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Bryant v. United States

United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Terre Haute Division

December 7, 2017



          Hon. William T. Lawrence, Judge

         Plaintiff Andrew Bryant is a former inmate at the Federal Correctional Complex in Terre Haute, Indiana (FCC Terre Haute). After screening of the amended complaint, Bryant's claims, brought under the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA), are that because of the negligence of staff at the FCC Terre Haute he was injured in an attack by another inmate and that, while he was held in the Secured Housing Unit (SHU) at that facility, he was sickened by exposure to mold. The defendant has moved for summary judgment and Bryant has responded. For the following reasons, the motion for summary judgment, Dkt. No. 40, is granted.

         I. Standard of Review

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(a) provides that summary judgment is appropriate “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.” In ruling on a motion for summary judgment, the admissible evidence presented by the non-moving party must be believed and all reasonable inferences must be drawn in the non-movant's favor. Hemsworth v., Inc., 476 F.3d 487, 490 (7th Cir. 2007); Zerante v. DeLuca, 555 F.3d 582, 584 (7th Cir. 2009) (“We view the record in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party and draw all reasonable inferences in that party's favor.”). However, “[a] party who bears the burden of proof on a particular issue may not rest on its pleadings, but must affirmatively demonstrate, by specific factual allegations, that there is a genuine issue of material fact that requires trial.” Hemsworth, 476 F.3d at 490. Finally, the non-moving party bears the burden of specifically identifying the relevant evidence of record, and “the court is not required to scour the record in search of evidence to defeat a motion for summary judgment.” Ritchie v. Glidden Co., 242 F.3d 713, 723 (7th Cir. 2001).

         II. Undisputed Facts

         A. The Assault on Bryant

         On June 17, 2015, Bryant, was eating in the dining hall at the FCC Terre Haute when another inmate hit him on the right side of his head. According to Bryant, the other inmate sneaked up behind Bryant and hit him from “the blind side.” Bryant is not sure whether the other inmate hit him with his fist or an object.

         Before this incident, Bryant knew the other inmate and they had an “all right relationship.” The other inmate had never threatened Bryant, and Bryant was not aware that the other inmate had any problems with him. Bryant had not requested to be separated from the other inmate because he “didn't feel threatened.” Bryant is not sure why the other inmate hit him and, to this day, has no idea why the incident occurred.

         B. Prior Incident Involving Bryant's Assailant

         About one month before this incident, his attacker was involved in a “knife fight” with another inmate in the bathroom of the dining hall. Bryant did not witness the incident and does not remember the name of the other inmate involved in the incident, but says that he saw the two inmates come out of the bathroom and one was bleeding. Bryant believes based on this prior incident that his assailant should have been transferred to another institution and should not have been at FCC Terre Haute in June 2015. In support of this allegation, Bryant has produced a Discipline Hearing Officer Report, which describes an incident between Bryant's assailant (Inmate #1) and another inmate (Inmate #2). According to the report, on April 29, 2015, Inmate #2 followed Inmate #1 into the dining hall restroom and when Inmate #1 exited the restroom, he had lacerations above his left eye, his nose, and his forearm. Inmate #1 stated to the nurse that he “was sitting on the toilet and he [Inmate #2] came in and started attacking me.” Based on the foregoing, an Incident Report was written against Inmate #2.

         According to BOP records, prior to June 17, 2015, Inmate #1 (Bryant's assailant) had never been disciplined while in the Bureau of Prisons. After the June 17, 2015, incident, an Incident Report was written against Inmate #1 charging him with an infraction for hitting Bryant. Inmate #1 was ultimately found guilty of hitting Bryant and was disciplined, including a loss of Good Conduct Time.

         C. BOP Authority over Inmate Placement

         The BOP has broad statutory authority to control and manage federal correctional institutions, including housing of prisoners in its custody. See, e.g., 18 U.S.C. §§ 3621, 4001(b)(1), 4042(a)(1) (2). The BOP is also charged with designating the place of a prisoner's imprisonment. 18 U.S.C. § 3621. It may designate any available facility that meets minimum standards of health and habitability established by the BOP. 18 U.S.C. § 3621(b). In determining what designation is appropriate and suitable for any given individual the BOP is to consider, among other things: (1) the resources of the facility contemplated; (2) the nature and circumstances of the offense; and (3) the history and characteristics of the prisoner. 18 U.S.C. § 3621(b). The BOP may direct the transfer of a prisoner from one penal or correctional facility to another at any time. See id.

         The BOP has no rule or policy mandating that an inmate be disciplined or placed in a certain custody level facility or location based on his actions. BOP Program Statement 5270.09, which relates to Inmate Discipline, states that a BOP staff member must write an incident report when the staff member “witnesses or reasonably believes that an inmate has committed a prohibited act.” The incident report is the first step in charging an inmate with an infraction, but there is no requirement that the BOP conduct an investigation, charge the inmate with an infraction, or discipline or ...

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