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Chrisco v. Goodrick

United States District Court, D. Colorado

September 6, 2018




         This matter is before the Court on review of the Recommendation by United States Magistrate Judge Michael E. Hegarty (Doc. # 78), wherein he recommends that this Court grant Defendants John R. Goodrick and Anthony Knight's (together, the “Moving Defendants”) Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. # 66). Plaintiff Luke Irvin Chrisco objects to Magistrate Judge Hegarty's Recommendation. (Doc. # 79.) The Court affirms and adopts the Recommendation for the following reasons.

         I. BACKGROUND

         As the Court has previously explained (Doc. # 81), this action stems from Plaintiff's incarceration at the Boulder County Jail (the “Jail”), where he was awaiting sentencing on a probation violation in early 2015. (Doc. # 1 at 4-5.) Plaintiff alleges that on January 27, 2015, Defendants, all Jail employees, subjected him to “excessive force and restraint in conjunction with a spontaneous forced cell entry and staged beating.” (Id. at 4.) Plaintiff claims that because of Defendants' actions, he “sustained a substantial tear to his left nostril, bled profusely and was placed in a restraint chair, wherein he . . . endured various seizures and losses of conciousness [sic].” (Id.) He alleges that Defendants' actions were retaliation for “fil[ing] a lawsuit in August 2014 against various Jail officials” and for filing “various grievances against [Defendants], alleging staff abuse.” (Id. at 5.)

         Plaintiff filed this lawsuit pro se against Defendants on January 10, 2017. (Id.) He asserts five causes of action: (1) retaliation in violation of the First Amendment against Defendants Goodrick and Knight; (2) cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the Eighth Amendment against Defendant Goodrick and a John Doe nurse; (3) deprivation of due process from concealing evidence of Plaintiff's blood loss against Defendant Goodrick and a John Doe nurse; (4) retaliation in violation of the First Amendment against a John Doe nurse; and (5) excessive force and denial of reasonable medical care against all Defendants.[1] (Id. at 5-12.)

         Moving Defendants' description of the events of January 27, 2015, sharply contradicts Plaintiff's allegations. See (Doc. # 66.) They posit that on that evening, Plaintiff “repeatedly banged his shoes against the door of his cell, ” “repeatedly kick[ed] the door, ” and “periodically shouted at the deputies, ” despite commands from the Jail's officers to stop these behaviors. (Id. at 1-2.) Sometime past midnight, after Defendant Goodrick again commanded Plaintiff to stop kicking the door, he, Defendant Knight, and another deputy entered Plaintiff's cell, and Plaintiff “jumped toward” Defendant Goodrick. (Id. at 2.) Plaintiff resisted the deputies' attempts to physically control him. (Id.) Defendants allege that Defendant Goodrick then “attempted an infraorbital pressure point control tactic, ” but when he “placed his hand near [Plaintiff's] nose, one of Goodrick's fingers went up [Plaintiff's] nostril, ” causing Plaintiff's nose to bleed. (Id.) They assert that Plaintiff continued to resist them until Defendant Goodrick tased him and placed him in a restraint chair. (Id.) Defendants contend that, as a result of this incident, Plaintiff incurred a “superficial 1 cm cut on his left nostril.” (Id.)

         Moving Defendants filed their Motion for Summary Judgment on Claims 1, 2, 3, and 5 on February 23, 2018, arguing that their actions did not give rise to constitutional violations and that Plaintiff cannot cite any authority clearly establishing such violations. (Doc. # 66.) Plaintiff did not timely respond within 21 days of Moving Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment. On April 6, 2018, Magistrate Judge Hegarty sua sponte extended Plaintiff's time to respond until April 30, 2018. (Doc. # 71.) On April 19, 2018, when denying Plaintiff's Motion for a Stay of Proceedings Pending Plaintiff Seeking Prospective Relief Regarding Deprivation of his Legal Papers (Doc. # 73), Magistrate Judge Hegarty further extended Plaintiff's summary judgment response deadline until May 18, 2018. (Doc. # 77.) Plaintiff did not respond to Moving Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment by that twice-extended deadline, nor did he respond in the weeks that followed.

         Magistrate Judge Hegarty issued the Recommendation presently before the Court on June 21, 2018 and, for the reasons detailed below, recommended that the Court grant Moving Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment. (Doc. # 78.) Plaintiff filed his Objections to the Recommendation on July 13, 2018 (Doc. # 79), eight days after objections were due, see (Doc. # 78 at 9 n.1). Moving Defendants responded in support of the Recommendation on July 27, 2018. (Doc. # 80.)



         When a magistrate judge issues a recommendation on a dispositive matter, Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b)(3) requires that the district judge “determine de novo any part of the magistrate judge's [recommended] disposition that has been properly objected to.” An objection is properly made if it is both timely and specific. United States v. One Parcel of Real Property Known As 2121 East 30th Street, 73 F.3d 1057, 1059 (10th Cir.1996). In conducting its review, “[t]he district judge may accept, reject, or modify the recommended disposition; receive further evidence; or return the matter to the magistrate judge with instructions.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b)(3).


         Plaintiff proceeds pro se. The Court, therefore, reviews his pleading “liberally and hold[s] [it] to a less stringent standard than those drafted by attorneys.” Trackwell v. United States, 472 F.3d 1242, 1243 (10th Cir. 2007) (citations omitted). However, a pro se litigant's “conclusory allegations without supporting factual averments are insufficient to state a claim upon which relief can be based.” Hall v. Bellmon, 935 F.2d 1106, 1110 (10th Cir. 1991). A court may not assume that a plaintiff can prove facts that have not been alleged, or that a defendant has violated laws in ways that a plaintiff has not alleged. Associated Gen. Contractors of Cal., Inc. v. Cal. State Council of Carpenters, 459 U.S. 519, 526 (1983); see also Whitney v. New Mexico, 113 F.3d 1170, 1173-74 (10th Cir. 1997) (a court may not “supply additional factual allegations to round out a plaintiff's complaint”); Drake v. City of Fort Collins, 927 F.2d 1156, 1159 (10th Cir. 1991) (a court may not “construct arguments or theories for the plaintiff in the absence of any discussion of those issues”). Nor does pro se status entitle a litigant to an application of different rules. See Montoya v. Chao, 296 F.3d 952, 957 (10th Cir. 2002).

         III. ...

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