United States District Court, D. Delaware
Amaro, James T. Vaughn Correctional Center, Smyrna, Delaware.
Pro se Plaintiff.
B. Drowos, Deputy Attorney General, Delaware Department of
Justice, Wilmington, Delaware. Counsel for Defendants.
ROBINSON, DISTRICT JUDGE
Eric Amaro ("plaintiff"), an inmate at the James T.
Vaughn Correctional Center ("VCC"), Smyrna,
Delaware, proceeds pro se and has been granted leave to
proceed in forma pauperis. When he commenced this action,
plaintiff was a pretrial detainee at the Sussex Correctional
Institution ("SCI"), Georgetown, Delaware.
Plaintiff filed this lawsuit on October 26, 2015 pursuant to
42 U.S.C. § 1983. (D.I. 2) Presently before the court
are several motions filed by the parties including motions to
preserve evidence, request for counsel, and defendants'
motion for summary judgment. (D.I. 40, 44, 49, 54) The court
has jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331.
complaint alleges that, on August 20, 2015, following an
altercation between correctional officers and inmate James
Hight ("Hight"), plaintiff's tier was on
lockdown. (D.I. 1) While on lockdown, defendant Kirk Neal
("Neal") came to plaintiff's cell and ordered
him to open the door. Plaintiff alleges that Neal threatened
him and plaintiff told Neal that he had done nothing to
deserve the way Neal was speaking to him. Plaintiff alleges
that Neal grabbed him by the shirt, punched him, and
scratched his neck. Plaintiff was ordered to stay in his cell
until the 4 to 12 shift officers arrived. Plaintiff alleges
that he was denied medical care prior to the time the 4 to 12
shift officers arrived.
the incident, plaintiff submitted a grievance. He alleges
that after he submitted the grievance, he was fired from his
job by defendant Cpl. Amos Callaway ("Callaway").
In addition, Neal told plaintiff that he had obtained
plaintiff's address and threatened plaintiff that
"whatever [plaintiff] did to his family in jail, . . .
they would take it out on [plaintiff's] family in the
street." Plaintiff also alleges that Callaway and Neal
yelled out plaintiff's address and his girlfriend's
Facts as Presented by the Parties
reports indicate that on August 20, 2015, after inmate Hight
took a cordless phone from C/O Adam Scott's
("Scott") desk, Scott ordered Hight to return the
phone and to "lock in." (D.I. 55-1 at 2, 6, 10) C/O
Janusiewicz ("Janusiewicz"), Callaway, and C/O
Colby Steele ("Steele") responded to the housing
unit,  entered Hight's cell, secured him in
handcuffs, and escorted him from the tier. (Id.)
same day, plaintiff submitted a grievance stating that Neal
had "put his hands" on him, scratched his neck, and
punched him in the face. (D.I. 56 at 7) Plaintiff asked to
press charges and stated that he was afraid for his life.
(Id.) The grievance is marked received August 25,
2015 and was either returned or unprocessed. (D.I. 55-1 at
14) The grievance was forwarded to investigator Kendall
Hickman ("Hickman"). (Id. at 14-15)
Plaintiff submitted four other grievances regarding the
matter. (D.I. 56 at 8-12) Plaintiff was told that the matter
was being investigated but, as of March 14, 2016, he had not
been told the results of the investigation. (Id. at
investigated the matter and prepared an undated
administrative investigation report received at the SCI's
warden office on September 8, 2015. (D.I. 55-1 at 19-21)
Hickman interviewed plaintiff on August 25, 2015, who told
him that after Hight had been removed from his cell, Neal
returned to pack up Hight's personal items and grabbed
plaintiff by his shirt (like a hockey fight) when plaintiff
would not hold the door. (Id. at 20) The report states
that plaintiff did not mention injuries or having pictures
report states that Steele was present during the time
plaintiff claims he was assaulted by Neal. (Id. at
20) Steele stated that he was downstairs when Neal went
upstairs to pack Hight's personal items and at no time
did Neal assault plaintiff. (Id.) The report
concludes that Hight and plaintiff could have fabricated the
story once Hight was returned to the cell he shared with
plaintiff. (Id. at 21) Hickman found no evidence to
support any use of force violations by prison staff.
Quentin Jones' ("Jones") statement, dated
August 20, 2015, states that when Neal demanded that
plaintiff hold the door to cell 322, and plaintiff responded
"that's not how you talk to people, " Neal
grabbed plaintiff around the front collar of his shirt,
shoved plaintiff against the upstair guard rail, and told
plaintiff to do what he said. (D.I. 56 at 16) At that point
Steele told plaintiff to "hush" and "just do
what he says do." (Id.) Neal then let plaintiff
go into the cell to gather Hight's
John Hellstern's ("Hellstern") February 25,
2017 unsigned statement states that Neal asked Scott to open
cell 322, and Neal "went rogue" on plaintiff. (D.I.
56 at 18) According to Hellstern, Neal started to punch
plaintiff "on what seem[ed] the neck and face
area." (Id.) Neal then went into the cell and