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Dyette v. Black

United States District Court, D. Massachusetts

January 23, 2018

Shaka U. Dyette, Plaintiff,
Scott Black, Kurt S. DeMoura, William Shugrue Defendants.


          Nathaniel M. Gorton United States District Judge

         This case involves the alleged mistreatment of Shaka Dyette (“plaintiff” or “Dyette”) by three employees (collectively “defendants”) of the Massachusetts Department of Correction while Dyette was incarcerated at MCI-Cedar Junction.

         Dyette brings his action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging that 1) Lieutenant William J. Shugrue (“Shugrue”) violated his Eighth Amendment rights when Shugrue accosted him, 2) Scott W. Black (“Black”) violated his incorporated First Amendment rights when Black retaliated against Dyette for filing a grievance against Shugrue and 3) Kurt Demoura (“Demoura”) violated his Fourteenth Amendment right to due process by obstructing Dyette's attempt to obtain evidence of the alleged battery. In addition, Dyette alleges that Shugrue, Black and Demoura engaged in a civil conspiracy to commit the underlying acts.

         Pending before this Court is defendants' motion for summary judgment. For the following reasons, that motion will be allowed with respect to plaintiff's procedural due process claim but will otherwise be denied.

         I. Background

         At all times relevant to this action, plaintiff was housed by the Massachusetts Department of Correction at MCI-Cedar Junction in Walpole, Massachusetts. On June 1, 2014, plaintiff was order by Corrections Office Hope Hill to comply with a “pat search” while he was leaving the dining area. During that process, Shugrue approached the plaintiff and the two exchanged words. Shugrue ordered plaintiff to enter a nearby room to be strip searched. Plaintiff contends that, as he was complying with that order, he was grabbed by Shugrue and other Corrections Officers and then punched by Shugrue in the face (“the incident”).

         As a result of that incident, plaintiff was placed in solitary confinement for 30 days and classified for placement in a maximum security prison. Plaintiff filed a grievance concerning the incident and the subsequent placement and classification. That grievance was assigned to Black, a Department of Correction investigator.

         Plaintiff claims that Black attempted to coerce plaintiff to drop the grievance in return for a guarantee that he would not be classified for a maximum security prison. Dyette declined that offer. Black filed a disciplinary report against plaintiff that alleged that the initial grievance constituted providing false information against a staff member.

         As a part of his investigation for the grievance, plaintiff requested a copy of the video tape of the incident. Plaintiff asserts that DeMoura refused to provide that video in bad faith and took actions to prevent plaintiff from obtaining the video.

         II. Analysis

         The role of summary judgment is “to pierce the pleadings and to assess the proof in order to see whether there is a genuine need for trial.” Mesnick v. Gen. Elec. Co., 950 F.2d 816, 822 (1st Cir. 1991). The burden is on the moving party to show, through the pleadings, discovery and affidavits, “that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and that the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). A fact is material if it “might affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law.” Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). A genuine issue of material fact exists where the evidence with respect to the material fact in dispute “is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party.” Id.

         If the moving party has satisfied its burden, the burden shifts to the non-moving party to set forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine, triable issue. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 324 (1986). The Court must view the entire record in the light most favorable to the non-moving party and indulge all reasonable inferences in that party's favor. O'Connor v. Steeves, 994 F.2d 905, 907 (1st Cir. 1993). Summary judgment is appropriate if, after viewing the record in the non-moving party's favor, the Court determines that no genuine issue of material fact exists and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.

         A. Count I - Excessive Force Claim

         Plaintiff contends that Shugrue violated the Eighth Amendment's prohibition of cruel and unusual punishment. Defendants respond that Shugrue's use of force was reasonable, ...

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