United States District Court, M.D. Florida, Jacksonville Division
ROBERT D. KORNAGAY, Plaintiff,
OFFICER T. DIEDEMAN and SERGEANT J. WILBURN, Defendants.
MORALES HOWARD UNITED SLATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Robert D. Kornagay, an inmate of the Florida penal system,
initiated this action on July 12, 2017, by filing a pro se
Civil Rights Complaint (Doc. 1). Kornagay, with the benefit
of counsel, filed an Amended Complaint (AC; Doc. 44) on
February 20, 2019. In the AC, Kornagay asserts claims
pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against Defendants Thomas
Diedeman and Jeremy Wilburn. He states that Diedeman and
Wilburn violated his Eighth Amendment right when they failed
to protect him from inmate assaults on February 4, 2017, at
Columbia Correctional Institution (CCI). Additionally,
Kornagay asserts that Defendants conspired to deprive him of
his federal constitutional rights. As relief, he seeks
compensatory, punitive and nominal damages as well as
reasonable attorney's fees and costs.
matter is before the Court on Defendants Diedeman and
Wilburn's Motion for Summary Judgment (Motion; Doc. 83).
They submitted exhibits in support of their summary judgment
request. See Def. Exs., Docs. 84-1 through
84-4. The Court advised Kornagay of the
provisions of Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56, notified
him that the granting of a motion to dismiss or a motion for
summary judgment would represent a final adjudication of this
case which may foreclose subsequent litigation on the matter,
and gave him an opportunity to respond to the Motion.
See Order (Doc. 5); Summary Judgment Notice (Doc.
85). Kornagay responded. See Response to Motion for
Summary Judgment (Response; Doc. 92). He also submitted
exhibits. See P. Exs., Docs. 92-1 through 92-6.
Defendants' Motion is ripe for review.
Plaintiff's Allegations 
AC, Kornagay maintains that CCI corrections officers, with
the knowledge and acquiescence of the prison administrators,
“set up or encouraged fights between prisoners for
entertainment.” AC at 2-3. He asserts two causes of
action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against Defendants.
See id. at 7-9. First, Kornagay states that Diedeman
and Wilburn failed to protect him when they (1) exposed him
to inmates Avants and Carlton Daniels' attacks without
any effort to help or call for backup; (2) permitted Avants
and Daniels to “freely” enter and exit the wing
during the attack; (3) “groomed” Avants to do
“illicit favors” for officers, and permitted him
to “move freely” and enter the officers'
station; (4) failed to do “cell checks or counts”
for at least a two-hour period, thus “signaling”
to inmates that they could do as they pleased; and (5)
“popped” open cell doors at sites where Kornagay
tried to hide, thus repeatedly exposing him to his
“armed attackers.” Id. at 7. Next,
Kornagay asserts that Defendants Diedeman and Wilburn
conspired when they agreed to (1) help each other commit and
conceal wrongful acts; (2) coordinate and facilitate the
attacks on him; (3) destroy evidence of Diedeman's
extortion of him; (4) not intervene in officers and
inmates' physically harmful acts towards him; (5) delay
the disclosure of pertinent facts to investigators; and (6)
hide, alter, and destroy evidence. Id. at 7-8.
the underlying facts, Kornagay avers that inmates Avants and
Daniels, who were armed with homemade knives, attacked him
between approximately 11:45 a.m. and 2:45 p.m. on February 4,
2017, within view of the dormitory's fixed-wing video
cameras. See id. at 2. Kornagay states that Avants
had called him a snitch for trying to report Diedeman for
extortion. See id. at 6. He maintains that Diedeman
and Wilburn “watched and cheered” the fight from
the officers' station. Id. at 2. He states that
when he became “overwhelmed, ” he asked
Defendants for “help in escaping from his
attackers.” Id. Kornagay asserts that Diedeman
responded: “You were looking like a real soldier so
don't turn into a pu**y now. Go see if you can get your
homeboys to help you so you can turn this thing into a
two-on-two.” Id. He maintains that Defendants
neither called for back-up assistance nor ordered the
assailants to “disarm themselves and surrender.”
Id. at 3. Kornagay states that Defendants
“popped” open cell doors and granted his
attackers access to cells where he tried to take refuge three
times. Id. He avers that one of the attackers boiled
water with a homemade heating device and threw boiling water
on him. See id. He asserts that he was stabbed
fifteen times, and suffered a punctured lung, burns from
scalding water, and emotional distress from the officers'
“overt intervention” on behalf of the attackers.
Id. at 3, 6. Kornagay maintains that Diedeman and
Wilburn told him what to tell the nurses and threatened him
with additional physical harm if he reported the incident.
See id. at 3. He avers that Diedeman told him to
report that he was stabbed behind the chow hall or he would
be sprayed with chemical agents and go to confinement.
See id. at 6.
to Kornagay, Sergeant Lunsford reviewed the dormitory's
surveillance video on February 4th and observed Kornagay,
Avants, and Daniels in a physical altercation with weapons.
See id. at 4. He avers that the incident was
reported to the Office of the Inspector General on February
6th. See id. Kornagay states that he called the TIPS
line on February 27th and asked for review of the video
recording. See id. at 3. He also asserts that the
case was “upgraded” to a criminal investigation
on March 2, 2017. See id. at 4. According to
Kornagay, Diedeman admitted that he was the officer who had
opened the cell doors. See id. at 6. Kornagay
maintains that when Inspector Vann took over Inspector
Lindboe's investigation on August 14, 2017, the video
recording had “disappeared.” Id. He
contends that Inspector Lindboe “destroyed” the
video recording and conspired with Diedeman and Avants to
cover up Diedeman's extortion and failure to protect.
