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Hatchett v. Pennington County Jail

United States District Court, D. South Dakota, Western Division

September 30, 2014

CHRISTOPHER J. HATCHETT, Plaintiff,
v.
PENNINGTON COUNTY JAIL, MILLER, Correctional Officer, Pennington County Jail, in his individual and official capacities; EDWARDS, Correctional Officer, Pennington County Jail; in his individual and official capacities; SGT. MUNSCH, Correctional Officer, Pennington County Jail, in his individual and official capacities; CAPT. BROOKE HAGA, Captain, Pennington County Jail, in her individual and official capacities. Defendants.

ORDER GRANTING MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

JEFFREY L. VIKEN, Chief Judge.

On December 26, 2012, plaintiff Christopher J. Hatchett, appearing pro se, filed a complaint against the defendants Pennington County Jail, Joseph Edwards, Casey Munsch, and Brooke Haga (collectively "defendants") alleging various violations of his constitutional rights.[1] (Docket 1).

Pending before the court is defendants' motion for summary judgment filed on February 19, 2014. (Docket 22). Defendants also filed a statement of material facts. (Docket 24). Plaintiff did not file a response to either the defendants' motion for summary judgment[2] or statements of material facts.[3]

BACKGROUND

The facts are drawn from the complaint, plaintiff's deposition testimony, and the defendants' statement of material facts. (Dockets 1, 24 & 27-1). Mr. Hatchett filed a complaint asserting his Eighth Amendment rights were violated while he was incarcerated at the Pennington County Jail. During the relevant time period, Mr. Hatchett was serving a one-year sentence for a prior conviction of threatening law enforcement and was also awaiting trial on a first degree burglary charge for which he was ultimately convicted and given a seven-year sentence.

Mr. Hatchett was incarcerated at the Pennington County Jail beginning on April 3, 2012. On June 5, 2012, Mr. Hatchett received a notice of disciplinary hearing in which he admitted a rule violation. On September 3, 2012, Mr. Hatchett received another notice of a rule violation for assaulting a fellow inmate. Mr. Hatchett punched another inmate, put him in a chokehold, and threw the inmate into a table. Mr. Hatchett testified during his deposition the inmate got mouthy with him while playing cards and called him out. Mr. Hatchett testified he then went into the inmate's cell and "did him up." As a result of the incident, Mr. Hatchett was reclassified for administrative segregation on September 7, 2012.

On September 10, 2012, Mr. Hatchett wrote the Classification Committee regarding his reclassification into administrative segregation. The Classification Committee responded on September 21, 2012, confirming Mr. Hatchett's sanctions were enhanced due to him threatening staff and indicated to Mr. Hatchett he would remain in administrative segregation. On September 27, 2012, Mr. Hatchett wrote another letter to the Classification Committee requesting to be removed from segregation. The Classification Committee denied Mr. Hatchett's request based on his conduct in assaulting another inmate and threatening a supervisor. Mr. Hatchett again requested a reclassification on October 4, 2012, which was again denied by the Classification Committee. The Committee stated they believed Mr. Hatchett posed a significant threat to the facility.

On October 26, 2012, the Classification Committee wrote Mr. Hatchett a letter indicating the Committee continued to believe Mr. Hatchett was a risk and a substantial threat to the operation of the jail. The Classification Committee also acknowledged a letter sent by Mr. Hatchett stating he would "raise hell" if he was not taken off administrative segregation.

On October 28, 2012, Michael Cole, a Pennington County Jail employee, filed a report indicating he noticed fishing line in Mr. Hatchett's cell and informed Casey Munsch of the situation. Munsch directed Jeremy Miller and Joseph Edwards to perform a shakedown or search of Mr. Hatchett's cell. Mr. Hatchett initially refused to be restrained during the shakedown but complied after speaking with Munsch. After Mr. Hatchett's cell had been searched, Munsch, Edwards and Miller placed Mr. Hatchett back in his cell, closed the door, and directed him to place his hands through the door slot in order to remove the handcuffs. The handcuff on Mr. Hatchett's right hand was removed without incident. Mr. Hatchett alleges the officers had a difficult time removing the handcuff from his left hand so he attempted to turn around and stick his left arm farther out the door slot. Mr. Hatchett alleges the officers then pulled and twisted his left arm, spraining his wrist, and leaving cuts on his wrist and forearm. During the incident, Mr. Hatchett testified he got upset and slammed his right fist into the cell door, injuring his knuckle or his pinkie on his right hand.

Defendants contend Mr. Hatchett attempted to stick his right arm out the door slot in an effort to prevent the officers from removing the cuff from his left wrist and stated he was going to keep the cuffs. Following the incident, Mr. Hatchett requested to go to the hospital but was refused. Instead, a nurse came to Mr. Hatchett's cell to examine and treat his injuries. Jail records indicate a nurse examined Mr. Hatchett's injuries within two hours of the incident and gave Mr. Hatchett ice and medication. Mr. Hatchett testified his left hand bled for ten minutes and stopped on its own. Mr. Hatchett also claimed his left wrist was scarred as a result of the incident but he had his left wrist tattooed following the incident and no scar was visible.

On October 29, 2012, Mr. Hatchett again wrote the Classification Committee asking to be reclassified. The Committee responded by requiring Mr. Hatchett to sign a non-suicide contract. On October 31 and November 2, 2012, Mr. Hatchett wrote the Classification Committee asking for a reclassification. The Classification Committee reviewed Mr. Hatchett's behavior of October 28, 2012, and notified Mr. Hatchett his sanctions were being enhanced for the incident.

On November 30, 2012, the Classification Committee wrote Mr. Hatchett and told him they would like to see no behavior issues from him for the next week and if Mr. Hatchett could go the week without incident, the Committee would consider removing or lessening his sanctions. On January 4, 2013, the Classification Committee wrote Mr. Hatchett telling him he was being removed from administrative segregation.

On January 15, 2013, Mr. Hatchett assaulted another inmate at the Pennington County Jail and admitted hitting the inmate because he was running his mouth about a card game and got into his face. The Classification Committee placed Mr. Hatchett back in administrative segregation.

As a result of the October 28, 2012, incident with defendants, Mr. Hatchett filed a complaint asserting violations of his Eighth Amendment rights. Mr. Hatchett's complaint contains seven counts, all of which he asserts violate the Eighth Amendment. Mr. Hatchett claims: (1) Munsch, Edwards and Miller used excessive force when removing his handcuffs; (2) Haga placed him in administrative segregation in retaliation for his complaints related to the October 28, 2012, incident; (3) the Jail refused to protect him from the incidents; (4) the Jail was indifferent to his medical needs related to the incident; (5) the Jail unjustifiably placed him in ...


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