Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Stewart v. Tilley

United States District Court, W.D. Texas, Waco Division

November 27, 2017

MICHAEL WAYNE STEWART, Plaintiff,
v.
CYNTHIA D. TILLEY, JIMMY BOWMAN, COREY FURR, KEVIN HARRIS, KEVIN STIPES, SAMUEL MATTHEWS, and JARED POLLARD, Defendants.

          ORDER

          ROBERT PITMAN, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Before the Court is the Report and Recommendation of United States Magistrate Judge Jeffrey C. Manske, (Dkt. 42), concerning the Motion for Summary Judgment filed by Defendants Cynthia Tilley, Jimmy Bowman, Corey Furr, Kevin Stipes, and Samuel Matthews, (Dkt. 38).[1]

         This case was referred to United States Magistrate Judge Jeffrey C. Manske for a report and recommendation on the merits pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b), Rule 72 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, and Rule 1(d) of Appendix C of the Local Rules of the United States District Court for the Western District of Texas.

         In his report and recommendation, Judge Manske recommended that Defendants' motion for summary judgment be granted in part and denied in part. (Dkt. 42, at 19). Neither party filed objections. Having considered the parties' submissions, the record, and the applicable law, the Court issues the following order.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff is incarcerated in the custody of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (“TDCJ”). (See Compl., Dkt. 1, 1-C, 1-D). At all relevant times for this action, Plaintiff was housed in the William R. Boyd, Jr. Unit in Teague, Texas. (Compl., Dkt. 1-C, at 1). Defendant Tilley is warden of the Boyd Unit. (Defs.' Mot. Summ. J., Dkt. 38, at 2). Defendant Bowman is assistant warden. (Compl., Dkt. 1-D, at 6). Defendants Stipes, Bowman, Furr, Harris, Matthews, and Pollard were all correctional officers in the Boyd Unit when the events in this case took place. (Defs.' Mot. Summ. J., Dkt. 38, at 1; Compl., Dkt. 1-D, at 1).

         Plaintiff, proceeding pro se, alleges claims arising out of two distinct incidents. The first incident occurred on July 12, 2013, when Defendant Tilley allegedly ordered Defendant Stipes and Dr. Frank Leonard to deprive Plaintiff of his wheelchair. (Compl., Dkt. 1-C). The second incident occurred on December 2, 2013, when Defendants Harris and Pollard allegedly took away Plaintiff's wheelchair while he was in his cell, causing him to fall on his head. (Compl., Dkt. 1-D). Plaintiff alleges that the fall knocked him unconscious, and that Defendants Pollard, Matthews, Furr, Bowman, and Tilley knew he was unconscious but did nothing to care for him for over 14 hours, at which point he was taken by ambulance to a nearby hospital. (Id.).

         Construing Plaintiff's pro se complaint liberally, Plaintiff brings claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (“Section 1983”) for violations of his rights under the Fourth, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution. (See Compl., Dkt. 1, at 4 (in the sections labeled “Statement of the Case” and “Relief”)). Defendants' motion for summary judgment addresses Plaintiff's claims under the Fourth and Eighth Amendments, asserts qualified immunity as to the Eighth Amendment claims, and asserts sovereign immunity as to all claims against the Represented Defendants in their official capacities. (Defs.' Mot. Summ. J., Dkt. 38, at 5-10). The magistrate judge's report and recommendation addresses Plaintiff's Eighth Amendment claims, Defendants' qualified immunity as to those claims, and Defendants' assertion of sovereign immunity.[2] (Report & Rec., Dkt. 42, at 7- 18). Defendant Harris has not been served and has not appeared. (See Dkt. 18 (indicating that the summons for Defendant Harris was returned unexecuted on July 8, 2016)). Defendant Pollard has been served, but has not appeared. (See Dkt. 19 (indicating service on July 8, 2016)). The Court later found the service of Defendant Pollard to be defective, and ordered that service be reissued and that Defendant Pollard respond. (Dkt. 43). The second attempted service of Defendant Pollard was returned unexecuted. (Dkt. 46). Plaintiff requested a jury trial, (Compl., Dkt. 1-A), but no trial has yet been scheduled, (see Text Order dated February 3, 2017).

