United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Indianapolis Division
ORDER DENYING SUMMARY JUDGMENT
R. SWEENEY II, JUDGE
Year's Day 2017, a detainee in the Henry County Jail
struck Plaintiff Wayne Houston in the face, breaking
Houston's nose and orbital bone and opening a gash over
his eye, requiring multiple surgeries. Houston alleges claims
for deprivation of his constitutional rights and for
negligence against Defendant Henry County Sheriff Richard A.
McCorkle in his official and individual capacities. McCorkle
moves for summary judgment (ECF No. 43) on Houston's
constitutional claims. The Court ordered-and the parties
submitted-supplemental briefing on whether the Fourth
Amendment's “objective unreasonableness”
standard governs Houston's claims and, if so, whether
McCorkle is entitled to summary judgment on that standard.
McCorkle's motion-now fully briefed and ripe for
decision-is denied for the following
County Sheriff's deputies detained Houston on December
31, 2017. On January 11, 2017, Houston was charged by
Information with criminal confinement and child abuse. Those
charges were ultimately dismissed.
in custody prior to a probable-cause determination, Houston
was placed in “C Block” of the Henry County Jail.
(Houston Dep. 16:2, ECF No. 50-4 at 1.) Between C Block and
the rest of the Jail was a barred door, a vestibule, and a
solid steel door. (See Huxhold Dep. 13:4-14:17, ECF
No. 45-7 at 13-14.) Upon arriving in C Block- which was so
“packed” with inmates that Houston
“couldn't count them all”-Houston made small
talk with some of his fellow detainees. (Houston Dep.
16:9-17:11, ECF No. 50-4 at 1-2.) One young man, who was
lifting makeshift dumbbells, took an interest in
Houston's physique. (Houston Dep. 19:16-21:9.) As they
discussed Houston's workout regimen, another detainee
hung a blanket to block the CCTV camera. (Houston Dep.
25:3-9.) The weightlifting detainee suddenly exclaimed,
“I'm going to kill you!” and struck Houston
in the face with part of the makeshift dumbbell, which
appeared to Houston to be a pipe. (Houston Dep. 28:16-29:11,
ECF No. 45-2 at 9.) The weightlifter, Alan Gideon, and his
accomplice, Richard Lawson-neither of whom is party to this
suit-pleaded guilty and admitted to their roles in the
attack. (Gideon Sent'g Hr'g Tr. 11:20-12:11, ECF No.
50-7 at 11-12; Lawson Sent'g Hr'g Tr. 14:21- 15:25,
ECF No. 45-9 at 14-15.)
single control room attendant was responsible for monitoring
the video feed from the Jail's 36 CCTV cameras observing
the detainees, but monitoring the video feed was not the
attendant's sole or even primary duty-the attendant also
had to answer phones and deal with the public. (ECF No. 50-9
at 2-3; Grider Dep. 16:8-22, ECF No. 50-1 at 2; Huxhold Dep.
25:9-16, ECF No. 45-7 at 25.) When she noticed the C Block
camera blocked by a blanket, the attendant alerted her
supervisor, Richard Huxhold. (Fitzsimmons Dep. 31:6-13, ECF
No. 50-5 at 9.) The camera was covered for a total of four
minutes. (Fitzsimmons Dep. 31:2-5, ECF No. 50-5 at 9.)
Huxhold promptly proceeded to C Block, opened the steel panel
door, saw through the barred door that Houston was bleeding,
and extracted Houston from C Block. (Huxhold Dep. 13:4-15:5,
ECF No. 45-7 at 13-15.) He handed Houston off to another
officer, who brought him to another area of the jail.
