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Roundtree v. Dunlap

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

July 19, 2019

Antonio Nikki Roundtree, Plaintiff
Tyler Dunlap, et al., Defendants


          James G. Carr Sr., U.S. District Judge

         Plaintiff Antonio Nikki Roundtree brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against defendants Tyler Dunlap, Gary C. Mohr, Warden James S. Haviland, Lieutenant Briely, and Brian Wittrup.[1] Roundtree is currently incarcerated at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility in Lucasville, Ohio, but the instant action pertains to events at the Allen Correctional Institution in Lima, Ohio, where he was incarcerated at the time Jurisdiction is proper under 28 U.S.C. § 1331.[2]

         For the following reasons, I dismiss this case.


         The events giving rise to this case began on November 8, 2016.

         A. The contraband

         Roundtree alleges that on November 8, 2016, he was sitting on the bed in his cell texting on a cell phone when defendant correctional officer Tyler Dunlap walked up to the door of his cell and asked Plaintiff what he had in his hand. Plaintiff stood up, tried to conceal the cell phone, and told Dunlap that he had nothing in his hand. Dunlap asked Roundtree if the object was a phone, and Roundtree unsuccessfully attempted to flush the cell phone down the toilet. According the complaint, Dunlap called for back-up and sprayed Rountree with mace. Plaintiff claims that instead of placing him in handcuffs, Dunlap placed him in a choke hold and both fell to the floor. Roundtree states that he raised his hands prior to being taken to the floor to avoid an altercation, but which resulted in a false accusation of assault. After they fell to the floor, Dunlap began applying “hammer fists” to Plaintiffs ribs. (Doc. 1 at 8-9, ¶¶ 1-14).

         Plaintiff was taken to the “hole” and a nurse came to see him. Plaintiff told the nurse he was fine. Roundtree claims that the next day, his rib area was painful and swollen so he went to sick call and the nurse told him about the injuries that came from Dunlap's hammer fists. Roundtree alleges that he received a “second opinion from another nurse” that there is “no cure” for sore, cracked and broken ribs, and it took almost a year for the pain in his ribs to go away. (Id. at 9-10, ¶¶ 16-19). That said, Plaintiff does not allege that he was diagnosed with fractured or broken ribs, but that he was diagnosed by three different nurses with “bruised ribs, muscle spasms, sore neck, and bruised muscles.” (Id. at 20-21, ¶ 14). Roundtree does not allege that he was examined by a doctor, received x-rays, prescribed medication for pain or muscle spasms, or received any medical treatment.

         B. Conduct report and RIB hearing

         Dunlap prepared a conduct report, which Plaintiff attached to the complaint. The report states that Dunlap ordered Roundtree to give him the cell phone, but Plaintiff did not comply and instead threw a cup of coffee at Dunlap and wrestled past Dunlap to the toilet and placed the phone in the toilet. According to the report, Roundtree ignored Dunlap's directives and pulled a “brown balled up paper towel” from his underwear, which he swallowed. Dunlap reports that he applied hammer fist strikes to Roundtree to obtain compliance with his directives. Responding backup officers secured Roundtree, placed him in handcuffs, and retrieved the cell phone from the toilet. (Doc. 1-2).

         Plaintiff was charged with violations of institutional rules 4, 20, and 51. (Doc. 1 at 17, ¶ 2). A Rules Infraction Board (“RIB”) hearing was scheduled for November 23, 2016. (Id. at 10, ¶ 25). Defendant Lieutenant Briely conducted the RIB hearing.

         At the hearing, Dunlap testified that he did not see Roundtree with a coffee cup but believed that Plaintiff threw his coffee cup because, when the incident was over, Dunlap had coffee on his pants leg. Briely asked Dunlap if he thought Plaintiff was trying to hurt him or attempting to flush the cell phone, and Dunlap answered: “flush the cell phone.” Plaintiff claims that the assault charges against him should have been thrown out because Dunlap's testimony at the RIB hearing was exculpatory, and Briely overlooked Dunlap's “perjury.” (Id. at 11, ¶¶ 27-30; see also id. at 17-18, ¶¶ 3-7). Roundtree alleges that Dunlap is trained in martial arts, and when Roundtree testified at the RIB hearing concerning the hammer fist strikes, Briely acknowledged Dunlap's training. (Id. at 11, ¶ 31).

         Plaintiff was found guilty by the RIB of resisting arrest, assault, and contraband, and sentenced to time served for resisting arrest, 30 days for assault, and 30 days for contraband to be served in the “LPH” program. (Id. ¶¶ 32-34). The RIB's ruling is not attached to the complaint.

         C. Appeal of RIB ruling and security level classification

         Roundtree appealed the RIB assault conviction to Warden Haviland and Director Mohr. His appeal was denied, and Plaintiff complains that neither listened to the tape of the RIB hearing even though he explained in his appeal that Dunlap “changed his story” at the hearing regarding the assault charge in the conduct report. (Id. at 12, ¶¶ 35, 36). Roundtree sent multiple letters to defendant Mohr explaining that he had overlooked evidence but was told that the RIB's decision was final.

         As a result of the RIB's ruling and assault conviction, a level 4B security classification was recommended, which Plaintiff appealed. Plaintiff states that he “won” this appeal, [3] but a security level 3 was recommended for attempting to destroy evidence. (Id. at 13, ¶¶ 44, 50-52; Doc. 1-3). Plaintiff unsuccessfully appealed the level 3 security recommendation on the grounds that he was never charged with or found guilty of attempting to destroy evidence, but his appeal was denied. (Id. at 14, ¶¶ 54-57).

         Roundtree alleges that, at some point, “Columbus” was asking why he was still at the Allen Correctional Institution if he behaved as described in the conduct report. Plaintiff claims that Briely and Haviland should have explained to “Columbus” that Dunlap “changed his story” regarding the rule 4 assault but did not do so, and hid Dunlap's lies in the conduct report regarding the assault charge and his level 4B security appeal. (Id. at 12, ¶¶ 40-43; id. at 14, ¶ 58). Plaintiff was ultimately transferred to the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility.

         D. Setion 1983 claims and relief sought

         Roundtree states that he exhausted his administrative remedies concerning the claims in the instant action. Roundtree claims that he improperly received a level 4B security classification because he was incorrectly convicted of assault by the RIB which was not corrected on appeal, and because Haviland hid and destroyed evidence concerning the RIB hearing and Plaintiff's appeal of his 4B security classification. (See Id. at 17-22).

         Plaintiff seeks the following relief: (1) declaratory judgment that Dunlap prepared a false conduct report and admitted at the RBI hearing that the conduct report was not truthful, which resulted in a change to Plaintiff's security level; (2) an order vacating the disciplinary proceedings ACI-16-4347 and expunging Roundtree's record regarding those proceedings; (3) declaratory judgment against “defendants” whose acts and omissions violated the laws of the Ohio and the United States Constitution; (4) an injunction ordering “defendants” not to overlook, spoliate, or withhold evidence; (5) an injunction ordering correctional officers not to use unnecessary force such as “hammer fists” and cause physical harm; (6) an injunction prohibiting the making of false conduct reports and accusations; and (7) compensatory and punitive damages in the amount of $50, 000.00 from each defendant, totaling $250.000.00, jointly and severally. (See Id. at 23-24).

         Standard ...

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