United States District Court, D. Nebraska
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
RICHARD G. KOPF SENIOR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Earl Clayborne, Jr., an inmate at the Tecumseh State
Correctional Institution (“TSCI”), claims in this
§ 1983 action that the Director of the Nebraska
Department of Correctional Services (Scott Frakes, identified
in the Complaint as “Scott Franks”), the Warden
of TSCI (Brian Gage), an officer at TSCI (Adam Crop), and two
caseworkers at TSCI (Chelsea Guffrie and Paul Tompkins)
violated his Eighth Amendment rights by failing to protect
his safety during a prison riot that occurred at TSCI on May
10, 2015. The defendants, who are sued only in their
individual capacities, have moved for summary judgment on the
basis of qualified immunity. Their Motion for Summary
Judgment (Filing No. 50) will be granted, and the
plaintiff's action will be dismissed with prejudice.
Standard of Review
party may move for summary judgment, identifying each claim
or defense-or the part of each claim or defense-on which
summary judgment is sought. The 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. The court should state on the
record the reasons for granting or denying the motion”
Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(a).
ruling on a motion for summary judgment, the court must view
the evidence in the light most favorable to the non-moving
party, giving that party the benefit of all inferences that
may be reasonably drawn from the evidence. See
Dancy v. Hyster Co., 127 F.3d 649, 652-53 (8th Cir.
1997). It is not the court's function to weigh evidence
in the summary judgment record to determine the truth of any
factual issue; the court merely determines whether there is
evidence creating a genuine issue for trial. See Bell v.
Conopco, Inc., 186 F.3d 1099, 1101 (8th Cir. 1999).
moving party bears the burden of showing there are no genuine
issues of material fact. See Celotex Corp. v.
Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986). This burden
“may be discharged by ‘showing'-that is,
pointing out to the district court-that there is an absence
of evidence to support the nonmoving party's case.”
Id. at 325. The burden then shifts to the nonmoving
party, who “may not rest upon mere allegation or
denials of his pleading, but must set forth specific facts
showing that there is a genuine issue for trial.”
Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 256
(1986). “Where the record taken as a whole could not
lead a rational trier of fact to find for the nonmoving
party, there is no genuine issue for trial.”
Torgerson v. City of Rochester, 643 F.3d 1031, 1042
(8th Cir. 2011) (en banc) (quoting Ricci v.
DeStefano, 557 U.S. 557, 586 (2009)).
Plaintiff's Procedural Objection
has responded to the defendants' Motion for Summary
Judgment by arguing that it was not filed in a timely manner.
He points to a Memorandum and Order entered on April 22,
2016, in which the court granted the defendants a stay of
discovery but directed them “to file a motion for
summary judgment raising the issue of qualified immunity,
either by itself or in conjunction with the exhaustion issue,
within 21 days” (Filing No. 39 at CM/ECF p.
2). The defendants were advised that “[i]f such a
motion is not filed within 21 days, the court will enter an
order lifting the stay of discovery” (Id.).
stay of discovery was in fact lifted by the court on June 23,
2016, after the defendants filed a Motion for Summary
Judgment raising only the exhaustion issue (Filing No.
46). The current Motion was filed on August 12, 2016
(Filing No. 50).
to Clayborne's argument, the court's April 22, 2016
Memorandum and Order did not preclude the defendants from
filing sequential motions for summary judgment on the issues
of exhaustion and qualified immunity. The only consequence of
the defendants' failure to raise the qualified immunity
issue within 21 days was that Clayborne was permitted to
conduct discovery. The current Motion is timely.
2015, Clayborne was assigned to a cell in Housing Unit #2 at
TSCI. This housing unit holds inmates on protective custody
10, 2015, Crop, Guffrie (referred to in the plaintiff's
Complaint as “Guthrie”), and Tompkins were
working in Housing Unit #2. On this day, an inmate
disturbance occurred in which inmates gained control of the
facility for several hours, started fires, assaulted inmates,
and caused major property damage.
beginning of the disturbance, inmates started fires in
Housing Unit #2 near the control center where staff were
stationed. As a result of the smoke coming from the fires,
staff had to leave the control center and retreat to an
office in the lobby area for safety. Prior to leaving the
control center, staff placed the cell doors on “Group
Access” which allows inmates to either stay in their
cell or push a button which will open their cell door. At
this time the inmates were ...