(Huxhold Dep. 15:8-18, ECF No. 45-7 at 15.) Houston was
eventually taken to a hospital for treatment. Houston does
not challenge the promptness of the response to the blocked
camera or the adequacy of the medical care; he challenges the
failure to prevent his attacker from obtaining a weapon.
is evidence that the Henry County Jail had been chronically
understaffed for fifteen years, including the time of
Houston's injuries, and that Sheriff McCorkle was aware
of the understaffing. (Grider Dep. 27:13-16, ECF No. 50-1 at
5.) (Indeed, there is evidence that the jail was especially
understaffed at the time of Houston's attack, with just
two or three staff on hand for 130 inmates.) There is also
evidence that the jail was frequently overcrowded beginning
at least as early as July 2016, six months before the attack
on Houston, (Grider Dep. 25:3-8, ECF No. 50-1 at 5; ECF No.
50-3); other evidence indicates that the jail had been
frequently overcrowded for fifteen years, (Grider Dep.
28:9-19, ECF No. 50-1 at 8). Finally, there is evidence that
McCorkle had no policies in place to address issues related
to overcrowding. (Def.'s Resp. to Pl.'s 5th Req.
Prod. ¶ 1, ECF No. 50-8 at 1; Grider Dep. 23:17-24:5,
ECF No. 50-1 at 3-4.)
56(a) provides that “[t]he court shall grant summary
judgment 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.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). In
considering a motion for summary judgment, the district court
“must construe all the facts and reasonable inferences
in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party.”
Monroe v. Indiana Dep't of Transp., 871 F.3d
495, 503 (7th Cir. 2017). However, the district court must
also view the evidence “through the prism of the
substantive evidentiary burden, ” Anderson v.
Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 254 (1986), and does
not draw “inferences that are supported by only
speculation or conjecture, ” Singer v.
Raemisch, 593 F.3d 529, 533 (7th Cir. 2010).
incarcerated persons with demonstrated proclivities for
antisocial criminal, and often violent, conduct, having
stripped them of virtually every means of self-protection and
foreclosed their access to outside aid, the government and
its officials are not free to let the state of nature take
its course.” Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825,
833 (1994) (cleaned up). Rather, government custodians
“must take reasonable measures to guarantee the safety
of the inmates.” Id. at 832. This includes
protecting inmates from violence at the hands of other
inmates. Id. at 833.
failure-to-protect claims involve inmates incarcerated after
conviction. Such claims arise under the Eighth
Amendment's Cruel and Unusual Punishment Clause. See
Brown v. Budz, 398 F.3d 904, 909 (7th Cir. 2005). To
sustain a failure-to-protect claim under the Eighth
Amendment, the plaintiff must prove that “(1) he is
incarcerated under conditions posing a substantial risk of
serious harm, and (2) defendant-officials acted with
deliberate indifference to that risk.” Id.
(quoting Farmer, 511 U.S. at 834) (quotation marks
all failure-to-protect claims arise under the Eighth
Amendment. Pretrial detainees' failure-to-protect claims
arise under the Fourteenth Amendment's Due Process Clause
“because the State cannot punish a pretrial
detainee.” Id. at 910 (quoting Estate of
Cole by Pardue v. Fromm, 94 F.3d 254, 259 n.1 (7th Cir.
1996)). The Fourteenth Amendment “imposes at least as
robust a duty on government custodians” with respect to
pretrial detainees as the Eighth Amendment does with respect
to convicted prisoners. Daniel v. Cook Cty., 833
F.3d 728, 733 (7th Cir. 2016).
was neither a convicted prisoner nor a pretrial detainee at
the time of the attack. Rather, the evidence suggests that
Houston's injury occurred after a warrantless arrest but
before a probable-cause determination. (Houston Dep. Tr.
13:7- 12, ECF No. 45-2 at 5; Pierce Aff., ECF No. 45-3). As
the parties now agree, (ECF Nos. 59, 60), the Fourth
Amendment-not the Eighth or the Fourteenth-governs conditions
of confinement for the period between a warrantless arrest
and a probable cause hearing. See Lopez v. City of
Chicago, 464 F.3d 711, 719 (7th Cir. 2006).
Houston's claim is therefore ...