United States District Court, S.D. Mississippi, Northern Division
MARCUS E. MALLETT PLAINTIFF
WARDEN MARY RUSHING, SHERIFF VICTOR P. MASON, DEPUTY DEWAYNE OWENS, CEDRICK LACY, and DEONTE ALLEN DEFENDANTS
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
Keith Ball United States Magistrate Judge.
case is before the undersigned for Report and Recommendation
on Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment . After
considering the parties' filings and Plaintiff Marcus
Mallett's testimony, the undersigned finds as follows.
Mallett is an inmate in the custody of the Mississippi
Department of Corrections (“MDOC”). He is
currently housed at the Central Mississippi Correctional
Facility (“CMCF”).However, the events giving rise to
this suit took place while he was a pretrial detainee housed
at the Hinds County Detention Center (“HCDC”). He
is proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis.
He claims that Defendants violated his constitutional rights
and has brought this suit pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983.
primary allegation is that on or about May 6, 2017, three
Hinds County Sheriff's Deputies, Dewayne Owens, Cedrick
Lacy, and Deonte Allen, used excessive force against him
following a disturbance started by other inmates. Mallett
claims that Allen sprayed him with mace, hit him, and kicked
him several times, despite Mallett's contention that he
played no role in the inmate disturbance.  at 1;  at
8, 10-11. According to Mallett, Owens and Lacy then beat him,
“hit[ting him] in [the] face, . . . body,
everywhere” and stomped on him.  at 1;  at 8.
Mallett contends that Owens struck him more than twenty
times, “busted [his] lip” and left him with a
“scar on [his] face.”  at 9. Lacy hit him
“about ten times” in the cell, and then continued
striking him once he had taken Mallett into a room without
cameras. Id. at 9-10. Approximately an hour after
the incident, officers took Mallett to the jail's medical
facility. Id. at 11. He was eventually taken to the
hospital for treatment. Id. at 11-12. He claims he
suffered injuries to his back, head, and mouth. Id.
at 12. In addition to the scar on his face, he claims he
suffers headaches as a result of the incident. Id.
Court held an omnibus hearing in this matter on July 2, 2018.
At the hearing, Mallett testified that he was suing Warden
Rushing because she “authorized these folks to jump on
us. [She] authorized these folks to come down there and beat
us up down there and hurt us down there.” Id.
at 14. He further testified that while he could not say
whether she told the offers to attack him personally, she put
in place a rule that he described as, “[w]hen the
inmates don't do what y'all want them to do,
y'all do what y'all got to do to the inmates.”
Id. at 15. As for why he was suing Sheriff Mason,
Mallett testified that he had personally heard Sheriff Mason
direct officers to beat him because Mason believed Mallett to
be the leader of the Vice Lords gang within the facility.
Id. However, Mallett later clarified that
Mason's comment was not related to the incident at issue
in this lawsuit, but to a different incident. Id. at
also complains that the cell in which he was housed did not
have adequate light or air circulation. Id. at
12-13. While the jail has lights in the common areas, and the
cells have windows that let in sunlight, Mallett contends
that the cells themselves do not have lights inside them.
response, Defendants contend that Owens, Lacy, and
Allen's use of force was justified. According to them,
Mallett did not follow verbal commands and
“aggressively moved toward Deputy Owens with a clinched
fist.”  at 2. They contend that the three deputies
were required to use force to remove Mallett from his cell in
order to “protect themselves and the general public
from Plaintiff as he was agitated and combative.”
Id. Defendants acknowledge that Mallett received
medical treatment for a “busted lip &
bruises.” Id. They further acknowledge that he
required stiches in his lip following the incident.
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, 525 U.S. 1054, (1998)). Issues of fact
are material if “resolution of the issues might affect
the outcome of the suit under governing law."
Lemoine, 174 F.3d at 633. 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
Mallett's Excessive Force Claims
Owens, and Lacy have asserted qualified immunity. “The
threshold inquiry a court must undertake in a qualified
immunity analysis is whether plaintiff's allegations, if
true, establish a constitutional violation.”
Rodriguez v. Lozano, 108 Fed.Appx. 823, 827 (5th
Cir. 2004)(quoting Hope v. Pelzer, 536 U.S. 730, 736
(2002)). “If the allegations establish a constitutional
violation, the court next considers whether the
defendants' actions violated ‘clearly established
statutory or constitutional rights of which a reasonable
person would have known.'” Id. (quoting
Hope, 536 U.S. at 739). “If these two
questions are answered in the affirmative, the court must
next determine ‘whether the record at least gives rise
to a genuine issue of material fact as to whether the
defendants actually engaged in the conduct that violated this
clearly established right.'” Id. (quoting
Wallace v. Wellborn, 204 F.3d 165, 167 (5th Cir.
do not contest that they used physical force against Mallett.
They also do not contest that their use of force resulted in
injuries to Mallett that required treatment at a local
hospital. Mallett alleges that the use of force and resulting
injuries occurred without provocation and amounted to an
unconstitutional use of excessive force. If Mallett's
allegations are true, they would establish a constitutional
violation. Further, a reasonable person would have known that
a pretrial detainee has a constitutional right not to be
physically harmed by corrections personnel absent sufficient
justification. Although Defendants have provided evidence to
support their claim that the use of force was justified,
their evidence is in direct contradiction to Mallett's
testimony given under oath, creating a genuine issue of
material fact. Accordingly, Allen, ...