United States District Court, S.D. Mississippi, Northern Division
MANAGEMENT & TRAINING CORPORATION, DEFENDANTS
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER DENYING DEFENDANT
SULEYMAN OZERDEN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
THE COURT are Defendant D.H.'s Motion for Judgment on the
Pleadings , and Plaintiff J.M.'s Motion for Partial
Summary Judgment , asking the Court to enter an Order
finding Defendant D.H. liable as a matter of law. These
Motions are fully briefed. After due consideration of the
Motions ,  the record, and relevant legal authority,
the Court finds that both Motions ,  should be
Management & Training Corporation (“MTC”) is
a private prison company operating under a contract with the
Mississippi Department of Corrections (“MDOC”)
for the management and oversight of the Walnut Grove
Correctional Facility (“WGCF”) in Walnut Grove,
Mississippi. Am. Comp.  at 2. According Plaintiff J.M.
(“Plaintiff”), while he was incarcerated at WGCF
on March 7, 2015, Defendant D.H.,  an MTC officer, sexually
assaulted him and his cellmate. Id. at 3. Plaintiff
claims that D.H. threatened him and his cellmate with
violence and/or recriminations following the assault in order
to prevent the men from exposing D.H.'s conduct to prison
officials or discussing the assault with anyone. Id.
Plaintiff alleges that despite the threats, on March 30,
2015, he filed a grievance with WGCF officials. Id.
also alleges that D.H. had engaged in prior similar conduct
of which MTC supervisors were aware. Id. at 4.
According to Plaintiff, “MTC was generally aware of
allegations regarding improper sexual conduct between
correctional officers and inmates prior to the
incident.” Id. However, Plaintiff maintains
that after he filed his grievance with officials, they took
no corrective measures nor commenced any disciplinary action
against D.H. Id. at 3.
November 19, 2015, Plaintiff filed a Complaint  against
MTC, asserting claims pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, for
negligent and/or grossly negligent hiring and supervision,
and for respondeat superior. Compl.  at 4-6. With leave of
Court, Plaintiff filed a First Amended Complaint  on
April 4, 2016, against MTC and individual Defendant D.H. The
First Amended Complaint  advances claims pursuant to 42
U.S.C. § 1983 against MTC and D.H. and claims for
negligent and/or grossly negligent hiring and supervision and
respondeat superior/vicarious liability against MTC.
Id. at 4-6. Plaintiff maintains that Defendants
violated his rights under the Eighth and Fourteenth
Amendments to the United States Constitution. Id. at
March 24, 2017, Plaintiff filed a Motion for Partial Summary
Judgment , asserting that “there is no genuine
issue of material fact regarding whether D.H. sexually
assaulted J.M. As such, J.M. is entitled to partial summary
judgment on liability as to his claims against D.H.”
Mem.  at 1. Plaintiff seeks “an Order finding the
Defendant, D.H., liable as a matter of law.”
Id. at 5. D.H. responds that Plaintiff's First
Amended Complaint  “is completely void of
sufficient factual matter stating any claim against [D.H.],
and therefore fails to state any claim against [D.H.] upon
which relief can be granted.” Mem.  at 2. D.H.
alternatively argues that genuine issues of material fact
exist which preclude summary judgment. Id.
March 24, 2017, D.H. filed a Motion for Judgment on the
Pleadings  pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure
12(c). D.H. argues that, as to each of Plaintiff's
claims, his “First Amended Complaint, on its face, is
completely void of sufficient factual matter stating a claim
against D.H., and D.H. should therefore be dismissed from
this cause of action.” Mot.  at 2-3. Plaintiff
responds that D.H. ignores portions of the First Amended
Complaint, that this pleading states a valid claim for relief
against D.H., and that the Motion should be denied. Resp.
 at 3-4.
D.H.'s Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings 
should be denied.
Relevant legal authority
United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit has held
that the standard applicable to a Rule 12(c) motion for
judgment on the pleadings is the same as that for a Rule
12(b)(6) motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim.
Bosarge v. Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics, 796 F.3d
435, 439 (5th Cir. 2015). “To survive a motion to
dismiss, a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter,
accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is
plausible on its face.” Id. (quoting
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009)).
claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads
factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable
inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct
alleged.” Id. (quoting Iqbal, 556
U.S. at 678). A pleading is not sufficient, however, if it
offers mere labels and conclusions, a formulaic recitation of
the elements of a cause of action, or naked assertions devoid
of further factual enhancement. Id.
advances claims against D.H. under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for
alleged violations of the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments.
“Section 1983 liability results when a
‘person' acting ‘under color of' state
law, deprives another of rights ‘secured by the
Constitution' or federal law.” Doe v. United
States, 831 F.3d 309, 314 (5th Cir. 2016) (quoting 42
U.S.C. § 1983). “A Section 1983 claim requires
that a plaintiff (1) allege a violation of a right secured by
the Constitution or laws of the United States and (2)
demonstrate that the alleged deprivation was committed by a
person acting under color of state law.” Doe v.
Columbia-Brazoria Indep. Sch. Dist. by & through Bd. of
Trustees, 855 F.3d 681, 687 (5th Cir. 2017) (quotation
Eighth Amendment's prohibition of ‘cruel and
unusual' punishments necessarily excludes from
constitutional recognition de minimis uses of
physical force, provided that the use of force is not of a
sort ‘repugnant to the conscience of
mankind.'” Copeland v. Nunan, 250 F.3d
743, 2001 WL 274738, at *2 (5th Cir. 2001) (quoting
Hudson v. McMillian, 503 U.S. 1, 9-10 (1992)). In an
unpublished opinion, however, the Fifth Circuit has held that
“sexual assaults against inmates by prison guards
without lasting physical injury may be actionable under the
Eighth Amendment as acts which are ‘offensive to human
dignity.'” Id. (quoting Schwenk v.
Hartford, 204 F.3d 1187, 1196-97 (9th Cir. 2000)).
The First Amended Complaint states a claim for ...