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Sweeting v. Schweigtzer

United States District Court, S.D. Ohio, Western Division

July 12, 2019

DERRICK SWEETING, Plaintiff,
v.
THOMAS SCHWEIGTZER, et al., Defendants.

          Dlott, J.

          REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          Stephanie K. Bowman, United States Magistrate Judge

         Plaintiff, an inmate currently incarcerated at Ohio State Penitentiary (“OSP”) brings this action against defendants Thomas Schweitzer, Major Spurlock, Lt. Husbard, Lt. Couch, Lt. Shankin, and Sgt. Mrs. Hilis. This matter is now before the Court on Defendants motion for summary judgment (Doc. 35) and the parties' responsive memoranda.

         I. Background and Facts

         Plaintiff initiated this action on October 30, 2017. (Doc 1). Plaintiff's Complaint was ultimately sua sponte dismissed by this Court because he “failed to state a viable claim under § 1983” (Doc. 5 at PageID 24). Plaintiff then filed an amended complaint (Doc. 12), laying out his claims against the Defendants. Plaintiff's claims revolve around an incident involving Plaintiff and another inmate, Marcus Arnold (Doc. 12 at Page ID 55). Plaintiff was assaulted by Arnold on December 23, 2016. Plaintiff asserts that Arnold assaulted him because Sergeant Melissa Hillis paid Arnold to do so. Plaintiff further asserts that Hillis informed inmates who were members of the Bloods gang that Plaintiff was informing on them, and that Plaintiff threatened to start a gang war. (Doc 12). Based on the foregoing, Plaintiff's amended complaint asserts claims under section 1983 for alleged violation of his Constitutional rights under the Eighth Amendment. Plaintiff also asserts a claim for negligence under state law.

         Defendants now move for summary judgment asserting that they are entitled to judgment as a matter of law. For the reasons that follow, the undersigned finds that Defendants' motion is well-taken.

         II. Standard of Review

         Federal 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).

         Once 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.

         III. Analysis

         A. Immunity

         As an initial matter, Defendants asserts that Plaintiff's claims against them in their official capacities are barred by the Eleventh Amendment. Where a state has not waived its immunity, the Eleventh Amendment acts as a jurisdictional bar to a federal court lawsuit against a state. Wolfel v. Morris, 972 F.2d 712, 718 (6th Cir. 1992); Wilson-Jones v. Caviness, 107 F.3d 358, 358 (6th Cir. 1997). Ohio has not waived its sovereign immunity, and Congress did not disturb the states' Eleventh Amendment immunity when it passed 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Wolfel, 972 F.2d at 718; Mackey v. Cleveland State Univ., 837 F.Supp. 1396, 1403 (N.D. Ohio 1993). The Eleventh Amendment thus precludes all suits, whether for injunctive or monetary relief, against the state and its departments. Cox v. Kentucky Dep't of Transp., 53 F.3d 146, 152 n.2 (6th Cir. 1995) (citing Pennhurst State School & Hospital v. Halderman, 465 U.S. 89, 100-01, 79 L.Ed.2d 67 (1984)). Moreover, a suit against a state official in his or her official capacity is deemed a suit against the official's office. Will v. Mich. Dep't of State Police, 491 U.S. 58, 71 (1989). Accordingly, a suit against a state official in his or her official capacity is no different from a suit against the state itself, and is also barred by the Eleventh Amendment. Id.; see also Hall v. Medical College of Ohio at Toledo, 742 F.2d 299 (6th Cir. 1984) (holding that the Eleventh Amendment barred suit against university officers sued in their official capacities). To the extent Plaintiff's complaint seeks to hold Defendants liable in their official capacities, the undersigned agrees that Eleventh Amendment bars that claim for monetary relief. Will, 491 U.S. at 65.

         B. Exhaustion

         Defendant next contends that Plaintiff failed to properly exhaust his administrative ...


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