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Uselman v. Pentland

United States District Court, D. Minnesota

January 30, 2014

Kevin Uselman, Plaintiff,
John C. Pentland, Defendant.


JEANNE J. GRAHAM, Magistrate Judge.

This case is before the undersigned United States Magistrate Judge on Defendant's Motion to Dismiss and for Summary Judgment (ECF No. 30). Plaintiff Kevin M. Uselman ("Uselman") did not submit an opposition to the instant motion. As set forth below, the Court recommends that summary judgment be granted to Defendant John C. Pentland ("Pentland") and that the case be dismissed.

I. Background

Uselman is a civilly committed detainee in the Minnesota Sex Offender Program (MSOP) in Moose Lake, Minnesota. Uselman has been detained in various facilities, including Minnesota Correctional Facility at Rush City ("MCF-Rush City"). During the pendency of this case, Uselman's conviction was reversed by the Minnesota Court of Appeals. Uselman v. State, 831 N.W.2d 690 (Minn.Ct.App. 2013). He was then discharged from Minnesota Department of Corrections (DOC) custody and returned to MSOP. (Hudson Aff. Ex. C, ECF No. 36-2.)

He brings the present action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against Pentland, a lieutenant employed by the DOC. Specifically, Uselman alleges that Pentland failed to protect him during his tenure at MCF-Rush City, a violation of the Eighth Amendment to the United States Constitution. (Compl. ¶ 5, May 15, 2012, ECF No. 1.) Uselman is suing Pentland individually and in his official capacity. (Compl. ¶ 4.)

The present action centers on various incidents that Uselman alleges occurred during his time at MCF-Rush City. Uselman's complaints relate to Pentland's supervision of Complex One, which Pentland supervised at all times relevant to this matter. (Pentland Aff. ¶ 1, ECF No. 32.) When he supervised Complex One, Pentland did not direct the operations of any other unit. ( Id. ) Uselman lived in Complex One from June 15, 2010, to June 29, 2010; from July 15, 2010, to July 26, 2010; from September 16, 2010, to December 21, 2010; and from November 14, 2011, to June 28, 2012. (Pentland Aff. ¶ 7, Ex. A at 2-3.) For most of the allegations, it does not appear that Uselman is alleging that he was assaulted in Complex One, but instead that Pentland should have prevented Uselman from leaving segregation, thereby exposing Uselman to others who could hurt him. ( See, e.g., Compl. ¶¶ 12, 36.) By not doing so, Uselman contends, Pentland risked Uselman's life by "saying that [Uselman] has to be placed in population like all the other inmates." ( Id. ¶ 36.)

A. Uselman's Allegations

The following facts are derived from Uselman's Complaint. In July 2010, Uselman was walking in the recreational yard when four inmates approached him. ( Id. ¶ 19.) He does not know the names of the inmates but asserts they are members of a gang. ( Id. ) At that time, at least two, and potentially four, of the men pushed Uselman to the ground and proceeded to kick him in the back, stomach, and sides. ( Id. ) He was punched in the head numerous times. ( Id. ) Uselman estimates that the men attacked him for four minutes before being pulled off of him. ( Id. ) He avers that he did not seek medical attention because he "felt he could handle and manage the pain inflicted upon him." ( Id. ¶ 29.)

One month later, in August 2010, Uselman was outside in the recreational yard when three inmates approached him. He does not know the names of these inmates, but believes they are members of a different gang than those who previously attacked him. ( Id. ¶ 20.) The three men then proceeded to stab and punch Uselman and strike him with a baseball bat. ( Id. ) The stabbing punctured Uselman's forearm, back, and stomach. ( Id. ) The attack lasted a few minutes, until Uselman was left on the ground unconscious. ( Id. ) He again did not seek health services, believing he "could handle and manage the pain inflicted upon him." ( Id. ¶ 29.)

The third incident occurred in September 2010. ( Id. ¶ 26.) Before the incident, Uselman heard one unknown inmate say to another unknown inmate that he was "planning on trying to rape someone." ( Id. ¶ 25.) Uselman reported the conversation to unknown front desk correctional officers. ( Id. ) One of the officers later told Uselman that the information had been relayed to Pentland, stating "everything should be all good." ( Id. ) A few days later, an unknown inmate entered Uselman's cell and sexually assaulted him. ( Id. ¶ 26.) Five minutes after this occurred, Uselman approached the front desk and told unknown correctional officers about the incident. ( Id. ¶ 27.) The officers escorted Uselman to Pentland's office, where Uselman discussed the situation with Pentland. ( Id. ) Pentland assured Uselman that he would investigate but never discussed the incident with Uselman again. ( Id. )

Another incident occurred on November 13, 2011. At that time, Uselman was walking to his cell when an unknown inmate punched Uselman in the back of the head. ( Id. ¶ 30.) Uselman believes the offender was a member of a gang. ( Id. ¶ 30.) Uselman reported the incident to unknown officers, who reported it to Pentland. ( Id. ¶ 31.) Pentland told Uselman to do his best to "stay out of the line of fire" so that he would not incur harm. ( Id. )

Uselman also complains about his cellmate. In December 2011, a second inmate was placed in Uselman's cell. ( Id. ¶ 34.) The cellmate allegedly exposed his genital area to Uselman numerous times and, on December 12, 2011, punched Uselman repeatedly "near the pelvic area." ( Id. ) Uselman complained and was moved to a single cell. ( Id. ) He was placed on regular recreational status, meaning he spent recreation time with other offenders, and complains that he was not provided the option to spend that time alone. ( Id. )

Uselman alleges that Pentland risked Uselman's life by placing him in the prison's general population and not permitting him to be segregated at all times. ( Id. ¶ 36.) He names other inmates who threatened him, and alleges that some inmates wrote letters to unknown persons, instructing them to hurt Uselman. ( Id. ¶ 35.) He claims that various gangs are extorting property from him and seek opportunities to be near him. ( Id. ¶ 40.) Uselman also avers that unknown correctional officers destroy Uselman's legal mail whenever there is a cell search. ( Id. ¶ 38.) Uselman asserts that he has written "two different grievances on the Defendant which was sent to him. Plaintiff has asked Defendant ...

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