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Williams v. Marinelli

United States District Court, D. Connecticut

February 8, 2017

RASHAD WILLIAMS, Plaintiff,
v.
DENNIS MARINELLI, ET. AL. Defendants.

          RULING ON POST-VERDICT MOTIONS

          Michael P. Shea, U.S.D.J.

         I. Introduction

         Inmate Rashad Williams claimed that officials of the Connecticut Department of Correction (“DOC”) violated the Eighth Amendment by exposing him to assault by a cellmate on October 28, 2010, at the Northern Correctional Institution (“Northern”) in Somers, Connecticut. After a trial, a jury agreed as to one defendant - Captain Dennis Marinelli - and awarded Williams $650, 000 in damages, but disagreed as to the three others. Williams and Marinelli have both filed post-verdict motions, including (1) Marinelli's motion for judgment as a matter of law under Fed.R.Civ.P. 50(b), for a new trial under Fed.R.Civ.P. 59, and for remittitur (ECF No. 190), (2) Williams' motion for judgment as a matter of law under Fed.R.Civ.P. 50(b) as to the three other defendants (ECF No.192), (3) Williams' motion for reimbursement of costs (ECF No. 184), and (4) Williams' “Objection to State of Connecticut's Claim for Repayment of Cost of Incarceration” (ECF No. 185), which seeks to enjoin the State from imposing a statutory lien on his damages award to recover the costs of his incarceration.

         I deny the Rule 50 motions because there was legally sufficient evidence to support the verdict as to each defendant. As a captain and housing unit manager at Northern, Marinelli outranked the other defendants, had more information than they about Williams' circumstances, including his history of living alone and his frequently voiced fears of being attacked by a cellmate, and participated in the decision to house him with a cellmate who had a history of assaults. In addition, the jury could reasonably have found that Marinelli either ignored or failed to investigate Williams' claim that mental health staff at Northern had recommended that he remain living alone. Marinelli was also on notice that when Williams was placed in the cell with the new cellmate, Williams would likely be handcuffed behind his back while his cellmate's hands were free, and that in these circumstances cellmate-on-cellmate attacks occurred at Northern with some frequency. Unlike Marinelli, the remaining defendants did not participate in the decision to place Williams with the cellmate. Further, the two correctional officer defendants had no discretion to disobey Marinelli's order to return Williams to the cell with the cellmate after Williams voiced a concern. The third defendant, a lieutenant, was not involved in Williams' transfer to a dual cell and spoke with Williams only briefly on the morning of the assault. In short, there was sufficient evidence from which a reasonable jury could infer that Marinelli was aware of a substantial risk of serious harm to Williams and failed to respond reasonably to the risk, but the evidence in Williams' favor was not so overwhelming that the jury was required to reach the same conclusion as to the other three defendants.

         I also deny Marinelli's motion for a new trial. My decision to exclude evidence of Williams' specific disciplinary incidents - all of which occurred at least four months before he was assaulted by his cellmate - was, I think, a correct application of Fed.R.Evid. 402 and 403. The ruling did not prohibit the defendants from introducing evidence that Williams had a serious disciplinary history or that he was allowed to live in a single cell because of his behavioral problems, rather than because of his fears of having a cellmate or any staff concerns for his safety. What the ruling did prohibit was the introduction of evidence of the specific nature of those incidents - including that Williams had masturbated in front of female staff - because that evidence was not relevant to whether the defendants violated his Eighth Amendment rights on October 28, 2010. And even if it had some relevance, its probative value was substantially outweighed by a danger of unfair prejudice and confusing the issues.

         I grant in part and deny in part the motion for remittitur. The motion is denied with respect to the compensatory damages award of $250, 000 but granted with respect to the punitive damages award of $400, 000. Because the punitive damages award greatly exceeds the range of punitive damage awards in similar cases, I order a new trial on damages unless, within 21 days of this ruling, Mr. Williams agrees to remit the punitive damages award to $50, 000 for total damages of $300, 000.

         I dismiss as moot Williams' claims for injunctive relief because those claims seek changes to handcuffing and celling practices at Northern, at which Williams has not resided since 2011. He made no showing at trial that the DOC was likely to return him to that facility.

