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Baynes v. United States

United States District Court, E.D. Virginia, Alexandria Division

August 25, 2016

FREDERICK BAYNES, Plaintiff,
v.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          Leonie M. Brinkema United States District Judge.

         Before the Court is the United Slates' Motion to Dismiss [Dkt. No. 30], Feb. 12, 2016, in which the United States ("defendant" or "the government") argues that the sole remaining count in Frederick Baynes' ("plaintiff or "Baynes") Complaint is barred by the discretionary function exception to the Federal Tort Claims Act ("FTC A"), 28 U.S.C. § 2671 et seq. United States' Mem. of Law in Supp. of its Mot. to Dismiss at 2 [Dkt. No. 31], Feb. 12, 2016 ("Def.'s Mem."). Plaintiff, pro se. has filed an opposition to the government's motion, see PL's Reply Mot. to Gov't's Mot. to Dismiss [Dkt. No 33], Feb. 25, 2016 ("PL's Opp'n"), to which the government has responded. See United States' Reply Mem. of Law in Supp. of Its Mot. to Dismiss [Dkt. No. 34], Mar. 3, 2016 ("Reply"). On June 24, 2016, this motion was converted to one for summary judgment. Order [Dkt. No. 38J, Jun. 24, 2016, The government has provided additional evidence to support its motion. United States' Resp. to the Court's Order [Dkt. No. 37], Jun. 13. 2015 ("Gov't Resp."), and Baynes has filed a reply along with two additional exhibits. Reply Mot. [Dkt. No. 42], Jul. 11, 2016. For the reasons that follow, summary judgment will be granted in the government's favor.

         I. PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         On June 18, 2014, Baynes filed an administrative complaint alleging that he was the victim of a sexual assault for which he sought $500 million in damages. Def.'s Mem., Ex. 2 (Admin. Compl.). That complaint was rejected. After exhausting his administrative remedies, Compl. at 14 [Dkt. No. 1], Baynes filed an unsworn Complaint[1] in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Illinois using a standard form for such complaints, which was styled as a Bivens action against the warden of the United States Penitentiary (USPM) in Marion, Illinois, where plaintiff was housed at that time; the warden of the Federal Correctional Institution ("FCI") in Petersburg, Virginia, where he was previously housed; and a foreman at FCI Petersburg, Jason Payne ("Payne"). Compl. at 2. As relief, plaintiff requested "mental health screening and treatment, and financial compensation throught [sic] the Federal Tort Claim [sic] Act (FTCA) in excess of $50, 000 dollars [sic] and continuing mental health services for however long deem [sic] appropriate by outside Mental Health proffessionals [sic]." Id. at 8. In the process of conducting a threshold review of the Complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A. Judge Gilbert of the Southern District of Illinois distilled the allegations contained therein into the following three counts:

Count 1: Federal Tort Claim for compensation for the injuries Plaintiff sustained on April 26, 2013, as a result of the negligence of prison officials at Petersburg;
Count 2: Eighth Amendment claim against Defendant Payne for deliberate indifference to Plaintiffs physical safety, for disclosing to other inmates that Plaintiff had accused them of stealing, thus placing him in danger;
Count 3: Eighth Amendment deliberate indifference claim against unnamed Marion medical providers, for failing to treat Plaintiffs serious mental health needs

Mem. and Order at 3-4 [Dkt. No. 6], Jan. 21, 2015. Judge Gilbert then severed Count 2 into a new action, dismissed Count 3 without prejudice for failure to state a claim, and substituted the United States of America for all the individual defendants named in Count 1. Id., at 8-9. After that ruling, Baynes notified that court that he did not wish to proceed with Count 2, requesting that it be dismissed, and he stated that he did not wish to challenge the dismissal of Count 3. Mot. to Notify the Court [Dkt. No. 9], Feb. 3, 2015. The government then filed a Motion to Dismiss Pursuant to Rule 12(b)(3) for Improper Venue, or in the Alternative, Motion for Change of Venue Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a) [Dkt. No. 15], Mar. 30, 2015, as to Count 1, the single count remaining in this action. On November 24, 2015, Judge Gilbert granted the motion and ordered the action transferred to this district because all of the allegations giving rise to the claim took place at FCI Petersburg, which is within this district. Mem. and Order [Dkt. No. 24], Nov. 24, 2015.

