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Jones v. Griffeth

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

October 5, 2017



          Susan O. Hickey United States District Judge.

         This is a civil rights action filed pro se by Plaintiff Bernard Jones, under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Currently before the Court is a Motion for Summary Judgment filed by Defendants. (ECF No. 32). Plaintiff filed a Response. (ECF No. 39). Defendants filed a Reply. (ECF No. 40). The Court finds the matter ripe for consideration.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff originally filed his Complaint on May 13, 2016 in the Eastern District of Arkansas. (ECF No. 2). On May 17, 2016, the case was transferred to the Western District of Arkansas, Texarkana Division. (ECF No. 6). Plaintiff is no longer incarcerated and now resides in Hope, Arkansas. Plaintiff is suing Defendants Officer Dickson, Lieutenant Golden Adams, Sergeant Dewayne Floyd, and Byron Griffie[1] in their individual and official capacities. Plaintiff is seeking compensatory damages and requests that each Defendant be fired.

         On November 6, 2015, Plaintiff was brought to the Miller County Detention Center (“MCDC”) through the inmate 309 Program.[2] Plaintiff was taken back to the Arkansas Department of Correction (“ADC”) on April 28, 2016. During the time Plaintiff was at the MCDC, it was suspected that the 309 inmates were bringing contraband into the facility. On March 19, 2016, Defendants conducted an impromptu strip search of the 309 inmates, including Plaintiff, to confirm there was no contraband. Defendants searched Plaintiff outside of Max Hall 1. According to the affidavit of Defendant Adams, there is a camera in this location but there were no females present at the time of the search. (ECF No. 34-2, ¶ 4). Defendants state if a female officer witnessed the strip search, it was an inadvertent sighting over the camera. (ECF No. 33).

         On April 19, 2016 three 309 inmates, including Plaintiff, went out the front gate of the MCDC to the parking lot. Defendant Floyd went out and advised them that they were not supposed to be out there while court was in session. Plaintiff started to protest and complain to Defendant Floyd and then became defiant and started raising his voice. Due to this incident and others, [3]Plaintiff was escorted to the Receiving and Discharge area of the MCDC and placed in a cell. Plaintiff then shouted and argued with Defendants Adams and Floyd and threw down his mat. (ECF No. 34-1, ¶ 12). On April 20, 2016, the 309 inmate coordinator was contacted and informed that Plaintiff was no longer needed at the MCDC. Plaintiff remained in the Receiving and Discharge area for nine days before he was transferred back to the ADC.

         The MCDC has an established grievance procedure for inmates to utilize when they believe their constitutional rights have been violated. (ECF No. 34-1, pgs. 9-10). The grievance procedure is utilized through a kiosk system at the MCDC. The kiosk is located directly next to the phones in the Receiving and Discharge area.

         Plaintiff alleges his constitutional rights were violated when the Defendants “order me out of my clothes to conduct a strip search for some unforeseen reason in front of the cameras as well as all the female staff working in the control room.” (ECF No. 2). He also claims he was locked up for ten days without access to a shower or phone and was then transferred back to prison “for no other reason other than retaliation.” (ECF No. 2). Defendants argue they are entitled to summary judgment because: (1) Plaintiff failed to exhaust his administrative remedies; (2) Defendants did not violate Plaintiff's Fourth Amendment rights when the strip search was conducted; (3) Plaintiff was afforded his right to due process; (4) Defendants are entitled to qualified immunity; and (5) there is no basis for official capacity liability.


         The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provide that when a party moves for summary judgment, the court shall grant summary judgment if the movant shows that 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); Krenik v. Cnty. of LeSueur, 47 F.3d 953 (8th Cir. 1995). The inquiry performed is the threshold inquiry of determining whether there is a need for trial-whether, in other words, there are genuine factual issues that properly can be resolved only by a finder of fact because they may reasonably be resolved in favor of either party. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 250 (1986); see also Agristor Leasing v. Farrow, 826 F.2d 732 (8th Cir. 1987); Niagara of Wis. Paper Corp. v. Paper Indus. Union-Mgmt. Pension Fund, 800 F.2d 742, 746 (8th Cir. 1986). A fact is material only when its resolution affects the outcome of the case. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248. A dispute is genuine if the evidence is such that it could cause a reasonable jury to return a verdict for either party. Id. at 252.

         The Court must view the evidence and the inferences that may be reasonably drawn from the evidence in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party. Enter. Bank v. Magna Bank, 92 F.3d 743, 747 (8th Cir. 1996). The moving party bears the burden of showing that there is no genuine issue of material fact and that it is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Id. The nonmoving party must then demonstrate the existence of specific facts in the record that create a genuine issue for trial. Krenik, 47 F.3d at 957. A party opposing a properly supported motion for summary judgment may not rest upon mere allegations or denials, but must set forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 256. 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).


         1. Failure to Exhaust Administrative Remedies

         The Prison Litigation Reform Act (“PLRA”) provides: “[n]o action shall be brought with respect to prison conditions under section 1983 of this title, or any other Federal law, by a prisoner confined in any jail, prison, or other correctional facility until such administrative remedies as are available are exhausted.” 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(a). Exhaustion is mandatory. Porter v. Nussle, 534 U.S. 516, 524-25 (2002). In Jones v. Bock, the Supreme Court concluded “to properly exhaust administrative remedies prisoners must complete the administrative review process in accordance with the applicable procedural rules.” 549 U.S. 199, 218 (2007) (internal quotation marks and citation omitted). The Supreme Court stated that the “level of detail necessary in a grievance to comply with the grievance procedures will vary from system to system and claim to claim, but it is the prison's requirements, and not the PLRA, that ...

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