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Boyd v. Halley

United States District Court, M.D. Tennessee, Nashville Division

August 11, 2017

KENNETH BOYD, Plaintiff,
v.
DEPUTY F/N/U HALLEY, et al. Defendants.

          Crenshaw Chief Judge.

          REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          ALISTAIR E. NEWBERN United States Magistrate Judge.

         The District Court referred this Section 1983 action to the undersigned magistrate judge under 28 U.S.C. § 636 for pre-trial case management and to issue a Report and Recommendation on all dispositive motions. (Doc. No. 4.) Pending before the Court is the unopposed motion for summary judgment of Defendants Deputy Brian Halley, Mayor Bill Rial, Sheriff Jeff Bledsoe, Chief Jerone Holt, and Rondia Felts (Doc. No. 36). The undersigned RECOMMENDS that the Motion for Summary Judgment be GRANTED.

         I. Background

         A. Factual Background[1]

         On January 30, 2016, at approximately 12:14 pm, Deputy Brian Halley and Deputy Richard Brush were overseeing the distribution of lunch trays to inmates at the Dickson County Jail. (Doc. No. 38, PageID# 149; Doc. No. 39-2, PageID# 234, ¶ 2; Doc. No. 39-3, PageID# 244, ¶ 2.) Jail inmates are issued two uniform orange shirts upon admission to the facility, and jail policy requires that they wear one of these shirts in order to receive a lunch tray. (Doc. No. 38, PageID# 149; Doc. No. 39-1, PageID# 162, ¶¶ 10-11; Doc. No. 39-2, PageID# 234, ¶ 3; Doc. No. 39-3, PageID# 244, ¶ 3.) When Plaintiff Kenneth Boyd entered the area where trays were being distributed at approximately 12:15 pm, he was not wearing his uniform orange shirt. (Doc. No. 38, PageID# 149; Doc. No. 39-2, PageID# 234, ¶ 3; Doc. No. 39-3, PageID# 244, ¶ 3.) When Halley saw that Boyd was not wearing the required shirt, he told Boyd to put it on. (Doc. No. 38, PageID# 150; Doc. No. 39-2, PageID# 234, ¶ 4; Doc. No. 39-3, PageID# 245, ¶ 4.) Boyd refused, claiming that Halley had taken his orange shirt while Boyd was sleeping. (Doc. No. 38, PageID# 150; Doc. No. 39-2, PageID# 235, ¶ 5.) Halley told Boyd that he had received two orange shirts[2] when he was admitted to the jail, and Halley again told Boyd to put on his orange uniform shirt, or he would not receive a lunch tray. (Doc. No. 38, PageID# 150; Doc. No. 39-2, PageID# 235, ¶ 8.) Boyd refused. (Doc. No. 39-3, PageID# 244, ¶ 4.)

         Boyd asked the inmates operating the food cart to give him a tray; they refused to do so. (Doc. No. 38, PageID# 151; Doc. No. 39-2, PageID# 235, ¶ 9.) He then took a tray from the cart without Halley's authorization. (Doc. No. 38, PageID# 151; Doc. No. 39-2, PageID# 235, ¶ 10; Doc. No. 39-3, PageID# 245, ¶ 5.) Halley immediately told Boyd to put the tray down, but Boyd did not. (Doc. No. 38, PageID# 151; Doc. No. 39-2, PageID# 235, ¶ 11; Doc. No. 39-3, PageID# 245, ¶ 5.) Halley grabbed the tray and attempted to remove it from Boyd's hands, without touching Boyd, but Boyd did not let go of the tray. (Doc. No. 38, PageID# 151; Doc. No. 39-2, PageID# 235, ¶ 12; Doc. No. 39-3, PageID# 245, ¶ 5.) Halley was eventually able to remove the tray from Boyd's grasp and instructed Boyd to place his hands behind his back, which Boyd did not do. (Doc. No. 38, PageID# 152; Doc. No. 39-2, PageID# 235-36, ¶¶ 13, 15; Doc. No. 39-3, PageID# 245, ¶ 6.) Halley took control of Boyd's wrists, placed them behind his back, and handcuffed him for transport to the booking area of the jail. (Doc. No. 39-2, PageID# 236, ¶¶16-18.)