         Finally, I deny Williams' Motion for Reimbursement of Costs of Suit (ECF No.184), without prejudice to his filing a bill of costs; deny his motion to enjoin the State from setting off the costs of his incarceration (ECF No.185), without prejudice to his refiling the motion when issues arising from collection of the judgment become ripe; and deny as moot his Motion for Clarification (ECF No. 200) and Motion to Receive a Status Report (ECF No. 202).

         These are just summaries. Each of these rulings is explained in further detail below.

         II. Procedural History

         Relying on 42 U.S.C. § 1983, Williams brought his Eighth Amendment claim against a long list of correctional officials whom he blamed for the events of October 28, 2010, including the then Commissioner, the Warden at Northern, and Deputy Warden Powers; Captains Cahill, Dennis Marinelli, and Butkiewicus; Lieutenant Melvin Saylor and Correctional Officers Alphonso Lindsey and Dishana Robinson; Dr. Frayne, mental health workers Eileen Redding and Jill Haga; an unidentified nurse; and the University of Connecticut.[1] Before trial, I dismissed the claims against the Commissioner, the Warden, Deputy Warden Powers, Captains Cahill and Butkiewicus, Dr. Frayne, mental health worker Redden, the unidentified nurse, and the University of Connecticut. (ECF Nos. 8, 162.)[2] Further, after Williams rested his case, I dismissed his claim against mental health worker Haga, granting the Defendants' motion under Fed.R.Civ.P. 50(a) with respect to her; I found that there was legally insufficient evidence to support the claim of deliberate indifference as to Haga due to her minimal involvement in the events of October 28, 2010. (ECF No. 206 at 29-34.) After the defendants rested, Williams made his own Rule 50(a) motion as to the remaining defendants. Except as to Haga, I reserved as to both Rule 50(a) motions, and Mr. Williams' Eighth Amendment claim was submitted to the jury with respect to Marinelli, Saylor, Robinson, and Lindsey. The jury returned a verdict in favor of Williams with respect to the claim against Marinelli, awarding $250, 000 in compensatory damages and $400, 000 in punitive damages, and a verdict in favor of Defendants Saylor, Robinson, and Lindsey.

         Williams and Marinelli have both renewed their motions for judgment as a matter of law under Rule 50(b). In addition, Marinelli moves for a new trial under Rule 59 and a remittitur. Finally, Williams has filed motions for reimbursement of costs, to prevent the State from setting off the costs of incarceration from his damages award, for clarification, and for a status report.

         III. Facts the Jury Reasonably Could Have Found [3]

         A. Northern and the Administrative Segregation Program

         In 2010, Williams was an inmate at Northern, the most secure prison in Connecticut's prison system. Williams was assigned to the Administrative Segregation Program (“AdSeg”), one of the most restrictive programs run by the DOC. AdSeg is designed for inmates who have compiled serious disciplinary records while in prison - due to assaults on staff or other inmates and other serious behavioral problems. AdSeg consists of three phases, and when each inmate arrives at Northern for placement in AdSeg, he is placed in Phase I, the most restrictive phase. At the relevant time in 2010, each phase of the AdSeg program at Northern was assigned to a different housing unit and overseen by a different “unit manager.” Captain Cahill oversaw Phase I, which was located in the 1 East housing unit, and Captain Marinelli oversaw Phases II and III, which were located in the 3 East housing unit.

         As an inmate progressed through the phases of AdSeg, certain restrictions would be removed. For example, although the precise timing of this change was disputed at trial, it was undisputed that inmates in Phase I were handcuffed with their hands behind their backs when they had to be moved outside the cell (to recreation, for example), while inmates in Phase II were handcuffed with their hands in front, for the first thirty days in Phase II, for out-of-cell movements. To advance from Phase I to Phase II, an inmate had to remain free of disciplinary “tickets” for four months.

