United States District Court, S.D. Texas, Houston Division
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
Kenneth M. Hoyt United States District Judge.
the Court are motions for summary judgment filed by Harris
County, Texas [DE 48] and the individual defendants [DE 50],
and the plaintiff's consolidated response to the motions
[DE 52]. The Court has reviewed the motions, the response and
arguments contained and, after a careful review, determines
that Harris County's motion should be granted and that
certain individual defendants' motions should be denied.
plaintiff, Mark Tennyson, brought this suit against
defendants Harris County, Texas and individuals Elvia
Villarreal, Precious Williams, Michael Alston, Rene Garcia,
Kendrick Handy, Terry Sanders, Jerome Ramon, Cassandra Amie,
Joash Butler, Ron Hickman and John and Jane Does 1-10, as an
inmate for violation of his civil rights, while detained in
the Harris County jail, pursuant to 42 U.S.C.
facts, as stated by the plaintiff that give rise to this suit
occurred on or about March 3, 2016, when the plaintiff and
“eight other inmates” were called out of their
pod(s) for allegedly “rapping and/or talking
loudly”. Officer Villarreal responded to the noise and
called several others officers to assist in conducting an
investigation into the source of the noise. The plaintiff
asserts that after they were removed from their cells, they
were told to face the wall. As he was facing the wall, he
told officer Villarreal that she had the wrong people and
that she was engaging a discriminatory investigation by
focusing only on African American inmates. According to the
plaintiff, before he completed his remarks, another unknown
officer approached him from behind “grabbing and
twisting [his] arm with his body against the wall, then
slammed [him] to the [floor]”. The impact from hitting
the floor, he contends, caused his shoulder to dislocated
resulting in severe pain due to the dislocation.
being handcuffed, he requested medical attention for his
shoulder, but was ignored by the attending officers. He was
escorted to an isolation tank cell where he continued to
request medical attention. The handcuffs were not immediately
removed; however, and he did not receive medical attention
until the following morning.
following morning, the plaintiff was examined by a physician
who diagnosed a shoulder dislocation, ordered x-rays and a
sling to stabilize his shoulder. The doctor also prescribed
pain medication and entered an order that the plaintiff's
bunk assignment be changed to a lower bunk. After the
shoulder was “popped” in place, the plaintiff
returned to his cell and received prescribed medication for
pain for several weeks.
plaintiff asserts that Harris County violated his civil
rights by: (a) adopting or permitting to exist a wide-spread
policy that permits its deputies to use excessive force
against inmates, falsifying reports and failing to provide
timely and adequate medical attention.; (b) failing to train,
supervise and discipline its officers concerning their duty
to avoid violating citizens' rights; and (c) failing to
adequately investigate complaints of misconduct, thereby
ratifying the officers' illegal conduct.
County is a governmental entity and as such is subject to
liability under § 1983. See Monell v. Dep't of
Social Svcs of City of New York, 436 U.S. 658, 690
(1978). To establish municipal liability under § 1983, a
plaintiff must establish (a) the existence of an official
policy, custom or practice; (b) of which a municipal
policymaker can be charged with actual or constructive
knowledge; and (c) that it was the moving force causing the
constitutional violation. Cox v. City of Dallas, 430
F.3d 734, 748 (5th Cir. 2005).
the plaintiff's injury was not minor, as
“argued” by Harris County, the plaintiff's
claims against Harris County, nevertheless, fail. There is no
evidence that Harris County adopted an official policy or
that a policy exists out of customs or practices permitting
the violation of an inmate's constitutional right to be
free from the use of excessive force by jail staff.
plaintiff suggests that a study conducted by the Houston
Chronicle supports his claim. The fact that a Chronicle
investigation revealed that only half of the complaints from
inmates concerning brutal treatment, result in disciplinary
actions against jail staff, does not establish that a policy
has been adopted or permitted by ...