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Gambrel v. Indiana Department of Corrections

United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Indianapolis Division

June 11, 2019

NORMAN GAMBREL, Plaintiff,
v.
INDIANA DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS, PLAINFIELD CORRECTIONAL FACILITY, SUPERINTENDENT STAN KNIGHT, Individually and in his official capacity, CORRECTIONAL OFFICER CROW, and CORRECTIONAL OFFICER JOHN DOE 1-10, Defendants.

          ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANTS' MOTION FOR PARTIAL SUMMARY JUDGMENT

          TANYA WALTON PRATT, JUDGE

         This matter is before the Court on a Motion for Partial Summary Judgment filed pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56 by Defendants Indiana Department of Correction (“IDOC”), Plainfield Correctional Facility (“PCF”), Superintendent Stan Knight (“Superintendent Knight”), and Correctional Officer Crowe (“Officer Crowe”) (collectively, “Defendants”) (Filing No. 62). While an inmate at PCF, Plaintiff Norman Gambrel (“Gambrel”) was violently attacked by a fellow inmate and injured as a result of the attack. Gambrel filed this action against the Defendants as well as Correctional Officer John Doe 1-10 for violating his Eighth Amendment rights by failing to protect him, failing to properly train officers, failing to properly assign officers, and having a deliberate indifference toward his safety. Gambrel also asserted related state law tort claims. The Defendants filed their Motion for Partial Summary Judgment, asserting various arguments that they are entitled to judgment as a matter of law on Gambrel's federal claims. For the following reasons, the Court grants the Defendants' Motion for Partial Summary Judgment.

         I. BACKGROUND

         The following facts are not necessarily objectively true, but as required by Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56, the facts are presented in the light most favorable to Gambrel as the non-moving party. See Zerante v. DeLuca, 555 F.3d 582, 584 (7th Cir. 2009); Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 255 (1986).

         IDOC is an Indiana governmental agency, and PCF is a medium-security IDOC correctional facility located in Plainfield, Indiana (Filing No. 1 at 3). Superintendent Knight operates, manages, directs, and controls PCF. Id. at 2. Officer Crowe is employed by IDOC as a correctional officer at PCF. Id. Gambrel was incarcerated as an inmate at PCF on February 20, 2015, the date of the assault. Id. at 2-3.

         Gambrel worked in the PEN Products area at PCF and had been employed there for approximately three months prior to the assault. The PEN Products area is a distribution warehouse from which all IDOC facilities get their commissary. Gambrel's job in the PEN Products area was to work as a “picker, ” which consisted of filling individual commissary orders by taking an order form, filling a box with the items listed on the order form (such as candy bars, chips, soup), and placing the box and the order form on a conveyor belt. He would then take another order form and box and repeat the steps for that order. His shift was from 7:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., Monday through Friday (Filing No. 63-1 at 11-16).

         Gambrel was familiar with his assailant, Raymond Kestner (“Kestner”), prior to the assault. They lived in the same dorm. Kestner approached Gambrel and accused him of being a tattletale or snitch. Gambrel told a correctional officer-he believes it was Officer Crowe-that he needed to move to a different dorm because he feared Kestner was going to beat him up. Gambrel was immediately moved to another dorm. Prior to the assault, Gambrel did not have any other run-ins with Kestner or even see Kestner again after being moved into another dorm. Gambrel began working in the PEN Products area approximately one month after being moved to another dorm and away from Kestner. Id. at 17-20.

         Gambrel had been working in the PEN Products area for approximately three months prior to the assault. On the morning of the assault, he woke up around 5:00 a.m., ate breakfast, and then went to work. This was his normal routine for the previous three months, and there was nothing unusual about how his morning started. Id. at 12, 16-17.

         Gambrel did not know that Kestner had started working in the PEN Products area until he saw Kestner on the day of the assault. He had not seen Kestner since he had been moved out of the dorm nor had he talked to Kestner. Around 8:30 a.m., as Gambrel was filling orders, Kestner approached him, spit on him, and continued walking by. At some point, Kestner also kicked the box that Gambrel was working on filling. Gambrel left his work station to get a napkin and wipe the spit off. He also told a correctional Officer Yousefi what had just happened and stated that Officer Yousefi needed to keep an eye on them. Id. at 17, 21-24, 26; Filing No. 68-1 at 2.