         From the time he arrived at Northern in November 2009 until the time he left in June 2011, Williams never had a cellmate - except for the day he was attacked by his new cellmate shortly after their placement into the same cell, i.e., October 28, 2010. During that time frame, Williams advanced through all three phases of the AdSeg program and left Northern for a less restrictive facility in June 2011. Other inmates in the AdSeg program did have cellmates, although not all of them did. More specifically, there was evidence that some of the inmates in Phase I did not have cellmates, in part, because Phase I was considered a “cooling off” period. Phase II, however, ordinarily involved double celling, and defense witnesses testified that a goal of the AdSeg program - and Phase II in particular - was to promote interaction with other inmates. An exhibit introduced at trial describing the AdSeg program states that “[i]nmates are housed two per cell” in Phase II. (Ex. 40.) Nonetheless, defense witnesses admitted that “there are circumstances when inmates are placed on single cell status” or otherwise housed in a single cell, and that this might reflect a determination by “custody, ” (which, the evidence suggested, meant the Warden, deputy warden, or a unit manager), the product of “an informal agreement based on appropriate care and treatment of the offenders at Northern, ” or the inmate's presence on the “mental health single cell list” due to a diagnosis of an “Axis I mental health disorder.” (ECF No. 204 at 42, ECF No. 205 at 112, ECF No. 206 at 52-53.) As noted, Williams never had a cellmate in any of the three phases of AdSeg - except for the day of the assault. Williams testified that although Phase II “ordinarily” involves double celling, not everyone in Phase II was double-celled. (ECF No. 205 at 146, ECF No. 206 at 20.)

         B. Williams Expresses Fears About Threats from Gang Members, Receiving A Cellmate, and the Sequential Uncuffing Practice

         In March 2010, Williams wrote to an attorney at an inmates legal assistance organization that gang members occupying nearby cells in Phase I at Northern were calling him a “snitch” and threatening him. He also informed the lawyer that he was worried about being double celled with a gang member as he progressed through the phases of the AdSeg program. Williams was not a gang member at the time. The lawyer's colleague contacted Northern and spoke with Deputy Warden Powers. Shortly thereafter, Captain Butkiewicus interviewed Williams, who conveyed fears for his safety and, in particular, concerns about receiving a cellmate and the possibility of attacks by gang members. Williams had previously been attacked by other inmates (ECF No. 206 at 24), although there was no evidence this had occurred at Northern or that any defendants were aware that he had previously been a victim of inmate attacks. In his conversation with Butkiewicus, Williams requested that he be granted “rec alone” status, which would have entailed letting him participate in out-of-cell recreation by himself.

         Williams also told Butkiewicus that he was afraid that he would be unable to defend himself from assaults, due to what I will refer to as the “sequential uncuffing practice” used at Northern. Under that practice, two inmates who are living in the same cell in Phase I at Northern are placed in the cell with their hands cuffed behind the back; staff then leave the cell and lock the cell door; and then one inmate squats and pushes his cuffed hands through the “trap, ” a hole in the door, and his hands are then uncuffed by staff. Thereafter, the second inmate squats and places his hands - behind his back - through the trap and he is uncuffed. Williams expressed the concern repeatedly to Butkiewicus and others, as described below, that this sequential uncuffing practice exposed the second inmate to assault by his cellmate, whose hands would be free while the second inmate remained shackled behind his back. Williams expressed fear that he would be the victim of such an assault. At trial, he presented evidence that from 1998 through 2010, 53 inmates had been the victim of such assaults at Northern as a result of the sequential uncuffing practice. There was evidence that Captain Marinelli, who had been at Northern since 1999, learned of these assaults, both as a unit manager and during roll calls at which each incoming shift of correctional staff was advised of significant events on the previous shift. (ECF No. 204 at 156-57.) Marinelli testified that staff at Northern move inmates between cells “probably a few hundred times a week” and “thousands a year, ” but he, along with other defense witnesses, acknowledged that there was “always a risk” of an assault when one inmate is cuffed behind the back and the other is not. (ECF No. 204 at 146.) He and other defense witnesses also testified that the practice was necessary to protect correctional staff, and that there was no other way to remove handcuffs from inmates in Phase I that did not pose a risk to staff.

         Williams testified that Captain Butkiewicus did nothing in response to his concerns, but he remained living alone. In May 2010, Williams conveyed the concerns about his safety and his fear about receiving a cellmate to mental health staff. Specifically, he told Eileen Redden, a mental health worker assigned to Northern, and Dr. Frayne, the supervising psychologist at Northern, that there had been an “abundance of assaults with inmates cuffed behind their back, ” that he feared he would be assaulted while cuffed behind the back, and that he did not want to receive a cell partner because he feared for his safety. (ECF No. 205 at 137, 141.) Williams continued to see Redden for treatment between May 2010 and October 2010, and conveyed these concerns to her each time he saw her. (Id. at 144.) Although the trial evidence did not place a number on these conversations, Redden, who also testified at trial, agreed that Williams had conveyed these concerns to her “many times” and “constantly.” (Id. at 103, 105-06.) Redden told him on each occasion that he would continue living alone. (Id. at 144.)

