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Martin v. Huapilla

United States District Court, M.D. Florida, Fort Myers Division

January 10, 2017

TAYLOR MARTIN, Plaintiff,
v.
MIGUEL HUAPILLA, DAYTON GASTON, JOSEPH PEAKS, and MIKE SCOTT, as the Sheriff of Lee County, Defendants.

          OPINION AND ORDER

          JOHN E. STEELE, SENIOR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Plaintiff initiated this action on July 6, 2016 by filing a complaint against Defendants Dayton Gaston, Miguel Huapilla, Joseph Peaks, and Sheriff Mike Scott raising both civil rights and state law claims based upon injuries he received while incarcerated at the Lee County Jail (Doc. 1). The defendants filed a motion to dismiss the complaint (Doc. 15). Thereafter, Plaintiff filed the amended complaint before the Court (Doc. 18). The following are currently under consideration:

Defendant Sheriff Mike Scott's Motion to Dismiss Count Five of Plaintiff's Amended Complaint (Doc. 20, filed August 24, 2016); and
Plaintiff's Response in Opposition to Defendant Scott's Motion to Dismiss Count Five of Plaintiff's Amended Complaint (Doc. 22, filed September 7, 2016).

         For the reasons set forth in this Order, Defendant Scott's Motion to Dismiss Count Five of the amended complaint is denied. Because Plaintiff filed an amended complaint, the defendants' motion to dismiss the original complaint (Doc. 15) is denied as moot. See Lowery v. Ala. Power Co., 483 F.3d 1184, 1219 (11th Cir. 2007) (“[A]n amended complaint supersedes the initial complaint and becomes the operative pleading in the case.”).

         I. Pleadings

         a. Amended Complaint

         On or about September 12, 2014, Plaintiff was arrested and incarcerated in the Lee County Jail (Doc. 18 at ¶ 15). On September 24, 2014, Plaintiff was relocated from one portion of the jail to Dormitory 5 South (D5S), a specialized housing unit typically used to house inmates with known mental health issues. Id. at ¶ 20. D5S contained approximately eight to ten nine-foot-square cells with glass walls and a glass door with a center food tray slot. Id. at ¶¶ 27-29. Each cell faced a central observation desk. Id. at ¶ 30.

         Defendants Gaston and Huapilla escorted Plaintiff to D5S, and Defendant Peaks was there when they arrived (Doc. 18 at 31-33). Plaintiff was ordered to change into a thin Velcro jumpsuit with nothing underneath-the typical uniform of a direct observation unit. Id. at ¶ 34. Plaintiff observed another inmate (“Inmate Doe”), naked in one of the direct observation cells. Id. at ¶ 35. Inmate Doe was agitated and defiant and did not comply with the orders of Defendant Peaks. Id. at ¶ 37. Inmate Doe appeared to have orange residue on his body, and Plaintiff could smell pepper spray in the air. Id. at ¶ 39. Plaintiff expressed concern about being placed into Inmate Doe's cell due to Doe's agitated and defiant state. Id. at ¶ 40. However, Defendant Peaks told Plaintiff to be quiet and directed him into Doe's cell. Id. at ¶¶ 41-42. At the time, Plaintiff had not been diagnosed with mental illness. Id. at ¶ 43. Inmate Doe was six feet tall and weighed 250 pounds, whereas Plaintiff weighed only 130 pounds. Id.at ¶¶ 46-47. There was at least one unoccupied cell in D5S. Id. at ¶ 48.

         Plaintiff sat on a mattress on the floor of the cell, but within moments, Inmate Doe began taunting and challenging him to a fight (Doc. 18 at ¶¶ 50-51). Plaintiff banged on the glass window to summon help, and Defendant Huapilla told Plaintiff to ignore Inmate Doe. Id.at ¶¶ 52-53. Defendant Huapilla told Plaintiff that he and the other deputies would “handle it” if Inmate Doe continued. Id. at ¶ 53. Inmate Doe persisted, and hit Plaintiff with his mattress. Id. at ¶ 55. Plaintiff was again rebuffed by Defendant Huapilla. Id. at ¶¶ 55-56.

         Inmate Doe continued to hit Plaintiff with his mattress, ramble incoherently, and challenged him to fight (Doc. 19 at ¶ 57). Defendant Huapilla told Inmate Doe to Stop, but he continued to harass and batter Plaintiff. Id. at ¶¶ 58-59. Defendant Huapilla then sprayed pepper spray into the cell at Inmate Doe while Plaintiff was still inside. Id. at ¶ 61. Instead of ceasing his aggressive conduct, Inmate Doe became enraged and began striking Plaintiff. Id. at ¶ 63-64. Defendant Huapilla then fogged the cell with pepper spray. Id. at ¶ 65.

         Inmate Doe grabbed Plaintiff and placed him in a choke hold (Doc. 19 at ¶ 67). No defendant attempted to enter the cell to stop the attack. Id. at ¶ 68. Instead, Defendant Huapilla attempted to use a taser on Inmate Doe, firing through the food tray slot. Id. at ¶ 69. The taser caused Inmate Doe to increase his violence, and he began striking Plaintiff with closed fists. Id. Defendant Huapilla tried using the taser again. Id. at ¶ 70.

         Thereafter, Plaintiff was able to escape Inmate Doe's grasp (Doc. 18 at ¶ 71). Defendant Huapilla then ordered Plaintiff to go to the cell door, place his hands behind his back, and put his hands through the food tray slot. Id. at ¶ 72. Plaintiff complied, and Defendant Huapilla handcuffed Plaintiff while he was still inside the cell with Inmate Doe; however, Defendant Huapilla did not open the cell door to remove Plaintiff from the cell. Id. at ¶ 74. At that point, Inmate Doe lunged at Plaintiff who was still handcuffed. Id. at ¶ 77. Inmate Doe grabbed Plaintiff's testicles and began forcefully pulling and tearing Plaintiff's scrotum. Id. at ¶ 78. Plaintiff could not protect himself. Id. at ¶ 79.

         No defendant or any other corrections officer made an effort to enter the cell (Doc. 18 at ¶ 80). Instead Defendant Huapilla attempted to use pepper spray again. Id. When that was unsuccessful, Defendant again Huapilla tried to use his taser against Inmate Doe. Id. at ¶ 82. When that did not work, deputies entered the cell to restrain Inmate Doe. Id. at ΒΆ 83. However, by that time, Inmate Doe had ripped ...


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