United States District Court, S.D. Ohio, Western Division
JOHNNIE D. COOK, Plaintiff,
RYAN WOODARD, et al., Defendants.
Stephanie K. Bowman, Magistrate Judge
DECISION AND ENTRY ADOPTING THE REPORT AND
RECOMMENDATION OF THE UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE (DOC.
Timothy S. Black, United States District Judge
case is before the Court pursuant to the Order of General
Reference to United States Magistrate Judge Stephanie K.
Bowman. Pursuant to such reference, the Magistrate Judge
reviewed the pleadings filed with this Court and, on June 4,
2019, submitted a Report and Recommendation recommending that
the Court grant Defendant Ryan Woodard's motion for
summary judgment (Doc. 35) and grant in part and deny in part
Defendant William Cool's motion for summary judgment
(Doc. 37). (Doc. 49).
14, 2019, Plaintiff filed objections. (Doc. 52). Defendant
Cool filed objections on July 2, 2019. (Doc. 55). Plaintiff
proceeded to file a response to Cool's objections (Doc.
56), to which Cool filed a reply (Doc. 58). Plaintiff also
filed a sur-reply. (Doc. 59).
a pro se prisoner, filed this action pursuant to 42
U.S.C. § 1983 alleging an Eighth Amendment excessive use
of force claim again Correctional Officer Ryan Woodard. (Doc.
1). Plaintiff was granted leave to amend his complaint to add
a retaliation claim against Defendant Cool. (See
Doc. 15). Plaintiff alleges that Cool retaliated against
Plaintiff for issuing subpoenas to three prison employees,
including Cool, by submitted a false conduct report claiming
the subpoenas were forged. (Doc. 4; Doc. 15 at 4). Plaintiff
further alleges that he was threatened prior to his
disciplinary hearing regarding the subpoenas and told he
needed to drop his civil action. (Doc. 49, at 10). Plaintiff
was found guilty by the Rules Infraction Board
(“RIB”) and sentenced to twenty days in
disciplinary control. Plaintiff appealed his disciplinary
conviction, but the appeal was denied. (Id.).
preliminary review and Defendant Woodard's motion to
dismiss, this Court entered a Decision and Entry adopting
Judge Bowman's Report and Recommendation, permitting
Plaintiff's excessive force claim against Woodard and
retaliation claim against Cool to proceed. (Doc. 27).
Defendants Woodard and Cool separately moved for summary
judgment. (Docs. 35, 37). The Magistrate Judge entered a
Report and Recommendation recommending that this Court grant
Defendant Woodard's motion for summary judgment and grant
in part and deny in part Defendant Cool's motion for
summary judgment. (Doc. 49). As to Defendant Woodard, the
Magistrate Judge found that Plaintiff's claims against
Woodard are barred by claim and issue preclusion and waived
pursuant to the Leaman Doctrine. (Id. at
5). The Magistrate Judge alternatively found that
Plaintiff's excessive force claim against Woodard fails
on the merits, because Plaintiff failed to respond to
Woodard's motion for summary judgment that included
witness affidavits and video evidence refuting
Plaintiff's claim. (Id. at 8-9).
Cool argued he was entitled to summary judgment on three
bases: (1) failure to exhaust administrative remedies, (2)
lack of a material fact showing retaliation, and (3)
qualified immunity. (Id. at 10). As to Cool's
first argument, the Magistrate Judge found Plaintiff failed
to exhaust his retaliation claim but proceeded to find
Plaintiff exempt from the exhaustion requirement, as
Plaintiff was informed that no administrative remedies were
available. (Id. at 13-14). Second, the Magistrate
Judge rejected Cool's argument that no dispute of
material fact exists as to whether Cool engaged in
retaliation (Id. at 14-27). In doing so, the Judge
found that Plaintiff's act of filing a non-frivolous
lawsuit and issuing subpoenas to prosecute the case
constituted a constitutionally-protected activity.
(Id. at 15-17). Judge Bowman also found that
Plaintiff's punishment of twenty days in disciplinary
segregation constituted an “adverse action” and
was not de minimis. (Id. at 17). However,
because Plaintiff was not able to produce evidence refuting
Defendant Cool's affidavits asserting he did not threaten
Plaintiff prior to or during the administrative hearing, the
Magistrate Judge found Cool entitled to summary judgment on
Plaintiff's retaliation claim related to this particular
conduct. Finally, Judge Bowman found a dispute of material
fact exists as to Defendant's subjective motive,
rejecting Cools' argument concerning causation.
(Id. at 23).
addition, Judge Bowman found that Defendant Cool is not
entitled to summary judgment on the basis of qualified
immunity. (Id. at 27-32).
made a letter filing following the Magistrate Judge's
issuance of the Report and Recommendation. (Doc. 52). In this
letter, Plaintiff explains that although he provided his
response to Defendant Woodard's motion for summary
judgment to prison officials for mailing, the officials did
not place the document in the mail. (Id. at 1).
Plaintiff further alleges that Defendant Cool came to his
cell and told him “you can't win a claim of
retaliation if you can't prove Woodards [sic] response
was filed.” (Id. at 2). The Court construes
this filing as an objection to the Report and Recommendation.
assuming prison officials did not place Plaintiff's
response to Defendant's Woodard's motion for summary
judgment in the mail, the Magistrate Judge's
recommendation to grant Woodard's motion for summary
judgment stands. This is because in addition to finding
summary judgment warranted on the merits, the Magistrate
Judge found that Plaintiff's claims against Woodard are
barred by claim preclusion and issue preclusion, as well as
by the Leaman Doctrine. (Doc. 49 at 5-8). Plaintiff
does not refute these findings of the Magistrate Judge. The
Court agrees with the Report and Recommendation that as a
result of Plaintiff's previously filed state-court case,