         In August 2010, while Williams was in Phase I, Captain Cahill, the unit manager, told Williams that he would need to move to a different cell because Williams was occupying a cell with two bunks and “because I was on single cell status I was going to be moved to the cell with one bunk.” (Id.) Williams was, in fact, moved to a single-bunk cell in another part of 1 East at that time.

         C. Progression to Phase II

         At some point in October 2010, the staff at Northern decided that Williams, who had been discipline-free for four months, was ready to progress to Phase II of the AdSeg program. Williams met with Dr. Frayne on October 19, 2010, and told him that in connection with the possible transition to Phase II, he was concerned about receiving a cellmate, about being assaulted, and about the possibility of being housed with a gang member. Frayne told him that he “was on the list of single cells” (ECF No. 205 at 146), and made a note in Williams' medical record at the time, stating that Williams was “anxious” and “seems invested in advancing, but also remaining single cell.” (Ex. 2B.) On October 22, 2010, Williams signed an agreement under which he would advance to Phase II; the document said nothing about whether or not he would have a cellmate. (Ex. 39.)

         The staff at Northern, including Captain Marinelli, examined information and communicated frequently about each inmate before deciding on whether that inmate was ready to advance to the next phase of the AdSeg program. Each month, the Warden, the deputy wardens, the unit managers, including Marinelli, and mental health staff participated in “progression meetings” to discuss whether each inmate in AdSeg should be promoted to the next phase. In addition, Marinelli had frequent discussions with Captain Cahill, the unit manager of 1 East, about the inmates who were preparing to advance from Cahill's housing unit to Marinelli's in 3 East, i.e., from Phase I to Phase II. He and Captain Cahill would also communicate about, among other things, the size, disciplinary history, disposition, gang affiliation (or not), and other characteristics of the inmates who were moving from Phase I to Phase II to determine which inmates should live together in Phase II. Marinelli also worked closely with mental health staff, especially Dr. Frayne, and included Frayne in all decisions concerning inmates. Marinelli testified that through these communications, he would be advised if an inmate in 1 East, i.e., Phase I, was “on single cell.” (ECF No. 204 at 176.)

         D. October 28, 2010

         On October 28, 2010, Williams met with Redden and other medical staff. Later that day, Correctional Officers Lindsey and Robinson arrived at his cell to move him to 3 East to begin Phase II of the AdSeg program. They informed him that he would have a cellmate, inmate Darnell Walker. Williams immediately asked to speak with mental health staff. Mental Health worker Haga, who called his cell on the intercom, told him she could not do anything about his housing status and had to defer to Dr. Frayne, her supervisor. She could not recall during her trial testimony whether she spoke with Dr. Frayne at the time. Williams also told Lieutenant Saylor, who was touring 1 East at that time, that he had heard that morning from mental health staff (i.e., Redden) that he would remain single cell but that Officers Lindsey and Robinson were now telling him he would be sharing a cell with inmate Walker in Phase II. Williams was distraught. Saylor told him to calm down, that he would investigate, and that he would not be moving until Saylor returned. During his testimony, Saylor did not dispute the substance of this conversation and said that he became occupied with other matters and was unable to return to 1 East before the move.

         Inmate Walker was an active member of the Bloods who was, in addition to being in AdSeg, designated by the DOC as a “Security Risk Group Threat Member, ” which means that he was an active gang member who had engaged in violence in the prison system and who “potentially pose[d] a threat to institutional operations.” (ECF No. 204 at 32; ECF No. 205 at 20-21.) Walker's disciplinary history, which was introduced at trial, included assaults on inmates and staff as well as threats and other violations. (Ex. 45A) Marinelli would have reviewed Walker's DOC designations and disciplinary history before the move, and he and other staff learned of inmate assaults during roll call. (ECF No. 204 at 156-57, 196, 198.) Williams, too, was aware that Walker was an active Blood. He had had a prior encounter with Walker on the street, and he became concerned for his safety when he was told they would be living together in Phase II. (ECF No. 205 at 154-55.) Williams and Walker were approximately the same size; both had substantial disciplinary histories; and both had been ticket-free for four months.

