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Williams v. Banks

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

September 26, 2017

RANDY C. WILLIAMS PLAINTIFF
v.
JACQUELINE BANKS, et al. DEFENDANTS

          ORDER DENYING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION TO SHOW CAUSE (ECF NO. 36) AND GRANTING DEFENDANTS' MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT (ECF NO. 41)

          JOHN C. GARGIULO, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         BEFORE THE COURT are cross motions for summary judgment: a motion filed by Plaintiff Randy C. Williams entitled Motion to Show Cause (ECF No. 36), which the Court construes as a motion for summary judgment, and a Motion for Summary Judgment (ECF No. 41) filed by Defendants Jacqueline Banks, Hubert Davis, Ron King, Timothy Morris, Jennifer Roberts, and Unknown Coleman. Plaintiff filed a Response in Opposition (ECF No. 44) to Defendants' Motion, but Defendants have not responded to Plaintiff's Motion or rebutted Plaintiff's Response in Opposition. Accordingly, the Court proceeds without the benefit of full briefing on the instant motions. Having considered the submissions of the parties, the record as a whole, and relevant law, the Court finds that Plaintiff's Motion to Show Cause (ECF No. 36) should be DENIED and Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment (ECF No. 41) should be GRANTED.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff Randy C. Williams filed his Complaint (ECF No. 1) on November 30, 2015. He amended his claims and added new defendants through numerous subsequent filings (ECF No. 9), (ECF No. 12), (ECF No. 16), (ECF No. 17), (ECF No. 18), and supplemented his claims through testimony at an omnibus hearing[1] held December 8, 2016. Plaintiff is a post-conviction inmate in the custody of the Mississippi Department of Corrections (“MDOC”) and is currently housed at Wilkinson County Correctional Facility (“WCCF”) in Woodville, Mississippi. However, the events forming the basis of Plaintiff's suit occurred while he was housed at South Mississippi Correctional Institution (“SMCI”) in Leakesville, Mississippi. Proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis, Mr. Williams alleges that Defendants violated his constitutional rights by failing to protect him from a fellow inmate who posed a known threat to Mr. William's safety. He seeks $750, 000 in damages pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for violations of his rights under the Eight and Fourteenth Amendments of the United States Constitution.

         Plaintiff asserts that, on July 26, 2015, while housed in the protective custody zone at SMCI, Eric Ward, a fellow inmate, stabbed Williams several times in the back of the head and arm while he was watching television. Because “no officers would[] come on the zone[, ] another inmate … had to stop the stabbing.” (ECF No. 9, at 3). This apparently happened only an hour or so after Ward was moved into the same protective custody zone. He says Ward was moved to his zone because Ward had stabbed another inmate the day prior on another protective custody zone. Id. Williams says he suffered “multiple seizure[s]” as a result of the stabbing, and had to be “rush[ed] to the hospital by helicopter” because of the severity of his injuries. (ECF No. 1, at 4).

         He testified at his omnibus hearing that, at the time of this incident, he only knew of Ward through gang-related business and knew of him by his nickname “E.” Williams says Ward is a member of the Vice Lords gang, which had put a hit on him in retaliation for Williams' past participation in some inter-gang conflict. Prior to Ward entering his protective custody zone, there had been no Vice Lord members housed on the zone. He said he had been stabbed in 2012 by another member of the Vice Lords and had been stabbed a second time about a month prior to the July 26, 2015 incident (although he did not specify whether this assailant was a Vice Lord). Williams used to be a high ranking member of the Gangster Disciples gang but says he walked away from his gang affiliation in 2014; however, this decision did not eliminate the target placed on his back by the Vice Lords.

         He testified that he did not perceive Ward to be a threat when Ward was moved to his zone, but asserts that Defendants should have known Ward to be a threat because Ward had recently stabbed another inmate the day prior. However, Williams stipulated that he does not believe Defendants moved Ward to his zone so that Ward would harm him. He asserts that Defendants collectively (1) failed to protect him from inmate Eric Ward, (2) failed to house him in a safe location, and (3) failed to follow SMCI policies and procedures. See (ECF No. 9, at 2-6); (ECF No. 12, at 1-2); (ECF No. 17, at 2-3).

         On January 9, 2017, Plaintiff filed the instant Motion to Show Cause (ECF No. 36), which the Court construes as a motion for summary judgment. Defendants thereafter filed their Motion for Summary Judgment (ECF No. 41) on March 13, 2017.

         II. DISCUSSION

         A. Legal Standard

         a. Summary Judgment

         Summary Judgment is mandated against the party who fails to make a showing sufficient to establish the existence of an element essential to that party's case and on which that party has the burden of proof at trial. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e); Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986). A motion for summary judgment shall be granted “if the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute of material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). In evaluating a motion for summary judgment, the Court must construe “all facts and inferences in the light most favorable to the non-moving party.” McFaul v. Valenzuela, 684 F.3d 564, 571 (5th Cir. 2012).

         The movant bears the initial burden of identifying those portions of the pleadings and discovery on file, together with any affidavits, which they believe demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of material fact. Celotex, 477 U.S. at 323-25. If the movant carries this burden, the burden shifts to the non-moving party to show that summary judgment should not be granted. Id. at 324-25.

         The Plaintiff may not rest upon mere allegations in his Complaint, but must set forth specific facts showing the existence of a genuine issue for trial. Abarca v. Metro Transit Auth., 404 F.3d 938, 940 (5th Cir. 2005). In the absence of any proof, the Court will not assume that Plaintiff “could or would prove the ...


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