United States District Court, E.D. Tennessee
October 2014, Joshua Bryant was allegedly assaulted by
several correction officers while he was detained in Anderson
County Jail. In October 2015, Bryant filed this civil rights
suit against Anderson County and four correction officers,
Dustin McCoig, Homer Bullman, Jason Wills, and Amber Stocks.
The claims against the Anderson County Sheriff’s
Department, Sheriff Paul White, Officers Bullman and Wills
were resolved, leaving McCoig as the sole remaining
defendant. McCoig has not filed a notice of appearance, an
answer, or any other motions or responses in this case.
Bryant moves for default judgment against McCoig.
record shows that on October 22, 2014, Bryant was
incarcerated in the Anderson County Jail, where he was being
held as a state prisoner with the Tennessee Department of
Correction. While playing cards with another inmate, Bryant
got into a verbal confrontation with Corrections Officer
Dustin McCoig, who, at that time, was a corporal employed by
the Anderson County Sheriff’s Department. McCoig
ordered Bryant to return to his cell and then followed him
there, where he allegedly choked Bryant and slammed him to
the floor. McCoig called for additional officers. Bryant
states that by the time two deputies responded to
McCoig’s call for backup, he was handcuffed and McCoig
was on top of him, beating his head against the floor. The
officers extracted Bryant from his cell and video footage
from the jail camera shows McCoig strike Bryant across the
face two times.
filed an inmate grievance form pursuant to the jails’
internal grievance procedures. A couple of weeks later, on
November 13, 2014, Bryant was informed that the investigation
had been concluded and that McCoig’s employment with
the Anderson County Sheriff’s Department had been
filed his complaint on October 21, 2015, alleging excessive
force, assault and battery [R. 1]. McCoig was served with the
Summons and Complaint on November 16, 2015 [R. 39], but has
not filed an appearance or filed a responsive pleading. The
Clerk entered default against McCoig on December 11, 2018 [R.
74]. Bryant now moves the court for default judgment against
McCoig in the amount of $25, 000 [R. 77].
evidentiary hearing was scheduled for April 9, 2019 to
determine Bryant’s damages. McCoig did not appear.
Because Bryant was incarcerated and not available to testify,
the court took the matter under advisement to allow counsel
to submit proof of damages.
seeking judgment by default must show the court: (1) when and
against what party the default was entered; (2)
identification of the pleading to which default was entered;
(3) whether the defaulting party is an infant or incompetent
person; (4) that the defendant is not in military service
such that the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Civil Relief
Act does not apply; and (5) that notice has been served on
the defaulting party, if required by Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 55(b)(2). Disney Enterprises. v. Farmer,
427 F.Supp.2d 807, 815 (E.D.Tenn. 2006).
has satisfied the requirements for default judgment. First,
the Clerk entered default against McCoig on December 11,
2018. Second, there is no reason for the court to believe
that McCoig is an infant or incompetent person, or that
McCoig is in military service. Finally, because McCoig has
never entered an appearance in this action, the notice
requirement of Rule 55(b)(2) does not apply. As a result of
the default, the factual allegations of the complaint
relating to liability are taken as true. Skidmore v.
Boilermaker-Blacksmith Nat’l Pension Trust, 2009
WL 1362067 at *4 (E.D.Tenn. May 13, 2009).
U.S.C. § 1983 creates a cause of action against
government officials who violate an individual’s
Every person who, under color of any statute, ordinance,
regulation, custom, or usage, of any State…. subjects,
or causes to be subjected, any citizen of the United States
or other person within the jurisdiction thereof to the
deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured
by the Constitution and laws, shall be liable to the party
injured in an action at law.
prisoner’s right to be free from the use of excessive
force at the hands of a corrections officer is a clearly
established right under the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments.
The Eighth Amendment rights of prisoners are analogized to
those of detainees under the Fourteenth Amendment.
Roberts v. City of Troy, 773 F.2d 720, 723 (6th Cir.
1985). The Eighth Amendment proscribes the unnecessary and
wanton infliction of pain against prisoners. Williams v.
Curtain, 631 F.3d 380, 383 (6th Cir. 2011). Although
prison discipline may require that inmates endure relatively
greater physical contact, the Eighth Amendment is nonetheless
violated if the “offending conduct reflects an
unnecessary and wanton infliction of pain.”
Id. To make out a claim under the Eighth Amendment,
a plaintiff must satisfy both an objective and a subjective
subjective component focuses on the state of mind of the
prison officials. The relevant inquiry is “whether
force was applied in a good faith effort to maintain or
restore discipline, or maliciously and sadistically for the
very purpose of causing harm.” Hudson v.
McMillian,503 U.S. 1, 6 (1992). Courts may consider
“the need for the application of force, the
relationship between the need and the amount of force that
was used, and the extent of injury inflicted.”
Whitley v. Albers,475 U.S. 312, 319 (1986). Courts
may also consider the circumstances “as ...