United States District Court, N.D. Florida, Pensacola Division
ORDER AND REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
THAI CANNON UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
Jesse Walker, proceeding pro se, sues
Defendants for injunctive relief under 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983. Plaintiff alleges that a failure by the
Defendants to provide him with protective management exposes
him to an unreasonable risk of serious harm and violates the
the Court are Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment
(ECF Doc. 57) and Plaintiff's response in opposition (ECF
Doc. 59). The motion has been referred to the undersigned
Magistrate Judge for a Report and Recommendation pursuant to
28 U.S.C. § 636 and N.D. Fla. Loc. R. 72.2(C). After
reviewing the parties' submissions, the record and the
relevant law, the undersigned recommends that Defendants'
Motion for Summary Judgment (ECF Doc. 57) be GRANTED IN PART
and DENIED IN PART.
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(a); Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477
U.S. 317, 322 (1986). “[T]he mere existence of
some alleged factual dispute between the parties
will not defeat an otherwise properly supported motion for
summary judgment; the requirement is that there be no
genuine issue of material fact.”
Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248
(1986). An issue of fact is “material” if it
might affect the outcome of the case under the governing law,
and it is “genuine” if the record taken as a
whole could lead a rational fact finder to find for the
nonmoving party. Id. Summary judgment is not
appropriate “if a reasonable fact finder evaluating the
evidence could draw more than one inference from the facts,
and if that inference introduces a genuine issue of material
fact.” Jeffery v. Sarasota White Sox,
Inc., 64 F.3d 590, 594 (11th Cir. 1995).
Generally, the Court must view the facts in the light most
favorable to the non-moving party (here, Plaintiff) and draw
all reasonable inferences in favor of that party. Mann v.
Taser Int'l, Inc., 588 F.3d 1291, 1303
(11th Cir. 2009).
facts pertinent to the resolution of Defendants' Motion
for Summary Judgment are drawn from Plaintiff's verified
complaint (ECF Doc. 1), the evidence submitted by
Defendants (ECF Docs. 57-1 - 57-4) and the evidence submitted
by Plaintiff (ECF Doc. 59 at 12-26). Nevertheless, matters
stated below as “facts” for purposes of summary
judgment review may not be the actual facts. See Montoute
v. Carr, 114 F.3d 181, 182 (11th Cir. 1997).
housed at SRCI in March 2015, Plaintiff learned a
“hit” had been placed on him by gangs within the
FDOC because he cooperated with investigations conducted by
various law enforcement agencies and the FDOC's Office of
the Inspector General (“OIG”). ECF Doc. 57-2 at
25-26. He requested protective management
(“PM”) on March 31, 2015. Id. at 24-27.
In April 2015, the Institutional Classification Team
(“ICT”) at SRCI and the State Classification
Office denied the request because Plaintiff was unable
“to advise who he felt in fear of or who had threatened
him.” ECF Doc. 1 at 12; ECF Doc. 57-2 at 17, 64.
a week of the denial, “an inmate with a long history of
assaulting other inmates was moved into [Plaintiff's]
cell; that inmate, Christopher Smith . . . eventually told
[Plaintiff] that the officers who moved [Smith] into
[Plaintiff's] cell had told [Smith] to assault
[Plaintiff] because [he is] a ‘snitch[.]'”
ECF Doc. 1 at 12. Plaintiff “managed to keep . . .
Smith at bay by giving him snacks . . . sold at the inmate
2015, a correctional officer “began pressuring . . .
Smith to assault [Plaintiff]; when that did not happen, the
officer began denying [Plaintiff] meals and threatened [him]
with pepper spray[.]” Id. Plaintiff notified
his mother, who called the OIG and made a complaint.
Id. The officer was temporarily reassigned to a
different dorm but, upon his return, “he intensified
his threats and eventually persuaded . . . Smith to attack
[Plaintiff], at which point [Plaintiff] notified [his] dad
who in turn called the OIG and the FBI's Pensacola
office.” Id. Plaintiff was moved to a
different dorm shortly thereafter. Id. For the rest
of his time on close management at SRCI in 2015, Plaintiff
“stayed in [his] cell as much as possible to
avoid” gang members. Id. at 13. The FDOC
downgraded Plaintiff's custody level in August 2015 and
placed him in the general prison population. Id.
September 2015, Plaintiff was transferred from SRCI to
Okaloosa Correctional Institution (“Okaloosa
CI”). Id. While there, he was attacked by
members of the Gangster Disciples (a gang he later formally
renounced) on four (4) separate occasions and escaped serious
injury each time. Id. at 13-15. Those attacks
occurred in September, October, December and April 2016.