         Lindsey and Robinson escorted Williams to 3 East. During the escort, Williams' hands were cuffed to the front. At trial, the parties disagreed about the reason for this. Williams contended that it owed to the fact that he was progressing to Phase II, where inmates cuff to the front for the first 30 days. The defendants, however, took the position that the “handcuff-to-the-front” policy applicable in Phase II did not take effect until the day after the move, after the inmates had accepted their cellmates and appeared for recreation. They contended that the decision to cuff Williams' hands to the front for the escort was simply a permissible exercise of Lindsey's and Robinson's discretion.

         Robinson testified that, before the move, she considered Williams to be generally cooperative. According to her and Lindsey's testimony, however, his demeanor changed and he became “anxious” once they entered 3 East “based on … his concerns of mental health single cell status” - such that they began to worry about their decision not to cuff his hands in the back. (ECF No. 204 at 70-71, 104, 108.) They placed him in the cell with inmate Walker, whose hands were also cuffed in front at the time.[4] Williams told Robinson and Lindsey that he had been told by mental health that he would be living alone, and urged them to contact Frayne or Redden. Robinson told him she would check, and Williams and Walker were left in the cell together for four to six minutes, during which both were uncuffed, neither spoke to the other, and no assault occurred. After this short interval, Robinson and Lindsey returned and instructed Williams to cuff up - in the back - by placing his hands through the trap. Lindsey testified that he ordered Williams to cuff to the back, rather than the front, out of concern for his and Robinson's safety, as Williams appeared “agitated” at the time. (ECF No. 204 at 47-51, 65). Walker was also ordered to cuff up so that the control room - down the hall - could open the cell door and the two correctional officers could remove Williams from the cell. Robinson and Lindsey removed Williams from the cell without incident and brought him to the day room. Robinson then went to speak with Marinelli. When Robinson returned, she reported that Marinelli had instructed that Williams be returned to the cell with Walker and that, if he refused, he would be issued a disciplinary report and returned to Phase I of the program.[5] Williams understood this to mean that if he refused to return to the cell with Walker, he would not be allowed to leave the AdSeg program or Northern and might also be placed on in-cell restraints as a sanction. He did not refuse, and Robinson and Lindsey led him back to the cell he had just left. Upon reaching the cell, Robinson and Lindsey opened the trap and cuffed Walker behind the back. The cell door was then opened, Williams entered, also cuffed behind the back, and the door closed. At his own initiative, Walker went immediately to the trap to uncuff, and Robinson and Lindsey removed his cuffs. Once he was uncuffed, Walker assaulted Williams, who remained in the locked cell, cuffed behind his back. Walker punched him in the head, knocked him to the floor, kicked him, and “stomp[ed]” on him. (ECF No. 205 at 164.) Williams was unable to defend himself. Neither Robinson nor Lindsey could immediately open the cell door, which was operated by the control room. Williams suffered wounds to his face and head, as well as injuries to his ankle and back and exacerbation of a preexisting knee injury. The jury observed a video showing his injuries shortly after the attack, including a visible cut on his cheek and a knob on his head. The knob remained for two months. He testified that he continues to suffer headaches as a result of the attack (which occurred six years before trial) and continues to have back and knee pain. He also testified that he has recurring nightmares about being killed by cellmates, and feels anxious whenever he hears inmates being moved between cells. He continues to take medication to reduce the nightmares and anxiety, and the medication causes tremors in his hands.

         After the assault, Williams was taken to a medical unit to treat his injuries. As noted, his treatment in the medical unit was filmed, and the jury viewed the video. The jury also viewed a video of inmate Walker who, immediately after the assault, appeared angry and said that the correctional staff “knew what [they] were doing” when they put him into a cell with an inmate “on single cell status doing 30 years.” (Def. Ex. Code Blue Walker.)

         Williams testified that after the assault and after the camera was turned off, Marinelli approached him and told him that he would receive another cellmate and that Williams “didn't dictate cell assignment in his unit.” (ECF No. 205 at 179-180.) Williams testified that this comment left him “terrified” that he would be assaulted again. (Id. at 180.)

         E. Events After October 28, 2010

         As noted, Williams continued to live alone as he progressed through the phases of AdSeg at Northern, but both he and another inmate who had been at Northern at the time testified that, after the assault, Marinelli repeatedly threatened to place him with a cellmate while he was in Phases II and III. Marinelli told the other inmate - also a gang member - that he was going to be housed with Williams. Even after Deputy Warden Powers specifically told Marinelli that he could not place anyone in the cell with Williams - following a written complaint by Williams about Marinelli's threats - Marinelli continued to tell Williams he would receive a cellmate. Marinelli also spoke with Eileen Redden in an attempt to persuade her take Williams “off single cell status.” (ECF No. 205 at 181.)

