United States District Court, W.D. Michigan, Northern Division
JANET T. NEFF U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
MAARTEN VERMAAT U.S. MAGISTRATE JUDGE
a civil rights action brought by state prisoner Raymond
Delano Pitts pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff
alleges that Defendants Steven Buda, Steven Lehto, and Andrew
Mettler violated his Eighth Amendment rights. Defendants have
moved for summary judgment pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 56 and
argue that they are entitled to qualified immunity. (ECF No.
69.) Plaintiff did not file a response. For the reasons set
forth below, the undersigned recommends that the Court grant
March 12, 2015, Plaintiff was involved in a fight with four
other prisoners at the Ojibway Correctional Facility (OCF).
Defendant Buda, a lieutenant at OCF, was one of the first
officers to respond to the incident. Defendants Lehto and
Mettler arrived shortly thereafter. When Defendant Buda
arrived on the scene, he ordered Plaintiff to get on the
ground. Plaintiff complied. Defendant Buda then proceeded to
put Plaintiff in handcuffs. When Defendant Buda attempted to
place Plaintiff's right arm behind his back, Plaintiff
resisted. In an attempt to get Plaintiff to stop resisting,
Defendant Buda increased the pressure on Plaintiff's left
wrist. Defendant Buda then heard a pop in Plaintiff's
left wrist and immediately released the pressure on
Plaintiff's arm. As a result, Plaintiff suffered an
injury to his left wrist or forearm.
judgment is appropriate when the record reveals that there
are no genuine issues as to any material fact in dispute and
the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.
Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a); Kocak v. Cmty. Health Partners of
Ohio, Inc., 400 F.3d 466, 468 (6th Cir. 2005);
Thomas v. City of Chattanooga, 398 F.3d 426, 429
(6th Cir. 2005). The standard for determining whether summary
judgment is appropriate is “whether the evidence
presents a sufficient disagreement to require submission to a
jury or whether it is so one-sided that one party must
prevail as a matter of law.” State Farm Fire &
Cas. Co. v. McGowan, 421 F.3d 433, 436 (6th Cir. 2005)
(quoting Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S.
242, 251-52 (1986)); Tucker v. Union of Needletrades
Indus. & Textile Employees, 407 F.3d 784, 787 (6th
Cir. 2005). The court must consider all pleadings,
depositions, affidavits, and admissions on file, and draw all
justifiable inferences in favor of the party opposing the
motion. Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co., Ltd. v. Zenith Radio
Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986); Twin City Fire Ins.
Co. v. Adkins, 400 F.3d 293, 296 (6th Cir. 2005).
addition, when a party does not file a response to a summary
judgment motion, the motion is not automatically granted.
Champion v. Artuz, 76 F.3d 483, 486 (2d Cir. 1996).
Instead, the court is required to “intelligently and
carefully review the legitimacy of such unresponded-to
motion.” Guarino v. Brookfield Township
Trustees, 980 F.2d 399, 407 (6th Cir. 1992). However, the
court should not “sua sponte comb the record from the
partisan perspective of an advocate for the non-moving
party.” Id. at 410.
alleges that Defendant Buda's conduct amounted to
excessive force in violation of the Eighth Amendment.
Plaintiff further alleges that Defendants Lehto and Mettler
violated the Eighth Amendment when they failed to intervene
and protect Plaintiff from Defendant Buda.
Excessive Force - Defendant Buda
Eighth Amendment embodies a constitutional limitation on the
power of the states to punish those convicted of a crime.
Punishment may not be “barbarous” nor may it
contravene society's “evolving standards of
decency.” Rhodes v. Chapman, 452 U.S. 337,
345-46 (1981); Trop v. Dulles, 356 U.S. 86, 101
(1958). The Eighth Amendment also prohibits conditions of
confinement which, although not physically barbarous,
“involve the unnecessary and wanton infliction of
pain.” Rhodes, 452 U.S. at 346. Among unnecessary and
wanton infliction of pain are those that are “totally
without penological justification.” Id.
“To make out a claim under the Eighth Amendment, an
inmate must satisfy both an objective and a subjective
component.” Williams v. Curtin, 631 F.3d 380,
383 (6th Cir. 2011) (citing Moore v. Holbrook, 2
F.3d 697, 700 (6th Cir. 1993)).
subjective component focuses on the state of mind of the
prison officials.” Id. In the excessive force
context, “the relevant inquiry is ‘whether force
was applied in a good-faith effort to maintain or restore
discipline, or maliciously and sadistically to cause
harm.'” Id. (quoting Hudson v.
McMillian, 503 U.S. 1, 7 (1992). When determining
whether the subjective component is met, courts must consider
the following factors: (1) the need for the application of
force; (2) the relationship between such need and the force
used; (3) the threat reasonably perceived by the prison
official; and (4) any efforts undertaken to temper the
severity of the response. Id. (citing Hudson, 503
U.S. at 7).
objective component requires the pain inflicted to be
‘sufficiently serious.'” Id.
(quoting Wilson v. Seiter, 501 U.S. 294, 298
(1991)). “This component requires a
‘contextual' investigation, one that is
‘responsive to contemporary standards of
decency.'” Cordell v. McKinney, 759 F.3d
573, 580-81 (6th Cir. 2014) (quoting Hudson, 503 U.S. at 8).
“While the extent of a prisoner's injury may help
determine the amount of force used by the prison official, it
is not dispositive of whether an Eighth Amendment violation
has occurred.” Id. at 580-81 (citing
Wilkins v. Gaddy,559 U.S. 34, 37 (2010)).
“When prison officials maliciously and ...