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Sanderson v. Lopez

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

April 3, 2018




         The following proposed Findings and Recommendation have been sent to United States District Judge J. Leon Holmes. You may file written objections to all or part of this Recommendation. If you do so, those objections must: (1) specifically explain the factual and/or legal basis for your objection, and (2) be received by the Clerk of this Court within fourteen (14) days of this Recommendation. By not objecting, you may waive the right to appeal questions of fact.


         I. Introduction

         Plaintiff Christopher W. Sanderson, filed a pro se complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, while he was incarcerated at the Lonoke County Detention Center. Doc. No. 2. Sanderson's complaint included multiple claims, and he was ordered to file an amended complaint providing additional information. Doc. No. 3. Sanderson subsequently filed a letter which was treated as the amended complaint. See Doc. No. 6. This Court subsequently recommended that Sanderson be required to amend his complaint to provide more information regarding his black mold claim against Defendant Steve Lopez, and that the remainder of Sanderson's claims be dismissed without prejudice for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted. Id. The Court's recommendation was approved (Doc. No. 7), and Sanderson subsequently filed an amended complaint regarding his black mold claim (Doc. No. 8).

         Lopez filed a motion for summary judgment, a brief in support, and a statement of facts claiming that Sanderson had not exhausted claims against him before he filed this lawsuit (Doc. Nos. 17-19). Sanderson did not file a response to Lopez's motion. Because Sanderson failed to controvert the facts set forth in Lopez's statement of undisputed facts, Doc. No. 19, those facts are deemed admitted. See Local Rule 56.1(c). Lopez's statement of facts, and the other pleadings and exhibits in the record, establish that the material facts are not in dispute and that Lopez is entitled to summary judgment as a matter of law.

         II. Legal Standard

         Under Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, summary judgment is proper if “the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a); Celotex v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 321 (1986). When ruling on a motion for summary judgment, the court must view the evidence in a light most favorable to the nonmoving party. Naucke v. City of Park Hills, 284 F.3d 923, 927 (8th Cir. 2002). The nonmoving party may not rely on allegations or denials, but must demonstrate the existence of specific facts that create a genuine issue for trial. Mann v. Yarnell, 497 F.3d 822, 825 (8th Cir. 2007). The nonmoving party's allegations must be supported by sufficient probative evidence that would permit a finding in his favor on more than mere speculation, conjecture, or fantasy. Id. (citations omitted). An assertion that a fact cannot be disputed or is genuinely disputed must be supported by materials in the record such as “depositions, documents, electronically stored information, affidavits or declarations, stipulations (including those made for purposes of the motion only), admissions, interrogatory answers, or other materials . . .”. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(1)(A). A party may also show that a fact is disputed or undisputed by “showing that the materials cited do not establish the absence or presence of a genuine dispute, or that an adverse party cannot produce admissible evidence to support the fact.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(1)(B). A dispute is genuine if the evidence is such that it could cause a reasonable jury to return a verdict for either party; a fact is material if its resolution affects the outcome of the case. Othman v. City of Country Club Hills, 671 F.3d 672, 675 (8th Cir. 2012). Disputes that are not genuine or that are about facts that are not material will not preclude summary judgment. Sitzes v. City of West Memphis, Ark., 606 F.3d 461, 465 (8th Cir. 2010).

         III. Undisputed Facts

         1. Lopez is the Lonoke County Detention Center (“detention center”) assistant jail administrator. Lopez Affidavit, Doc. No. 19-1 at 2.

         2. Sanderson was booked into the detention center on or about February 8, 2017. Id.

         3. Sanderson filed this lawsuit on March 21, 2017, alleging that he was injured due to his exposure to black mold at the detention center. Doc. 2 at 4.

         4. The detention center had a grievance procedure in place in 2017 that allowed inmates to submit complaints, questions and problems about the detention center to detention center staff. Doc. No. 19-1 at 3; Grievance Procedure, Doc. No. 19-3.

         5. On January 9, 2017, Sanderson signed a document that stated: “I have received a copy of my inmate rules and rights. I understand what is and is not expected of me while visiting this ...

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