         After the assault, Walker was placed on the tier a few cells away from Williams. Walker and other prisoners would taunt Williams about the assault, and told him it would happen again. When Williams complained to Marinelli about being housed with gang members, Marinelli told him to “shut up” and to lie down on his bunk.[6]

         IV. Analysis of the Post-Verdict Motions

         A. Rule 50 Motions

         1.Legal Standards

         a. Rule 50

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 50(a)(1)(B) states,

If a party has been fully heard on an issue during a jury trial and the court finds that a reasonable jury would not have a legally sufficient evidentiary basis to find for the party on that issue, the court may . . . grant a motion for judgment as a matter of law against the party on a claim . . . that, under the controlling law, can be maintained . . . only with a favorable finding on that issue.

         A motion under the rule must “specify the judgment sought and the law and facts that entitle the movant to the judgment.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 50(a)(2). If the court does not grant the motion, it is “considered to have submitted the action to the jury subject to the court's later deciding the legal questions raised by the motion, ” in which case the movant may renew the motion following the entry of judgment and “include an alternative or joint request for a new trial under Rule 59.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 50(b). “In ruling on the renewed motion, the court may (1) allow judgment on the verdict, if the jury returned a verdict; (2) order a new trial; or (3) direct the entry of judgment as a matter of law.” Id.

         “Judgment as a matter of law may not properly be granted under Rule 50 unless the evidence, viewed in the light most favorable to the opposing party, is insufficient to permit a reasonable juror to find in her favor.” Galdieri-Ambrosini v. Nat'l Realty & Dev. Corp., 136 F.3d 276, 289 (2d Cir. 1998).

[T]he district court must [also] draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the nonmoving party, and it may not make credibility determinations or weigh the evidence. . . . Credibility determinations, the weighing of the evidence, and the drawing of legitimate inferences from the facts are jury functions, not those of a judge. . . . Thus, although the Court should review the record as a whole, it must disregard all evidence favorable to the moving party that the jury is not required to believe.

Manganiello v. City of New York, 612 F.3d 149, 161 (2d Cir. 2010)(citations and internal quotation marks omitted). “Although a party making a Rule 50 motion always faces a heavy burden, that burden is particularly heavy, where, as here, the jury has deliberated in the case and actually returned its verdict in favor of the non-movant.” Newton v. City of New York, 779 F.3d 140, 146 (2d Cir. 2015).

Under such circumstances, the district court may set aside the verdict only where there is such a complete absence of evidence supporting the verdict that the jury's findings could only have been the result of sheer surmise and conjecture, or there is such an overwhelming amount of evidence in favor of the movant that reasonable and fair minded [jurors] could not arrive at a verdict against him.

Cross v. N.Y. City Transit Auth., 417 F.3d 241, 248 (2d Cir. 2005)(alternations and internal quotation marks omitted).

         Although a Rule 50 motion is “[u]sually” brought by the party opposing a claim, federal courts have also permitted the claimant - here, Williams - to make such a motion. Wright & Miller, Fed. Practice and Procedure § 2535 (citing cases).[7] The courts have suggested that Rule 50 motions by claimants should rarely be granted, because the high standard applicable to Rule 50 motions “is rarely satisfied by the party bearing the burden of proof at trial.” Sachs v. Musa, 2014 WL 1855615, at *1 (S.D.N.Y. May 8, 2014.) Specifically, a claimant making a Rule 50 motion must show that “there is such an overwhelming amount of evidence in favor of [him] that reasonable and fair minded [jurors] could not arrive at a verdict against him.” Cross, 417 F.3d at 248; see also Radtke v. Lifecare Mgmt. Partners, 795 F.3d 159, 165-66 (D.C. Cir. 2015)(“It is rarely appropriate to grant a directed verdict or judgment n.o.v. in favor of the party having the burden of proof; such action is reserved for those extreme circumstances where the effect of the evidence is not only sufficient to meet his burden of proof, but is overwhelming, leaving no room for the jury to draw significant inferences in favor of the other party.” (internal quotation marks and citation omitted)).