         II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

         A. Federal Magistrates Act

         Under federal statute and the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, magistrate judges may make findings and recommendations on dispositive motions. 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B); Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b)(1). Motions for summary judgment are dispositive motions under the Federal Magistrates Act. Davidson v. Georgia-Pac., L.L.C., 819 F.3d 758, 763 (5th Cir. 2016) (citing 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(A)). For dispositive motions, parties are entitled to de novo review of any part of the magistrate judge's disposition that has been properly objected to. Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b)(3). When no objections are timely filed, a district court can review the magistrate's report and recommendation for clear error. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 72 advisory committee's note (“When no timely objection is filed, the [district] court need only satisfy itself that there is no clear error on the face of the record in order to accept the recommendation.”). Even when no objections are made, however, the district judge has the discretion to “accept, reject, or modify the recommended disposition” regarding dispositive motions. Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b)(3); see also Thomas v. Arn, 474 U.S. 140, 156 (1985).

         Here, the magistrate judge issued findings and recommendations as to: (1) all of Plaintiff's claims against all Defendants in their official capacities, (2) all of Plaintiff's Eighth Amendment claims, and (3) Defendants' qualified immunity defense to Plaintiff's Eighth Amendment claims. (Report & Rec., Dkt. 42, at 7-18). There being no objections from either party, the Court will review the magistrate's recommendations as to those claims and defenses for clear error.

         The magistrate judge's report and recommendation did not consider Plaintiff's Section 1983 claims relating to the alleged violations of his Fourth or Fourteenth Amendment rights. The Court therefore conducts a de novo review of Defendants' motion for summary judgment as to those claims.

         B. Summary Judgment

         Summary judgment is appropriate under Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure only “if the movant shows there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and that the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). A dispute is genuine only if the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 254 (1986). “A fact issue is ‘material' if its resolution could affect the outcome of the action.” Poole v. City of Shreveport, 691 F.3d 624, 627 (5th Cir. 2012).

         The party moving for summary judgment bears the initial burden of “informing the district court of the basis for its motion, and identifying those portions of [the record] which it believes demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of material fact.” Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986). “[T]he moving party may [also] meet its burden by simply pointing to an absence of evidence to support the nonmoving party's case.” Boudreaux v. Swift Transp. Co., 402 F.3d 536, 544 (5th Cir. 2005). The burden then shifts to the nonmoving party to establish the existence of a genuine issue for trial. Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co., Ltd. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 585-87 (1986); Wise v. E.I. Dupont de Nemours & Co., 58 F.3d 193, 195 (5th Cir. 1995). After the non-movant has been given the opportunity to raise a genuine factual issue, if no reasonable juror could find for the non-movant, summary judgment will be granted. Miss. River Basin Alliance v. Westphal, 230 F.3d 170, 175 (5th Cir. 2000). The court will view the summary judgment evidence in the light most favorable to the non-movant. Rosado v. Deters, 5 F.3d 119, 123 (5th Cir. 1993).

         III. DEFENDANTS' MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

         Defendants' motion for summary judgment addresses Plaintiff's claims under the Fourth and Eighth Amendments, asserts qualified immunity as to the Eighth Amendment claims, and asserts sovereign immunity as to all claims against the Represented Defendants in their official capacities. (Defs.' Mot. Summ. J., Dkt. 38, at 5-10). Plaintiff's response reiterates the factual allegations from his complaint and urges that his sworn pleading creates genuine issues of material fact on each of his claims. (Pl.'s Resp., Dkt. 41). As discussed below, the Court holds that summary judgment is appropriately granted against some, but not all, of Plaintiff's claims.

         A. Sovereign Immunity

         The magistrate judge recommended that summary judgment be granted against all of Plaintiff's claims against Defendants in their official capacities. (Report & Rec., Dkt. 42, at 7-8). “Sovereign immunity is jurisdictional, ” F.D.I.C. v. Meyer, 510 U.S. 471, 475 (1994), and “any issue of jurisdiction must be addressed by [the c]ourt, sua sponte if necessary.” Lee v. Cox, 31 F. App'x 159, 159 (5th Cir. 2001). The magistrate judge recommended that the Court grant summary judgment against Plaintiff on his Section 1983 claims against all Defendants in their official capacities. See Will v. Michigan Dep't of State Police, 491 U.S. 58, 71 (1989) (holding that a Section 1983 suit against a state official in his or her official capacity “is no different from a suit against the State itself”). There being no objections to the magistrate's recommendation, the Court ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.