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Anderson v. Kingsley

United States Court of Appeals, Fourth Circuit

December 14, 2017

ALBERT ANDERSON, Plaintiff - Appellant,
v.
DEPUTY M. KINGSLEY, Deputy Sheriff of Gloucester County; DEPUTY STEWART, Deputy Sheriff of Gloucester County, Defendants - Appellees, and D.W. WARREN, JR., Sheriff of Gloucester County; JOHN DOE #1, Unnamed deputy, employee or agent of D.W. Warren, Jr., and/or Gloucester County; JANE DOE #2, Unnamed deputy, employee or agent of D.W. Warren, Jr. and/or Gloucester County, Defendants.

          Argued: October 24, 2017

         Appeal from the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, at Newport News. Douglas E. Miller, Magistrate Judge. (4:14-cv-00028-DEM)

         ARGUED:

          Andrew Mitchell Hendrick, SHUTTLEWORTH, RULOFF, SWAIN, HADDAD & MORECOCK, P.C., Virginia Beach, Virginia, for Appellant.

          Jeff W. Rosen, PENDER & COWARD, P.C., Virginia Beach, Virginia, for Appellees.

         ON BRIEF:

          Robert J. Haddad, SHUTTLEWORTH, RULOFF, SWAIN, HADDAD & MORECOCK, P.C., Virginia Beach, Virginia, for Appellant.

          Lisa Ehrich, PENDER & COWARD, P.C., Virginia Beach, Virginia, for Appellees.

          Before NIEMEYER, TRAXLER, and WYNN, Circuit Judges.

          NIEMEYER, CIRCUIT JUDGE.

         The question presented in this appeal is whether the district court properly instructed the jury on the definition of "deliberate indifference, " as required for proving that prison officials are liable under the Eighth Amendment for failing to protect an inmate from a fellow inmate's assault.

         After Albert Anderson was assaulted by a fellow inmate in Gloucester County Jail in Virginia, sustaining serious injury, he commenced this action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against two Gloucester County Sheriff's deputies, alleging that they acted with deliberate indifference to his health and safety, in violation of the Eighth Amendment's prohibition against "cruel and unusual punishments." At trial, the district court instructed the jury on the required element of deliberate indifference, stating that "[d]eliberate indifference is established only if the defendants . . . had actual knowledge of a substantial risk that Anderson would be injured . . . and if the defendants recklessly disregarded that risk by intentionally refusing or failing to take reasonable measures to deal with the risk." (Emphasis added). Anderson objected to the inclusion of the word "intentionally, " and, following a jury verdict for the defendants, now appeals the district court's ruling overruling his objection.

         For the reasons that follow, we conclude that the district court's instruction adequately and fairly stated the controlling law and therefore affirm.

         I

         Anderson alleged that, on May 15, 2012, he complained to a Sheriff's deputy that a fellow inmate, Richard Rilee, had threatened him, and he therefore requested that he be moved to a cell block apart from Rilee's. While another Sheriff's deputy promptly moved Anderson as requested, neither deputy put Rilee's name on the jail's enemies list, as Anderson claims they should have.

         Two days later, when Anderson and other inmates, including Rilee, were being escorted in a prison hallway, Rilee grabbed Anderson from behind and slammed his head on the concrete floor, causing serious injury.

         Anderson commenced this action against the two Sheriff's deputies under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging that the prison officials had breached their duty to protect him from Rilee's attack in violation of the Eighth Amendment's prohibition against "cruel and unusual punishments." He claimed that the defendants were liable "under a theory of acts of deliberate indifference" in that they "were actually aware of a substantial risk of harm to [him], and failed to reasonably respond to the risk, which proximately resulted in [his] injuries." He sought $3 million in damages.

         At trial, the district court instructed the jury on the requirements for proving an Eighth Amendment claim, stating:

Mr. Anderson, as an inmate in the Gloucester County Jail, had a right under the Eighth Amendment to be protected from attacks by other inmates, but he may only recover from these defendants if they knew of a substantial risk of serious harm to him while in custody and ...

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