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Horton v. Ed Maddern

United States District Court, D. Kansas

April 28, 2017

DAMON LAVON HORTON, Plaintiff,
v.
ED MADDERN, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          DANIEL D. CRABTREE UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Pro se plaintiff Damon Horton brought this action against Ed Maddern, a corrections officer at El Dorado Correctional Facility.[1] In his Complaint, plaintiff asserts that defendant violated his Eighth Amendment rights by using excessive force against him and battered him in violation of Kansas Administrative Regulation 44-12-324.

         On February 22, 2017, defendant filed a Motion to Dismiss, asking the court to dismiss plaintiff's constitutional claim. Doc. 15. Plaintiff did not respond to this Motion, and the time for doing so has passed. See D. Kan. R. 6.1(d)(2). So, consistent with D. Kan. Rule 7.4(b), the court “will consider and decide the motion as an uncontested motion.” In these circumstances, the court ordinarily “will grant the motion without further notice.” D. Kan. Rule 7.4(b). Although the court could grant defendant's motion to dismiss under Rule 7.4(b) without further discussion, it also rules on the motion based on its merits. E.g., Gee v. Towers, No. 16-2407, 2016 WL 4733854, at *1 (D. Kan. Sept. 12, 2016) (dismissing complaint under Rule 7.4(b), but also considering motion to dismiss on its merits).

         Background

         Because defendant's Motion to Dismiss raises questions under Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1)[2] and 12(b)(6), the facts alleged in plaintiff's Complaint control. See S.E.C. v. Shields, 744 F.3d 633, 640 (10th Cir. 2014); Holt v. United States, 46 F.3d 1000, 1002 (10th Cir. 1995).

         Around 5:00 am on April 18, 2016, plaintiff's cellmate attacked him. Defendant and another correction's officer-Officer Wood-responded to the commotion. At first, defendant and Officer Wood tried to use “chemical agents” to break up the fight, but failed-the cell door was closed. Doc. 1 at 2. So defendant radioed the control booth and had the cell door opened. Plaintiff's cellmate promptly shoved him out of the cell into the hallway, placing plaintiff in between defendant and Officer Wood. The fight continued. Plaintiff and his cellmate found their way back into the cell where they continued to brawl. Defendant then intervened, “bludgeon[ing]” plaintiff “from behind” with his radio. Id. at 3. Plaintiff lost consciousness for four to seven seconds, and awoke to find his head bleeding in the spot where defendant had struck him. All the while plaintiff's cellmate had not stopped striking him. Indeed, plaintiff's cellmate did not stop striking him until defendant and Officer Wood tried chemical agents a second time. This time they worked. The fight ended and both plaintiff and his cellmate were handcuffed and escorted to another room.

         When they arrived in this other room, plaintiff lost consciousness again. This time, someone placed plaintiff on a stretcher and took him to the “Trauma Unit.” Id. at 3. While in the Trauma Unit, a nurse examined plaintiff and took pictures of his wounds. Plaintiff contends that the nurse did not examine him properly, and so sent him to segregation without having been “properly assessed by medical staff.” Id. at 4. Plaintiff used a prison hotline to report this failure and was given proper medical attention an hour later.

         Though plaintiff received the proper medical attention, he was “confined to [his] bed for months[] due to the injury from [defendant's] radio.” Id. Besides bed rest, plaintiff has sought medical help at least nine times for the continuing effects of his injury, which include “severe migraines[] and constant ringing in [his] ears.” Id. He also complains that his pre-existing mental health issues have worsened.

         Analysis

         Defendant contends that Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) and 12(b)(6) require dismissal of plaintiff's claims. Defendant invokes Rule 12(b)(1) because, he contends, the court lacks subject matter jurisdiction to hear plaintiff's claims against him in his official capacity (“official-capacity claims”). Defendant invokes Rule 12(b)(6), asserting that the Complaint fails to state a § 1983 claim against him in his individual capacity (“individual-capacity claims”). The court considers each of defendant's arguments below.

         I. Subject Matter Jurisdiction: Official Capacity Claims

         A. Rule 12(b)(1) Motion to Dismiss Standard

         The court must dismiss any case that it lacks subject matter jurisdiction to hear. Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(h)(3). The court must do so because “[a] court lacking jurisdiction cannot render judgment.” Basso v. Utah Power & Light Co., 495 F.2d 906, 909 (10th Cir. 1974) (citing Bradbury v. Dennis, 310 F.2d 73, 74 (10th Cir. 1962)). The party who invokes the court's jurisdiction bears the burden to establish that jurisdiction in fact exists. Id. Here, that party is plaintiff.

         Because defendant attacks the Complaint's allegations of subject matter jurisdiction, the court “must accept the allegations in the complaint as true.” Holt, 46 F.3d at 1002 (citing Ohio Nat'l Life Ins. Co. v. United States, 922 F.2d 320, 325 (6th Cir. 1990)).

         B. Eleventh ...


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