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Buchanan v. Hurt

United States District Court, D. Nebraska

July 26, 2016

JESSICO BUCHANAN, Plaintiff,
v.
HURT, Corporal, All defendants sued in their individual and official capacity, KLINE, Officer, All defendants sued in their individual and official capacity, STEINBECK, Sgt., All defendants sued in their individual and official capacity, DENNIS BAKEWELL, All defendants sued in their individual and official capacity, and ROBERT HOUSTON, All defendants sued in their individual and official capacity, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          Richard G. Kopf Senior United States District Judge.

         This matter is before the court on the Motion to Dismiss brought by Defendants Corporal Hurt (“Hurt”) and Officer Kline (“Kline”). (Filing No. 69.) For the reasons explained below, the motion will be granted, in part.

         I. SUMMARY OF COMPLAINT

         Plaintiff, who is currently incarcerated at the Lincoln Correctional Center in Lincoln, Nebraska, filed this action on September 25, 2013, alleging claims against Hurt, Kline, Steinbeck, Bakewell, and Houston in both their individual and official capacities. (Filing No. 1.)

         Plaintiff’s Complaint alleges that on September 13, 2013, while he was incarcerated at the Diagnostic and Evaluation Center, he informed officer “Dixon” that another inmate named “Harris” had threatened him. The next morning, Plaintiff informed Hurt that Harris had threatened to kill Plaintiff and that Harris had removed his shoelaces. Later that day, Harris used the shoelaces to assault and choke Plaintiff. During the assault, Harris bit Plaintiff, injuring Plaintiff’s back, and Hurt sprayed Plaintiff with mace. After the assault, Plaintiff was placed in segregation and requested medical attention for his injuries on three separate occasions. However, Plaintiff’s requests were ignored.

         Plaintiff alleges that Dixon had made arrangements for Plaintiff to be moved into another cell prior to Harris’s attack, but that Steinbeck prevented the move. Plaintiff claims that Steinbeck and Hurt knew that Harris posed a threat to Plaintiff’s safety, but failed to take measures to protect him.

         Plaintiff further alleges that Hurt and Kline falsified their incident reports regarding Harris’s assault. Plaintiff maintains that Hurt and Kline have an established practice of treating black inmates differently than white inmates.

         II. PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         On April 15, 2014, the court conducted an initial review of Plaintiff’s Complaint in accordance with 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2). (See Filing No. 13.) The court determined that Plaintiff’s monetary-damages claims against Defendants in their official capacities were barred by the Eleventh Amendment’s grant of sovereign immunity to the states. (Filing No. 13 at CM/ECF p. 13.) The court found that Plaintiff’s Eighth Amendment failure-to-protect and deliberate indifference claims against Defendants in their individual capacities could proceed to service of process.

         On February 23, 2015, Defendants filed a motion to dismiss (Filing No. 39), arguing that Plaintiff’s state-law claims were barred because Plaintiff did not allege that he pursued administrative relief by filing a claim with the State Tort Claims Board as required by Nebraska state law. On July 20, 2015, the court granted Defendants’ motion, in part, and dismissed Plaintiff’s state law claims without prejudice. (Filing No. 46.)

         Defendants Steinbeck, Bakewell, and Houston filed another motion to dismiss on October 6, 2015. (Filing No. 56.) The court granted the motion, in part, and dismissed Plaintiff’s claims against Steinbeck alleging deliberate indifference to medical needs and equal protection violations. (Filing No. 62.) The court also dismissed Bakewell and Houston from the action. However, the court found that Plaintiff had managed to state a plausible failure-to-protect claim against Steinbeck.

         III. DISCUSSION

         The only remaining claims in this action are Plaintiff’s Eighth Amendment claim for failure-to-protect against Steinbeck in his individual capacity, and Plaintiff’s Eighth Amendment individual capacity claims against Hurt and Kline. Because the court already determined that the failure-to-protect claim can proceed against Steinbeck, ...


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