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Brown v. Bay County Commissioners

United States District Court, N.D. Florida, Pensacola Division

April 18, 2018

LAWRENCE T. BROWN, Indiana DOC #250459 Plaintiff,



         Plaintiff, a prisoner proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis, has filed a third amended complaint asserting civil rights claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, and state law tort claims. (Doc. 22). The undersigned has screened the complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, and concludes that plaintiff's federal claims against Bay County, former Bay County Sheriff Frank McKeithen and Detention Officer Chromer should be dismissed for failure to state a claim; that the court should decline to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over plaintiff's state law claims against these defendants; and that plaintiff's federal and state law claims against the remaining seven defendants should be remanded to the undersigned for further proceedings.


         Plaintiff is an inmate of the Indiana penal system currently confined at Putnamville Correctional Facility in Greencastle, Indiana. Plaintiff was a pretrial detainee confined at the Bay County Jail in Panama City, Florida, at the time of the events giving rise to this lawsuit. Plaintiff's third amended complaint names ten defendants: the Bay County Board of County Commissioners, former Bay County Sheriff Frank McKeithen, Bay County Sheriff's Office Investigator David Delaney, and seven Bay County Jail officials: Chief Security Officer Rigby, Lieutenant Lilly, Corporal Joe Maestro, Sergeant Davis, Sergeant Pucket, Detention Officer Lawrence Nelson and Detention Officer Chromer, Jr. (Doc. 22). Plaintiff's claims are based on a use of force incident that occurred at the Bay County Jail on October 31, 2015, and plaintiff's arrest and criminal prosecution after he reported the incident. The following allegations are drawn from plaintiff's third amended complaint (doc. 22) and sworn declaration with exhibits (doc. 23).[1]

The Use of Force

         Plaintiff alleges that on October 31, 2015, at 9:30 p.m., he had a “verbal dispute” with defendant Maestro because plaintiff demanded to speak to Officer Jackson about access to his legal materials but Maestro instead contacted defendant Lilly.[2] (Doc. 22 ¶¶ 32, 36; Doc. 23 ¶¶ 35, 38). Plaintiff became “upset” and “frustrated” that Maestro involved Lilly, and expressed his frustration by continually knocking on his food flap. (Doc. 22 ¶ 35; Doc. 23 ¶ 40). Plaintiff ceased knocking when he observed Lilly on the phone outside the unit, having surmised that Lilly was talking to defendant Rigby, the Chief Security Officer. (Doc. 22 ¶ 35; Doc. 23 ¶ 41). After Lilly hung up, he came to plaintiff's cell and asked what the problem was. (Doc. 22 ¶ 36; Doc. 23 ¶ 43). Plaintiff responded that he was trying to speak to Jackson about gaining access to his legal material to prepare for a November 13, 2015, court hearing. (Doc. 22 ¶ 36; Doc. 23 ¶ 44). Lilly informed plaintiff that he was wasting Lilly's time because Rigby already addressed plaintiff's request for the material, and that Rigby authorized Lilly to use force against plaintiff if he failed to comply with orders to be quiet. (Doc. 22 ¶ 37; Doc. 23 ¶ 45).

         Plaintiff responded that he would stop knocking on his food flap, but would not stop complaining because it was his constitutional right to complain. (Doc. 22 ¶ 38; Doc. 23 ¶ 46). Lilly warned plaintiff that if he was not quiet, Lilly would “shut [him] up”. (Doc. 22 ¶ 39; Doc. 23 ¶ 47). Lilly then instructed Maestro to retrieve restraints. (Id.). When Maestro returned with restraints, Lilly called for defendants Davis and Pucket to assist. (Doc. 22 ¶ 39; Doc. 23 ¶ 48). Lilly gave plaintiff three verbal warnings to stop talking and, when plaintiff continued “advising” Lilly of his constitutional rights, Lilly instructed Maestro, Davis and Pucket to enter plaintiff's cell to restrain him. (Doc. 22 ¶ 40; Doc. 23 ¶ 49). The use of force was filmed by defendant Officer Nelson. (Doc. 23 ¶ 53). Defendant Officer Chromer was in the officer's station “monitor[ing] the screen.” (Id.).

         When Lilly, Maestro, Davis and Pucket entered plaintiff's cell, plaintiff was seated on the floor wearing a shroud. (Doc. 22 ¶ 41; Doc. 23 ¶¶50-52). Maestro voiced multiple commands to “stop resisting” (even though plaintiff was not resisting). (Doc. 22 ¶ 43; Doc. 23 ¶ 51). Maestro then collapsed his “full weight” onto plaintiff, removed plaintiff's shroud (rendering him naked), and pinned plaintiff on his stomach, with Lilly, Davis and Pucket's assistance. (Doc. 22 ¶¶ 42-44; Doc. 23 ¶¶ 52). Defendants Davis and Pucket began shackling plaintiff's legs while Lilly and Maestro pinned plaintiff's arms behind his back. (Doc. 23 ¶ 54). During the shackling process, Maestro “sexually battered” plaintiff as follows:

At the same time Plaintiff felt defendant Maestro['s] hands resting on his buttocks which cause[d] him to become uncomfortable.
The Plaintiff then felt defendant Maestro['s] hands clutch his buttocks while he stated stop resisting in which the plaintiff who was unable to resist because he was completely restrained stated that he was not resisting.
The Plaintiff then felt Defendant Maestro['s] finger insert [into] his rectum which made him scream out in pain and yell for the defendant to remove his finger form his rectum.
Defendant Maestro ignored the Plaintiff's pleads and continued inserting his finger deeper into the Plaintiff's rectum.
The Plaintiff yelled four or more times for the plaintiff [sic] to remove his finger from his rectum and when the defendant ignored his pleads [sic] and continue[d] sodomizing the plaintiff he began yelling “rape” hoping to alert someone who could help him.

         (Doc. 22 ¶¶ 45-49; see also Doc. 23 ¶¶ 55-61).

         When plaintiff yelled “rape”, Lilly punched him in the face and tried to suffocate him. (Doc. 22 ¶¶ 50-52; Doc. 23 ¶¶ 62-64). Lilly then instructed Maestro, Davis and Pucket to turn plaintiff onto his back. Lilly got on top of plaintiff and attempted to strangle and suffocate him again. (Doc. 22 ¶53-54; doc. 23 ¶¶ 64-66). When plaintiff wrestled his mouth free, Lilly punched him in the face five times, stating “you brought this on yourself and next time keep your mouth shut.” (Doc. 22 ¶ 55; Doc. 23 ¶ 68). The alleged assault ceased when nurses entered the module. (Doc. 23 ¶ 69). Plaintiff was left naked and “hog-tied” in his cell for 9 hours, forcing him to defecate and urinate on himself. (Doc. 22 ¶ 56; Doc. 23 ¶ 70). At 6:30 a.m. the following morning, an officer removed the leg restraints. (Doc. 23 ...

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