Law School Case Brief
Harris v. Jones - 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 44664 (E.D. Mich. Mar. 28, 2013)
Summary judgment is appropriate if the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.
Plaintiff Christine Harris, a pro se inmate, filed a complaint in federal district court alleging 42 U.S.C.S. § 1983 violations against defendants Lieutenant Lengel, Correctional Officer Katrina Massaquoi, Sergeant Tekio Jones, Deputy Warden Robin Cole, and Inspector Larry Godwin. She alleged that they failed to protect her in violation of the Eighth Amendment. Harris claimed that on Jan. 30, 2007, an inmate named Topps threatened to assault her and several other inmates. Harris claimed that that she told Jones about Topps' threat, that Jones agreed to speak to Topps, but did not offer her protective custody. After she was attacked, Harris alleged that that she asked Godwin many times to begin a criminal investigation and file criminal charges against Topps, but her requests were ignored. Harris alleged that Godwin's failure to initiate criminal proceedings against Topps and Jones' failure to protect her from Topps' assault violated the Eighth Amendment. Defendants Godwin and Jones filed a motion for summary judgment, which was referred to a magistrate judge; Harris did not respond to the motion. The magistrate judge recommended that Godwin be granted and Jones be denied summary. The matter was before the court to adopt or reject the recommendation.
Were Godwin and Jones entitled to summary judgment?
The court accepted in part and rejected in part the magistrate's recommendation and granted the motion for summary judgment in its entirety. The court first noted that Jones was not automatically entitled to summary judgment based on Harris' failure to respond to the motion. Once Jones met his initial burden of showing that there was no genuine issue of material fact, the burden shifted the Harris to come forward with significant probative evidence to show that a genuine issue existed for trial. Harris did not meet her burden, even viewing the facts in the light most favorable to her. Harris failed to show: (1) the alleged deprivation alleged was, objectively, sufficiently serious and (2) a prison official, Jones, had a sufficiently culpable state of mind. Thus, Jones was entitled to qualified immunity because Harris failed to establish a constitutional violation. As to Godwin, the court ruled that Harris did not file objections to the magistrate judge's grant of summary judgment for Godwin, and so the magistrate's recommendation as to him was accepted.
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