United States District Court, S.D. Ohio, Western Division
LAMAR A. LENOIR, Plaintiff,
OHIO DEPARTMENT OF REHABILITATION AND CORRECTION, et al, Defendants.
ORDER AND REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
L. LITKOVITZ UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
an inmate at the Ohio State Penitentiary and former inmate at
the Lebanon Correctional Institution, brings this civil
rights action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 alleging violations
of his Eighth Amendment rights by prison employees. This
matter is before the Court on defendants' motion for
judgment on the pleadings pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 12(c) (Doc. 36) and plaintiffs response in
opposition (Doc. 40). This matter is also before the Court on
plaintiffs "motion for an order." (Doc. 41).
was granted leave to proceed in forma pauperis and
filed his complaint on September 22, 2017. (Complaint, Doc.
3). In his complaint, plaintiff alleges that on October 25,
2016 at 1:00 A.M., defendant Correctional Officer Ritchie
entered his cell to escort him to the captain's office.
(Id. at ¶ 5). Plaintiff alleges that once
Ritchie arrived, Ritchie entered his cell and pushed his head
against his cell wall several times when cuffing him.
(Id.). According to plaintiff, defendant Spellman
witnessed this action and "asked Ritchie if he wanted
her to spray the Plaintiff," but Ritchie said this was
unnecessary. (Id. at ¶ 6). Plaintiff claims
that Ritchie and Spellman created false conduct reports in
connection with the incident. (Id.).
leaving the captain's office, plaintiff claims defendant
Ritchie took him to the C-Block and used a racial slur.
(Id. at ¶ 8). Plaintiff alleges he informed
defendant Green, the C-Block Supervisor, of the racial slur
used by Ritchie. (Id. at ¶ 9). Plaintiff claims
that defendant Ritchie then pushed him against a crashgate
"for no apparent reason" at 1:39 A.M. on October
25, 2016. (Id.). Plaintiff alleges that defendant
Green was also present during this incident. (Id. at
¶ 11). Afterwards, plaintiff alleges that defendant
Ritchie took him to a blind spot away from security cameras
with defendant Green, struck him several times on the left
side of his face, and sprayed mace. (Id. at ¶
13). Plaintiff alleges that he responded in self-defense and
tried to retreat by laying down in compliance until other
officers arrived. (Id. at ¶ 14). While
plaintiff was on the ground, defendant Ritchie allegedly
continued to execute "unwarranted force."
was restrained, plaintiff states that defendant Hubbard
escorted him to the medical exam room. (Id. at
¶ 15). Defendant nurse Snelling stepped out of the room
while defendant Hubbard and two unidentified correctional
officers beat plaintiffs back and legs. (Id.),
Defendant Hubbard allegedly stated, "[w]e are real
racists on third shift!" (Id.). Plaintiff
alleges defendant Snelling "falsified the medical
documentation by claiming that the plaintiff suffered from no
injuries." (Id. at ¶ 16). Plaintiff also
claims that Ritchie, Green, and Hubbard falsified various
reports to cover up the incident. (Id. at ¶
17). Plaintiff claims that other nurses and doctors later
verified that he suffered injuries from the above incidents,
including a hole in the ear membrane that took 75 days to
heal. (Id. at ¶ 18).
September 22, 2017, this Court conducted a sua
sponte review of plaintiff s complaint and recommended
that plaintiffs complaint be dismissed with the exception of
his Eighth Amendment individual capacity claims against
defendants Ritchie, Spellman, Green, Hubbard, Snelling, and
two unidentified correctional officers. (Doc. 4 at 8). The
Court recommended that plaintiffs allegations that defendants
Ritchie, Spellman, and Green wrote false conduct reports
against him be dismissed for failure to state a claim upon
which relief may be granted. (Id.). The District
Judge adopted the Report and Recommendation on October 30,
2017. (Doc. 12).
apply the same analysis to motions for judgment on the
pleadings under Rule 12(c) as they apply to motions to
dismiss under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). See Warrior Sports,
Inc. v. Nat 7 Collegiate Athletic Ass' n,
623 F.3d 281, 284 (6th Cir. 2010). 'Tor purposes of a
motion for judgment on the pleadings, all well-pleaded
material allegations of the pleadings of the opposing party
must be taken as true, and the motion may be granted only if
the moving party is nevertheless clearly entitled to
judgment." JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A. v. Winget,
510 F.3d 577, 582 (6th Cir. 2007) (internal citation and
quotation marks omitted). However, the Court need not accept
as true legal conclusions or unwarranted factual inferences.
