United States District Court, S.D. Texas, Houston Division
MEMORANDUM AND OPINION
Rosenthal Chief United States District Judge
Hatton sued the Harris County Jail, the Harris County
Sheriff's Department, and Harris County, alleging that a
guard assaulted her while she was incarcerated at the Harris
County Jail in May 2016. Harris County removed to federal
court. (Docket Entry No. 1). In July 2018, this court granted
the Harris County Sheriff's Department's motion to
dismiss the claims against it with prejudice. (Docket Entry
Nos. 3, 5). The remaining defendants move for summary
judgment. (Docket Entry No. 13). Although Hatton responded
late and without asking for leave to file a late response,
the court still considers her response in its analysis.
(Docket Entry No. 15).
on the pleadings; the motion and response; the record; and
the applicable law, the court grants the defendants'
motion for summary judgment. (Docket Entry No. 13). Final
judgment is separately entered. The reasons are explained
6, 2016, Hatton was arrested and taken to the Harris County
Jail. (Docket Entry No. 14-1 at 1). An inmate offense report
filed the next day by Officer C. Busby states that around
1:45 a.m. on May 7, Hatton had a seizure while walking into a
holding cell. (Docket Entry No. 14 at 1). The report states
that Hatton struck “the holding cell door and then . .
. the floor.” (Id.). Busby states that she
went to the clinic to alert medical staff, who then took
Hatton to the clinic for evaluation. (Id.). The
report explains that Hatton was then transported to St.
Joseph Hospital for further treatment. (Id.). Hatton
received scalp sutures at the hospital and signed a waiver to
leave the hospital against medical advice. (Docket Entry No.
14-1 at 16, 21-22). Hatton returned to the Harris County
Jail, where she received a mental health evaluation and other
medical care. (Id. at 26-27, 32, 34).
alleges a different version of events in her complaint. She
alleges that while she was going back to her cell on May 7, a
female guard charged and punched her. (Docket Entry No. 1-2
at 5). Hatton alleges that she passed out from the attack,
woke up in the jail's clinic, was given pills for her
injuries, and was returned to her cell. (Id.). After
she was released on bail, she discovered stitches in her
head, cuts on her head and face, bruises on her body, and a
black eye. (Id. at 6).
claims that the defendants are liable for assault and battery
and under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for Officer Busby's
alleged use of excessive force. (Id. at 6-7). She
asserts that the defendants have waived sovereign immunity
under the Texas Tort Claims Act. (Id.). The
defendants, Harris County Jail and Harris County, move for
The Summary Judgment Standard
judgment is required when ‘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.'”
Trent v. Wade, 776 F.3d 368, 376 (5th Cir. 2015)
(quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a)). “A genuine dispute of
material fact exists when the ‘evidence is such that a
reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving
party.'” Nola Spice Designs, LLC v. Haydel
Enters., Inc., 783 F.3d 527, 536 (5th Cir. 2015)
(quoting Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, 477 U.S. 242,
248 (1986)). “The moving party ‘bears the initial
responsibility 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.'” Id.
(quoting EEOC v. LHC Grp., Inc., 773 F.3d 688, 694
(5th Cir. 2014)); see also Celotex Corp. v. Catrett,
477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986).
the non-movant bears the burden of proof at trial, the movant
may merely point to the absence of evidence and thereby shift
to the non-movant the burden of demonstrating by competent
summary judgment proof that there is an issue of material
fact warranting trial.” Id. (quotation marks
omitted); see also Celotex, 477 U.S. at 325.
Although the party moving for summary judgment must
demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of material fact,
it does not need to negate the elements of the
nonmovant's case. Boudreaux v. Swift Transp.
Co., 402 F.3d 536, 540 (5th Cir. 2005). “A fact is
‘material' if its resolution in favor of one party
might affect the outcome of the lawsuit under governing
law.” Sossamon v. Lone Star State of Tex., 560
F.3d 316, 326 (5th Cir. 2009) (quotation omitted). “If
the moving party fails to meet [its] initial burden, the
motion [for summary judgment] must be denied, regardless of
the nonmovant's response.” United States v.
$92, 203.00 in U.S. Currency, 537 F.3d 504, 507 (5th
Cir. 2008) (quoting Little v. Liquid Air Corp., 37
F.3d 1069, 1075 (5th Cir. 1994) (en banc)).
the moving party [meets its initial burden], the non-moving
party must ‘go beyond the pleadings and by her own
affidavits, or by the depositions, answers to
interrogatories, and admissions on file, designate specific
facts showing that there is a genuine issue for
trial.'” Nola Spice, 783 F.3d at 536
(quoting LHC Grp., 773 F.3d at 694). The nonmovant
must identify specific evidence in the record and articulate
how that evidence supports that party's claim. Baranowski
v. Hart, 486 F.3d 112, 119 (5th Cir. 2007). “This
burden will not be satisfied by ‘some metaphysical
doubt as to the material facts, by conclusory allegations, by
unsubstantiated assertions, or by only a scintilla of
evidence.'” Boudreaux, 402 F.3d at 540
(quoting Little, 37 F.3d at 1075). In deciding a
summary judgment motion, the court draws all reasonable
inferences in the light most favorable to the nonmoving
party. Connors v. Graves, 538 F.3d 373, 376 (5th
Cir. 2008); see also Nola Spice, 783 F.3d at 536.
The Summary Judgment Evidence
County attaches to its summary judgment motion the following
records from the Harris County Sheriff's Office:
• an inmate offense report dated May 7, 2016, describing
the events leading up to and following Hatton's injuries;
• records of Hatton's ...