United States District Court, D. Massachusetts
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER ON DEFENDANTS' MOTION FOR
PARTIAL SUMMARY JUDGMENT
Dennis Saylor IV United States District Judge.
action arises out of an alleged attack on a prisoner by a
correctional officer at the Massachusetts Correctional
Institution at Norfolk (“MCI-Norfolk”). In his
second amended complaint, plaintiff Jason Latimore asserts
claims for relief under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, the
Massachusetts Declaration of Rights, Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 12
§ 11I, Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 214 § 1B, and state tort
law. The complaint alleges that on November 2, 2011,
defendant Vincent Poon repeatedly slammed the door to
Latimore's cell on his hands and arms, severely injuring
him. It further alleges that defendant John Houle, who was
the lieutenant on duty, failed to report the incident or
reprimand Poon for his actions. Finally, it alleges that
defendant William Grossi, the security director, failed to
investigate Latimore's grievances or arrange for medical
have moved for partial summary judgment. For the following
reasons, the motion will be granted in part and denied in
otherwise noted, the following facts are
The November 2, 2011 Incident
Latimore was incarcerated at the Massachusetts Correctional
Institution-Norfolk (“MCI-Norfolk”) at all times
relevant to the complaint. (Def. SMF ¶ 1). He was
serving two concurrent sentences of three years and a
concurrent sentence of two-and-a-half years for various drug
offenses. (Id.). He was at MCI-Norfolk from June
2010 to November 2012. (Id.).
November 2, 2011, Latimore was held in the Special Management
Unit (“SMU”) of MCI-Norfolk waiting to be
transferred to the Department Disciplinary Unit
(“DDU”) at MCI-Cedar Junction. (Def. Ex. 1). He
was being transferred for seriously injuring another inmate
in a fight. (Id.).
morning recreation period, Latimore returned to his cell.
(Def. Ex. 2). Correctional Officer Vincent Poon, who was the
escorting officer, told Latimore that he removed one of the
two radios in his cell. (Id.). Latimore then
became agitated, placing his hands in the trap door of the
cell, and began arguing with Poon. (Id.).
parties dispute what happened next. Latimore contends that
Poon “closed and slammed the trap door”
repeatedly on his arm without warning for 30 to 40 seconds.
(Pl. SMF ¶ 8; Latimore Dep. at 20-21). Two other
correctional officers, Fernando Pontes and Terrel Panis,
observed the incident. (Latimore Dep. at 29). Latimore
testified that Pontes stopped Poon by pushing him against the
wall. (Id. at 36). Pontes then called over
Lieutenant John Houle, the supervising officer. (Id.
contend that “[a]fter repeated warnings, Latimore
removed his hands and arms from the trap and his cell door
was secured.” (Def. SMF ¶ 10; Def. Ex. 2).
wrote a disciplinary report concerning the incident. (Def.
Ex. 3; Latimore Dep. at 55). Houle also later stated that no
force was used against Latimore by any officer, and that he
suffered no injuries. (Def. Ex. 22). There is no record that
Latimore was ever disciplined in response to the report.
(Latimore Dep. at 55-56).
Latimore Files a Grievance
same day the alleged assault and battery occurred, Latimore
filed a grievance. (Def. Ex. 5). He requested that Poon be
“reprimanded[, ] suspended and removed from working in
the SMU/RV building with segregated inmates.”
(Id.). The following day, Latimore filed another
grievance making substantively identical claims. (Def. Ex.
6). It appears that he simultaneously filed a document titled
“Statement of Events” recounting his version of
the incident. (Def. Ex. 9). Thereafter, Latimore received a
letter dated November 16, 2011, from prison Superintendent
Gary Roden stating that the grievances had triggered an
investigation. (Def. Ex. 7). Latimore later received a letter
dated November 25, 2011, from Assistant Deputy Commissioner
Karen Hetherson of the DOC Internal Affairs Unit stating that
an investigation was underway. (Def. Ex. 8).
Evidence of Injuries
after the alleged assault and battery, Latimore submitted a
sick slip requesting medical services. (Def. Ex. 10). He
wrote that he was suffering from “Severe pain in my
fingers on both hands & wrists. My right forearm &
elbow is hurting bad & bruised. I need help. I want to be
seen my right hand goes numb on me on & off. Thank
you.” (Id.). On November 5, 2011, three days
after the incident, he was examined by a nurse. The nurse
found no swelling and concluded that he had good motion in
his hands, wrists, and fingers. (Id.). The nurse
prescribed Motrin. (Id.).
filed another sick slip on November 7, 2011. (Def. Ex. 11).
