United States District Court, N.D. Mississippi, Aberdeen Division
matter comes before the court on the pro se prisoner
complaint of Williams Griggs, who challenges the conditions
of his confinement under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. For the
purposes of the Prison Litigation Reform Act, the court notes
that the plaintiff was incarcerated when he filed this suit.
The plaintiff has brought die instant case under 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983, which provides a federal cause of action against
"[e]very person" who under color of state authority
causes the "deprivation of any rights, privileges, or
immunities secured by the Constitution and laws." 42
U.S.C. § 1983. The plaintiff alleges that the defendants
failed to protect him from attack by other inmates. The
defendants have moved for summary judgment; the plaintiff has
responded, and the matter is ripe for resolution. For the
reasons set forth below, the motion by the defendants for
summary judgment will be granted, and judgment will be
entered for the defendants.
judgment is appropriate if the "materials in the record,
including depositions, documents, electronically stored
information, affidavits or declarations, stipulations
(including those made for purposes of the motion only),
admissions, interrogatory answers, or other materials"
show 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) and (c)(1). "The
moving party must show that if the evidentiary material of
record were reduced to admissible evidence in court, it would
be insufficient to permit the nonmoving party to carry its
burden." Beck v. Texas State Bd. of Dental
Examiners, 204 F.3d 629, 633 (5th Or. 2000)
(citing Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317
(1986), cert, denied, 484 U.S. 1066 (1988)). After a
proper motion for summary judgment is made, the burden shifts
to the non-movant to set forth specific facts showing that
there is a genuine issue for trial. Anderson v. Liberty
Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 249, 106 S.Ct. 2505, 2511, 91
L.Ed.2d 202 (1986); Beck, 204 F.3d at 633; Allen
v. Rapides Parish School Bd., 204 F.3d 619, 621 (5* Or.
2000); Ragas v. Tennessee Gas Pipeline Company,
136F.3d455, 458(5thCir. 1998). Substantive law
determines what is material, Anderson, 477 U.S. at
249. "Only disputes over facts that might affect the
outcome of the suit under the governing law will properly
preclude the entry of summary judgment. Factual disputes that
are irrelevant or unnecessary will not be counted."
Id., at 248. If the non-movant sets forth specific
facts in support of allegations essential to his claim, a
genuine issue is presented. Celotex, 477 U.S. at
327. "Where the record, taken as a whole, could not lead
a rational trier of fact to find for the non-moving party,
diere is no genuine issue for trial." Matsushita
Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574,
587, 89 L.Ed.2d 538 (1986); Federal Savings and Loan,
Inc. v. Krajl, 968 F.2d 500, 503 (5mCir.
1992). The facts are reviewed drawing all reasonable
inferences in favor of the non-moving party. Allen,
204 F.3d at 621; PYCA Industries, Inc. v. Harrison County
Waste Water Management Dist, 177F.3d351, 161
(5th Cir. 1999); Banc One Capital Partners
Corp. v. Kneipper, 67 F.3d 1187, 1198 (5 Cir. 1995).
However, this is so only when there is "an actual
controversy, that is, when both parties have submitted
evidence of contradictory facts." Little v. Liquid
Air Corp., 37 F.3d 1069, 1075 (5th Cir.
1994); see Edwards v. Your Credit, Inc., 148 F.3d
427, 432 (5th Cir. 1998). In the absence of proof,
the court does not "assume that die nonmoving party
could or would prove the necessary facts."
Little, 37 F.3d at 1075 (emphasis omitted).
very purpose of summary judgment is to "pierce the
pleadings and assess the proof in order to see whether there
is a genuine issue for trial." Advisory Committee Note
to the 1963 Amendments to Rule 56. Indeed, "[f]he
amendment is not intended to derogate from the solemnity of
the pleadings[;] [r]ather, it recognizes that despite the
best efforts of counsel to make his pleadings accurate, they
may be overwhelmingly contradicted by the proof available to
his adversary." Id. The non-moving party (the
plaintiff in this case), must come forward with proof to
support each element of his claim. The plaintiff cannot meet
this burden with "some metaphysical doubt as to the
material facts, " Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co., Ltd.
v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586, 106 S.Ct.
1348, 1356 (1986), "conclusory allegations, "
Lujan v. National Wildlife Federation, 497 U.S. 871,
871-73, 110 S.Ct. 3177, 3180 (1990), "unsubstantiated
assertions, " Hopper v. Frank, 16 F.3d 92
(5m Cir. 1994), or by a mere "scintilla"
of evidence, Davis v. Chevron U.S.A., Inc., 14 F.3d
1082 (5th Cir. 1994). It would undermine the
purposes of summary judgment if a party could defeat such a
motion simply by "replac[ing] conclusory allegations of
the complaint or answer with conclusory allegations of an
affidavit." Lujan v. National Wildlife
Federation, 497 U.S. 871, 888, 110 S.Ct. 3177, 3188
(1990). In considering a motion for summary judgment, a court
must determine whether the non-moving party's allegations
arc plausible. Matsushita, supra, (emphasis added).
