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Daniel Casanova v. Hillsborough County

August 14, 2012


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Joseph A. DiClerico, Jr. United States District Judge

Opinion No. 2012 DNH 140


Daniel Casanova, proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis, brought suit against two correctional officers, the Hillsborough County Department of Corrections, and the superintendent of the Department of Corrections, alleging claims arising out of incidents during his incarceration.*fn1 Following preliminary review, Casanova's claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against Correctional Officers Weatherby and Boyle for using excessive force and against all defendants for imposing inhumane conditions of confinement in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment were allowed to proceed. His state law battery claims against Weatherby and Boyle were also allowed. The defendants move for summary judgment.

In response to the motion for summary judgment, Casanova noted that the defendants moved for summary judgment on all of his claims and that he objected to summary judgment only as to his excessive force claims under § 1983 (Counts I and II) and his state law battery claims (Counts V and VI).*fn2 Based on that representation, Casanova has conceded that summary judgment should be granted in the defendants' favor on his § 1983 claim, Count IV, that challenged the conditions of his confinement.

Standard of Review

Summary judgment is appropriate if the moving party "shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(a). A party opposing summary judgment "must set forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 256 (1986). Material facts are "facts that might affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law." Id. at 248. The court considers the undisputed material facts and all reasonable inferences from those facts in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party. Markel Am. Ins. Co. v. Diaz-Santiago, 674 F.3d 21, 29-30 (1st Cir. 2012).


Casanova was held at the Hillsborough County House of Corrections on at least two separate occasions between 2008 and 2010 as a pretrial detainee. Casanova contends that he was assaulted by Correctional Officers Weatherby and Boyle in two separate incidents. He described the incidents in his deposition testimony. Weatherby and Boyle dispute Casanova's version of events and support their versions of the incidents with their affidavits. In addition, Weatherby has submitted a copy of a videotape that shows the incident involving him.

A. 2008 Incident Involving Weatherby With respect to the 2008 incident, Casanova testified during his deposition that he had had an ongoing dispute with another inmate whom he had known outside of jail. On November 4, 2008, Casanova went upstairs to the other inmate's cell, where he was not supposed to be. In response, Weatherby went up after Casanova, called for back up, told Casanova to get on the ground, and before Casanova could obey, Weatherby knocked him down and broke his leg. Casanova says that he was not aggressive or threatening toward Weatherby.

Weatherby states in his affidavit that he heard Casanova yelling profanity at another inmate while the protective custody inmates were out of their cells and ordered Casanova to return to his cell. He states that Casanova did not comply and instead ran upstairs to the other inmate's cell, continuing the exchange. Weatherby states that he waited for the other inmates to lock down and then went upstairs after Casanova. He told Casanova to kneel down, but Casanova did not comply and instead turned and came at Weatherby in a loud and aggressive manner with his right arm raised and a clenched fist. Weatherby states that he was unarmed with his back to the metal staircase and that he then "swept" Casanova's leg to take him down.

A videotape of the incident with Weatherby shows Casanova going upstairs to a cell with Weatherby following close behind.*fn3

Weatherby stopped in front of Casanova who began to turn toward Weatherby. To the extent Casanova can be seen behind Weatherby, the video does not show him raising his right arm with a clenched fist nor does he appear to be acting in an aggressive manner toward Weatherby. In any case, almost immediately, Weatherby knocked Casanova to the floor and was joined by other guards.

B. 2010 Incident Involving Boyle The incident involving Boyle occurred on August 3, 2010, when Casanova was arrested on sex charges and was returned to the Hillsborough County Department of Correction. Casanova testified in his deposition that during the intake procedure, Boyle told Casanova that it was funny for him to have those charges. After Boyle had completed the photo process and Casanova had spent time in the large holding cell with other detainees, Boyle took him into a small room where Casanova was told to remove his clothes. As Boyle was taking Casanova's shoes, Boyle said "You think this is fun? You think this is f------ fun?" and then started attacking Casanova by kicking him. When Casanova asked him why he was doing that, Boyle told him to "shut the f--- up" and then pushed the alarm button. In response more guards arrived. The attack continued with Casanova on the floor.

Boyle states in his affidavit that during intake Casanova refused to hand over his clothing as he was told to do, and instead assumed an aggressive stance and said: "You want this clothing, come and get them bitch." Because of Casanova's conduct, Boyle activated the alarm and pinned Casanova against the wall in an effort to get him to kneel. When another guard arrived, they were still unable to gain control over ...

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