United States District Court, S.D. Mississippi, Northern Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
KEITH BALL, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
the Court is the Motion for Summary Judgment  filed by
Defendants Christopher Epps, James M. Holman, and Eydie
Winkel in this case brought pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §
1983. Each of these Defendants has moved for summary judgment
on the basis of Eleventh Amendment sovereign immunity. In
addition, these defendants argue that Plaintiff's claims
against them in their individual capacities fail. Plaintiff
did not respond to the summary judgment motion within the
fourteen-day period allowed by the Local Uniform Civil Rules.
See L. U. Civ. R. 7(b)(4). After expiration of the
time for response, Plaintiff filed a motion for extension of
time  to respond to the summary judgment motion. In an
abundance of caution, the Court granted the extension, and
Plaintiff filed his response . After considering his
response, the Court deferred ruling on the summary judgment
motion and established a period of discovery, which was
extended once at the request of Plaintiff. See ,
. Plaintiff has now filed another response  to the
summary judgment motion.
omnibus hearing, the parties consented to have a United
States Magistrate Judge conduct any and all further
proceedings in the case and order the entry of final
judgment, and the District Judge subsequently entered an
order of reference. 28 U.S.C. § 636(c); Fed.R.Civ.P. 73.
Plaintiff, who was incarcerated at the time he filed this
action, is proceeding pro se and in forma
pauperis (“IFP"). 28 U.S.C. § 1915.
According to the Court's records, although Plaintiff was
unincarcerated or “free world” at one point, he
is now re-incarcerated. For the reasons explained below, the
Court grants these defendants' motion  for summary
judgment and dismisses Edwards's claims against them.
time of the November 2012 events forming the basis of this
lawsuit, Plaintiff was confined at the Central Mississippi
Correctional Facility (“CMCF”), located in Pearl,
Mississippi. Defendants are officials with the Mississippi
Department of Corrections (“MDOC”) at the time of
the events, as follows: the former Commissioner of MDOC,
Christopher Epps; the former MDOC Superintendent of CMCF,
James M. Holman; and a Warden of CMCF, Eydie Winkel.
Edwards alleges that these defendants failed to protect him
from harm from a correctional officer, Alexander Sims.
Edwards alleges that Sims sexually assaulted him in November
2012, when Sims and another officer had transported him to a
court hearing, and when Sims accompanied Edwards to use the
restroom at the courthouse.  at 5-6;  at 6; [42-1] at
6. More specifically, Edwards alleges that Sims forcibly
performed oral sex upon him. Id.
omnibus hearing, Edwards was given an opportunity to
elaborate upon his claims. As to his claims against Epps, he
testified that he had sued Epps because Epps was in charge of
the MDOC. [42-1] at 9. Edwards testified that he had sued
Holman because Holman was the superintendent of CMCF, Holman
had denied his request for an administrative remedy about the
assault and his request to be released pending the
investigation, and Holman “probably” knew that
Sims would sexually assault him based on other inmates'
statements. Id. at 10-13. Finally, Edwards testified
that he had sued Winkel because she was the warden, and that
she had knowledge of other sexual assaults by Sims against
other inmates. Id. at 13-14.
Summary Judgment Standard
of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure states, in relevant
part, that “[t]he court shall grant summary judgment if
the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any
material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a
matter of law." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). An issue of fact is
genuine if the "'evidence is sufficient to permit a
reasonable factfinder to return a verdict for the nonmoving
party.'" Lemoine v. New Horizons Ranch and
Center, 174 F.3d 629, 633 (5th Cir. 1999)(quoting
Colston v. Barnhart, 146 F.3d 282, 284 (5th Cir.),
cert. denied, 119 S.Ct. 618 (1998)). Issues of fact
are material if Aresolution of the issues might affect the
outcome of the suit under governing law."
Lemoine, 174 F.3d at 633. "Federal summary
judgment procedure requires the court to 'pierce through
the pleadings and their adroit craftsmanship to reach the
substance of the claim.'" Hicks v. Brysch,
989 F.Supp. 797, 806 (W.D. Tex. 1997)(citing Tacon Mech.
Contractors v. Aetna Cas. and Sur. Co., 65 F.3d 486, 488
(5th Cir. 1995)). The Court does not, "however, in the
absence of any proof, assume the nonmoving [or opposing]
party could or would prove the necessary facts."
Little v. Liquid Air Corp., 37 F.3d 1069, 1075 (5th
Cir. 1994)(en banc)(emphasis omitted). Moreover, the
non-moving party's burden to come forward with
"specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue
for trial, " Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S.
317, 323 (1986), is not satisfied by "conclusory
allegations" or by "unsubstantiated assertions,
" or by only a "scintilla" of evidence.
Little, 37 F.3d at 1075.
case alleging a failure to protect, the standard for
evaluating such claims is found in Farmer v.
Brennan, 511 U.S. 825 (1994). In Farmer, the
Supreme Court held that
a prison official cannot be found liable under the Eighth
Amendment for denying an inmate humane conditions of
confinement unless the official knows of and disregards an
excessive risk to inmate health or safety; the official must
both be aware of facts from which the inference could be
drawn that a substantial risk of harm exists, and he must
also draw the inference.
Farmer, 511 U.S. at 837.
considered Defendants' filings, Plaintiff's
responses, Plaintiff's omnibus hearing testimony, and the
Complaint, the Court finds that summary ...