United States District Court, D. Massachusetts
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER ON PLAINTIFF'S MOTION TO
DENNIS SAYLOR IV UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
a civil rights action arising out of an alleged attack on a
prisoner by correctional officers at Souza Baranowski
Correctional Center. Plaintiff Franklin Abernathy has brought
claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 12,
§ 11I, and state tort law.
third amended complaint alleges that several correctional
officers aggressively pulled and twisted Abernathy's arms
through a slot in his cell door, causing severe injuries, and
that other officers either failed to intervene or attempted
to cover up the incident. As relevant here, it also alleges
that defendant “Kristal, ” a nurse at UMass
Correctional Health (“UMCH”), refused to provide
medical treatment to Abernathy.
has moved to amend the complaint to substitute the true name
(Krystal Anderson) of the individual sued as defendant
“Jane Doe a/k/a Nurse Kristal.” For the following
reasons, the motion will be granted, except as to the
proposed claim against Anderson for intentional infliction of
facts are set forth as described in the third amended
April 3, 2013, Franklin Abernathy was an inmate at Souza
Baranowski Correctional Center. He was assigned to a cell in
the Special Management Unit (“SMU”) with inmate
Leon Shelby. (TAC ¶¶ 18-19). Kyle Sheldon, Gerard
Breau, and Michael Rumery were correctional officers at SBCC
assigned to Abernathy's cell block. (Id.
¶¶ 5, 7, 9).
to the complaint, on the morning of April 3, Sheldon and
Breau stood outside Abernathy's cell, yelling obscene
language and laughing at Shelby, and Shelby responded by
yelling back at the officers. (Id. ¶ 20). At
about 9 a.m., Sheldon returned to the cell and instructed
Abernathy to remove a blanket Shelby placed over the window
of the cell door. (Id. ¶ 22). Abernathy refused
because the blanket belonged to Shelby, and Shelby then
refused to remove the blanket. (Id.).
minutes later, Rumery and “Kristal, ” a nurse
employed by UMass Correctional Health, came to
Abernathy's cell to administer daily medication that
included Abernathy's pain and blood-pressure medication.
(Id. ¶ 23). Rumery instructed Shelby to remove
the blanket from the window, but Shelby again refused.
(Id. ¶ 24). Rumery then requested that
Abernathy remove the blanket, but Abernathy explained that
the blanket belonged to Shelby and that Shelby did not want
him to touch it. (Id. ¶ 25). According to the
complaint, Rumery told Abernathy that he would not receive
his prescribed medication if the blanket was not removed from
the window. (Id. ¶ 26). When Abernathy then
asked for his medication, Rumery allegedly said, “Fuck
him.” (Id. ¶ 27). He then
“slammed” the cell door slot shut and told
Kristal not to give Abernathy his medicine that day.
(Id. ¶¶ 27-28). The lack of medication
allegedly caused Abernathy to suffer “severe pain,
including chest pain and pain in his left shoulder and
arm.” (Id. ¶ 29).
that morning, Shelby removed the blanket from the door.
(Id. ¶ 30). Breau then approached the cell.
Abernathy informed him that he was “suffering severe
chest pain and required immediate medical attention.”
(Id. ¶ 31). Breau allegedly denied the request
and told Abernathy, “You get nothing.”
about 11:30 a.m. the same day, Sheldon returned to the cell
to provide lunch. According to the complaint, Abernathy again
requested medical attention. (Id. ¶ 32).
Sheldon denied his request. (Id.). An argument then
began between Shelby and Sheldon over a food tray.
(Id. ¶¶ 33-36). Shortly thereafter, while
Sheldon and Breau were collecting trays after lunch, Shelby
threw water at Sheldon's face. (Id. ¶ 37).
Sheldon and Breau immediately left the tier and returned with
Rumery. (Id. ¶ 38). Rumery ordered Shelby to
approach the cell door to be handcuffed, but he refused.
(Id. ¶ 39). Rumery then told Shelby that he
would use tear gas in the cell if Shelby continued to refuse.
