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Cannady v. Cradduck

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

March 7, 2017




         Currently before the Court is the Report and Recommendation ("R&R") (Doc. 34) of the Honorable James R. Marschewski, United States Magistrate Judge for the Western District of Arkansas, filed in this case on December 29, 2016, regarding Defendants Sheriff Kelley Cradduck's and B. Frischmann's (together, the "County Defendants") Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. 24) and Brief in Support (Doc. 25) and Separate Defendants Dr. Saez's, Tyranny Ray's, and Patricia Davis' (collectively, the "Medical Defendants") Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. 28) and Brief in Support (Doc. 29). In the R&R, the Magistrate Judge recommended that the Court grant the Medical Defendants' Motion in its entirety, and grant in part and deny in part the County Defendants' Motion.

         The Court has reviewed the recommendations concerning the Medical Defendants' Motion, to which no objections were filed. As the Court agrees that these claims should be dismissed, the Court will grant the Motion and dismiss the Medical Defendants from the case. As to the County Defendants' Motion, the Magistrate Judge recommended that all claims against them also be dismissed, with the exception of an individual capacity claim made against Defendant Frischmann. This claim relates to Plaintiff David Allen Cannady's assertion that he was subjected to excessively cold temperatures in his cell, and that Frischmann, a maintenance supervisor, was put on notice of the cold temperatures but was deliberately indifferent to them. Frischmann filed Objections to the R&R (Doc. 35), and in response, the Court has now conducted a de novo review as to all proposed findings and recommendations pertaining to the claim against Frischmann. 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1). In addition to evaluating this claim, the Court's Order will also address the official capacity claims made against the County Defendants, which are subject to dismissal, but which the R&R did not substantively discuss. Accordingly, the Court finds that the R&R should be, and hereby is, ADOPTED AS MODIFIED, with the additional reasoning and expanded analysis set forth below.

         I. BACKGROUND

         On February 18, 2016, Cannady filed his Complaint against the County Defendants and Medical Defendants, maintaining that his constitutional rights were violated while he was incarcerated at Benton County Detention Center ("BCDC"). As to the County Defendants, Cannady claimed that he was subjected to unconstitutional conditions of confinement because the temperatures in his cell were too hot in the summer[1] and too cold in the winter.

         Cannady was temporarily held at BCDC beginning on June 9, 2015, until he was transferred to the Arkansas Department of Corrections, Grimes Unit, on March 1, 2016.See Doc. 26-2, pp. 1, 11. Cannady first began complaining about the cold temperatures in the BCDC on November 22, 2015, when he submitted his first grievance about the cold. See Doc. 26-4, p. 12. Cannady went on to file a total of thirteen grievances about the cold temperatures in the prison from November 22, 2015, to February 4, 2016. See Id. at pp. 14, 16, 18-19, 22-23, 26-32. Nine of the thirteen grievance complaints were directed towards the cold temperatures in Cannady's cell[2] and/or the fact that Cannady could not sleep in his cell because it was too cold. See Id. at pp. 14, 16, 18-19, 26-30. At the summary judgement hearing, Cannady testified that there was a heating vent on the interior wall of his cell but that he could not feel any heat coming from the vent and that the cold was so severe that ice formed at least twice on the exterior cell wall to which his bunk was attached. Cannady further testified that, each time he complained about the cold temperatures, an individual from maintenance would check the temperature by pointing a "gun"[3] at a vent in the pod day room, which has no exterior walls.

         In order to help combat the cold, inmates are ordinarily given one blanket, but, if they are placed in a corner cell with two exterior walls, then they are given two blankets. See Doc. 26-7, p. 3. Cannady testified that inmates are also given a full set of clothing, which consists of a shirt, pants, boxers, and a pair of socks, but that the blanket(s) and clothing were not adequate to combat the cold in his prison cell. As a result, Cannady testified that he acquired a cold and a runny nose and that it was too cold to sleep, which caused him to go without sleep for a total of approximately ten nights during his period of confinement at BCDC. See Doc. 26-6, pp. 63-64. Cannady further testified that the cold caused him to spend another 60-90 nights waking up because of the cold two to three times each night, walking around his cell to get warm, and losing approximately 30-45 minutes of sleep each time. See Doc. 26-6, pp. 63-64. Cannady suspected the temperature was being turned down deliberately prior to the weekend until Monday or when maintenance workers returned to work. He also believed the temperature was set incorrectly, but does not believe that the facility-wide heating and cooling system was broken during this time. See Doc. 26-6, p. 86.

         During all times relevant to this case, Frischmann was employed by BCDC as a supervisor for maintenance and upkeep, a position that he has held for over eighteen years. See Doc. 26-7, p. 1. In that position, Frischmann regularly checks the temperatures in the BCDC to assure compliance with jail standards, which require the temperature not to exceed 85 degrees and not to drop below 65 degrees. Id. During the winter months, Frischmann sets the thermostats in the BCDC to 74 degrees, but, due to the construction of the building, Frischmann states the temperature varies between 67 and 77 degrees. Id. at 2. Frischmann further states in an affidavit, that, during his "entire 18 year employment, the temperatures in the [BCDC] have ... not dropped below 65 degrees"- although he fails to provide any explanation as to why he knows this to be true or to provide supporting maintenance records. See Id. at 1. His statement also fails to explain whether it pertains to temperatures of the facility in general, or to the individual cells, or both. See id.