II. FACTUAL BACKGROUND

         Although a pro se complaint must be read liberally, Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007), in this case there are so many contradictions and inconsistencies among the various versions of the events that plaintiff has supplied in the initial investigation, in his administrative complaint to the Bureau of Prisons ("BOP"), and in his opposition to the instant motion, that it is not possible to regard any of the uncorroborated factual allegations in plaintiffs Complaint with any degree of reliability.

         A. Allegations in Plaintiff's Complaint and Instant Pleadings

         In Count 1, Baynes alleges that he was sexually assaulted on April 26, 2013 while he was incarcerated at FCI Petersburg and working as a clerk in the laundry facility. Specifically, he alleges that after he advised Payne that other inmates were stealing t-shirts and other items off the shelves of the laundry facility, Payne told the accused inmates "that [Baynes] had informed him that they were stealing" and "implyed [sic] that [Baynes] had ratted them out." Compl. At 6. Count 1 further alleges that shortly thereafter, three inmates confronted Baynes about "snitching on them, " jumped him and knocked him unconscious with a metal stool. Id. After he regained consciousness, Baynes saw Payne, who was "walking away from [him], " glance back at him and continue through a doorway. Id.

         The Complaint alleges that after the assault, as he began to stand up, Baynes realized that his pants were "around [his] ankles and [that he] had been penetrated anally." Id. at 7. He alleges that blood and semen were on the floor, and that as he left the bathroom where he had gone to compose himself, Payne appeared, inquired about what had happened, and that he told Payne that "they jumped me and knocked me out." Id. In response, Payne asked how he would like to address the incident and plaintiff replied that he wanted revenge. Id. Baynes claims Payne told him to knock some boxes over and say that they fell on him to avoid being sent to the Special Housing Unit for fighting. Id. Baynes alleges that he followed Payne's suggestion and that, with the help of two unnamed inmates, Payne play-acted finding him and helping him off the ground.

         Count 1 further alleges that after Payne pretended to find plaintiff injured, he allowed Baynes go to the "hospital, "[2] but required two other inmates to accompany Baynes to ensure that he did not go to the Lieutenant's Office to report the assault. Id. at 7. Baynes claims that he was still bleeding from his head and mouth at that time and that he asked Payne to radio for emergency assistance, but that Payne refused to make the call because he needed to "clear up before [Special Investigative Services ("SIS")] came to investigate." Id. at 7-8.

         Count 1 next describes Baynes interaction with FCI Petersburg Health Services Department ("Health Services") personnel, who told the two inmates accompanying plaintiff to leave after plaintiff said he did not need them. Id. at 8. Baynes told the doctor at Health Services only that he "had an accident in laundry" and the doctor "cleaned [him] up;" he did not mention the alleged physical or sexual assault that he now claims occurred earlier that day. Id. Baynes claims that after leaving Health Services, he "waited for [his] opportunity to confront the inmates" who had attacked him, and when he did confront them, "they again tried to attack [him] but only one of them actually became physical towards [him]." ]d That inmate and Baynes allegedly "wrestled" until a point at which his opponent produced a knife and "stabbed [Baynes] in the arm." Id. FCI Petersburg staff eventually arrived and broke up the light. Id.

         When Baynes returned to Health Services for treatment of his arm, he revealed to the medical staff that he had initially lied about the source of his injuries during the previous visit because he wanted to avoid placement in the Special Housing Unit so that he could seek revenge against the alleged assailants. Id. Although he told medical staff that Payne found him unconscious after he was attacked by other inmates, he admits that he did not mention anything to medical staff about being sexually assaulted. Id. at 8-9.