(Id.). The officers left again, and then returned
once more with officer Shawnn Gyles and an unidentified
correctional officer. (Id. ¶ 42).
then handcuffed Shelby through the cell door slot without
incident. (Id. ¶ 43). Rumery informed Abernathy
that he, too, needed to be handcuffed prior to opening the
cell door. (Id. ¶ 44). A medical order posted
outside Abernathy's cell indicated that due to prior
injuries, he should only be handcuffed with his hands in
front of his body. (Id. ¶ 46). The complaint
alleges that when Abernathy complied, Rumery
“aggressively grabbed [his] right hand and swung a
handcuff with such force at [his] right wrist that a portion
of the handcuff punctured [his] skin and lodged in his wrist,
” causing bleeding and pain. (Id. ¶ 47).
According to the complaint, Breau and Sheldon then grabbed
Abernathy's left arm and began twisting and pulling it,
causing cutting and bruising, while Rumery pressed the
portion of the handcuff lodged in Abernathy's wrist,
causing further bleeding and pain. (Id. ¶¶
48-49). As Abernathy screamed in pain, the officers allegedly
continued to laugh and encourage each other to pull harder
and apply more force. (Id. ¶¶ 50-54). For
example, Rumery allegedly laughed at Abernathy and told him
that they were going to “fuck [him] up” but let
Shelby go unharmed, and Breau and Sheldon mocked Abernathy by
telling him to “[a]sk Shelby to help [him] now.”
(Id. ¶ 50, 53).
complaint alleges that David Darling, the supervisor for the
section of the SMU where Abernathy was held, approached the
cell and grabbed and twisted Abernathy's thumb and index
finger with great force, causing him pain while the other
officers continued to use force against him. (Id.
¶ 56-57). It further alleges that officers Gyles and
“John Doe, ” despite having a clear view of the
altercation, made no effort to stop the assault or otherwise
intervene. (Id. ¶¶ 58-59). Eventually, the
officers stopped the assault when Shelby slipped his
handcuffs in front of his body, grabbed a pen, and began
stabbing at the officers' hands while they were pulling
Abernathy's hands through the cell door slot.
(Id. ¶ 61).
and Shelby were then placed in separate holding cells.
(Id. ¶ 65). Accordingly to the complaint,
Abernathy was held in the cell for an hour and subjected to a
strip search, but did not receive medical care. (Id.
¶ 66). He was then removed from the cell and surrounded
by Shaun Dewey (a DOC Captain assigned to the SMU), Darling,
and Rumery. (Id. ¶ 68). According to the
complaint, Dewey drew his face very close to Abernathy's
and told him to “[d]rop the issue and act like nothing
happened” so “we all can live together.”
(Id. ¶ 68). It alleges that as a result of
Dewey's threatening statement, Abernathy was afraid to
say anything about the assault out of fear that he would be
assaulted again. (Id. ¶¶ 68-69).
the incident, Abernathy was escorted to the medical triage
room, where he was seen by Nurse Kristal for treatment of his
cuts, bruising, and swelling. (Id. ¶ 70-71).
According to the complaint, Kristal refused to treat him,
stating that she would not touch him and that he would have
to wait for another nurse for treatment and medication.
(Id. ¶¶ 73-74). This left Abernathy in
pain. (Id. ¶ 75).
and Rumery then escorted Abernathy back to his cell.
(Id. ¶ 76). Abernathy asked Rumery why he had
assaulted him, and Rumery allegedly laughed and responded,
“Because I can do it.” (Id.). According
to the complaint, SBCC officers did not allow Abernathy to
make any telephone calls between April 3 and April 5, 2013.
(Id. ¶ 77). After April 3, 2013, Abernathy
submitted more than 30 sick-call slips requesting treatment
for his incident-related injuries, but he was denied
treatment and alleges that he continued to suffer pain in his
arms, wrists, and hands. (Id. ¶ 78).
complaint alleges that as a result of the assault and lack of
medical attention, Abernathy suffered physical injuries,
including pain, cuts, and bruising on his arms, wrists, and
hands; numbness in his hands and wrists; and emotional
trauma, including fear, anxiety, stress, mood swings, and a
loss of appetite and sleep. (Id. ¶¶ 60,