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Date: 01-19-2023

Case Style:

D.E. v. Lieutenant McKinsey, et al.

Case Number: 1:21-cv-00013

Judge: William H. Steele

Court: United State District Court for the Southern District of Alabama (Mobile County)

Plaintiff's Attorney: Terrell Eugene McCants

Defendant's Attorney: Jason Matthew Bledsoe

Description: Mobile, Alabama civil rights lawyer represented Plaintiff, who sued Defendants on a prison civil rights violation theory under 42 U.S.C. 1983.

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According to the complaint, (Doc. 1), which is brought pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, the plaintiff was an inmate at the Holman Correctional Facility. On February 3, 2020, defendant Manuel escorted the plaintiff inside the shift office, where defendants McKinsey,[2] Smith and Brown joined them. Once the door to the office was shut, Smith and/or Brown blocked the office window with their body. McKinsey, Smith and especially Manuel repeatedly punched and kicked the plaintiff, who was completely compliant and who posed no threat of injury or escape. McKinsey, Smith and Brown stood by and did nothing while Manuel inflicted the majority of the blows. The encounter left the plaintiff with three broken ribs and two collapsed lungs, for which he was hospitalized on February 5, 2020. The complaint asserts the following Eighth Amendment claims against the listed correctional officers: (1) use of excessive force (Manuel, McKinsey, and Smith); (2) failure to intervene (McKinsey, Brown, Smith); and (3) deliberate indifference to the plaintiff's serious medical needs (Manuel, McKinsey, Smith).

The defendants raise no argument regarding the deliberate indifference claims. To the uncertain extent they seek summary judgment as to these claims, their motion must therefore be denied.

As to the excessive force and failure to intervene claims, the defendants claim qualified immunity. (Doc. 34 at 3-4). They say they are immune because the plaintiff has no evidence of a constitutional violation. (Id. at 4). They say the plaintiff has no evidence of a constitutional violation because he has no evidence that he was attacked by Manuel or McKinsey and no evidence that Brown or Smith witnessed any such attack. (Id. at 5, 10). They acknowledge that the plaintiff testified in deposition that Manuel and McKinsey repeatedly punched him in the face and repeatedly kicked him in his sides, (id. at 5),[3] but they say his testimony is legally inconsequential because Manuel and McKinsey deny using force on the plaintiff. (Id.). They acknowledge that the plaintiff testified in deposition that Brown and Smith stood outside the office, in front of the office window, so no one could see the beating, (id.),[4] but they say his testimony is legally inconsequential because Brown and Smith deny witnessing the plaintiff being beaten. (Id. at 5, 10).

The defendants misunderstand the summary judgment procedure. In deciding a motion for summary judgment, “[t]he evidence, and all reasonable inferences, must be viewed in the light most favorable to the nonmovant .” McCormick v. City of Fort Lauderdale, 333 F.3d 1234, 1243 (11th Cir. 2003). “Therefore, the [non-movant's]
version of the facts (to the extent supported by the record) controls, though that version can be supplemented by additional material cited by the [movants] and not in tension with the [non-movant's] version.” Rachel v. City of Mobile, 112 F.Supp.3d 1263, 1274 (S.D. Ala. 2015), aff'd, 633 Fed.Appx. 784 (11th Cir. 2016). Because at this stage the plaintiff's evidence controls, the defendants' contradiction of that evidence is legally irrelevant.[5]

The defendants present no other argument. They do not, for example, argue that, even if the plaintiff's version of events is accepted by the jury, it does not amount to a constitutional violation. Nor do they argue that, even if the plaintiff's version of events reflects a constitutional violation, they are entitled to qualified immunity because they did not violate any clearly established constitutional right of which a reasonable officer would have known. “There is no burden upon the district court to distill every potential argument that could be made based upon the materials before it on summary judgment,”[6]and the Court, as is its regular practice, accordingly limits its review to the single narrow argument the defendants have expressly advanced.[7]...

Outcome: Settled for an undisclosed sum and dismissed.

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