"[Determining whether a complaint states a plausible
claim is context-specific, requiring the reviewing court to
draw on its experience and common sense." Ashcroft
v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 129 S.Ct. 1937 (2009)
(discussing plausibility of claim as a requirement to survive
a motion to dismiss under Fed. R. Civ. R 12(b)(6)).
considering a motion for summary judgment, once the court
"has determined the relevant set of facts and drawn all
inferences in favor of the nonmoving party to the extent
supportable by the record, [the ultimate decision
becomes] purely a question of law." Scott v.
Harris, 550 U.S. 372, 381 (2007) (emphasis in original).
"When opposing parties tell two different stories, one
of which is blatantly contradicted by the record, so that no
reasonable jury could believe it, a court should not adopt
that version of the facts for purposes of ruling on the
motion for summary judgment." Id. at 380.
Griggs is an inmate in the custody of the Mississippi
Department of Corrections ("MDOC"). In his
complaint , he alleges that he was attacked by gang
members on March 7, 2016, while housed at the East
Mississippi Correctional Facility (EMCF) in Meridian,
Mississippi. He has named as defendants Marshall Fisher,
former Commissioner of MDOC, Ron King, Superintendent of
Central Mississippi Correctional Facility (CMCF) in Pearl,
Mississippi, and James Fill yaw, Deputy Warden of CMCF in
Pearl, Mississippi. None of these defendants worked at the
East Mississippi Correctional Facility, where the attack
Griggs alleges that while housed at CMCF in Pearl,
Mississippi, in September of 2015, he asked these three
defendants to place him in protective custody, but they did
not do so. He alleges that he wrote Commissioner Fisher
somewhere between September 1 and September 3, 2015,
requesting protective custody because gang members had placed
a "KOS" ("Kill on Sight") order against
6]. Griggs alleges that, prior to sending his request to the
Commissioner, he "sent out many hand-mails to Warden
Fill yaw." [1 at 6]. He alleges that on September 8,
2015, he received a response to his letter to Commissioner
Fisher from CMCF Superintendent Ron King, which read as
Your recent correspondence to the Commissioner's office
has been forwarded to the case manager and Deputy Warden at
CMCF R.C. In the future, please follow the proper chain of
command at the facility level for matters such as this.
[1 at 6].
was transferred from CMCF to South Mississippi Correctional
Institution (SMCI) in Leakesville, Mississippi on October 21,
2015, then to East Mississippi Correctional Facility in
Meridian, Mississippi on December 21, 2015. He alleges that
the attack occurred several months later on March 7, 2016,
while housed at EMCF. According to the Mississippi Department
of Corrections website, Mr. Griggs was most recently moved to
the Central Mississippi Correctional Facility on July 28,
2017, where he remains.
Griggs claims that the defendants failed to protect him from
attack by other inmates. "The Eighth Amendment affords
prisoners protection against injury at the hands of other
inmates." Johnson v. Lucas,786 F.2d 1254, 1259
(S* Or. 1986) (citations omitted). Deliberate indifference
"[is] die proper standard to apply in the context of
convicted prisoners who claim denial of medical care or the
failure to protect." Grabowski v. Jackson County
Public Defenders Office,47 F.3d 1386, 1396
(5th Cir. 1995). A prisoner plaintiff cannot show
that a prison official showed deliberate indifference unless
he can show that "the official [knew] of and
disregard[ed] an excessive risk to inmate health or
safety;" indeed, the official must have been aware of
facts giving rise to an inference that a substantial risk of
serious harm existed - and he must have drawn that inference.
Farmer v. Brennan,511 U.S. 825, 837(1994). An
inmate pursuing a claim for failure to protect may prove his
claim by showing that the defendants knew of a specific
threat to him but failed to take measures to protect from it.
Id. at 843. However, even in the absence of specific
threat, an inmate may prove a claim of failure to protect if
he can show that he was placed in a prison environment
"where terror reigns." Jones v. Diamond,
636 F.2d 1364(5th Cir. 1981), overruled on other
grounds by International Woodworkers of America, AFL-CIO
and its Local No. 5-376 v. Champion Intern. Corp., 790
F.2d 1174(5th Cir. 1986). This situation arises in
a jail or prison where officials permit violent offenders to
hold sway over part or all of the facility - creating "a
pervasive risk of harm and a failure to take reasonable steps
to prevent the known risk." Stokes v.
Delcambre,710 F.2d 1120 (5 Cir. 1983) (sheriff housed
college students arrested on a ...