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Carpenter v. Mills

July 13, 2005

TIMOTHY CARPENTER PLAINTIFF
v.
SHERIFF LARRY MILLS, ET AL. DEFENDANTS



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Jones, Magistrate J.

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

I. Introduction

This matter is before the Court on defendants' motion for summary judgment (DE # 21). Plaintiff has filed a response in opposition to the motion (DE # 24).

Plaintiff filed this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. s 1983 on November 24, 2004, while incarcerated at the Poinsett County Detention Center (Jail) as a pre-trial detainee. Plaintiff continues to be incarcerated at the Jail at the time of this Order. He alleges unconstitutional conditions of confinement such as: 20-26 hours of lock- down in the cells at a time; no lighting in the cell; padlock on the cell door; inadequate time outside for recreation or fresh air; no access to newspapers or other sources of news. Plaintiff asks for monetary and injunctive relief from defendants Sheriff Larry Mills, Jail Administrator Wayne Cuzzort, and Acting Jail Administrator Kevin Molder.

II.. Motion for Summary Judgment

A. Defendants' Motion

In support of their motion, defendants state that plaintiff has failed to state a constitutional violation against them in their official capacities because plaintiff does not allege that a county policy or custom is the moving force behind the alleged violations. Defendants also state that they are protected from liability in their individual capacities by qualified immunity because plaintiff has admitted in discovery that he never spoke with defendant Mills, that defendant Cuzzort did nothing wrong, and that he had no other contact with defendant Molder other than to send him grievances. Defendants also note that prior to this present incarceration on charges of forgery, plaintiff had been charged with escape from an institution. Defendants state that at the time plaintiff entered the Jail he signed the rules and regulations which state that inmates are provided opportunities for daily activities in the day room and exercise yard, weather permitting.

B. Plaintiff's Response

In response, plaintiff states that according to the lockdown policy, inmates in the top level of his cellblock receive day room time from 8 a.m. until 12 noon the first day, and then are locked-down twenty-six hours until their time in the day room the next day, from 2 p.m. until 6 p.m. Plaintiff states that the two levels alternate the times in the day room this way, so that some days they are locked down sixteen hours and others, twenty-six hours, before receiving day room time. Plaintiff also states that he is not permitted to receive newspapers, that he has no lights in his cell, and that seventy percent of the other cells have no lights. He states that he has been outside for fresh air about six times in eight months and that the conditions are "killing" him. Plaintiff states that he wrote defendants Mills and Molder every day and no one ever came to see him, and that he wrote grievances and requests to all three defendants, without any relief. Finally, plaintiff states that the escape charge referred to by the defendants occurred in 1984.

C. Standard of Review

Summary judgment is appropriate absent a dispute of material facts and when the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56. In reviewing such a motion, facts and inferences from the facts are viewed in the light most favorable to the non-moving party, and the moving party must establish both the absence of a genuine issue of material fact and that it is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. V. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586-7, 106 S.Ct. 1348, 89 L.Ed.2d 538 (1986). Once the moving party meets this burden, "the non-moving party may not rest on the allegations in its pleadings but by affidavit and other evidence must set forth specific facts showing that a genuine issue of material fact exists." Davis v. Sancegraw, 850 F.Supp. 809, 812 (E.D.Mo.1993). See also Canada v. Union Electric Company, 135 F.3d 1211, 1213 (8th Cir.1997.

D. Analysis

1) Official Capacity Claims

--The Court will grant defendants' motion with respect to the official capacity claims. Plaintiff does not allege a particular policy or custom of the County which serves as the driving force behind the alleged unconstitutional practices at the Jail. See ...


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