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Ganahl v. Staley

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

November 16, 2017

SETH GANAHL, Reg. #28942-009 PLAINTIFF
v.
JOHN STALEY, Sheriff of Lonoke County, et. al. DEFENDANTS

          RECOMMENDED DISPOSITION

         The following Recommended (“Recommendation”) has been sent to United States District Judge Billy Roy Wilson. Any party may file written objections to this Recommendation. Objections must be specific and include the factual or legal basis for disagreeing with the Recommendation. An objection to a factual finding must specifically identify the finding of fact believed to be wrong and describe the evidence that supports that belief.

         An original and one copy of the objections must be received by the Clerk of this Court within fourteen (14) days of this Recommendation. If no objections are filed, Judge Wilson can adopt this Recommendation without independently reviewing all of the evidence in the record. By not objecting, you may also waive any right to appeal questions of fact.

         I. Introduction

         Plaintiff Seth Ganahl ("Ganahl") is a federal prisoner in Illinois. He has filed this pro se ' 1983 action alleging that, while he was a pretrial detainee at the Lonoke County Detention Center ("LCDC"), Defendants Sheriff John Staley ("Staley"), Captain Buford ("Buford"), and Officer Lopez ("Lopez") subjected him to unconstitutional conditions of confinement by failing to provide him with adequate opportunities for exercise. Docs. 2 & 6. Ganahl has sued Defendants in both their individual and official capacities. Id. By way of relief, he seeks a declaratory judgment, a permanent injunction, and punitive damages. Id.

         Defendants have filed a Motion for Summary Judgment, a Brief in Support, a Statement of Undisputed Facts, and a Reply. Docs. 42, 43, & 44. Ganahl has filed a Response, a Brief, and a Statement of Disputed Facts. Docs. 51, 52, & 53.

         Before addressing the merits of Defendants' Motion, the Court will summarize the relevant facts giving rise to Ganahl's claim:[1]

         1. Ganahl was a pretrial detainee at the LCDC from March 16, 2015, until April 5, 2016. Docs. 44 & 53. During those thirteen months, Ganahl was housed in three different pods.[2] Id., Doc. 6.

         2. For the first month, from approximately March to April of 2015, Ganahl was housed in D pod, which is a two tiered pod that contains two-man cells and a single dayroom on the lower floor.[3] Docs. 44 & 55. Detainees in D pod are locked in their two-man cells, which are approximately sixty square feet, eleven hours a day, from 9:30 p.m until 8:30 a.m. Id. While in their two-man cells, detainees are allowed to perform calisthenics and jog in place. However, Ganahl alleges that there was insufficient free space for him to do so.[4] Docs. 2 & 6.

         3. From 8:30 am until 9:30 p.m., the detainees in D pod are allowed into the day room, which Ganahl claims has approximately 180 square feet of usable space that is shared by sixteen pretrial detainees. Doc. 6 at 5. In his Affidavit, Lopez explains that detainees in D pod are not allowed to perform calisthenics or jog in place in the dayroom because:

it would create a safety hazard for detainees (tripping events) and because when detainees are on the floor doing exercises, it can mimic emergent situations and cause unnecessary effort and distraction to investigate whether or not a detainee needs medical treatment.

Doc. 44, Ex. 1 at 3 (parenthetical notation in the original). According to Lopez, the detainees in D pod are allowed to "exercise" in the day room by "walking around" and walking up and down the stairs between the two tiers. Id. Ganahl claims that, due to the limited usable space shared by sixteen men, neither of these two options provided him with a meaningful opportunity for exercise. Doc. 53 at 1.

         4. During the next nine months, from April of 2015 until January of 2016, Ganahl was housed in A pod, which is a two tier open barrack. Docs. 6, 44, & 54. The top tier of A pod has thirteen bunks. The bottom tier has seventeen bunks.[5]Id. Each tier has a separate day room, which Ganahl claims has "essentially no usable" space to walk around. Doc. 53 at 2. The parties agree that, for the reasons explained in Lopez's Affidavit, detainees in A pod are not allowed to perform calisthenics or jog in place in the day rooms. Docs. 44 & 53. Because there are no individual cells, it appears that Ganahl was not allowed to jog in place or perform calisthenics, at all, for the nine months that he was held in A pod.

         5. During his final three months at the LCDC, from January to April of 2016, Ganahl was confined in G pod which has the same configuration as D pod. Doc. 6 at 9-10. The only difference is that, while he was in D pod, Ganahl was allegedly confined to his two man cell for seventeen hours a day, from 3:30 p.m. until 8:30 a.m. Id.

         6. The parties agree that the LCDC has a "Recreation Room" that contains a basketball hoop and a handball court. Docs. 44 & 53. Accordingly to Ganahl, the "Recreation Room": (a) has approximately 2400 square feet of usable space; (b) is located next to one of the pods; (c) has a barred window that could be opened to allow fresh air inside; and (d) opens into a fenced area that could be used for yard call. Doc. 6 at 10; Doc. 53. In his Affidavit, Lopez explains that the LCDC detainees were not allowed to use the "Recreation Room" because it:

is not heated nor cooled with air conditioning, fights break out, injuries occur, and it creates an administrative, safety, and security hardship to give inmates access to this room for exercise.

Doc. 44, Ex. 1 at 3.

         7. It is undisputed that Ganahl was never allowed to go outdoors for yard call during the thirteen months that he was a pretrial detainee at the LCDC. Docs. 44 & 53. Lopez explains, in his Affidavit, this was because no prisoners were allowed to go outdoors due to LCDC not having any outdoor space suitable for yard ...


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