United States District Court, D. Maine
ORDER AFFIRMING RECOMMENDED DECISION AND ADDRESSING
A. WOODCOCK, JR. UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
inmate alleges deliberate indifference to a risk of harm in
violation of the Eighth Amendment on the part of seven state
prison officials. After being assaulted once, the inmate
fears future assaults, and he alleges the prison officials
have failed to sufficiently protect him. The Court affirms
the recommended decision of the Magistrate Judge to dismiss
four state prison official defendants who were unaware of the
plaintiff's complaints. Given this lack of notice, the
inmate's underlying theory fails against these prison
September 14, 2017, Jon Robert Adams filed a civil complaint
pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against seven named
individuals in their individual and official capacities, all
of whom were employed by the Maine Department of Corrections,
alleging that they violated his constitutional rights by
failing to protect him as a state prisoner and that he was
therefore brutally assaulted. Compl. (ECF No. 1). On
November 14, 2017, the Magistrate Judge issued a recommended
decision in which he performed the screening function
contemplated in 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e) and § 1915A.
Recommended Decision After Screening Compl. Pursuant to
28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e), 1915A (ECF No. 11)
(Recommended Decision). In his recommended decision,
the Magistrate Judge recommended that the Court dismiss the
claims against Defendants Dudley, Emerson, Fitzpatrick, and
Landry. Id. at 1, 7-8. He also recommended that the
Court authorize service of Mr. Adams' Complaint on
Defendants Bailey, Brown, and McCaffery. Id. at 8.
On November 21, 2017, Mr. Adams objected in part to the
recommended decision. Pl.'s Obj. to the
Magistrate's Decision as to the Dismissal of Defs.
(ECF No. 12) (Pl.'s Obj.).
The Magistrate Judge's Recommended Decision
Magistrate Judge recommended that the Court dismiss Mr.
Adams' claims against Defendants Dudley, Emerson,
Fitzpatrick, and Landry because Mr. Adams failed to allege
any facts in his Complaint to suggest that any of these
Defendants “had notice, prior to the assault, of the
circumstances Plaintiff cites as the bases for his need for
protective custody.” Recommended Decision at
7. By contrast, the Magistrate Judge viewed the allegations
against Defendants Bailey, Brown, and McCaffery as sufficient
to assert a claim of deliberate indifference, “based on
Plaintiff's allegation that he advised them of a serious
risk of harm (i.e. harm caused by other inmates) and that
they failed to take reasonable measures to protect him from
the March 31, 2015, assault.” Id.
Jon Robert Adams' Objections
November 21, 2017 objection, Mr. Adams clarified that he was
objecting to the Magistrate Judge's recommendations as to
Defendants Dudley, Fitzpatrick, and Landry, but not as to
Defendant Emerson. Pl.'s Obj. at 1. He asserts
that these three Defendants failed to place him in protective
custody after he was assaulted on March 31, 2015.
Id. at 1-13. Mr. Adams concedes that none of these
Defendants had “direct involvement in Plaintiff's
assault that occurred on March 31, 2015, ” but once
they knew about the assault, he alleges that they
“failed to protect Plaintiff from any future harm,
injuries, harassment and threats.” Id. at 12.
November 22, 2017, Mr. Adams filed a second memorandum in
support of his objection to the recommended
decision. Mem. in Support of Obj. (ECF No.
14). In his second objection, Mr. Adams repeats that he
“communicated his fear of another prisoner assault to
defendants Fitzpatrick, Landry and Dudley after the March 31,
2015 assault.” Id. at 3. His claim against
these three Defendants, he acknowledges, is based on
“his further/future harms.” Id. at 4.
Mr. Adams cites a plethora of cases in which courts discussed
the standard for deliberate indifference and what constitutes
a violation of the Eighth Amendment. Id. at 5-11.
Court performed a de novo review of the Magistrate
Judge's recommended decision and having reviewed the
entire record, concurs with the Magistrate Judge's
recommendation. Ultimately, Mr. Adams is only able to sustain
his claim against those Defendants he alleges were aware of
his claims of a substantial risk of prisoner-on-prisoner
violence before such violence manifested itself.
the Eighth Amendment protects against future harm to inmates
is not a novel proposition.” Helling v.
