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Harris v. Bradley

United States District Court, W.D. Michigan, Southern Division

September 25, 2019

JAMES F. BRADLEY, et al., Defendants.

          Hon. Robert J. Jonker Judge.


          Ray Kent United States Magistrate Judge.

         This is a civil rights action brought by a former prisoner pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983.[1] This matter is now before the court on defendants' second motion for summary judgment (ECF No. 80).

         I. Background

         In screening plaintiff's 140-paragraph complaint, the Court dismissed defendants Unknown Party No. 2, Supervisor Scheidler, Deputy Warden Beckwith, Corizon Healthcare, Nurse Earl, Unknown Party No. 3, Unknown Party No. 4, Branch County, PA Ovellette, Dr. Dominguez-Bem, Unknown Party No. 8, Prosecuting Attorney Kimble, Chief Assistant Prosecutor White, Assistant Prosecutor Langevelde and Victim Rights Coordinator Mack. See Order (ECF No. 9). The Court ordered service on defendants Assistant Resident Unit Manager (ARUM) James F. Bradley, Corrections Office (CO) Kline (Cline), CO Fisher and Inspector Morrison. Id.[2] Later, the Court granted summary judgment in favor of defendant Inspector Morrison on May 15, 2017. See Order (ECF No. 47).

         Under the case management order, all discovery was to be served by no later than December 15, 2017. Plaintiff's counsel entered his appearance two days before the close of discovery. After counsel's appearance in this case, the Court addressed a number of discovery issues and extended the deadline for filing pre-trial motions.

         As an initial matter, plaintiff did not identify Unknown Party Nos. 1, 5, 6 and 7. Accordingly, the Court should dismiss plaintiff's claims against the “Doe” defendants. See Hindes v. FDIC, 137 F.3d 148, 155 (3d Cir. 1998) (“Doe defendants are routinely used as stand-ins for real parties until discovery permits the intended defendants to be installed.”) (internal quotation and citation omitted).

         The allegations against the remaining defendants, Bradley, Cline, and Fisher are set forth below. In his verified complaint, plaintiff stated that on June 16, 2014, plaintiff was on the LCF recreation yard plaintiff basketball, “when a known violent prisoner [Cowans] made multiple threat [sic] to harm his life.” Compl. at PageID.10.[3] Plaintiff immediately notified defendants Cline and Fisher, because defendant Bradley was not in the unit. Id. That same day, plaintiff advised unknown corrections officers, along with Cline and Fisher, that he had been threatened by a known violent offender (DeAngelo Cowans) and wanted to be placed in protective custody. Id. Plaintiff told them the threat was real and that he “had also sent a prison kite to defendant unknown James F. Bradley, and unknown defendant L.C.F. RUM in charge of F-unit.” Id.

         Plaintiff filed a copy of a paper which he identified as the the kite sent to defendant Bradley on June 16, 2014, which stated as follows:

I would like to be moved to protective custody because I am in fear for my safety and my life is in danger. I have been getting threats from a prisoner by the name of Cowan and he said that he would “Get me off the yard” because of an incident on the basketball court where we exchanged words. I do not feel safe and I would like to get moved or transfered [sic]. Please respond as soon as possible.

See Kite (ECF No. 31-1, PageID.253). In a previously filed affidavit, Bradley stated that he did not recall receiving a kite from plaintiff. Bradley Aff. (ECF No. 26-1, PageID.213).

         On June 17, 2014, plaintiff alleged that he met with Bradley in his F-unit office, at which time plaintiff told Bradley:

. . . that Plaintiff Harris was in extreme fear of his life and personal safety, of being violently assaulted, or possibly stabbed by a violent prisoner Omar Deangelo Cowan who threaten [sic] Plaintiff Harris on the AM F-Unit recreation yard. Plaintiff Harris requested that Defendant James F. Bradley immediately place me in protective custody, or to transfer plaintiff Harris to another prisoner facility as soon as possible due to the treats [sic] made by prisoner Omar Deangelo Cowan was real [sic].


         Plaintiff further alleged that during that meeting, defendant Bradley:

. . . stated that although Plaintiff Harris you are having problems with prisoner Omar Deangelo Cowan, because Prisoner Harris has not be [sic] a problem Defendant James F. Bradley could not move move [sic] Plaintiff Harris. Defendant James F. Bradley as stated it is up to unknown Defenant L.C.F. Classification Director/Coordinator to move Prisoner.


         Plaintiff further alleged that:

Plaintiff Harris made over (6) six attempts from 6/16/2014 - 6/25/2014, including writing a kite to inform defendants unknown F-Unit ARUM James F. Bradley, defendant unknown CO Fisher, defendant unknown CO Fisher [sic], unknown CO defendant 2nd shift #3, unknown CO defendant 2nd shift #4, that plaintiff Harris was in very serious fear for his life, personal safety due to physical and verbal threats made and promised by a known violent prisoner Omar DeAngelo Cowan (a true level IV prisoner), where the defendants would not place plaintiff Bryant D. Harris in protective custody pursuant to MDOC P.D. 05.01.140. . .


         On June 25, 2014, after plaintiff was in his cell after visiting the commissary, prisoner Cowans stabbed plaintiff multiple times in the neck, ear, chest, upper back and inner arm. Id. at PageID.13. Plaintiff stated that when he tried to defend himself from the attacker, CO Cline, CO Fisher and ARUM Bradley “completely failed” to protect him from the assault. Id. at PageID.14.

         At his deposition, plaintiff told a somewhat different story. After plaintiff got his bags at the commissary, while he was walking back to his cell, Cowans came up from behind and stabbed plaintiff in the neck. Harris Dep. (ECF No. 84-2, PageID.603). Plaintiff and Cowans “got to fighting”, plaintiff's bags came up missing, he got stabbed, he chased Cowans, and Cowans ran off. Id. At this point in time, plaintiff did not report the incident to prison staff. Rather, plaintiff returned to his unit:

So I walked all around the unit to tell one of my home boys I got stabbed. So I walked all the way around leaving a trail of blood through the whole unit. The officers, they were not aware, so I just walked to healthcare.

Harris Dep. at PageID.603.

         Plaintiff's injuries are described in a health care services report:

Patient was assaulted and in the process resulting with multiple chest injuries to his body. 2 inch laceration to the free edge of the L ear. [P]uncture wound to the R ant chest and L posterior chest. There is also puncture wounf [sic] to to [sic] the anterios scm area of the L side of the neck. ...

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