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Solomon v. Griffin

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

February 6, 2018



          Susan O. Hickey Susan O. Hickey United States District Judge

         This is a civil rights action filed pro se by Plaintiff, Clifton Orlando Solomon, under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Currently before the Court is a Motion for Summary Judgment filed by Defendants Corporal Griffie, [1] Warden Brazell, Ron Stovall, and Corporal T. Hanning. (ECF No. 29). Plaintiff has filed a Response. (ECF No. 40). The Court finds this matter ripe for consideration.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff filed his Complaint on June 29, 2016. (ECF No. 1). On July 27, 2016, Plaintiff filed a Supplement to his Complaint clarifying his claims. (ECF No. 11). Plaintiff is suing Defendants Griffie, Brazell, Stovall, and Hanning in both their individual and official capacities.[2]Plaintiff seeks compensatory and punitive damages and states “I am seeking that all be removed from Miller county Jail and make this a better Jail.” (ECF No. 1).

         On March 24, 2016, Plaintiff was arrested and booked into the Miller County Detention Center (“MCDC”). At the time Plaintiff filed his Complaint he was a pre-trial detainee. Plaintiff alleges his constitutional rights were violated when Defendant Griffie, without just cause, ordered a lock down of Plaintiff's entire pod for three days without allowing him access to a phone or television. Plaintiff also alleges his rights were violated because the MCDC does not provide drinking water or exercise equipment during recreational time and there are no MCDC officers present to protect inmates during the hour of recreation. In addition, Plaintiff asserts that, while a pre-trial detainee, he was housed with inmates who had been convicted of crimes. Plaintiff claims that this policy is unconstitutional.

         Plaintiff alleges that Defendant Hanning violated his civil rights when he “[i]nterfeared [sic] with grievance procedure[.]” (ECF No. 1, p. 5). Plaintiff also claims his rights were violated because “Miller County has the most (Improper grievance procedure) thire [sic] is no change of command or even a proper procedure that the grievance go through[.]” (ECF No. 11, p. 2). As for Defendants Brazell and Stovall, Plaintiff claims “[they] support officer who abuse thire [sic] power while [they] is not on the facility. [They] also has knowledge of officer abuseing [sic] thire [sic] power in which supports cruel and unusual punishment[.]” (ECF No. 1, p. 7).

         Defendants argue they are entitled to summary judgment because: (1) there is no individual capacity liability based on respondeat superior for Defendants Stovall and Brazell; (2) Plaintiff was afforded his rights to due process; (3) there is no constitutional right to the answering of grievances; (4) Plaintiff was not subjected to unconstitutional conditions of confinement; (5) Defendants are entitled to qualified immunity; and (6) there is no basis for official capacity liability. (ECF No. 29).


         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).


         A. Defendants Stovall and Brazell

         Plaintiff claims Defendants Stovall and Brazell violated his constitutional rights because they support other MCDC officers who abuse their power. In order to state a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, a plaintiff must allege that each defendant acted under color of state law and that he or she violated a right secured by the constitution. West v. Atkins, 487 U.S. 42 (8th Cir. 1999). The deprivation must be intentional; mere negligence will not suffice to state a claim for deprivation of a constitutional right under § 1983. Daniels v. Williams, 474 U.S. 327 (1986); Davidson v. Cannon, 474 U.S. 344 (1986). To establish liability under § 1983, the plaintiff must “plead that a government official has personally violated the plaintiff's constitutional rights.” Jackson v. Nixon, 747 F.3d 537, 543 (8th Cir. 2014). “A supervisor is not vicariously liable under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for an employee's unconstitutional activity.” White v. Holmes, 21 F.3d 277, 280 (8th Cir. 1994).

         In this case, Plaintiff has not alleged that Defendants Stovall or Brazell were personally involved in any of the alleged violations of his rights. He only claims these Defendants had knowledge of other's actions and “supported” them-this is insufficient to establish § 1983 liability. Accordingly, Plaintiff's ...

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