         Each time an inmate submits a facility-related grievance, whether it is based upon a complaint regarding cold temperatures or otherwise, Frischmann or another member of maintenance checks the problem and addresses it as soon as possible. See Id. at 3. In the instant case, out of the nine grievances submitted by Cannady concerning the cold cell temperatures and/or the fact that he could not sleep in his cell because of the cold, seven of them were replied to in writing by Frischmann. See Doc. 26-4, pp. 14, 16, 18-19, 26-30. Frischmann's respective responses to such grievances were as follows: (1) "Temps are being checked daily."; (2) "This is an issue we are working on daily. We will get it in sync soon."; (3) "This is an issue we are working on daily. We will get it in sync soon."; (4) "We are working on this, now."; (5) "yes thanks"; (6) "ok"; (7) "ok." See Id. at 14, 16, 19, 26-27, 29-30. From this record, it is unclear what problems related to temperature regulation actually existed in Cannady's cell or the pod in general, or what specific actions were taken to address the problems as soon as possible, other than simply checking the temperature.

         Frischmann objects to the Magistrate Judge's recommendation that the Court preserve for trial Cannady's claim regarding the excessively cold temperatures in his cell. Frischmann argues that there are no genuine issues of material fact regarding the claim because: (1) any deprivation caused by the cold temperatures in Cannady's cell did not objectively rise to such a level that would pose a substantial risk of serious harm to Cannady's health or safety; (2) even if an objectively serious deprivation occurred, Frischmann was not deliberately indifferent to Cannady's health or safety; and (3) Cannady suffered no injuries from the cold temperatures.


         Under Rule 56(c) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, summary judgment is appropriate "if the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with 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); see also Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986); Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 250 (1986). When deciding a motion for summary judgment, the Court must consider all the evidence and draw all reasonable inferences that arise from the evidence in a light most favorable to the nonmoving party. Nitsche v. CEO of Osage Valley Elec. Co-Op., 446 F.3d 841, 845 (8th Cir. 2006). The moving party bears the burden of showing that there is no genuine issue of material fact and that it is, therefore, entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Enterprise Bank v. Magna Bank, 92 F.3d 743, 747 (8th Cir. 1996).

         Once the moving party has met this burden, the nonmoving party must set forth specific facts by affidavit and other evidence, showing that a genuine issue of material fact exists. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(e). Genuine issues of material fact exist where "there is sufficient evidence favoring the nonmoving party for a jury to return a verdict for that party." Anderson, 477 U.S. at 249. To withstand a defendant's motion for summary judgment, a plaintiff must substantiate his or her allegations with "sufficient probative evidence that would permit a finding in his favor on more than mere speculation, conjecture, or fantasy." Gregory v. Rogers, 974 F.2d 1006, 1010 (8th Cir. 1992). Summary judgment is properly granted to a defendant where no reasonable jury could render a verdict for the plaintiff. Taylor v. White, 321 F.3d 710, 715 (8th Cir. 2003).


         Below the Court will address, first, Frischmann's objections to preserving Cannady's individual capacity claim against him, and, second, Cannady's official capacity claims against the County Defendants, which were not substantively addressed in the R&R. Both issues are discussed in turn.

         A. Unconstitutional Conditions of Confinement - Cold Temperatures

         The Eighth Amendment protects a prisoner against cruel and unusual punishment during his or her confinement. See U.S. Const, amend. VIII; see also Hutto v. Finney, 437 U.S. 678, 685 (1978). As it relates to the treatment of prisoners, the Supreme Court has distinguished between two different kinds of conduct: (1) that which is part of the formal punishment imposed for a crime and (2) that which does not purport to be punishment, including the conditions of confinement, medical care, and restoration of control over inmates. See Wilson v. Seiter, 501 U.S. 294, 297-303 (1991). As to the latter, the Supreme Court has taken the position that harsh conditions and rough disciplinary treatment are part of the price that a convict must pay for his or her offenses against society. See Rhodes v. Chapman, 452 U.S. 337, 347-49 (1981). However, while the Constitution does not mandate comfortable prisons, it also does not permit inhumane ones. See Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 832 (1994).

         The Eighth Amendment, however, "'has no application' until there has been a 'formal adjudication of guilt, '" [but] the Fourteenth Amendment gives state pretrial detainees-just as the Fifth Amendment gives federal pretrial detainees-rights which are 'at least as great as the Eighth Amendment protections available to a convicted prisoner.'" Walton v. Dawson, 752 F.3d 1109, 1117 (8th Cir. 2014) (emphasis in original)(quoting City of Revere v. Mass. Gen. Hosp., 463 U.S. 239, 244 (1983)). "The Constitution affords greater protection to a pretrial detainee compared to a convicted inmate in the sense that '[d]ue process requires that a pretrial detainee not be punished.'" Id. (quoting Bell v. Wolfish, 441 U.S. 520, 535 n. 16 (1979)). Therefore, "the burden of showing a constitutional violation is lighter for a pretrial detainee under the Fourteenth Amendment than for a post-conviction prisoner under the Eighth Amendment." Morris v. Zefferi, 601 F.3d 805, 809 (8th Cir. 2010) (emphasis added) (quoting Weverv. Lincoln Cnty., Neb., 388 F.3d 601, 606 n.6 (8th Cir. 2004)). Although the Eighth Circuit has not established a "clear standard for pretrial detainees, " the Court has repeatedly applied the same standard that is applied to Eighth Amendment claims made by convicted inmates.[4] See Id. (quoting Vaughn v. Greene Cnty., Ark., 438 F.3d 845, 850 (8th Cir. 2006)).

         Therefore, an individual challenging conditions of confinement in a prison must prove both an objective and subjective element. See Revels v. Vincenz,382 F.3d 870, 875 (8th Cir. 2004) (citing Wilson, 501 U.S. at 298). "The defendant's conduct must objectively rise to the level of a constitutional violation by depriving the plaintiff of the minimal civilized measure of life's necessities. The defendant's conduct must also reflect a subjective state of ...

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