742 F.2d 469 (8th Cir. 1984), 83-2712, Martin v. White

Docket Nº:83-2712.
Citation:742 F.2d 469
Party Name:Gary MARTIN and Michael L. Gleason, Appellants, v. Carl WHITE, Superintendent, Steve Long, Dr. Lee Roy Black, and Lew Kollias, Appellees.
Case Date:August 29, 1984
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit

Page 469

742 F.2d 469 (8th Cir. 1984)

Gary MARTIN and Michael L. Gleason, Appellants,


Carl WHITE, Superintendent, Steve Long, Dr. Lee Roy Black,

and Lew Kollias, Appellees.

No. 83-2712.

United States Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit

August 29, 1984

Submitted June 13, 1984.

Rehearing Denied Sept. 21, 1984.

Page 470

Wion, Burke & Boll by Mason W. Klippel, Clayton, Mo., for appellants.

John Ashcroft, Atty. Gen., Rosalynn Van Hefst, Asst. Atty. Gen., Jefferson City, Mo., for appellees.

Before ROSS, Circuit Judge, HENLEY, Senior Circuit Judge, and BOWMAN, Circuit Judge.

ROSS, Circuit Judge.

In this case we deal with a subject matter which has become a national disgrace in some of our nation's prisons. We speak, of course, of the inability or unwillingness of some prison administrators to take the necessary steps to protect their prisoners from sexual and physical assaults by other inmates.

Gary Martin and Michael Gleason, inmates of the Missouri Training Center for Men in Moberly, Missouri, were sexually threatened and assaulted by fellow inmates in 1981. They brought this action under 42 U.S.C. Sec. 1983 against Carl White, Superintendent of the Missouri Training Center, 1 seeking injunctive and monetary relief. They assert that the failure of defendant White to take reasonable steps to protect

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them from attacks by other inmates violated their eighth amendment right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment.

The case was tried before a jury. At the close of plaintiffs' case, the magistrate 2 granted defendant's motion for a directed verdict. Plaintiffs claim the magistrate erred. We agree.


The evidence shows that Martin was sexually threatened on at least three separate occasions in 1981: in April in the shower, on September 27 in his cell, and on October 7 in the dining room. Martin escaped actual forced intercourse on each occasion. However, in an effort to protect himself from the homosexual attacks, he obtained a knife. He was caught with this knife and given a three year sentence for carrying a concealed weapon.

According to plaintiffs' evidence Gleason was alone in his locked cell on the night of September 27, 1981, when he heard an inmate scratching on his lock with a paperclip. Within a second, the lock was picked and the door was open.

Four inmates rushed into his cell and, threatening him with a knife and iron bar, forced him into inmate Mark McCabe's cell. Gleason was placed face down onto a bed, spread-eagled, and sodomized by McCabe.

The Missouri Training Center is a medium security institution designed for a maximum occupancy of 1,034 inmates. However, in September of 1981, the institution housed 1,227 inmates.

Defendant White, as Superintendent of the Missouri Training Center, is responsible for the day-to-day operation of the facility. MO.REV.STAT. Sec. 217.170 (1982). Plaintiffs argue that White failed to operate the Missouri Training Center in such a manner as to reasonably protect them from sexual assaults. They break this failure into four categories.

First, plaintiffs point to White's failure to establish adequate patrol procedures. The defendants stipulated that guards only infrequently patrol the hallways, especially at night. In fact, neither plaintiff saw any sign of guards on patrol during their assaults.

The design of the Missouri Training Center is such that the guards cannot see or hear much inmate activity unless they are on patrol. The guards are stationed in a central rotunda area from which four wings, each approximately fifty yards long, branch out. There are four floors to each wing. A solid, relatively soundproof metal door with a glass window separates the guards in the rotunda from the inmates in the wings. This door is kept locked. From the rotunda area, the guards cannot see into the inmate's cells.

Second, plaintiffs point to White's failure to establish an adequate classification system. More specifically, they direct attention to the fact that McCabe's record showed that he had assaulted other inmates at another Missouri prison in April and June of 1981. Yet, Missouri Training Center officials assigned McCabe to the general population amongst inmates with nonviolent histories.

Third, plaintiffs point to White's failure to establish an adequate mechanism to assure that the inmates' cells are safe from attack. In 1981, White relied entirely on the inmates themselves to discover whether their locks were defective. In the fall of 1982 all of the locks were examined for defects, for the first time, during an accreditation examination.

Finally, plaintiffs point to White's failure to refer previous inmate assaults to the local prosecutor. They assert, and White admitted, that a practice of not reporting such assaults would fail to provide deterrence for future assaults.

Indeed, inmate assaults are commonplace at the Missouri Training Center. Between 1979 and April of 1983, there were 59 actual

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reported assaults 3 and over 300 claimed assaults. These figures are, in all likelihood, somewhat low, as many assaults may go unreported. The fact that there were over 1,837 appearances by inmates seeking protective custody between 1979 and April of 1983 supports this inference. Further, defendants stipulated that plaintiffs could produce a number of inmates who would testify that assaults, including those of a sexual nature, occur on a "fairly regular basis."

Yet, less than ten of the assault cases from the above period were referred by White to the local prosecutor and prosecuted. McCabe's assault on Gleason was not one of these.


We have often repeated the following standard:

It is fundamental that a motion for directed verdict is properly denied where the evidence presented allows reasonable men in a fair exercise of their judgment to draw different conclusions. A directed verdict is in order only where the evidence points all one way and is susceptible of no reasonable inferences sustaining the position of the nonmoving party. * * * In making this determination, the evidence, together with all reasonable inferences to be drawn therefrom, must be viewed in the light most...

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