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Priestley v. Newlin

United States District Court, D. New Hampshire

April 28, 2016

Matthew L. Priestley,
v.
Tracy Newlin, Carroll County Department of Corrections, Joshua Duguay, and Michael Baker.

          REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          ANDREA K. JOHNSTONE, Magistrate Judge.

         Pro se plaintiff Matthew Priestley has asserted claims under both federal and state law based on allegations that while he was a pretrial detainee, he was sexually assaulted by Tracy Newlin, a corrections officer employed by the Carroll County Department of Corrections ("CCDC"). This court's March 22, 2016, Report and Recommendation ("R&R") (doc. no. 80) addressed dispositive motions (doc. nos. 72 and 59) filed by defendants Newlin and the CCDC and recommended, in pertinent part, that the CCDC's motion for summary judgment (doc. no. 59), be granted in part and denied in part. The district judge's April 5, 2016, Order directs the undersigned magistrate judge to treat the CCDC's objection to that R&R as a motion to reconsider that R&R, in light of arguments and supplemental materials filed by the CCDC, see Doc. Nos. 81, 83, and 83-1. In an Order issued this date, this court has vacated the March 22 R&R (doc. no. 80). This new R&R replaces the March 22 R&R (doc. no. 80).

         Background

         The facts alleged by plaintiff include the following. During his pretrial detention, Priestley filed a grievance against Newlin. See Pl.'s Mot. to Am. (doc. no. 10), at 2. After Newlin learned that Priestley had filed a grievance against him, Priestley alleges, Newlin entered Priestley's cell and ordered him to strip for a search and to face the wall of his cell. See id. Once Priestly was unclothed, Priestley alleges, Newlin ordered him to bend over and cough, which Priestley did. Priestley alleges that Newlin then squeezed Priestley's testicles, and penetrated his anus, causing bleeding. See id. When Priestley turned around, Priestley alleges, he saw Newlin leaving his cell, saying that he wanted to show Priestley "how it feels to get f___ked" because Priestley had tried to "f___k" Newlin out of his job. Id. at 3. Priestley further alleges that when "Nurse Sue" came around for medications, Priestley complained about the bleeding without explaining what had happened with Newlin, and the nurse gave him medicated wipes. Id . About a week later, Priestley was transferred to the Strafford County Department of Corrections. Id.

         The court has allowed state law tort and federal constitutional claims to proceed in this action against both the CCDC and Newlin. Those claims are summarized as follows:

1. CCDC Sgt. Newlin sexually assaulted Priestley, while Priestley was a pretrial detainee, in retaliation for Priestley's filing of grievances:
A. rendering Newlin and his employer, the CCDC, directly and vicariously liable, respectively, for the state law intentional tort of battery, in that Newlin (i) squeezed Priestley's genitals, and (ii) penetrated Priestley's anus, causing injuries;
B. violating Priestley's Fourteenth Amendment right to be free from the use of excessive force amounting to punishment while in pretrial detention; and
C. violating Priestley's First Amendment right to petition the government for redress of grievances.

         See Oct. 7, 2014, Order (doc. no. 21). The intentional tort claim summarized as Claim 1(A) above is asserted against both Newlin and the CCDC, with the CCDC's liability being based only on a theory of respondeat superior. The remaining claims, arising under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, are asserted against Newlin in his individual capacity, and are not asserted against the CCDC.

         Discussion

         I. CCDC's Motion for Summary Judgment

         In support of its motion for summary judgment (doc. no. 59), the CCDC argues that, either: (1) the CCDC is not subject to vicarious liability for Newlin's conduct; or (2) the CCDC is entitled to immunity under state law, pursuant to ...


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