Summary Judgment Standard
instructs that “[t]he 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.” Rule 56(a). The record to
be considered on a motion for summary judgment may include
“depositions, documents, electronically stored
information, affidavits or declarations, stipulations
(including those made for purposes of the motion only),
admissions, interrogatory answers, or other materials.”
Rule 56(c)(1)(A). An issue is genuine when the evidence is
such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict in favor
of the nonmovant. Mize v. Jefferson City Bd. of
Educ., 93 F.3d 739, 742 (11th Cir. 1996) (quoting
Hairston v. Gainesville Sun Publ'g Co., 9 F.3d
913, 919 (11th Cir. 1993)). “[A] mere scintilla of
evidence in support of the non-moving party's position is
insufficient to defeat a motion for summary judgment.”
Kesinger ex rel. Estate of Kesinger v. Herrington,
381 F.3d 1243, 1247 (11th Cir. 2004) (citing Anderson v.
Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 252 (1986)).
party seeking summary judgment bears the initial burden of
demonstrating to the court, by reference to the record, that
there are no genuine issues of material fact to be determined
at trial. See Clark v. Coats & Clark, Inc., 929
F.2d 604, 608 (11th Cir. 1991). “When the non-moving
party bears the burden of proof on an issue at trial, the
moving party need not ‘support its motion with
affidavits or other similar material negating the
opponent's claim,' Celotex Corp. v. Catrett,
477 U.S. 317, 323, 106 S.Ct. 2548, 2552-53, 91 L.Ed.2d 265
(1986), in order to discharge this initial
responsibility.” Gonzalez v. Lee Cty. Hous.
Auth., 161 F.3d 1290, 1294 (11th Cir. 1998). Instead,
the moving party simply may demonstrate “that there is
an absence of evidence to support the nonmoving party's
a moving party has discharged its burden, the non-moving
party must then go beyond the pleadings, and by its own
affidavits, or by depositions, answers to interrogatories,
and admissions on file, designate specific facts showing that
there is a genuine issue for trial.” Jeffery v.
Sarasota White Sox, Inc., 64 F.3d 590, 593-94 (11th Cir.
1995) (internal citations and quotation marks omitted).
Substantive law determines the materiality of facts, and
“[o]nly disputes over facts that might affect the
outcome of the suit under the governing law will properly
preclude the entry of summary judgment.”
Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248. In determining whether
summary judgment is appropriate, a court “must view all
evidence and make all reasonable inferences in favor of the
party opposing summary judgment.” Haves v. City of
Miami, 52 F.3d 918, 921 (11th Cir. 1995) (citing
Dibrell Bros. Int'l, S.A. v. Banca Nazionale Del
Lavoro, 38 F.3d 1571, 1578 (11th Cir. 1994)).
Summary of the Arguments
Motion, Defendants Diedeman and Wilburn assert that there are
no genuine issues of material fact, and therefore, the Court
should grant summary judgment in their favor as to
Kornagay's Eighth Amendment claims against them.
See Motion at 4-10. They maintain that there is
“no record evidence” showing that a
constitutional violation took place in their presence or that
they refused to intervene. Id. at 5. In his
Response, Kornagay requests that the Court deny the Motion.
Additionally, he contends that Defendants filed their Motion
in bad faith in violation of Federal Rule of Civil Procedure
56(h). See Response at 17, 22. He therefore
urges the Court to use its inherent power as well as the
authority of Rule 56(h) to impose sanctions upon Defendants
Diedeman and Wilburn. See id. at 17.
Eighth Amendment Failure to Protect
asserts that Defendants Diedeman and Wilburn violated his
Eighth Amendment right when they failed to protect him from
inmate assaults on February 4, 2017. See AC at 7. To
state a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, a plaintiff must
allege that (1) the defendant deprived him of a right secured
under the United States Constitution or federal law, and (2)
such deprivation occurred under color of state law.
Salvato v. Miley, 790 F.3d 1286, 1295 (11th Cir.
2015); Bingham v. Thomas, 654 F.3d 1171, 1175 (11th
Cir. 2011) (per curiam) (citation omitted); Richardson v.
Johnson, 598 F.3d 734, 737 (11th Cir. 2010) (per curiam)
(citations omitted). Additionally, the Eleventh Circuit
requires “‘an affirmative causal connection
between the official's acts or omissions and the alleged
constitutional deprivation' in § 1983 cases.”
Rodriguez v. Sec'y, Dep't of Corr., 508 F.3d
611, 625 (11th Cir. 2007) (quoting Zatler v.
Wainwright, 802 F.2d 397, 401 (11th Cir. 1986)). In the
absence of a federal constitutional deprivation or violation
of a federal right, a plaintiff cannot sustain a cause of
action against the defendant.
Eighth Amendment requires prison officials to “take
reasonable measures to guarantee the safety of the
inmates.” Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 832
(1994). It is “[a] prison official's
‘deliberate indifference' to a substantial risk of
serious harm to an inmate [that] violates the Eighth
Amendment.” Id. at 828 (citations omitted).
The deliberate indifference standard requires the plaintiff
to demonstrate that the prison official “was
subjectively aware” of a risk of harm; mere negligence
is insufficient. Id. at 829, 835-36. In a case where
the prisoner-plaintiff repeatedly asked to be transferred
because he was concerned about a general lack of safety in
his cell block, the Eleventh Circuit explained the
requirement of deliberate indifference to a substantial risk
of harm as follows:
To establish a § 1983 claim for deliberate indifference,
a plaintiff must show “(1) a substantial risk of
serious harm; (2) the defendants' deliberate indifference