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Johnson v. Crittenden County Detention Center

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

September 7, 2017

KEVIN LEE JOHNSON PLAINTIFF
v.
CRITTENDEN COUNTY DETENTION CENTER, et al. DEFENDANTS

          ORDER

          I. Background

         Kevin Lee Johnson, formerly an inmate at the Crittenden County Detention Center (“Detention Center”), initially filed this civil rights lawsuit without the help of a lawyer. (Docket entry #1) In his complaint, Mr. Johnson alleged that his ex-wife physically assaulted him while he was being interrogated by Defendant Franks at the Detention Center. He claimed that Defendant Franks violated his constitutional rights by failing to intervene to assist him during the assault. In addition, he claimed that Defendants Cody, Logan, Watts, Williams, Davis, and Allen failed to provide him medical care for the injuries that he sustained during the incident.

         On March 13, 2017, Defendants filed the pending summary judgment motion. (#27) On March 22, 2017, the James Law Firm entered an appearance in this case as retained counsel for Mr. Johnson. (#32) At that point, the Court gave the parties additional time for discovery and extended the time allowed for Mr. Johnson to respond to the motion for summary judgment. (#34)

         On May 24, 2017, Mr. Johnson moved to amend his complaint, which the Court granted. (#36, #42) Based on the allegations in his amended complaint, the Court terminated Defendants Cody and Allen as parties, and added Mandy Childress as a Defendant. (#42, #44)

         Mr. Johnson has now responded to the Defendants' motion for summary judgment, and it is ripe for decision. (#49, #50) Meanwhile, Separate Defendant Childress moved to adopt the Defendants' motion for summary judgment. (#52) In addition, Defendants moved to dismiss Defendant Franks pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 25. (#55)

         II. Discussion

A. Motion to Dismiss Defendant Franks[1]
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 25(a) provides, as follows:
If a party dies and the claim is not extinguished, the court may order substitution of the proper party. A motion for substitution may be made by any party or by the decedent's successor or representative. If the motion is not made within 90 days after service of a statement noting the death, the action by or against the decedent must be dismissed.

         On April 24, 2017, Defendants filed a “Suggestion of Death” for Defendant Bernis Franks, thus notifying Mr. Johnson and the Court that Defendant Franks had died on April 17, 2017. (#35) Since that date, Mr. Johnson has not moved to amend his complaint to name a personal representative or Defendant Franks's estate.[2] More than 90 days have passed since the Defendants filed the Suggestion of Death for Defendant Franks, and Mr. Johnson has not filed a motion for substitution. Mr. Johnson's claims against Defendant Franks, therefore, must be dismissed.

         B. Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment

         1. Standard

         In a summary judgment, the Court rules in favor of a party before trial. A party is entitled to summary judgment if the evidence, viewed in a light most favorable to the non-moving party, shows that there is no genuine dispute about any fact important to the outcome of the case. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56; CelotexCorp.v.Catrett,477 U.S. 317, 322B23, ...


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