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Lee v. Patterson

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

February 2, 2017




         This is a civil rights action filed pro se by Plaintiff, Patrick Donzell Lee, under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. 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 Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment. ECF No. 62. After careful consideration, I make the following Report and Recommendation.


         Plaintiff filed his Complaint on October 7, 2015, alleging he was incarcerated under unconstitutional conditions of confinement, subjected to excessive force, and denied medical care during his incarceration in the Miller County Detention Center (“MCDC”). ECF No. 1. Plaintiff is currently incarcerated in the Arkansas Department of Correction - East Arkansas Regional Unit, in Marianna, Arkansas. He is suing Defendants Patterson and Miller in both their official and individual capacities. Plaintiff is seeking injunctive relief and compensatory and punitive damages. ECF Nos. 1, 24.

         Defendants Patterson and Miller filed a summary judgment motion on January 9, 2017, alleging they are entitled to judgment as a matter of law because: 1) Plaintiff was not subjected to unconstitutional conditions of confinement; 2) Defendants were not deliberately indifferent to Plaintiff's medical needs; 3) any force used to remove Plaintiff from his cell was reasonable; 4) Defendants are entitled to protections of qualified immunity; and 5) there is no basis for official capacity liability. ECF No. 62. To assist Plaintiff in responding to the motion, I sent a questionnaire asking him to agree or disagree with various statements set forth by Defendants as undisputed facts. Plaintiff filed the questionnaire as his Response to the summary judgment motion on January 30, 2017. ECF No. 67. Defendants filed a Reply to Plaintiff's Response on February 1, 2016. ECF No. 68.

         Plaintiff was booked into the MCDC on June 3, 2015. ECF No. 67. Plaintiff alleges on August 13, 2015, “Officer Patterson arrived at my cell. My cell mate told him that I was getting out my bed. I jumped down to only slip and fall in water that was on the floor once again from a leak, that officer Patterson knew of already and felled to act on.” ECF No. 67. Plaintiff claims because Defendant Patterson failed “to fix a major water leak, I fell in it, hitting my head on the camode, sending me into a seizure, as well as causeing head and back trauma in which I had to be sent to the hospital by E.M.S.” ECF No. 1. Plaintiff also claims Defendant Patterson used “excessive force” after finding Plaintiff on the floor when he improperly “drag me to the dayroom over ten feet while I was in a seizure still, when I should have not been moved by dragging in that kind of sickness, or injury, not knowing the extent or being medical personnel.” ECF No. 67. Plaintiff admits 911 was called and the nurse at the MCDC continued to talk to him and conduct neuro checks on him after he was moved out of his cell by Defendant Patterson. ECF No. 67.

         Plaintiff states Defendant Miller arrived on the scene shortly after the nurse begin providing him with medical care. ECF No. 67. Plaintiff was then taken to Wadley Regional Medical Center via ambulance where he was prescribed Anaprox for pain management. ECF No. 67. After being treated at the hospital, Plaintiff returned to the MCDC and the nursing staff at MCDC continued to monitor his condition and advised him to notify the MCDC staff of any changes in his condition. ECF No. 67. With respect to Defendant Miller, Plaintiff claims “by not making her rounds to ashore officers working under her follow stricked guidelines in accordance with job policy and rules. I slip and fell in water caused by the unwillingness of her officer to do his entitled job duties.” ECF No. 1.


         The Court “shall grant summary judgment if the movant shows there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). “[A] genuine issue of material fact exists if: (1) there is a dispute of fact; (2) the disputed fact is material to the outcome of the case; and (3) the dispute is genuine, that is, a reasonable jury could return a verdict for either party.” RSBI Aerospace, Inc. v. Affiliated FM Ins. Co., 49 F.3d 399, 401 (8th Cir. 1995). The moving party has the burden of showing the absence of a genuine issue of material fact and they are entitled to judgment as a matter of law, but the nonmoving party may not rest upon mere denials or allegations in the pleadings and must set forth specific facts to raise a genuine issue for trial. See Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 256 (1986); Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 324 (1986). The Court must view all evidence and inferences in a light most favorable to the nonmoving party. See McCleary v. ReliaStar Life Ins. Co., 682 F.3d 1116, 1119 (8th Cir. 2012). However, “[w]hen opposing parties tell two different stories, one of which is blatantly contradicted by the record, so that no reasonable jury could believe it, a court should not adopt that version of the facts for purposes of ruling on a motion for summary judgment.” Scott v. Harris, 550 U.S. 372, 380 (2007).


         As an initial matter, Plaintiff can no longer seek injunctive relief from the MCDC as he is no longer incarcerated at that facility. See Dulany v. Carnahan, 132 F.3d 1234, 1239 (8th Cir. 1997) (release from the institution in which the injunctive relief is sought against moots the request for injunctive relief). See also Martin v. Sargent, 780 F.2d 1334, 1337 (8th Cir. 1985) (holding an inmate's claims regarding prison conditions moot once the inmate was transferred and no longer subject to those conditions). Therefore, Plaintiff's request for injunctive relief fails as a matter of law.

         1. Official Capacity Claim

         Section 1983 provides a federal cause of action for the deprivation, under color of state law, of a citizen's "rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution and laws" of the United States. In order to state a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, a plaintiff must allege a defendant acted under color of state law and they violated a right secured by the Constitution. West v. Atkins, 487 U.S. 42 (1988); Dunham v. Wadley, 195 F.3d 1007, 1009 (8th Cir.1999).

         Under section 1983, a defendant may be sued in either his individual capacity, or in his official capacity, or claims may be stated against a defendant in both his individual and his official capacities. Gorman v. Bartch, 152 F.3d 907, 914 (8th Cir. 1998). With respect to the official capacity claims, they are “functionally equivalent to a suit against the employing governmental entity.” Veatch v. Bartels Lutheran Home,627 F.3d 1254, 1257 (8th Cir. 2010). In other words, Plaintiff's official capacity ...

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