         b. Eighth Amendment

         The Eighth Amendment's prohibition against “cruel and unusual punishments” imposes on prison officials “a duty…to protect prisoners from violence at the hands of other prisoners.” Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 833 (1994)(citation and internal quotation marks omitted). Violations of this duty are actionable under section 1983. Hayes v. New York City Dept. of Corr., 84 F.3d 614, 620 (2d Cir. 1996)(“[U]nder 42 U.S.C. § 1983, prison officials are liable for harm incurred by an inmate…”). “It is not, however, every injury suffered by one prisoner at the hands of another that translates into constitutional liability for prison officials responsible for the victim's safety.” Farmer, 511 U.S. at 834. Instead, “prison officials are liable for harm incurred by an inmate if the officials acted with deliberate indifference to the safety of the inmate.” Hayes, 84 F.3d at 620 (internal quotation marks and citation omitted).

         An inmate's claim for violation of his Eighth Amendment rights is comprised of an objective and subjective component. Branaham v. Meachum, 77 F.3d 626, 630-31 (2d Cir. 1996) (“In examining [an] Eighth Amendment claim, [courts] consider both the subjective and objective components of the alleged violation.”). To satisfy the objective prong, the deprivation “must be in objective terms sufficiently serious such that the deprivation denied the minimal civilized measures of life's necessities.” Id. at 77 (internal quotation marks, alterations, and citation omitted). This requirement is satisfied where an inmate shows “he [was] incarcerated under conditions posing a substantial risk of serious harm.” Hayes, 84 F.3d at 620.

         The subjective prong requires an inmate to show that the “defendant prison officials possessed sufficient culpable intent.” Id. “[A] prison official has sufficient culpable intent if he has knowledge that an inmate faces a substantial risk of serious harm and he disregards that risk by failing to take reasonable measures to abate the harm.” Id. The prison official “must both be aware of the facts from which the inference could be drawn that a substantial risk of harm exists, and he must also draw the inference.” Farmer, 511 U.S. at 837. A prison official may not “escape liability for deliberate indifference by showing that, while he was aware of an obvious, substantial risk to inmate safety, he did not know that the complainant was especially likely to be assault by the specific prisoner who eventually committed the assault.” Id. at 843; see also Hayes, 84 F.3d at 621 (noting an inmate need not “identify his enemies to the [prison officials]” by name). Rather, “[t]he question under the Eighth Amendment is whether prison officials, acting with deliberate indifference, exposed a prisoner to a sufficiently substantial risk of serious damage to his future health.” Farmer, 511 U.S. at 837 (citation and internal quotation marks omitted). For example, if there is “evidence that a substantial risk of inmate attacks was longstanding, pervasive, well- documented, or expressly noted by prison officials in the past and the circumstances suggest that the [defendant]…had been exposed to information concerning the risk, ” a factfinder may infer that the defendant had the requisite intent. Id. at 842-43.

         The jury was instructed on these principles. (ECF No. 171.)

         2. Discussion of Marinelli's Rule 50 Motion[8]

         After Williams rested, Marinelli argued that there was no evidence that he was aware that Williams feared for his safety and that the evidence showed that, at most, he was aware of a risk of assault arising from the sequential handcuffing procedure - one that was not specific to Williams - and that he took precautionary measures and investigated Williams' claims that mental health staff had told him he would remain in a single cell. In the brief supporting his renewed motion, Marinelli adds to these arguments challenges to my rulings excluding certain evidence. That addition is improper, both because it goes beyond what Marinelli argued at the close of the Williams' case and because Rule 50 motions must be based on the evidence, not on matters excluded from the evidence. Samuels v. Air Transport Local 504, 992 F.2d 12, 14 (2d Cir. 1993)(Rule 50 “limit[s] the grounds for judgment n.o.v. to those specifically raised in the prior motion for a directed verdict.”); Reeves, 530 U.S. at 150 (court deciding Rule 50 motion “should review all of the evidence in the record.”). Instead, I will consider his challenges to my evidentiary rulings in the discussion of his Rule 59 motion for a new trial, below.

         Marinelli also argues that he has qualified immunity - a defense he did assert at trial and on which I reserved decision - because (1) no case law clearly established that Williams had a right to continue to live alone while he progressed through AdSeg, and (2) no case law clearly established that Williams had the right not be placed in a cell while he was handcuffed behind his back at the same time that his cellmate's hands were free.

         a. ...


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