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Todd v. Ross

United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Texarkana Division

February 16, 2016

MICHAEL TODD, Plaintiff,
v.
HEATH ROSS; SHERIFF SINGLETON; JOHNNY GODBOLT; and SGT. BLAND, Defendants.

REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION OF UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

BARRY A. BRYANT, Magistrate Judge.

This is a civil rights action filed pro se by the Plaintiff, Michael Todd, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff is currently incarcerated at the Arkansas Department of Correction Varner Unit ("ADC").

Pursuant to the provisions of 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1) and (3)(2011), the Honorable Susan O. Hickey, United States District Judge, referred this case to the undersigned for the purpose of making a Report and Recommendation. Currently before the Court is Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment. ECF No. 26. I held a hearing on December 8, 2015, at which time, I heard Plaintiff's sworn testimony in response to the Motion for Summary Judgment. After careful consideration, I enter the following Report and Recommendation.

1. BACKGROUND

Plaintiff filed his Complaint on July 11, 2014. ECF No. 1. The claims Plaintiff allege in his Complaint concern his incarceration in the Hempstead County Detention Center ("HCDC"). In his Complaint, Plaintiff names Heath Ross, Sheriff Singleton, Sergeant Bland, and Johnny Godbolt as Defendants. ECF No. 1. Plaintiff did not specify in his Complaint whether he was suing Defendants in their official or individual capacity. Specifically, Plaintiff claims his constitutional rights were violated by (1) Defendant Ross locking him in a cell with no sink or bed and toilet water coming up through the floor drain for three days; (2) Defendant Ross retaliating against him for filing a previous lawsuit by locking him down; (3) Defendant Bland discriminating against him by limiting his visitation time on one occasion; and (4) Defendant Bland taking his hygiene products and family picture away from him. ECF No. 1.

Defendants filed a Motion for Summary Judgment on November 2, 2015. ECF No. 26. In this Motion, Defendants argue Plaintiff only alleged official capacity claims but failed to point to any policy or custom of Hempstead County that violated his constitutional rights. Further, in the event I construed Plaintiff's Complaint to allege individual capacity claims, Defendants also argued: (1) Plaintiff failed to allege any personal involvement by Defendants Singleton and Godbolt in the actions he complains of; (2) Plaintiff was not locked down for retaliation but instead for stealing a taser; (3) the conditions of Plaintiff's lockdown cell do not rise to the level of a constitutional violation; (4) Plaintiff was not discriminated against; and (5) Plaintiff has failed to state a cognizable constitutional claim regarding his property.

I held a hearing on this Motion on December 8, 2015. At this hearing, Plaintiff provided sworn testimony as his response to Defendants' Motion. Plaintiff also filed on the docket a written response to Defendants' Motion. ECF No. 30.

2. SUMMARY JUDGMENT RECORD

In their Motion for Summary Judgment, Defendants assert the following as undisputed facts:

On June 9, 2014, Defendant Ross was advised by Defendant Bland that Plaintiff had stolen a taser from the booking area of the HCDC. ECF No. 27-1, 27-2, 27-3. Defendant Ross then found the taser hidden in the ceiling of the shower area of the HCDC. ECF No. 27-1. On the same day, Defendant Ross conducted a search of Plaintiff's cell and found numerous contraband items. Also on the same day, Plaintiff was placed in a holding cell because of his actions of stealing the taser and destroying his cell. Plaintiff was not locked down in retaliation for his prior lawsuit. ECF No. 27-1. Plaintiff stealing the taser is documented on video. ECF No. 27-3.

Plaintiff complained the holding cell was unsanitary but Defendant Ross inspected the cell and did not find any unsanitary conditions. ECF No. 27-1. While Plaintiff was in the holding cell he received a water cup and was given water whenever he asked. He was also allowed to shower whenever he asked. ECF No. 27-1. Plaintiff did not allege any harm he suffered from the conditions of his lockdown cell.

Defendant Bland does not remember limiting Plaintiff's visitation time on June 1, 2014. She also never pointed a taser at Plaintiff or discriminated against any inmate based on race. ECF No. 27-4. Additionally, Defendant Bland did not confiscate any photo from Plaintiff, nor did she confiscate Plaintiff's contraband hygiene products. ECF No. 27-4.

Defendants also note Plaintiff did not make any factual allegations against Defendants Singleton and Godbolt.

At the summary judgment hearing, I asked Plaintiff to provide a sworn statement detailing how he believes his constitutional rights were violated in response to the Defendants' Motion for Summary ...


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