United States District Court, S.D. Ohio, Western Division
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
STEPHANIE K. BOWMAN, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
an incarcerated individual who proceeds pro se,
filed suit against four individuals employed at the Warren
Correctional Institution, alleging that the Defendants used
excessive force against him during an incident that occurred
on or about February 12, 2015. On August 21, 2017, Defendants
filed a motion for summary judgment, to which Plaintiff filed
a response in opposition. The undersigned now recommends that
Defendants' motion be GRANTED.
complaint alleges that he was seriously injured by four
Defendant officers (Shostak, Dunn, Back and Wilson), during a
time when Plaintiff was being housed on a residential
treatment unit for inmates with mental health issues. The
incident began with a verbal altercation between Plaintiff
and Defendant Shostak, who was outside Plaintiff's cell.
At some point, Plaintiff's cell window was covered,
preventing Officers from seeing Plaintiff, although the
parties dispute whether Plaintiff or Defendants themselves
obscured the window. As the incident progressed, Defendants
Shostak and Dunn entered Plaintiff's cell and allegedly
punched and “maced” Plaintiff, dragging him out
of the cell. Plaintiff alleges that Defendant Wilson used
excessive force including smashing his head against a glass
door in a hallway en route to Inmate Health Services
(“IHS”), and that Defendant Back later tightened
his handcuffs to the point where Plaintiff's circulation
was cut off. Plaintiff also alleges that one or more of the
officers used excessive force against him out of camera's
view, while Plaintiff was in IHS.
of an institutional report entitled “Investigation
Summary Report Use of Force” (“UOF report”)
is attached to Plaintiff's complaint. The report
generally contains witness statements, and reflects that
after an initial struggle in his cell, Plaintiff was
handcuffed and removed from his cell. During his escort by
Officers Wilson and Hake, the report states that Inmate Bates
turned toward Officer Hake, causing Officer Wilson to
“quickly push inmate Bates through the door and into
the wall past the door.” (Doc. 15 at 3). The report
further states that while Inmate Bates was “struggling,
” Defendant Officer Wilson “administered a knee
strike to the side of inmate Bates.” (Id.).
complaint, Plaintiff alleges that all four officers applied
excessive force in violation of the Eighth Amendment, and/or
are liable for failing to protect him from excessive force.
Plaintiff further alleges that the officers falsified reports
during the institutional investigation, and that he suffered
serious injuries. Plaintiff alleges that he was transported
to the hospital after he lost consciousness, where he alleges
that he spent a week in recovery. (Doc. 3 at 13). He alleges
that he continued to suffer ill effects from his purported
concussion upon his return from the hospital, and has had to
undergo speech therapy three times per week as a result.
(Doc. 3 at 8).
to initiating this federal lawsuit, on May 1, 2015, Plaintiff
filed suit against the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and
Correction in the Ohio Court of Claims. (See
generally Doc. 30-12, docket sheet at 1). The state
court granted summary judgment to the Defendants on February
12, 2016. Thereafter, Plaintiff filed a late notice of
appeal. On April 20, 2016, the Ohio Court of Appeals denied
Plaintiff leave to file a delayed appeal and dismissed the
appeal sua sponte. Following the dismissal of his
state court appeal, on May 9, 2016, Plaintiff initiated suit
in this Court.
existence of the prior state court lawsuit was not disclosed
to this Court by Plaintiff. (See Doc 1-1 at 2,
responding “No” to a question asking if Plaintiff
has begun other lawsuits in state or federal court dealing
with the same facts involved in this action or otherwise
relating to his imprisonment). Having discovered the prior
proceeding, Defendants rely upon the prior state court
judgment as a basis for granting judgment in this case.
Standard of Review
Rule of Civil Procedure 56(a) provides that summary judgment
is proper “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.” A dispute is
“genuine” when “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). A court must view the evidence and draw
all reasonable inferences in favor of the nonmoving party.
Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp.,
475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986). The moving party has the burden of
showing an absence of evidence to support the non-moving
party's case. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S.
317, 325 (1986).
the moving party has met its burden of production, the
non-moving party cannot rest on his pleadings, but must
present significant probative evidence in support of his
complaint to defeat the motion for summary judgment.
Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. at 248-49.
The mere existence of a scintilla of evidence to support the
non-moving party's position will be insufficient; the
evidence must be sufficient for a jury to reasonably find in
favor of the nonmoving party. Id. at 252.
Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment
first argue that they are entitled to judgment as a matter of
law on procedural grounds, because: (1) this Court lacks
jurisdiction under the Rooker-Feldman doctrine; (2)
Plaintiff's claims are barred by the doctrine of
collateral estoppel; and (3) Plaintiff has waived his right
to sue in federal court under the Leaman doctrine.
To the extent that the Court does not rule in their favor on
procedural grounds, Defendants alternatively argue in favor
of summary judgment on the merits, arguing that no Defendant
violated Plaintiff's Eighth Amendment right to be free
from cruel and unusual punishment; and that all Defendants
are entitled to qualified immunity.
response in opposition to Defendants' motion maintains
that genuine issues of material fact exist that preclude
entry of judgment in Defendants' favor on either
qualified immunity or the underlying Eighth Amendment clams.
However, Plaintiff has failed to address any of the first
three arguments, all of which are based upon the existence of
the prior state court judgment. Although two of
Defendants' procedural arguments are unconvincing, the
undersigned finds one of Defendants' procedural arguments
to be dispositive.
The Rooker-Feldman ...