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Watts v. Pickett

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

October 22, 2019




         THIS MATTER is before the Court on Motion [65] for Summary Judgment filed by Defendants Jody Bradley, Richard Pickett, Diania Walker, and Gabriel Walker along with Motion [67] for Summary Judgment filed by Plaintiff. Having carefully considered the parties' submission and the applicable law, the undersigned recommends that Defendants' Motion [65] be granted in part and denied in part and Plaintiff's Motion [67] be denied.


         Plaintiff, proceeding pro se, is a post-conviction inmate in the custody of the Mississippi Department of Corrections (“MDOC”). He filed this civil-rights lawsuit on March 27, 2017 alleging that several prison officials failed to protect him from harm from other inmates while he was housed at Wilkinson County Correctional Facility (“WCCF”). An omnibus hearing was held on August 14, 2017 to clarify and amend Plaintiff's claims.

         Plaintiff alleges that on November 7, 2016, he was housed in protective custody “Delta Pod” in cell 212. He was an orderly at the prison and part of his duties included passing out food and cleaning the cell zone. He alleges that Defendant Officer Richard Pickett entered his zone early that morning and while Pickett was on the zone and within earshot, inmates Randy Williams, Phillip McClendon, Leo Perez, and Gary Hughes, in cells 109 and 110, were yelling that they were going to attack Plaintiff when he passed out breakfast trays that morning.

         Plaintiff claims that Officer Pickett then unlocked cells 109 and 110 despite instruction from another correctional officer that the only cells to be opened that morning were Plaintiff's cell (212) and inmate Kenneth Brewer's cell (209). Plaintiff testified under oath that when Pickett came to unlock his cell, he told Pickett that he did not want to come out that morning to do his orderly duties because these four inmates were threatening him. Plaintiff claims that Pickett unlocked his cell despite being informed of the threats and left. Plaintiff alleges that when he went to get the trays from Pickett, inmate Randy Williams entered Plaintiff's unlocked cell and hid inside. Plaintiff then passed out the breakfast trays, and Pickett left the zone.

         Plaintiff maintains that once he passed out breakfast he returned to his cell and was assaulted by Randy Williams who was hidden in his cell. He claims that Williams stabbed him and bit him. As Plaintiff fought Williams off, Williams called for help.

         Phillip McClendon, Leo Perez, and Gary Hughes then entered the cell and assaulted him as well. McClendon allegedly stabbed him in the leg, and they then stole his belongings. Plaintiff testified that several officers then entered the zone and controlled the situation. After the attack, Plaintiff was taken for medical attention.

         Plaintiff claims that when he was receiving medical treatment after the attack he told both Unit Manager Diania Walker and Deputy Warden Gabriel Walker to put “red tags” on the inmates who assaulted him. Red tags are requests to be kept separate from other inmates. When an inmate red tags another inmate, those two inmates are not permitted to have any interaction and will not be allowed out of their cells at the same time if housed on the same unit. After Plaintiff received medical attention, Diania Walker took him to long-term segregation.

         Plaintiff asserts that Diania Walker then came to his cell on December 12, 2016 and told him he was being transferred back to D-Pod. Plaintiff objected to being moved back to where he was assaulted. Plaintiff claims that Deputy Warden Gabriel Walker ordered Diania Walker to put him back in D-Pod. Plaintiff testified that he was not assaulted when he was put back in D-Pod, but that on May 30, 2017, he set a fire so that he would be removed from the zone. At the time of the omnibus hearing, Plaintiff was no longer housed on D-Pod.

         Plaintiff sues Defendant Pickett and Defendant Bradley for failing to protect him from the assault on November 7, 2016. He sues Defendant Diania Walker, Defendant Gabriel Walker, and Defendant Bradley for failing to protect him when he was placed back on Delta Pod on December 12, 2016. Defendants filed their Motion [65] for Summary Judgment on May 10, 2019. Plaintiff did not respond to Motion [65] and the time for doing so has expired. On May 28, 2019, Plaintiff filed his Motion [67] for Summary Judgment. Defendants filed their Response [71], and both motions are now ripe for consideration.


         Summary Judgment Standard

         “[S]ummary judgment is proper if the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986) (internal quotations omitted). The Court must view the evidence in the light most favorable to the non-moving party. Causey v. Sewell Cadillac-Chevrolet, Inc., 394 F.3d 285, 288 (5th Cir. 2004). If the moving party meets its burden, the “nonmovant must go ...

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