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Long v. King

United States District Court, S.D. Mississippi, Southern Division

October 22, 2014

JIMMY ELDRIDGE LONG, Plaintiff,
v.
RONALD KING, ET AL., Defendants.

OPINION AND ORDER

MICHAEL T. PARKER, Magistrate Judge.

THIS MATTER is before the Court on the Motion for Summary Judgment [30] filed by Defendants Ronald King, Regina Reed, Roderick Evans, James Cooksey, Connie Smith, and Penny Bufkin. Having considered the Motion, applicable law, and case record, the Court finds that Defendants' Motion [30] should be granted.

FACTUAL BACKGROUND

On November 16, 2012, Plaintiff Jimmy Eldridge Long, proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis, filed his Complaint [1] pursuant to 42 U.S.C. ยง 1983. The allegations in Plaintiff's Complaint occurred while he was a post-conviction inmate at South Mississippi Correctional Institution ("SMCI") in Leakesville, Mississippi, where he is currently incarcerated. In his Complaint and as clarified in his testimony at the Spears [1] hearing, Plaintiff alleges that Defendants violated his constitutional rights by failing to provide adequate protection from harm.

According to Plaintiff, he was a member of a prison gang, the Aryan Brotherhood ("AB"), but he became a witness against two members of the AB in a murder case. In 1997, after Plaintiff became a witness against members of his former gang, he learned that the AB had ordered "a hit" on his life. Plaintiff alleges that, in 2001, four AB members assaulted him. Thereafter, Plaintiff was released from prison.

On November 4, 2004, however, Plaintiff returned to prison. According to Plaintiff, in 2012, a prospective member of the AB informed Plaintiff that the AB had renewed its "hit" on Plaintiff's life. Plaintiff attempted to inform an officer of his situation, but Defendant Regina Reed allegedly interrupted the conversation and told Plaintiff she did not want to hear anymore. According to Plaintiff, shortly thereafter, two members of the AB were walking toward him as he stood in line for a meal, but members of another gang, the Mob Boys, stopped the AB members because they were entering the Mob Boys' "area." The next day, AB members allegedly approached Plaintiff, but were again stopped by members of the Mob Boys. Thereafter, the Mob Boys allegedly offered to protect Plaintiff for $50.00 a week. Plaintiff alleges he paid the Mob Boys a total of $250.00 for protection.

Plaintiff alleges that he informed Defendants Roderick Evans and Ronald King that his life was in danger, but Defendants failed to act on the information. Plaintiff also alleges that Defendants Connie Smith and James Cooksey had a duty to investigate his requests for protective custody but failed to properly investigate. According to Plaintiff, he also informed Defendant Penny Bufkin of the danger posed to his life, and she informed Plaintiff that there was no information regarding him being a witness against the AB in the Mississippi Department of Corrections's files.

Plaintiff was not attacked by any AB member, and eventually, Plaintiff was transferred to the Mississippi State Penitentiary in Parchman, Mississippi. In March, 2013, officials discovered that Plaintiff had been a witness against the AB. As a result, Plaintiff was placed in protective custody.[2]

Plaintiff seeks monetary damages in the amount of $250.00-the amount he paid the Mob Boys for protection. Plaintiff also seeks to have Defendants' acts and inactions relating to their alleged failure to protect him reflected in their employment records. In their Motion for Summary Judgment, Defendants claim that Plaintiff has not made a valid claim for failure to protect and that qualified immunity bars the claims against them.

ANALYSIS

Summary Judgment Standard

A motion for summary judgment will be granted only when "the record indicates that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.'" Causey v. Sewell Cadillac-Chevrolet, Inc., 394 F.3d 285, 288 (5th Cir. 2004) (citing Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c); Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986)). The Court must view "the evidence in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party." Id. However, the nonmoving party "cannot defeat summary judgment with conclusory allegations, unsubstantiated assertions, or only a scintilla of evidence.'" Turner v. Baylor Richardson Medical Center, 476 F.3d 337, 343 (5th Cir. 2007) (quoting Little v. Liquid Air Corp., 37 F.3d 1069, 1075 (5th Cir. 1994)). In the absence of proof, the Court does not "assume that the nonmoving party could or would prove the necessary facts." Little, 37 F.3d at 1075 (emphasis omitted).

Qualified Immunity Defense

Defendants maintain they are entitled to summary judgment as to Plaintiff's claims against them in their individual capacity based on the doctrine of qualified immunity. Under Section 1983, government officials performing discretionary functions in their jobs are entitled to qualified immunity from civil liability to the extent that "their conduct does not violate clearly established statutory or constitutional rights of which a reasonable person would have known." Harlow v. Fitzgerald, 457 U.S. 800, 818 (1982). "[Q]ualified immunity generally protects all but the plainly ...


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