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Green v. Johnson

United States District Court, D. Kansas

March 30, 2015

DeANDRE GREEN, Plaintiff,


DANIEL D. CRABTREE, District Judge.

Plaintiff DeAndre Green brings this civil rights action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. He alleges that defendants Tracy Johnson, Effrain Rueda, and Patrick Mansfield used excessive force and thereby violated his rights under the Eighth Amendment to the United States Constitution. Plaintiff was an inmate at the El Dorado Correctional Facility in Butler County, Kansas, when the events giving rise to this lawsuit occurred. Defendants were employees at the facility. This case is now before the Court on defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. 99). Plaintiff has filed a response (Doc. 113) and defendants have filed a reply (Doc. 116). After reviewing the summary judgment record and the arguments submitted by the parties, the Court grants defendants' motion in part and denies it in part.

I. Procedural Background

Plaintiff filed his Complaint on July 20, 2012 (Doc. 1). It alleges § 1983 claims against defendants Ashley McKeen, Tracy Johnson, Effrain Rueda, and Patrick Mansfield both in their individual and official capacities. Each defendant moved for dismissal under Rule 12(b)(6) (Docs. 27 and 35). On March 29, 2013, the Court granted defendant McKeen's motion to dismiss but declined to dismiss the other defendants (Doc. 38). The Court, however, did grant the remaining defendants' motion to dismiss plaintiff's official capacity claims based on Eleventh Amendment immunity (Doc. 23). Plaintiff tried to circumvent the Eleventh Amendment's prohibition on official-capacity damage suits against state officials by moving to amend his complaint to seek declaratory and injunctive relief (Doc. 15). The Court denied this motion as futile because his "proposed amended complaint present[ed] no facts which would support a plausible claim for declaratory or injunctive relief." Doc. 23 (citing Barney v. Pulsipher, 143 F.3d 1299, 1306 n.3 (10th Cir. 1998) (holding that a "plaintiff cannot maintain a declaratory or injunctive action unless he or she can demonstrate a good chance of being likewise injured in the future" (quotation omitted))). As a result, only the individual capacity claims against defendants Johnson, Rueda, and Mansfield remain. Defendants now move for summary judgment on each of those claims.

II. Summary Judgment Standard

To prevail on a motion for summary judgment, a moving party must demonstrate that there is "no genuine dispute as to any material fact" and that it is "entitled to a judgment as a matter of law." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). When it applies this standard, the Court views the evidence and draws inferences in the light most favorable to the non-moving party. Nahno-Lopez v. Houser, 625 F.3d 1279, 1283 (10th Cir. 2010) (citing Oldenkamp v. United Am. Ins. Co., 619 F.3d 1243, 1245-46 (10th Cir. 2010)). "An issue of fact is genuine' if the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the non-moving party' on the issue." Id. (quoting Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986)). "An issue of fact is material' if under the substantive law it is essential to the proper disposition of the claim' or defense." Id. (quoting Adler v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., 144 F.3d 664, 670 (10th Cir. 1998) (citing Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248)).

The moving party bears "both the initial burden of production on a motion for summary judgment and the burden of establishing that summary judgment is appropriate as a matter of law." Kannady v. City of Kiowa, 590 F.3d 1161, 1169 (10th Cir. 2010) (citing Trainor v. Apollo Metal Specialties, Inc., 318 F.3d 976, 979 (10th Cir. 2003)). To meet this burden, the moving party "need not negate the non-movant's claim, but need only point to an absence of evidence to support the non-movant's claim." Id. (citing Sigmon v. CommunityCare HMO, Inc., 234 F.3d 1121, 1125 (10th Cir. 2000)).

If the moving party sustains this initial burden, the non-moving party "may not rest on its pleadings, but must bring forward specific facts showing a genuine issue for trial as to those dispositive matters for which it carries the burden of proof.'" Id. (quoting Jenkins v. Wood, 81 F.3d 988, 990 (10th Cir. 1996)); see also Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 324 (1986); Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248-49. "To accomplish this, the facts must be identified by reference to affidavits, deposition transcripts, or specific exhibits incorporated therein." Adler, 144 F.3d at 670 (citing Thomas v. Wichita Coca-Cola Bottling Co., 968 F.2d 1022, 1024 (10th Cir.), cert. denied, 506 U.S. 1013 (1992)).

Summary judgment is not a "disfavored procedural shortcut." Celotex, 477 U.S. at 327. Rather, it is an important procedure "designed to secure the just, speedy and inexpensive determination of every action.'" Id. (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 1).

III. Undisputed Material Facts

The facts material to defendants' motion for summary judgment are set forth below. These facts are either uncontroverted by the parties or, where controverted, the Court has resolved them in the light most favorable to plaintiff as the non-moving party.

A. Parties

Plaintiff is a former inmate of the El Dorado Correctional Facility in Butler County, Kansas (the "Facility"). He was incarcerated at the Facility beginning on February 9, 2010.

Defendants Johnson and Rueda were employed by the Kansas Department of Corrections ("KDOC") as corrections officers. Defendant Mansfield was employed by KDOC as a Lieutenant. All three defendants worked at the Facility on July 21, 2010, the day the events giving rise to this lawsuit occurred.

B. The Three Uses of Force Against Plaintiff

On July 21, 2010, Officer Ashley McKeen (since dismissed as a defendant in this case, see Doc. 38) filed a Disciplinary Report against plaintiff for making threatening and intimidating statements the previous day. "Disciplinary Report No. 10-07-132" (Doc. 100-3 at 286-294). Specifically, the Disciplinary Report claims that plaintiff shouted at Officer McKeen, demanding that she open a door. When Officer McKeen instructed plaintiff to address her appropriately, plaintiff said "[R]emember what you started, this is on you." Id. Upon receiving the Disciplinary Report, Lt. Mansfield ordered Officers Johnson and Rueda to escort plaintiff to the captain's office to speak with him. Lt. Mansfield asserts that it is his normal practice to call an inmate into the captain's office following a Disciplinary Report to get the inmate's version of the story.

To prepare plaintiff for escort to the captain's office, Officers Johnson and Rueda (the "Officers") handcuffed plaintiff. They did not place him in leg restraints at this time. Plaintiff was cooperative and complied with the Officers' requests without any resistance. Before taking plaintiff to see Lt. Mansfield, however, the Officers first escorted plaintiff to the nurse's station. The Facility's normal procedure requires a nurse to check an inmate's health before he may be cleared for segregated confinement. The Officers took plaintiff to the nurse's station before the ...

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