Id. After the fourth attack on April 11, 2016,
Plaintiff falsely claimed a knife dropped during the attack
was his-a tactic he hoped would lead to him being placed in
confinement and transferred to a different facility away from
the Gangster Disciples at Okaloosa CI. Id. at 15.
Plaintiff received a disciplinary report for possessing a
weapon; after being found guilty of the charge, he was placed
on close management and subsequently returned to SRCI.
November 2016, Plaintiff requested PM during a disciplinary
investigation for refusing a cellmate, citing the threat
posed to him by members of his former gang, the Gangster
Disciples. ECF Doc. 57-2 at 17, 28-29. On December 1,
2016, an ICT composed of Defendants Dove, Neal and Jackson
held a hearing. ECF Doc. 1 at 7. At the hearing, Plaintiff
told the ICT:
In June of 2014, I provided substantial assistance and
information to Inspector Collins of the [OIG], in regard to
an investigation involving several correctional officers (two
of whom, then Sergeants Brooks and Simmons are also members
of the Gangster Disciples). The officers were arrested for
various charges ranging from introduction of contraband into
a state facility (Taylor C.I.) to conspiracy to commit murder
(in September of 2013, then Sergeants Brooks and Simmons put
a hit on another inmate who had provided the OIG with
information about their activities, in turn that inmate was
stabbed by another inmate/Gangster Disciple).
ECF Doc. 1 at 7-8; ECF Doc. 57-2 at 17. Plaintiff informed
the ICT his life was in imminent danger because the Gangster
Disciples had discovered Plaintiff provided information to
the OIG at Taylor CI and placed a “hit” on him.
ECF Doc. 1 at 8.
also told the ICT that, in October 2016, he formally
renounced his own “affiliation to the Gangster
Disciples, and ‘debriefed' to the OIG's
gang-intelligence division (providing the OIG with even more
information about the gang's membership and activities
inside of the prison system and on the streets).”
asked Neal whether the ICT had contacted the OIG to determine
the validity of his statements. Id. Neal told
Plaintiff: (1) “the ICT does not doubt that [his] life
is in danger, however, the ICT had not, and would not be
contacting the OIG in regard to [his] request for placement
on PM”; (2) “if the gangs want to kill [him],
there is nothing the [FDOC] can do to prevent that”;
and (3) if he “had not ‘snitched on
everybody' they wouldn't want to kill [him].”
Id. at 8-9.
once again recommended Plaintiff's request for PM be
denied “for not being able to advise who he felt in
fear of or who had threatened him.” ECF Doc. 57-2 at
18, 65, 72. In mid-December 2016, Defendant Dittman adopted
the recommendation and denied the request. ECF Doc. 1 at 9.
The State Classification Office denied Plaintiff's appeal
but recommended that he not be housed with known gang
members. ECF Doc. 57-2 at 18. Plaintiff appealed the PM
denial to Julie Jones, the then Secretary of the FDOC;
Defendant Neel denied the appeal in January 2017. ECF Doc. 1
at 9. Defendant Greene later denied a second appeal.
father called the OIG on December 19, 2016, and indicated
Plaintiff feared for his life and needed protection because
of Plaintiff's “previous involvement and
cooperation with investigations conducted by outside law
enforcement agencies and the [OIG].” ECF Doc. 57-2 at
14. The OIG initiated an inquiry on the same day and assigned
it to Defendant Gustafson. Id.
interviewed Plaintiff on December 20, 2016. ECF Doc. 57-2 at
15. Plaintiff explained that “he was a
‘snitch' for the local law enforcement agencies he
lived near prior to entering prison” and “he also
came forward with information to the [OIG] in regards to the
introduction of contraband by a correctional officer
[affiliated with the Gangster Disciples] at another
institution.” Id. Plaintiff stated he had
renounced his own affiliation to the Gangster Disciples but
“other members of the gang found out he had cooperated
with the [OIG] after the correctional officer was
arrested” and put a “kill on sight” order
on him. Id.
told Gustafson that on December 1, 2016, Lieutenant Gary
Brown advised Plaintiff “that he needed to stop being a
‘snitch' or the situation was only going to get
worse.” Id. at 15-16. However, Plaintiff
conceded no witnesses or evidence corroborated the allegation
against Brown and he did not file a grievance regarding the
interaction. Id. Plaintiff advised Gustafson that at
4:50 a.m. on December 20, 2016, Officer Jonathon Gent and
Sergeant Daniel Johnson searched his cell. Id. at
16. The correctional officers told Plaintiff “the
reason for the search were ‘orders from the
top.'” Id. Gent handed Plaintiff “a
blank witness ...