United States District Court, S.D. Mississippi, Northern Division
SANDRA FAY GIPSON, AS ADMINISTRATRIX OF AND PERSONAL REPRESENTATIVE ON BEHALF OF THE WRONGFUL DEATH BENEFICIARIES OF THE ESTATE OF CHARLES ELLIOT MCGREW PLAINTIFF
MANAGEMENT & TRAINING CORPORATION AND JOHN AND JANE DOES 1-100 DEFENDANTS
P. JORDAN, III CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Sandra Gipson has sued Defendant Management & Training
Corporation (“MTC”) on behalf of the estate of
Charles McGrew-McGrew died as an inmate in a prison MTC
managed. This case is before the Court on two motions:
MTC's Motion for Summary Judgment  and Gipson's
Motion for Adverse Inference  based on alleged
spoliation. For the reasons that follow, the Court finds that
both motions should be denied, although Gipson's motion
will be denied without prejudice because it is premature.
10, 2014, inmate Brian Bullock murdered McGrew in his cell at
MTC's East Mississippi Correctional Facility
(“EMCF”). Bullock attempted to cover up the
murder by staging it as a suicide but eventually confessed.
In her suit, Gipson asserts Eighth Amendment claims under 42
U.S.C. § 1983 and negligence-based claims under state
law. The Court has both personal and subject-matter
Motion for Summary Judgment
judgment is warranted under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure
56(a) when the evidence reveals no genuine dispute regarding
any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to
judgment as a matter of law. The rule “mandates the
entry of summary judgment, after adequate time for discovery
and upon motion, against a 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 will bear
the burden of proof at trial.” Celotex Corp. v.
Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986).
party moving for summary judgment “bears the initial
responsibility of informing the district court of the basis
for its motion, and identifying those portions of [the
record] which it believes demonstrate the absence of a
genuine issue of material fact.” Id. at 323.
The nonmoving party must then “go beyond the
pleadings” and “designate ‘specific facts
showing that there is a genuine issue for trial.'”
Id. at 324 (citation omitted). In reviewing the
evidence, factual controversies are to be resolved in favor
of the nonmovant, “but only when . . . both parties
have submitted evidence of contradictory facts.”
Little v. Liquid Air Corp., 37 F.3d 1069, 1075 (5th
Cir. 1994) (en banc). When such contradictory facts exist,
the court may “not make credibility determinations or
weigh the evidence.” Reeves v. Sanderson Plumbing
Prods., Inc., 530 U.S. 133, 150 (2000). Conclusory
allegations, speculation, unsubstantiated assertions, and
legalistic arguments have never constituted an adequate
substitute for specific facts showing a genuine issue for
trial. See TIG Ins. Co. v. Sedgwick James of Wash.,
276 F.3d 754, 759 (5th Cir. 2002); Little, 37 F.3d
at 1075; SEC v. Recile, 10 F.3d 1093, 1097 (5th Cir.
case, MTC seeks summary judgment as to Gipson's §
1983 claims and her state-law claims. Because the issues
related to the state-law claims are more obvious, the Court
will begin there.
says MTC is vicariously liable because its employees
negligently failed to protect McGrew and that MTC is directly
liable for negligently hiring, training, and supervising its
officers. To succeed on a negligence claim, a plaintiff must
establish four familiar elements: duty, breach of duty,
causation, and damages. Grisham v. John Q. Long V.F.W.
Post, No. 4057, Inc., 519 So.2d 413, 416 (Miss. 1988).
starts its motion with the first element, arguing that as
“the operator of a large prison with convicted
inmates[, it] owes no general duty to keep every prisoner
free from harm.” Def.'s Mem.  at 13. It
explains that while Mississippi jailers may have a duty of
reasonable care, the state has not extended that duty to
large prison facilities like EMCF. Id. at 14. So the
Court must first determine whether MTC owed McGrew the duty
of reasonable care.
bases its duty argument on Bogard v. Cook, where the
district court held that supervisory officers employed by the
state at its maximum-security prison in Parchman,
Mississippi, were not subject to a simple-negligence standard
under common law. 405 F.Supp. 1202, 1215-16 (N.D. Miss.
1975), aff'd, 586 F.2d 399 (5th Cir. 1978). In
reaching that result, the court distinguished cases holding
county sheriffs liable for negligence:
It would be rare for a sheriff to have custody of more than
two dozen prisoners at any time, at least half of whom would
probably be pre-trial detainees rather than persons serving
time pursuant to a conviction and sentence of a state court.
On the other hand, we have seen that the superintendent at
Parchman is charged with the custody of approximately 2000
inmates, all of whom are convicted felons.
Id. at 1215-16 (distinguishing Farmer v.
State, 79 So.2d 528 (1955); Mississippi v.
Durham, 444 F.2d 152, 157 (5th Cir. 1971)). MTC seizes
on this language and argues that because EMCF is large, there
can be no claim for negligence against MTC.
reads too much into this dicta. Significantly,
Bogard addressed “the test for immunity of
public officials” facing common-law claims for acts
taken within the scope of their authority. Id. at
1215. Indeed the Fifth Circuit affirmed on that same basis.
See Bogard, 586 F.2d at 401 (“[T]he qualified
immunity enjoyed by all the employee-defendants could not be
overcome on the basis of simple negligence.”).
for MTC, it is not an individual state official as in
Bogard, and it is not otherwise entitled to
immunity. Miss. Code Ann. § 47-5-1219(b) (establishing
that sovereign immunity does not extend to private-prison
contractors); Richardson v. McKnight, 521 U.S. 399,
405-06, 412 (1997) (finding “no evidence” that
pre-section 1983 common law “gave purely private
companies or their employees any special immunity from
suits”); see also Leavitt v. Carter, 178 So.3d
334, 339 (Miss. Ct. App. 2012) (holding that “the
immunity conferred under the MTCA does not apply to private
prisons operated under a contract with the State”).
Absent an argument that MTC enjoys immunity from suit,
Bogard is inapplicable.
from Bogard, MTC offers no legal authority
suggesting that the size of an entity shields it from the
duty of reasonable care. To the contrary, other courts have
applied that standard to private-prison entities-including
MTC. See Lonoaea v. Corr. Corp. of Am., 665
F.Supp.2d 677, 682 (N.D. Miss. 2009) (“The court agrees
that plaintiffs have established triable fact issues
regarding whether [Corrections Corporation of America] acted
negligently in this case.”); Elliott v. Mgmt. &
Training Corp., No. 3:16-CV-088-MPM-JMV, 2017 WL
3089693, at *11 (N.D. Miss. July 19, 2017) (applying
negligence standard to MTC).
MTC owed McGrew the duty of reasonable care, the Court must
next consider MTC's argument that Gipson has not offered
sufficient proof supporting her negligence claims. MTC starts
by asserting that the vicarious-liability claims fail because
Gipson has not identified any MTC employees whose negligence
proximately caused McGrew's death. Def.'s Mem. 
at 15. It is not clear whether MTC's argument is legally
correct, and it offers no authority directly supporting it.
Id. Regardless, Gipson ...