         Throughout the walk from the lunch area to booking, Boyd threatened Halley and struggled to pull away from him. (Doc. No. 38, PageID# 153; Doc. No. 39-2, PageID# 236, ¶¶ 20-22; Doc. No. 39-3, PageID# 245, ¶ 10.) Boyd's handcuffs apparently tightened as a result of Boyd's struggling against them, and he complained to Halley that they were too tight, demanding that they be removed. (Doc. No. 38, PageID# 154; Doc. No. 39-2, PageID# 236, ¶¶ 23-24.) Halley refused this request until Boyd was placed into a cell in the booking area, whereupon Halley removed Boyd's handcuffs. (Id. at PageID# 236-37, ¶¶ 24-25.) Boyd only wore the handcuffs for the short walk to the booking area. (Id. at PageID# 237, ¶ 26.) Once Halley removed the handcuffs, indentation marks were visible on Boyd's wrists, but there was no indication of cuts, blood, or other “trauma.” (Doc. No. 38, PageID# 155; Doc. No. 39-2, PageID# 237, ¶ 27.)

         In his complaint, Boyd describes the incident somewhat differently. He states that he got in line for chow call not wearing his orange shirt because Halley had taken it while he was sleeping. (Doc. No. 1, PageID# 5.) He states that he told Halley that he had a right to be fed and picked up a lunch tray. (Id. at PageID# 6.) He states that he then put the tray down pursuant to Halley's order to do so. (Id. at PageID# 6-7.) Boyd states that then Halley grabbed Boyd's wrist “with brute force, ” handcuffed him too tightly, “jerk[ed]” his arm, and “kept twisting” his left arm while escorting him to the booking office. (Id.) Boyd states that this caused his wrist to bleed and that the jail provided him with an icepack for his injuries. (Id.)

         B. Procedural History

         On March 31, 2016, Boyd, proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis, filed this action bringing claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 based on the lunchtime incident with Halley at the Dickson County Jail. (Doc. No. 1, PageID# 5.) Upon initial review pursuant to the Prison Litigation Reform Act, 28 U.S.C. § 1915 et seq., the District Court found that Boyd had stated a colorable Fourteenth Amendment excessive force claim against Halley. (Doc. No. 4, PageID# 24.) On April 22, 2016, Boyd sent a letter to the Court stating that he “would like to add the defendants . . . Bill Rial, Jeff Bledsoe, Jerome Holts, Rhonda Felts[, ]” whom he identified as the people “who Deputy Halley work[s] for.”[3] (Doc. No. 9, PageID# 32.) The Clerk's Office docketed this letter as an amended complaint and issued summonses for Rial, Bledsoe, Halley, Felts, and Holt, all of which were returned executed. (Doc. Nos. 9, 12-17.)

         On December 9, 2016, Defendants Bledsoe, Felts, Halley, Holts, and Rial filed a motion for summary judgment (Doc. No. 36) accompanied by a supporting memorandum of law (Doc. No. 37) and statement of undisputed material facts (Doc. No. 38), as well as the affidavits of Felts (Doc. No. 39-1), Halley (Doc. No. 39-2), and Brush (Doc. No. 39-3). Defendants argue that summary judgment is appropriate because Halley's conduct does not rise to the level of a constitutional violation and, even if it did, he is entitled to qualified immunity because his actions were not objectively unreasonable. (Doc. No. 37, PageID# 136-37, 139.) With respect to Boyd's claims against Halley's supervisors, Defendants argue that Boyd has failed to provide evidence to support a claim of supervisory liability. (Id. at PageID# 141.)

         Boyd has not responded to Defendants' Motion or Statement of Undisputed Material Facts, nor has he filed his own ...


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