         As a result of the fight, Baynes was sent to the Special Housing Unit and "after a couple of hours[, he] was in alot [sic] of pain, " and requested medical attention and a visit with "Lt. Norman" of SIS. Id. at 9. The staff was unable to reach Lieutenant Norman; however, medical staff responded to Baynes1 request and saw him around 6:30 p.m. when he reported that he had been attacked and that he needed to see a doctor and a lieutenant.[3] Id. Medical staff told him that "everyone was gone until Monday but [that] they would pass [his] request" along. Id. Baynes alleges that Lieutenant Norman visited him on Monday, April 29. 2013. Id. Nevertheless, that date is contradicted by every written record in the file, [4] which uniformly show that it was not until May 1, 2013, five days after the alleged sexual assault, that Baynes first reported the sexual assault when he was interviewed by Lieutenant Norman. In that interview, Baynes claimed that he "had been sexually assaulted when [he] was knocked unconscious" and that he saw Payne walking away as he regained consciousness. Id. at 9-10. In his Complaint, plaintiff alleges that staff originally planned to take him to an outside hospital for a rape kit and further treatment, but that they eventually took him to Health Services where the head doctor decided that a rape kit would be futile because he believed all evidence was already gone by then. Id., at 10.

         Baynes eventually received psychological treatment and was prescribed "psycho-tropic" medication. Id. at 9. Baynes alleges that he was told "that everything was being done to bring these [sic] people responsible for the sexual assault to justice, " id.; however, all of the evidence in the record shows that after the BOP investigation, officials determined there was insufficient evidence to conclude that there had been either a physical or sexual assault on Baynes on the morning of April 26, 2013.

         B. Inconsistencies Across Baynes' Pleadings

         There are so many glaring inconsistencies among the allegations plaintiff provided in his interview with Lieutenant Norman on May 1, 2013, the date closest to the alleged assault, in his sworn administrative complaint filed on June 16, 2014, the unsworn Complaint dated December 14, 2014, and his opposition to the government's Motion to Dismiss that it is difficult to accept any of plaintiffs uncorroborated allegations as credible. In his statement to Lieutenant Norman, which was recorded five days after the incident, he described the assault as involving being

confronted by inmate Roddell Chapell [] [("Chappell")[5] about telling the foreman about the missing T-shirts. Baynes then allege[d] that inmate Edward Huckabee [] [("Huckabee")] began arguing with him while inmate Chappell was standing behind him. He stated that Huckabee sucker punched him and he then grabbed both Huckabee and Chappell to defend himself. Baynes then state[d] that inmates Anthony Wynn [] [("Wynn")] and Quindell Ford [] [("Ford")] engage[d] in the assault. Bayne [sic] allege[d] that inmate Ford choked him until he was unconscious.
Baynes stated when he regained consciousness he was bloody about the head, face and his pants were pulled down to his knees. He allege[d] there was [a] big puddle of blood in the area where the assault took place. Bayne [sic] allege[d] that during the alleged assault an unknown item was inserted into his rectum.

Gov't Resp., Ex. 7 (Rep. of Incident), at 10.

         In his administrative complaint, in which he sought $500 million in damages, plaintiff named only Ford, Huckabee, and Chappell as the persons who assaulted him in the laundry facility, and even though he was unconscious, this time from a "blow to the head by a [sic] iron stool, " he accused Ford of "pull[ing] [his] pants down and sexually assault[ing] [him]." Admin. Compl. at 2. In contrast, in his Complaint, Baynes alleges that "three inmates confronted [him] about snitching" and knocked him out, but he neither provides any detail about their identities nor suggests who among them committed the sexual assault. Compl. at 6-7. finally, in his unsworn opposition to the government's motion, Baynes suggests for the first time that Payne might have been the person who sexually assaulted him, stating that "it is unknown by whom the sexual assault was performed" and that "he had been anally penetrated by either Payne or the inmates who attacked him[, ] or both." PL's Opp'n at 3.

         The Complaint's description of his first interaction with Health Services is also inconsistent with Baynes' administrative complaint. In Baynes' administrative complaint, he says that he did not tell the medical personnel what had happened to him because he "was ashamed to tell them that [he] had been sexually assaulted." Admin. Compl. at 4. The Complaint clearly states that he withheld information about the source of his injuries because he did not want to be sent to the Special Housing Unit before exacting revenge upon the inmates who he believed had ...


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