         Gambrel returned to the picking line and continued working. (Filing No. 63-1 at 25). Officer Yousefi informed Officer Crowe-who was the senior officer on duty and in charge of the PEN Products picking area-that Gambrel was being threatened by Kestner. Officer Crowe asked Officer Yousefi to identify who was the threatening offender and who was the victim, which Officer Yousefi did. Officer Crowe directed Officer Yousefi to remove Kestner from the area and into the hallway. Officer Crowe remained in the picking area, standing by the door. Officer Yousefi began escorting Kestner toward the door to the hallway. He was not touching or physically restraining Kestner because he had not observed anything that would require him to restrain Kestner, and Officer Crowe told him that he would remove Gambrel from the picking area. Yet, Officer Crowe did not remove Gambrel from the area. Instead, as Officer Yousefi and Kestner were approaching the door, Gambrel finished filling a box and was about to start working on a new order form, when he found himself in the direct path of Kestner and Officer Yousefi (Filing No. 68-1 at 2-3). Kestner came up behind Gambrel and punched him four or five times in the jaw (Filing No. 63-1 at 25). After Kestner began attacking Gambrel, Officer Yousefi intervened and restrained Kestner. Officer Yousefi noticed that Officer Crowe stood by without intervening (Filing No. 68-1 at 3). As a result of the attack, Gambrel suffered multiple fractures of facial bones, including broken top and bottom jaws, a shattered sinus cavity, and a broken eye socket. He was placed in medical segregation following the assault (Filing No. 68-2 at 1-2).

         Gambrel has never met or spoken to Superintendent Knight. Superintendent Knight had no personal involvement in the events of February 20, 2015 (Filing No. 63-1 at 35-37). Gambrel is no longer incarcerated at PCF, having been released to parole. Id. at 33.

         On February 16, 2017, Gambrel filed a Complaint against IDOC, PCF, Superintendent Knight, Officer Crowe, and Correctional Officer John Doe 1-10 (Filing No. 1). In his Complaint, Gambrel asserts Count I against Officer Crowe and Correctional Officer John Doe 1-10 for deliberate indifference under the Eighth Amendment pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §§ 1983, 1985. Count II is brought against IDOC, PCF, and Superintendent Knight for their failure to train. Count III is brought against IDOC, PCF, and Superintendent Knight for their failure to properly assign staff. Count IV is brought against all Defendants for conspiracy to violate constitutional rights afforded by the Eighth Amendment. Counts V and VI are brought against Officer Crowe and Correctional Officer John Doe 1-10 under Indiana tort law for negligence and intentional infliction of emotional distress. Id. at 4-10. The Defendants filed their Motion for Partial Summary Judgment, asserting that they are entitled to judgment as a matter of law on Gambrel's federal claims, and the Court should decline to exercise its supplemental jurisdiction over Gambrel's pendant state law claims and dismiss those claims without prejudice.

         II. SUMMARY JUDGMENT STANDARD

         The purpose of summary judgment is to “pierce the pleadings and to assess the proof in order to see whether there is a genuine need for trial.” Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986). Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56 provides that summary judgment is appropriate if “the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law.” Hemsworth v. Quotesmith.com, Inc., 476 F.3d 487, 489-90 (7th Cir. 2007). In ruling on a motion for summary judgment, the court reviews “the record in the light most favorable to the non-moving party and draw[s] all reasonable inferences in that party's favor.” Zerante, 555 F.3d at 584 (citation omitted). “However, inferences that are supported by only speculation or conjecture will not defeat a summary judgment motion.” Dorsey v. Morgan Stanley, 507 F.3d 624, 627 (7th Cir. 2007) (citation and quotation marks omitted). Additionally, “[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 (citation omitted). “The opposing party cannot meet this burden with conclusory statements or speculation but only with appropriate citations to relevant admissible evidence.” Sink v. Knox County Hosp., 900 F.Supp. 1065, 1072 (S.D. Ind. 1995) (citations omitted).

         “In much the same way that a court is not required to scour the record in search of evidence to defeat a motion for summary judgment, nor is it permitted to conduct a paper trial on the merits of [the] claim.” Ritchie v. Glidden Co., 242 F.3d 713, 723 (7th Cir. 2001) (citations and quotation marks omitted). “[N]either the mere existence of some alleged factual dispute between the parties nor the existence of some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts is sufficient to defeat a motion ...


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