United States District Court, D. Montana, Missoula Division
FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS OF UNITED STATES
Jeremiah C. Lynch, United States Magistrate Judge
before the Court is Defendant Chris Strommen's Motion for
Summary Judgment. (Doc. 41.) The only remaining claim in this
matter is Gosnell's Fifth Amendment failure-to-protect
claim under Bivens v. Six Unknown Named Agents of Federal
Bureau of Narcotics, 403 U.S. 388 (1971) with regard to
an alleged assault at the Missoula County Detention Facility
(MCDF) in December 2015. The motion for summary judgment
should be granted and this matter dismissed.
judgment is appropriate when there are no genuine issues as
to any material facts and the movant is entitled to judgment
as a matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). A genuine issue of
fact is one in which the "evidence is such that a
reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving
party." Guidroz-Brault v. Mo. Pac. R.R. Co.,
254 F.3d 825, 829 (9th Cir. 2001). Judgment is required as a
matter of law if the moving party has satisfied their burden
to demonstrate that there is a lack of genuine issues as to
any material facts. Horphag Research Ltd. v. Garcia,
475 F.3d 1029, 1035 (9th Cir. 2007). Once satisfied, the
burden shifts to the non-moving party to set forth specific
facts showing that a dispute remains for trial. Id.
Gosnell is proceeding pro se, the Court must construe his
documents liberally and give them "the benefit of any
doubt" with respect to Strommen's summary judgement
motion. Frost v. Symington, 197 F.3d 348, 352 (9th
Cir. 1999); see also Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S.
89, 94 (2007).
Douglas Gosnell is a former federal prisoner appearing
without counsel. In February 2015, Gosnell was transported
from the Anaconda-Deer Lodge County Jail to MCDF by Deputy
U.S. Marshal Chris Strommen so Gosnell could attend his
initial appearance and arraignment on a federal indictment
pending against him at the Missoula Division of this Court.
Gosnell alleged that during this trip he informed Strommen
that he "would not be safe" at MCDF because he
"had a problem with the officers there back in 2008, and
they said they would get [him]." (Amd. Compl, Doc. 18 at
alleges that subsequently on August 10, 2015, while in a
holding cell at MCDF, he was thrown from his wheelchair and
beaten by four unknown officers at MCDF. (Amd. Compl., Doc.
18 at 5.) Strommen admits he transported Gosnell on August
11, 2015 from MCDF to federal court and then back to MCDF and
that during the transports, Gosnell informed Strommen that
four unknown booking guards assaulted him at MCDF the prior
day. (Statement of Undisputed Facts ("SUF"), Doc.
43 at ¶ 3.) Gosnell also requested that Strommen review
video footage from MCDF of the booking area at the time of
the alleged assault. Id. Gosnell did not show
Strommen any injury that supported his claim that he was
assaulted during his August 10, 2015 visit to MCDF and
Strommen did not believe that Gosnell behaved in any manner
that indicated he was injured. Id. at ¶ 4.
August 11, 2015, after returning Gosnell to MCDF, and based
on Gosnell's statements and request, Strommen reviewed
available video footage of the holding cell where Gosnell was
held at MCDF on August 10, 2015. (SUF at ¶ 5.) Strommen
saw no objectionable behavior by any booking guards or other
MCDF personnel, and, after viewing the video footage, did not
believe that Gosnell was at any risk of suffering substantial
harm at MCDF. (SUF at ¶¶ 6-7.)
Strommen's employment as a Deputy U.S. Marshal in the
U.S. Marshals Service, no prisoner in whose transportation
Strommen participated, other than Gosnell, has complained
that they were assaulted by booking guards at MCDF. (SUF at
alleges he was again assaulted at MCDF on December 5, 2016.
(Amd. Compl., Doc. 18 at 5.) Strommen did not transport
Gosnell at any time during Gosnell's December 2015 trip
to Missoula. (SUF at ¶ 9.)
only remaining claim is Gosnell's allegation that
Defendant Strommen failed to protect him from the December
2015 beating. Because Defendant Strommen is a federal
employee, the Court liberally construes Gosnell's
allegations as presenting a Fifth Amendment
failure-to-protect claim against Defendant
Strommen. The elements of a pretrial detainee's
Fifth Amendment failure-to-protect claim against an
individual officer are:
(1) The defendant made an intentional decision with respect
to the conditions under which the ...