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Moore v. King

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

December 8, 2017

LARRY LENN MOORE, JR., ADC #108555 PLAINTIFF
v.
FELICIA KING, Food Service Coordinator DEFENDANT

          OPINION & ORDER [1]

         Plaintiff Larry Lenn Moore, Jr. ("Moore") is a prisoner in the Arkansas Department of Correction. On November 17, 2015, he commenced this pro se § 1983 action alleging that Defendants Food Service Coordinator Felicia King ("King"), Jail Administrator Matt Hall ("Hall"), and Sheriff Marty Boyd ("Boyd") violated his constitutional rights while he was an inmate in the Craighead County Detention Center ("CCDC"). Docs. 1 & 6. By way of relief, Moore seeks $50, 000 in unspecified damages. Id.

         During screening mandated by 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, the Court: (1) dismissed, without prejudice, all of Moore's claims against Hall and Boyd; and (2) allowed Moore to proceed with his claim that King sexually harassed him in violation of the Eighth Amendment.[2] Docs. 8 & 14. The Court has now appointed counsel to represent Moore and King, and set the case for a Non-Jury trial in Jonesboro, Arkansas on January 22, 2018. Docs. 35 & 47.

         King has filed a Motion for Summary Judgment on the sexual harassment claim, along with a supporting Statement of Undisputed Facts and Brief. Docs. 50 & 51. Moore has filed a Response, a Brief in Support, and a Statement of Disputed Facts. Docs. 52, 53, & 54. King has filed a Reply. Doc. 55. Thus, the issues are fully joined and ripe for resolution.

         I. Relevant Facts

         The facts, [3] viewed in the light most favorable to Moore, [4] are as follows:

1. In August of 2015, jail administrators assigned Moore to work in the CCDC kitchen as a cook, which Moore characterizes as a "beneficial trusty position." Doc. 6 at 3.
2. Moore was supervised in the CCDC kitchen by King, who was the Food Service Coordinator. Her duties included preparing and serving meals, as well as "oversee[ing] all general kitchen operations." Doc. 51, Ex. 2 at 2. King was employed by Tiger Correctional Services, Inc., a private company that had an "exclusive" contractual agreement to provide food services to inmates at the CCDC. Doc. 51, Ex. 1 at 1.
3. While working in the CCDC kitchen, King "coerced" Moore into having a sexual relationship with her by giving him Xanax and threatening to fire him from his position as a cook. Doc. 6 at 2-3.
4. Moore admits that he "fell in love" with King and that "things started getting serious." Doc. 1 at 4.
5. However, sometime in November of 2015, Moore decided to "distance himself" from King because he "was afraid of getting in trouble." Id.
6. On or about November 5, 2015, Moore ended his sexual relationship with King. Doc. 6 at 2. Later that day, Moore "was terminated by King from his position in the Jail's kitchen." Doc. 54 at 2. Moore immediately told Officer Peaster and Jail Administrator Hall that King fired him because he ended his sexual relationship with her and that she had given him Xanax to entice him into having sexual relations. Doc. 6. Officer Peaster gave Moore a drug test, which confirmed that he had recently taken Xanax. Id. Hall then began a "C.I.D." investigation, which ultimately resulted in King's termination. Id.

         II. Discussion

         King argues that she is entitled to summary judgment because: (1) she was not acting under color of state law; and (2) the facts, viewed in the light most favorable to Moore, do not establish a constitutional violation.[5] Doc. 51. For the reasons explained below, both of those arguments are without merit.

         A. Color of State Law

         A § 1983 action can only be filed against a state actor, such as an employee of a state or local government, or a person acting under "color of state law." See 42 U.S.C. § 1983; Scheeler v. City of St. Cloud, Minn.,402 F.3d 826, 830 (8th Cir. 2005). The parties agree that King was not a "state actor, " because she was not employed by Craighead County. However, ...


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