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Alexander v. Steele County Jail

United States District Court, D. Minnesota

September 4, 2014

Jomari E. Alexander, Sr., Plaintiff,
v.
Steele County Jail, et al., Defendants.

Jomari E. Alexander, Sr., pro se Plaintiff.

Jason M. Hill, Johnson & Lindberg, PA, for Defendants.

ORDER

SUSAN RICHARD NELSON, District Judge.

I. INTRODUCTION

This matter is before the Court on Plaintiff's Objections [Doc. No. 82] to United States Magistrate Judge Franklin L. Noel's July 31, 2014, Report and Recommendation ("R & R"). The magistrate judge recommended that Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment and/or Sanctions [Doc. No. 46] and Motion for Entry of Judgment [Doc. No. 56] be denied, and Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment [Doc. No. 60] be granted. (R & R at 24-25 [Doc. No. 81].) For the reasons set forth below, Plaintiff's objections are overruled and the Court adopts the R & R in its entirety.

II. BACKGROUND

The magistrate judge's R & R thoroughly documents the factual and procedural background of the case, which is incorporated here by reference. The claims in this case arise from alleged mistreatment Plaintiff experienced while detained at the Steele County Detention Center in July 2010. (See Compl. [Doc. No. 1-1].)

Plaintiff alleges that on July 9, 2010, Defendant, Officer Al Kubat, "sexually assaulted [Plaintiff] during a routine pat[-down] search by grabbing his penis and testicles and pulling them" until Plaintiff physically moved Officer Kubat's right hand. (Pl.'s Mot. for Summ. J. at 5 [Doc. No. 46].) Officer Kubat claims (Jason Hill Aff., Ex. E ("Hill Aff., Ex. E"), at 2-3 [Doc. No. 63-2]) and Plaintiff admits that during the pat-down Plaintiff made threatening comments to Officer Kubat (Alexander Aff., Ex. 19, Hearing Findings ("Hearing Findings"), at 1-2 [Doc. No. 52-1]). As a result of this pat-down incident, Plaintiff immediately logged a complaint in the detention center's kiosk system. (Pl.'s Mot. for Summ. J., Ex. 7 [Doc. No. 48-1].) Two days later, Plaintiff requested to see a psychologist. (Hill Aff., Ex. E at 10-11 [Doc. No. 63-2].) Upon learning that a psychologist was unavailable that day, Plaintiff began to kick the walls of his cell, yell, and threatened to kill the officer on duty, Sergeant Richelle Olson-Cowden. (Id.) Officer Kubat admitted that it was possible that he "bumped something on Inmate Alexander as [he] was coming down [Alexander's] thigh." ( Id. at 2.) Unfortunately, a surveillance video of the pat-down does not adequately capture the alleged incident. (Hill Aff., Ex. F. [Doc. No. 63].) The pat-down occurred outside of the camera angle's view.[1] (See id.) Furthermore, the video does not include audio, and therefore, cannot corroborate the verbal exchange between Officer Kubat and Plaintiff. (See id.) Nevertheless, for the purposes of this motion, the Court assumes that Officer Kubat grabbed Plaintiff's genitals.

Jail Administrator Dan Schember reported Plaintiff's sexual assault allegation to the Steele County Sheriff's Office, pursuant to the Sheriff's Office procedure. (Decl. of Dan Schember ("Schember Decl."), ¶ 3 [Doc. No. 65].) Officer Gary Okins of the Steele County Sheriff's Office completed an investigation of the incident. (Alexander Aff., Ex. 9 [Doc. No. 48-2, 48-3].) After reviewing the report, Steele County Attorney Dan McIntosh directed Okins to close the investigation because there was "no intent and no crime doing a pat down which is the Correctional Officer[']s job." (Alexander Aff., Ex. 9 [Doc. No. 48-3].)

Officer Kubat charged Plaintiff with a "major violation no. 4" for threats he made during the pat-down on July 9, 2010. (Hill Aff., Ex. E at 2 [Doc. No. 63-2].) As a result of this charge, Plaintiff was transferred into "lockdown." ( Id. at 4.) During this "lockdown" period Plaintiff alleges that Sergeant Olson-Cowden and Officer Jason Krohn retaliated against him for filing a sexual assault claim. (Compl. ¶¶ 3-8 [Doc. No. 1-1].) Specifically, Plaintiff claims that (1) Officer Krohn taunted him with food and threw a food tray on the floor (Pl.'s Mot. for Summ. J. at 16-17 [Doc. No. 46]); (2) Sergeant Olson-Cowden punished Plaintiff for the tray on the floor by ordering that Plaintiff's subsequent meals consist of "nutra loaf" (Hill Aff., Ex. E at 8 [Doc. No. 63-2]); (3) Sergeant Olson-Cowden taunted Plaintiff with a divorce petition from Plaintiff's wife (Pl.'s Mot. for Summ. J. at 17-18 [Doc. No. 46]); and (4) Officer Krohn slammed Plaintiff's arms in the cell door while Plaintiff attempted to reach for his lunch (Compl. ¶ 8 [Doc. No. 1-1]).

On July 12, 2010, Plaintiff was transferred back to Department of Corrections ("DOC") custody. (Decl. of Richelle Olson-Cowden ("Olson-Cowden Decl."), ¶10 [Doc. No. 66].) In DOC custody he had a due process hearing to address the disciplinary charges that he received at the Steele County Detention Center. (Pl.'s Mot. for Summ. J. at 23 [Doc. No. 46].) During the hearing, Plaintiff admitted to several rule violations for "disobeying a direct order, " "threatening others, " and "disorderly conduct." (Hearing Findings at 1-2 [Doc. No. 52-1].)

Plaintiff originally filed this lawsuit pro se on March 25, 2013, in Steele County District Court, against the Steele County Jail, Sergeant Richelle Olson-Cowden, Officer Al Kubat, Officer Jason Krohn, and Jail Administrator Dan Schember. (See Compl. [Doc. No. 1-1].) Plaintiff alleged several civil rights claims stemming from the pat-down incident. (Id.) On April 5, 2013, Defendants filed a Notice of Removal to the United States District Court. (Notice of Filing of Notice of Removal [Doc. No. 1-2].) Even after prolonged discovery, Plaintiff refused to comply with Magistrate Judge Noel's order to compel initial disclosures and responses to other discovery requests. (Order Granting Mot. to Compel [Doc. No. 18].) The magistrate judge then imposed evidentiary sanctions on Plaintiff (Order Granting Evidentiary Sanctions [Doc. No. 38]) and ordered Plaintiff to pay Defendants' attorney's fees (Order Granting Defs. Att'ys Fees [Doc. No. 40]).

On January 17, 2014, Plaintiff filed his Motion for Summary Judgment and/or Sanctions [Doc. No. 46]. On January 30, 2014, Plaintiff filed a motion to enter judgment because he believed Defendants failed to timely defend [Doc. No. 56]. On February 7, 2014, Defendants timely filed a cross-motion for summary judgment [Doc. No. 62]. This matter was referred to the magistrate judge pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636 [Doc. No. 68], and he heard the cross-motions on March 28, 2014 [Doc. No. 78]. On July 31, 2014, Magistrate Judge Noel recommended that: (1) Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment and/or Sanctions [Doc. No. 46] and Motion for Entry of Judgment [Doc. No. 56] be denied; (2) Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment [Doc. No. 60] be granted; and (3) the case be dismissed with ...


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