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Addison v. Martin

United States District Court, E.D. Arkansas, Jonesboro Division

November 8, 2016



         I. Background

         Plaintiff Nicholas Addison filed a pro se complaint on May 8, 2015, challenging the conditions of his cell when he was held at the Poinsett County Detention Center, and naming as the only defendant Joey Martin, the detention center's administrator. He sued Martin in both his individual and official capacities. Doc. No. 2. Addison asserts a number of conditions of confinement claims, including that his cell was too hot, the heat in the cell caused the walls and floors to sweat, and caused a bad odor. Addison claims much of the odor came from a drain in the cell. According to Addison:

Joey Martin is keepin us up here in this hot cell there is no air cerculation in me and my brother is burning up. Our vent has nothin but dust and mold in it. It is very hard to sleep in a cell when it is stinking and hot and the lights don't go out...

         Addison further alleges he was only allowed to leave the cell on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Sundays, to shower, and also that jail officials would not give him cleaning supplies. Finally, Addison contends someone opened his legal mail, and a smoke alarm was put into his cell but not others.

         On June 27, 2016, Martin filed a motion for summary judgment, a brief in support, and a statement of facts on the merits of the case. Doc. Nos. 39-41. Addison did not respond, and Martin filed a motion to deem his statement of facts admitted. Doc. No. 48. For the reasons set forth below, Martin's motion to deem his statement of facts admitted is granted, and Martin is entitled to summary judgment.

         II. Standard of review

         Under Rule 56(c) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, summary judgment is proper “if the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c); Celotex v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 321 (1986). When ruling on a motion for summary judgment, the court must view the evidence in a light most favorable to the nonmoving party. Naucke v. City of Park Hills, 284 F.3d 923, 927 (8th Cir. 2002). The nonmoving party may not rely on allegations or denials, but must demonstrate the existence of specific facts that create a genuine issue for trial. Mann v. Yarnell, 497 F.3d 822, 825 (8th Cir. 2007). The nonmoving party's allegations must be supported by sufficient probative evidence that would permit a finding in his favor on more than mere speculation, conjecture, or fantasy. Id. (citations omitted). A dispute is genuine if the evidence is such that it could cause a reasonable jury to return a verdict for either party; a fact is material if its resolution affects the outcome of the case. Othman v. City of Country Club Hills, 671 F.3d 672, 675 (8th Cir. 2012). Disputes that are not genuine or that are about facts that are not material will not preclude summary judgment. Sitzes v. City of West Memphis, Ark., 606 F.3d 461, 465 (8th Cir. 2010).

         III. Analysis

         Conditions of Confinement/Opening of Legal Mail Claims.

Addison's complaint primarily challenges the conditions of his confinement at the Poinsett County Detention Center. According to the complaint, Addison was a pre-trial detainee at the time he was held in the challenged conditions. As a pre-trial detainee, Addison's claims are analyzed under the Fourteenth Amendment's Due Process Clause rather than the Eighth Amendment. Owens v. Scott County Jail, 328 F.3d 1026, 1027 (8th Cir. 2003). Addison's due process rights were violated if the jail's conditions of confinement constituted punishment. Id. However, because, “[u]nder the Fourteenth Amendment, pretrial detainees are entitled to ‘at least as great' protection as that afforded convicted prisoners under the Eighth Amendment, ” courts apply the identical deliberate-indifference standard as that applied to conditions-of confinement claims made by convicts. Id. (quoting City of Revere v. Mass. Gen. Hosp., 463 U.S. 239, 244 (1983)); see also Whitnack v. Douglas County, 16 F.3d 954, 957 (8th Cir. 1994).

         To prevail on a conditions of confinement claim, Addison must show: (1) the conditions were serious enough to deprive him of the minimal civilized measure of life's necessities, or to constitute a substantial risk of serious harm, and (2) officials were deliberately indifferent to the inmates' health and safety. Smith v. Copeland, 87 F.3d 265, 268 (8th Cir.1996); Frye v. Pettis County Sheriff Dept., 41 Fed.Appx. 906 (8th Cir. 2002)(unpub. per curiam).

         Addison has not responded to Martin's statement of undisputed material facts. Local Rule 56.1 provides that a party moving for summary judgment pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 56 must also file a statement of material facts it contends are not in dispute. It also requires the non-moving party, if it opposes the motion, to file a separate statement of the material facts it contends are genuinely disputed. Finally, Local Rule 56.1 provides that “[a]ll material facts set forth in the statement filed by the moving party...shall be deemed admitted unless controverted by the statement filed by the non-moving party....” See Local Rule 56.1, Rules of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas.

         Addison was notified by a July 1, 2016 court order that if he opposed the motion for summary judgment, he must file a statement of disputed facts. The order specifically provides that “[w]hile Addison is not required to file a response to Martin's motion for summary judgment, if he does not respond, the Court can assume that the facts set out in Martin's statement of facts...are true.” Doc. No. 42. Because Addison failed to respond to Martin's motion for summary judgment and statement of undisputed facts, Martin's motion to deem those facts admitted is granted. Doc. No. 48. In addition to the statement of undisputed facts Martin filed, his motion for summary judgment also relies on his affidavit, the Housing and Sanitation Policy applicable to the Poinsett County Detention Center, and Health Department Criminal ...

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