McKinney, 509 U.S. 25, 33 (1993). The standard, as the
Magistrate Judge noted, is “substantial risk of serious
harm” and disregarding that risk “by failing to
take reasonable measures to abate it.” Recommended
Decision at 5 (citing Farmer v. Brennan, 511
U.S. 825, 847 (1994)); see Kosilek v. Spencer, 774
F.3d 63, 85 (1st Cir. 2014) (en banc) (citing
Helling, 509 U.S. at 35) (“A significant risk
of future harm that prison administrators fail to mitigate
may suffice under the objective prong”). “Prison
officials have a responsibility not to be deliberately
indifferent to the risk to prisoners of violence at the hands
of other prisoners.” Burrell v. Hampshire
Cty., 307 F.3d 1, 7 (1st Cir. 2002) (citing
Farmer, 511 U.S. at 833). The Court agrees with the
Magistrate Judge that Mr. Adams' description of the March
31, 2015 assault could give rise to liability for those
Defendants who knew about the risk before it occurred. But
Mr. Adams does not allege any cognizable damages against the
Defendants who first learned of Mr. Adams' fears of harm
only after the March 31, 2015 assault; he only alleges their
failure to adequately address his fear of future harm. This,
as the Magistrate Judge pointed out, is not enough.
Court reviewed the numerous cases Mr. Adams cited in favor of
retaining these three Defendants in his case. In the
Court's view, none of the cases supports his argument
against these three Defendants. Each cited case involved
inmates whose theory of liability against the prison official
defendants was anchored in an actual, realized harmed, not
possible future harm. See Farmer, 511 U.S. at 830
(transgender inmate beaten and raped); Goka v.
Bobbitt, 862 F.2d 646, 647-48 (7th Cir. 1988)
(“Williams purportedly harassed, threatened and
assaulted Goka”); Clem v. Lomeli, 566 F.3d
1177, 1179 (9th Cir. 2009) (“Clem alleges he was beaten
by his cellmate”); Reece v. Groose, 60 F.3d
487, 488 (8th Cir. 1995) (“This lawsuit grew out of an
assault on Reece while he was in administrative segregation
for his own protection”); Taylor v. Mich. Dep't
of Corrs., 69 F.3d 76, 78 (6th Cir. 1995) (“Soon
after his transfer, Taylor was raped by another
inmate”); Velez v. Johnson, 395 F.3d 732, 734
(7th Cir. 2005) (“In September of 1999, David Velez was
violently assaulted by his cellmate at the Milwaukee County
jail”); Berry v. Muskogee, 900 F.2d 1489, 1492
(10th Cir. 1990) (“Mark Berry was murdered by fellow
prisoners at the Muskogee City-Federal Jail . . . .”);
Hamilton v. Leavy, 117 F.3d 742, 744 (3d Cir. 1997)
(“Hamilton has a long history of being assaulted
throughout the Delaware prison system”); Hutchinson
v. McCabee, 168 F.Supp.2d 101, 102 (S.D.N.Y. 2001)
(“On November 6, 1994, Plaintiff Wayne Hutchinson . . .
was attacked by a fellow inmate, Junior Vasquez”);
Mayoral v. Sheahan, 245 F.3d 934, 935 (7th Cir.
2001) (“While Joel Mayoral was a pretrial detainee at
the Cook County jail, he was attacked by other
inmates”); Pierson v. Hartley, 391 F.3d 898,
900 (7th Cir. 2004) (“Robert J. Pierson, an inmate of
the Indiana State Prison, was assaulted by fellow inmate
Jeremy Wilkinson while he slept”); Johnson v.
Johnson, 385 F.3d 503, 512 (5th Cir. 2004)
(“According to the plaintiff's version of events .
. ., he suffered through a horrific eighteen-month period of
incarceration during which the defendant prison officials
failed to protect him from prison gangs who repeatedly raped
him and bought and sold him as a sexual slave”);
Giroux v. Somerset Cty., 178 F.3d 28, 29 (1st Cir.
1999) (“Shawn Giroux, a former inmate of the Somerset
County Jail, brought suit pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983
against one prison employee (Sergeant Hartley), Somerset
County Sheriff Barry DeLong, and Somerset County after he was
assaulted by another inmate”); Spruce v.
Sargent, 149 F.3d 783, 785 (8th Cir. 1998)
(“Spruce was an inmate at the Arkansas Department of
Correction between January and December of 1991. During that
time, he alleges that he was repeatedly raped by more than
twenty different inmates, at least one of whom infected him
with HIV”); Hearns v. Terhune, 413 F.3d 1036,
1037 (9th Cir. 2005) (“Hearns alleged that several
Calipatria State Prison officials violated his Eighth
Amendment right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment
when they failed to protect him from being attacked by fellow
Muslim inmates”); Flint v. Ky. Dep't of
Corr., 270 F.3d 340, 343 (6th Cir. 2001) (“Flint
was killed by James Underwood on October 5, 1995, while both
individuals were inmates at LLCC”); Young v.
Quinlan, 960 F.2d 351, 353 (3d Cir. ...