He wrote “I need to see medical for my hand, wrist
& arm pain. I have numbness in my right hand & my
bones hurt. Since Nov. 2nd it has been hurting and in pain
all day.” (Id.). That same day, he was
examined by a different nurse, who found no swelling.
(Id.). The nurse also found “no apparent
discomfort” when Latimore was asked to push down on an
object. (Id.). He was again prescribed Motrin.
(Id.). Various photographs of his hands, arms,
wrists, and fingers were also taken on November 7, 2011.
(Def. Ex. 12). The photographs show no visible injuries,
swelling, or redness. (Id.).
November 14, 2011, Latimore had a Health Services appointment
and again stated that he was suffering pain as a result of
the attack. (Def. Ex. 13). The nurse noted: “No edema;
skin intact. No pain over bony prominences including wrist,
metatarsals and fingers.” (Id.). Although he
initially refused to make a fist “due to pain, ”
he did not complain when the nurse “palpated the
November 15, 2011, the date of his transfer to MCI-Cedar
Junction, Latimore was seen by a nurse. (Latimore Dep. at
75). He was brought into an employee break room, where
several correctional officers, including Poon, were present.
(Id.). The nurse examined his hand; according to
Latimore, the examination lasted approximately five minutes.
(Id. at 76).
deposition, Latimore testified that Poon's actions had
caused him to suffer various cuts and “scrapes”
that bled. (Id. at 57). He also contends that he had
a torn tendon and could not bend his left thumb.
(Id. at 43). He testified that his injuries
prevented him from performing various sexual acts and
vigorously exercising. (Id. at 58) (“I
can't-it's messed up my sex life. I can't do
sexual positions I used to [be] able to do for the amount of
time I used to do them.”) (“[I]f I get up on the
pull-up bar, it puts so much strain on the left hand . . .
that by the time I got to the third or fourth set, it's
like I'm going to be out of commission for the next five
days.”). Latimore also stated that as a result of the
attack, he became “emotionally messed [ ] up” and
“paranoid of the police.” (Id. at 68).
He also claims to suffer from various mental-health issues,
including depression, anxiety, and paranoia, and that he has
lost his fiancée. (Id. at
Alleged Injuries Suffered Outside
had a fracture in his right thumb at least seven months
before the alleged assault. (Def. Ex. 15). Medical progress
notes from April 6 and April 20, 2011, discuss the thumb
injury. (Def. Ex. 16). A separate radiology report from April
21, 2011, indicates that the injury stemmed from a
sports-related incident. (Def. Ex. 17). On April 27, 2011,
Latimore filled out a sick slip requesting a medical
appointment because his finger was broken. (Def. Ex. 18).
However, he then declined to see a nurse. (Id.).
the alleged incident at question, Latimore also filed suit
against the City of Chelsea. See Latimore v. City of
Chelsea, No. 17-cv-10817-WGY. In his complaint, Latimore
alleged that during a traffic stop, a Chelsea police officer
committed assault and battery, causing his left arm and elbow
to be injured.
DOC's Investigation of Latimore's
noted, the two grievances filed by Latimore triggered an
investigation by DOC. The DOC Inner Perimeter Security
(“IPS”) Unit conducted an investigation into the
grievances at the request of Superintendent Roden. (Def. Ex.
21). It appears that the investigation began on November 8,
interviewed Latimore and several corrections officers and
other prison staff. (Id.). It concluded that
“[t]he allegations brought forth by Latimore claiming
he was assaulted by Poon are unfounded” and that
Latimore “could not provide supporting evidence or
reliable witnesses to support any of the allegations.”
(Id.). The IPS report, which was finalized in July
2012, exonerated Poon of any wrongdoing.
Grossi was the Director of Security at MCI-Norfolk. (Def. SMF
¶ 50). He states that he does not recall Latimore ever
telling him about Poon's actions. (Def. Ex. 20). As
Director of Security, he had no role in these events except
to review and sign off on DOC's investigation once it was
complete. (Id.). In Latimore's deposition, the
only mention he makes of Grossi is that Grossi should have
provided medical care and initiated the IPS investigation
immediately upon learning of the alleged assault and battery.