Id. (citing Mixon v. Ohio, 193 F.3d 389,
400 (6th Cir. 1999)).
withstand a Rule 12(c) motion for judgment on the pleadings,
"a complaint must contain direct or inferential
allegations respecting all the material elements under some
viable legal theory." Commercial Money Ctr., Inc. v.
III. Union Ins. Co., 508 F.3d 327, 336 (6th Cir. 2007).
"The factual allegations in the complaint need to be
sufficient to give notice to the defendant as to what claims
are alleged, and the plaintiff must plead 'sufficient
factual matter' to render the legal claim plausible,
i.e., more than merely possible." Fritz v. Charter
Twp. of Comstock, 592 F.3d 718, 722 (6th Cir. 2010)
(citing Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 677-78
(2009)). A "legal conclusion couched as a factual
allegation" need not be accepted as true, nor are
recitations of the elements of a cause of action sufficient.
Hensley Mfg. v. Pro Pride, Inc., 579 F.3d 603, 609
(6th Cir. 2009) (quoting Bell Atlantic Corp. v.
Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007)). In ruling on a
motion for judgment on the pleadings, the Court can consider
"exhibits attached thereto, public records, items
appearing in the record of the case and exhibits attached to
defendants'] motion [for judgment on the pleadings], so
long as they are referred to in the Complaint and are central
to the claims contained therein." Bassett v. Nat
'I Collegiate Athletic Ass 'n, 528 F.3d 426, 430
(6th Cir. 2008). See also Mediacom Southeast LLC v.
BellSouth Telecommunications, Inc., 672 F.3d 396, 399
(6th Cir. 2012). As such, the Court will consider the state
court records attached to defendants' motion for judgment
on the pleadings and supplemental memorandum.
Defendants' motion for judgment on the pleadings should
move for judgment on the pleadings pursuant to Federal Rule
of Civil Procedure 12(c) on the basis that plaintiff made a
knowing, intelligent, and voluntary waiver of his claims
under Ohio Rev. Code § 2743.02(A)(1) by filing suit in
the Ohio Court of Claims based on the same set of acts or
omissions as this case. (Doc. 36 at 4-6). Defendants
therefore argue that plaintiffs claims are barred under the
Leaman doctrine of the Sixth Circuit. (Id.
at 4). Alternatively, defendants argue that plaintiffs claims
are barred by the doctrines of res judicata and collateral
estoppel because his claims have been adjudicated on the
merits in the Ohio Court of Claims. (Id. at 6-10).
Defendants attach plaintiffs complaint and supporting
exhibits that were filed in the Ohio Court of Claims on April
20, 2017 to their motion. (Doc. 36-1). Defendants indicated
in their motion that the Court of Claims matter proceeded to
trial on September 6, 2018 and the parties were awaiting a
decision, which would be provided to this Court when
available. In a supplemental memorandum in support of their
motion for judgment on the pleadings, defendants provide this
Court with a copy of the Ohio Court of Claims November 21,
2018 decision and subsequent January 15, 2019 judgment entry.
(Doc. 42-1). In that decision, a magistrate for the Ohio
Court of Claims recommended that judgment be entered in favor
of defendants on plaintiffs claim of excessive force
occurring on October 25, 2016. (Id., ).
opposes defendants' motion and argues that Ohio Rev. Code
§ 2743.02(A)(1) and (F) state that the Leaman
waiver is void if the employee acted with malicious purpose,
in bad faith, or in a wanton or reckless manner that would
take the employee manifestly outside the scope of employment.
(Doc. 40 at 2). Plaintiff states that such an act takes the
case out of the jurisdiction of the Court of Claims upon a
determination from the Court of Claims that the act was
outside the scope of employment. (Id. at 2-3).
Plaintiff also argues that by allowing him to proceed on his
Eighth Amendment claims, this Court rendered a decision
regarding the defendant employees' actions, putting them
outside of the scope of employment. (Id. at 3). In
his supplemental memorandum in response to defendants'