. at 325.
refute such a showing, the non-moving party must present some
significant, probative evidence indicating the necessity of a
trial for resolving a material factual dispute. Id.
at 322. A mere scintilla of evidence is not enough.
Anderson, 477 U.S. at 252; McClain v. Ontario,
Ltd., 244 F.3d 797, 800 (6th Cir. 2000). A plaintiff
facing the prospect of summary adjudication cannot “sit
back and simply poke holes in the moving party's summary
judgment motion, ” Fitzpatrick v. Catholic Bishop
of Chicago, 916 F.2d 1254, 1256 (7th Cir. 1990); cannot
rest on his pleadings or allegations; but instead, must
present material evidence in support of those allegations.
Celotex Corp., 477 U.S. at 324. Bare contentions
will not suffice. Mitchell v. Toledo Hosp., 964 F.2d
577, 581-82 (6th Cir. 1992).
judgment is appropriate against a party who fails to make a
showing sufficient to establish the existence of an element
essential to that party's case, and on which that party
will bear the burden of proof at trial. Celotex
Corp., 477 U.S. at 322. To put it differently, if a
court concludes that a fair-minded jury could not return a
verdict in favor of a ...