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Riggs v. CCA, Crossroads Correctional Facility in Shelby Montana

United States District Court, D. Montana, Great Falls Division

January 22, 2018

ROBERT D. RIGGS, Plaintiff,
v.
CCA, CROSSROADS CORRECTIONAL FACILITY IN SHELBY MONTANA AND ALL EMPLOYEES LISTED IN THIS ACTION, et al., Defendants.

          ORDER AND FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS OF UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

          JOHN JOHNSTON UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         Mr. Riggs initiated this action by filing a Complaint in state court. The case was removed by Defendants Corrections Corporation of America (“CCA”) and Crossroads Correctional Center. (Doc. 1.) Defendants filed a waiver of reply pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(g) and L.R. 12.1(c). (Doc. 4.) Accordingly, the Court will screen the Second Amended Complaint (Doc. 9)[1] as required by 28 U.S.C. § 1915 and 28 U.S.C. § 1915A.

         Dismissal of Mr. Riggs's failure to protect claims against Defendants Berkebile, Wandler, Bussby, Weaver, Gold, Christians, Stewart, Kenyon, Fender, Mohart, and CCA, Crossroads Facility is not appropriate at this time. The Court will require these Defendants to make an appearance on Mr. Riggs's failure to protect and negligence claims arising from the November 2015 assault. In addition, Assistant Warden Powell must respond to Mr. Riggs's denial of medical care and negligence claims.

         Mr. Riggs failed to correct the deficiencies with regard to his claims arising in 2007, his denial of medical care claim against Dr. Berdecia, his medical malpractice claims, and his violation of criminal law claims. Those claims and Defendants Berdecia, Stercheo, McDonald, Law, Bear, McDuna, Vantine, Mertz, Seg. RN's, Seg. Doctor, and Seg. C/O's should be dismissed.

         I. STATEMENT OF THE CASE

         A. Parties

         Mr. Riggs is a state prisoner currently incarcerated at Montana State Prison (“MSP”) in Deer Lodge, Montana. All allegations raised in the Second Amended Complaint, however, arose when he was incarcerated at CCC in Shelby, Montana.

         Mr. Riggs has not separately listed the Defendants in this matter but rather states that Defendants are CCA, Crossroads Correctional Facility and “all employees listed in this action.” Mr. Riggs has named the following CCA employees in his filings: Warden McDonald, AW Law, Ron Stercho, Rena Bear, C/M McDuna, C/M Vantine, Capt. Mertz, Seg. RNs, Seg. Doctors, Seg. C/O's, Warden Berkebile, Chief Bussby, Chief Stewart, C/M Gold, U/M Wandler, U/M Christians, DOC Monitor Kenyon, Lt. Weaver, Sgt. Mohart, Warden Fender, A/W Powell, U/M Wandler, CCA Dentist, CCA Medical staff, A/W Powell, and Dr. Berdecia.

         B. Facts

         Mr. Riggs was housed on the C-pod at CCC in February 2007. He alleges he was assaulted several times while housed in that unit. He repeatedly asked to be moved but because he refused to tell staff the names of the inmates that were assaulting him, he was not moved. He was assaulted on April 4, 2007 by two inmates and his lower jaw was broken. He contends that staff refused to have his jaw x-rayed and he was refused medical treatment. He alleges that after 32 days of starvation and suffering he was transferred to MSP where x-rays confirmed he had a broken jaw. (Second Amd. Cmplt., Doc. 9 at 2-4.)

         On March 24, 2015, Mr. Riggs was transferred back to CCC from MSP. When interviewed regarding housing he told Case Manager Gold that he was concerned for his safety if he were housed on D-wing or in C-pod. Mr. Riggs was initially housed on A-pod and then moved to E-pod. One week later, however, Unit Manager Wandler informed Mr. Riggs that he either had to move to C-pod or face disciplinary action. On April 2, 2015, Mr. Riggs was moved to restricted housing and was given a major write-up for refusing a direct order. He was found guilty and given 30 days disciplinary detention. (Second Amd. Cmplt., Doc. 9 at 4-5.)

         On April 7, 2015, a segregation review was held and attended by Warden Berkebile, U/M Wandler, Security Chief Bussby, Lt. Weaver, C/M Gold and U/M Christians. Mr. Riggs explained the incidents in 2007 and expressed his concern for his safety. A second review was held on April 14, 2015. (Second Amd. Cmplt., Doc. 9 at 5.)

         Additional reviews were held on April 21 and April 28, 2015 which were attended by Chief Stewart, DOC monitor Ms. Kenyon, and the staff who attended the April 7, 2015 review. At all reviews, Mr. Riggs pled his concerns for his safety. Despite these pleas, Mr. Riggs was ordered to be housed on C-pod. He was told that if he refused he would be written up every seven days until his classification points were max points. He was also told that staff would take all his bedding from 6:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. each days. (Second Amd. Cmplt., Doc. 9 at 6.)

         Mr. Riggs wrote a notification dated April 28, 2015 putting CCC staff on notice of the danger to his person. He was then moved to C-pod and was subjected to several threats and harassments over the next few months. He alleges he was also extorted out of hundreds of dollars for protection. In November 2015 he ran out of money. On November 17, 2015, inmates obtained information regarding Mr. Riggs's crimes and he was told by other inmates to leave the block or suffer assault. He spoke with Defendants Chistians and Mohart and told them of the threats. He was assaulted at 4:30 p.m. on November 17, 2015. (Second Amd. Cmplt., Doc. 9 at 6-8.)

         Mr. Riggs was taken to Shelby's local hospital after the assault. He suffered a major concussion, brain trauma, optic/retina damages to his left eye, two broken teeth, and many bruises. He was moved to CCC's infirmary for two days. On November 18, 2015, Dr. Berdecia wanted to order a cat scan but Assistant Warden Powell talked him out of doing so. Mr. Riggs contends that he has not been treated for his injuries. He was held in restricted housing thereafter and transferred to MSP 40 days later. (Second Amd. Cmplt., Doc. 9 at 9.)

         C. Allegations

         Mr. Riggs brings his claims under the Eighth Amendment to the United States Constitution alleging Defendants were deliberately indifferent to his safety and denied him medical care in April 2007 and November 2015. He also brings claims of malpractice, negligence, and gross negligence under Montana ...


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