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Bryant v. McManus

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

July 29, 2018

R. MCMANUS and FNU WARNOCK, Defendants.

          OPINION AND ORDER [1]


This matter comes before the Court on Defendants Lt. R. McManus', and Sgt. Warnock's Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. 45), filed on December 15, 2017. Defendants filed an Amended Statement of Undisputed Facts (Doc. 49), on January 9, 2018. Bryant filed his Response in Opposition (Doc. 52), and Affidavit of Disputed Facts (Doc. 53), on February 21, 2018. Defendants filed a Reply Brief (Doc. 53), on June 13, 2018. The Motions are briefed and ripe for the Court's review.


         At the time of the incident which gives rise to this case, Bryant was an inmate housed at the Charlotte Correctional Institute (CCI) in Charlotte County, Florida. On Wednesday, September 30, 2015, at sometime between 10:00 pm and 11:45 pm just after the master count of the inmates in the cell block, Bryant was attacked by another inmate, Ronnie Walker. During the master count, cell doors are locked by the officer in the control booth. Bryant says Walker came to his locked cell door Walker was beating on his door saying he was going to kill Bryant. After the count is completed the doors are unlocked so the inmates may walk around the cell block.

         Lt. McManus and Sgt. Warnoch were not assigned to Bryant's cell block but were checking on the count because the cell block was short staffed. One officer assigned to Bryant's cell block was out sick on September 30, 2015. There was only one officer in the control booth overlooking the cell block during the assault. Bryant observed Lt. McManus and Sgt. Warnoch out of his window while they were walking towards his cell block, presumably to help with the count.

         Bryant yelled for their assistance stating that another inmate was threatening to kill him. (Doc. 1-1 at 5). Upon arrival in the cell block, Sgt. Warnoch asked Bryant the problem. Bryant informed Sgt. Warnoch that an inmate, later determined to be Ronnie Walker, was threatening to kill him. Lt. McManus and Sgt. Warnoch asked Bryant who had threatened him and Bryant responded by pointing to a guy watching TV saying there was an argument over the television show “Empire.” However, Bryant did not know Walker's name nor could he describe Walker to the officers, and the inmate Bryant pointed to was not Walker. Lt. McManus stated that Bryant's complaint was nothing and both officers then left, leaving Bryant's cell door open.

         After Lt. McManus and Sgt. Warnoch left, Walker approached Bryant who was standing on the catwalk in front of his cell. Bryant initially turned to square off and fight Walker. However, he saw Walker reach into his waistband and pull out something shiny.

         Bryant retreated into his cell and attempted to shut the door as he believed Walker had a knife. But, Walker pushed his body in the path of the door and blocked it from being closed. Walker then stabbed Bryant four times in the left shoulder. According to Bryant, Lt. McManus and Sgt. Warnoch returned to his cell within a minute of the attack and broke up the fight.

         Bryant avers that Lt. McManus and Sgt. Warnoch endangered his safety by leaving his cell door open after he informed them that an inmate had threatened to kill him. Bryant filed an informal grievance on October 14, 2015, and a formal grievance on November 3, 2015, stating Lt. McManus and Sgt. Warnoch endangered him and called for the camera video to support his claims.[2] Bryant filed this suit.


         “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.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56. The moving party bears the burden of showing that no genuine issues of material fact remain. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986). A genuine dispute of material fact exists if “the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party.” Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). To defeat summary judgment, the non-movant must “go beyond the pleadings, and present affirmative evidence to show that a genuine issue of material fact exists.” Porter v. Ray, 461 F.3d 1315, 1320 (11th Cir. 2006) (citation omitted).

         In reviewing a motion for summary judgment, the court views the evidence and all reasonable inferences drawn from the evidence in the light most favorable to the non-movant. See Battle v. Bd. of Regents, 468 F.3d 755, 759 (11th Cir. 2006). But “[a] court need not permit a case to go to a jury . . . when the inferences that are drawn from the evidence, and upon which the non-movant relies, are ‘implausible.'” Mize v. Jefferson City Bd. of Educ., 93 F.3d 739, 743 (11th Cir. 1996) (citation omitted).


         Bryant alleges that Lt. McManus and Sgt. Warnoch violated his Eighth and Fourteenth Amendment rights because they were deliberately indifferent to his safety before the assault occurred on September 30, 2015. Although Plaintiff brought his claim under the Eighth Amendment and the Fourteenth Amendment, Plaintiff's claim falls under the Eighth Amendment as the Fourteenth Amendment is applied to pretrial detainees. Evans v. St. Lucie Cnty Jail, 448 Fed.Appx. 971, 973 (11th Cir. 2011). But the analysis for deliberate indifference under both the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments is the same. Marsh v Butler Cnty. Ala., 268 F.3d 1014, 1024 n. 5 (11th Cir. 2001). And Bryant moves for an injunction against Defendants.

         (1) Official Capacity Claims

         Bryant sues Defendants in their individual and official capacities. As an initial matter, Defendants are entitled to summary judgment in their official capacities. A suit against a state officer in their official capacity is a suit against the state itself. Will v. Michigan Dep't of State Police, 491 U.S. 58, 71 (1989). The Eleventh Amendment prohibits federal suits for damages against state officials in their official capacity unless Congress has abrogated the state's immunity or the state has expressly waived it. Id. at 66. Bryant agrees that his official capacity claims are barred by the Eleventh Amendment and therefore, summary judgment is granted for Defendants on Bryant's official capacity claims.

         (2) Declaratory and Injunctive Relief

         Bryant avers that he has no plain or adequate relief at law and therefore moves for declaratory and injunctive relief. Defendants counter that declaratory relief is not available because Bryant requests it solely for a past injury which fails to satisfy the Court's case-or-controversy requirement.

         Where the plaintiff seeks declaratory or injunctive relief, the injury-in-fact requirement insists that a plaintiff “allege facts from which it appears there is a substantial likelihood that he will suffer injury in the future.” Strickland v. Alexander, 772 F.3d 876, 883 (11th Cir. 2014) (quoting Malowney v. Fed. CollectionDeposit Grp., 193 F.3d 1342, 1346 (11th Cir.1999) (citations omitted)). This is because injunctions regulate future conduct only; they do not provide relief for past injuries already incurred and over with. See Church v. City of Huntsville,30 F.3d 1332, 1337 (11th Cir.1994). So a plaintiff seeking declaratory or ...

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