United States District Court, N.D. Florida, Pensacola Division
KIDANE B. MENGESHA, Plaintiff,
MARCUS J. STOKES, et al., Defendants.
CASEY RODGERS JUDGE
cause is before the Court on consideration of the Magistrate
Judge's Report and Recommendation dated November 22,
2017, ECF No. 55, recommending that Defendants' motion
for summary judgment be granted in part and denied in part.
Plaintiff has been furnished a copy of the Report and
Recommendation and was afforded an opportunity to file
objections pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1).
Court has made a de novo determination of the timely
filed objections. ECF No. 58. See Jeffrey S. v. State Bd.
of Educ. of State of Ga., 896 F.2d 507, 513 (11th Cir.
1990) (stating de novo review “require[s]
independent consideration of factual issues based on the
record”). Having considered the Report and
Recommendation, the objections, and the record, the Court has
determined that the Report and Recommendation should be
adopted. Defendants argue that their summary judgment motion
should have been denied as moot in light of the amended
complaint, but this was not required. The Court finds that
judicial economy was well served by considering the motion
with regard to the amended complaint because no new claims
were asserted. The only addition was a request for
“such other relief” to which Plaintiff may be
entitled, which the Magistrate Judge construed as a request
for nominal damages. The Court disagrees with the
Defendants' contention that this so fundamentally altered
the claim that their prior motion for summary judgment must
be considered moot. This objection is overruled.
also object on grounds that the Magistrate Judge did not
analyze the physical injury under § 1997e(e). The Report
and Recommendation sets forth the relevant law and analyzed
the facts under the relevant standards, while fully
recognizing, as has the Eleventh Circuit, that “the
meaning of the phrase ‘greater than de minimis' . .
. is far from clear.” Chatham v. Alcock, 334
Fed.Appx. 281, 283 (11th Cir. 2009). After a de novo
review of the record and the law, the Court finds that the
analysis is correct.
Defendants argue that swelling, bruises and an abrasion-the
only documented injuries-are not sufficient under §
1997e(e). They also object to the Magistrate Judge's
finding that they did not dispute the claim of shoulder
dislocation, arguing they disputed it by showing the lack of
medical evidence to support it, and they contend that the
Plaintiff cannot create a question of fact based on
uncorroborated allegations. The objections will be overruled.
Credibility determinations are not proper on summary
judgment, and even self-serving testimony can be a basis for
denying summary judgment. See United States v.
Stein, 881 F.3d 853, 858 (11th Cir. 2018) (noting that
“a plaintiff's own testimony may be sufficient to
withstand summary judgment” and no corroboration is
required under Rule 56). Plaintiff's testimony is neither
conclusory nor is it necessarily inconsistent with the
medical records in this case. Although no shoulder
dislocation was noted in medical records from the incident,
Plaintiff testified that the guards used force to pop his
shoulder back into place instead of providing him medical
assistance and states he suffered extreme pain. This
testimony, together with his recorded history of shoulder
dislocation and noted swelling, bruises and an abrasion on
the day in question, is sufficient to give rise to a question
of fact as to whether Plaintiff suffered an injury that rose
above the de minimis level. Moreover, even if compensable
injury ultimately is not found, “nothing in §
1997e(e) prevents a prisoner from recovering nominal damages
for a constitutional violation without a showing of physical
injury.” Brooks v. Warden, 800 F.3d 1295,
1307-08 (11th Cir. 2015).
it is now ORDERED as follows:
Magistrate Judge's Report and Recommendation is adopted
and incorporated by reference in this Order, and the Motion
for Summary Judgment, ECF No. 39, is granted in part and
denied in part.
Plaintiff's claims against Defendants in their official
capacities are dismissed.
Plaintiff's sexual abuse claims against Defendants Pugh,
West, and Lathan in their individual capacities are
Plaintiff's racial discrimination claims against
Defendants in their individual capacities are dismissed.
case is referred to Magistrate Judge Miles Davis for a
settlement conference to be conducted within ninety (90)
days. Trial will be scheduled by separate order.