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Blake v. Moore

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

August 7, 2018



          Susan O. Hickey United States District Judge.

         Before the Court is a Motion for Summary Judgment filed by Defendants Warden Moore and Lieutenant Golden Adams. (ECF No. 37). Plaintiff Jeremi Blake has a filed a Response. (ECF Nos. 53, 55). The Court finds this matter ripe for consideration.

         I. BACKGROUND

         This is a civil rights action filed pro se by Plaintiff under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff's claims in this action arise from alleged incidents that occurred in 2016, while he was incarcerated in the Miller County Detention Center (“MCDC”) in Texarkana, Arkansas.[1] Viewed in the light most favorable to Plaintiff, the relevant facts are as follows.

         Plaintiff was booked into the MCDC on July 8, 2016, and placed in Max Alpha Cell #13. (ECF No. 1, p. 3). The following day, Plaintiff asked to be moved to protective custody “[b]ecause of [his] past history in general population settings and because he feared for his safety.” Id. On July 9, 2016, Plaintiff was placed in protective custody and moved to Max Echo Cell #5. Id. He was released from the MCDC on October 17, 2016.

         Prior to Plaintiff being booked into the MCDC, physicians with the TDCJ prescribed him 400mg of Carbamazepine (Tegretol) and 20mg of Citalopram (Celexa) for daily treatment of his mental health conditions. (ECF No. 53-1). Plaintiff continued taking these medications after he was booked into the MCDC.

         During his incarceration in the MCDC, Plaintiff filed a total of twenty-five grievances using the kiosk provided by the jail.[2] The following thirteen grievances relate to Plaintiff's claims in this lawsuit:

• #1, 062, 430: “grieving the fact that back in MAX E pod, we are not given outdoor recreation.” (ECF No. 39-4, p. 10).
• #1, 065, 070: “grieving the conditions of confinement in MAX E pod . . . shower area is disgusting and has not been cleaned . . . no toilet in the dayroom they do not leave our cell open while we get our hour of recreation… I have nowhere to go…” (ECF No. 39-4, p. 11).
• #1, 078, 497, #1, 078, 533, and #1, 081, 376: concerning denial and reinstatement of commissary privileges. (ECF No. 39-4, pp. 12-14).
• #1, 092, 167, #1, 136, 770, #1, 136, 780, #1, 139, 022, and #1, 147, 185: regarding inadequate responses to grievances. (ECF No. 39-4, pp. 15, 17-19, 22).
• #1, 095, 389: claiming his recreation time was taken away for two days because of the conduct of another inmate. (ECF No. 39-4, p. 16).
• #1, 219, 546 and #1, 219, 547: filed against Separate Defendant King for denial of medical care. (ECF No. 39-4, pp. 24-25).

         In addition to these grievances, on August 26, 2016, Plaintiff placed a medical request, asking that his Celexa dosage be increased because it was not helping his depression. (ECF No.53-2, p. 1). A nurse responded and stated that Plaintiff needed to give the medication more time to start working. On September 15, 2016, an MCDC officer was informed by another inmate that Plaintiff was storing his psych medication in his cell. A search of Plaintiff's cell was conducted and according to the MCDC disciplinary report:

Upon searching inmate [Plaintiff's] cell . . . several items inside the cell . . . were unauthorized and are considered contraband. The prescription medication that is issued to [Plaintiff] were located in another inmate's box. It was confirmed through [Separate Defendant] King that the medicine was in fact inmate [Plaintiff's]. Also when looking through [Plaintiff's] property we found a pair of finger nail clippers which are also unauthorized. We moved [Plaintiff] to max echo without further incident.

(ECF No. 53-2, p. 20). Plaintiff was charged with stealing or being in possession of stolen property, possession of an item not authorized for retention, and misuse of authorized medication. Id. On September 19, 2016, Plaintiff entered a plea of guilty to the infractions and the MCDC Disciplinary Committee ordered that Plaintiff be moved to segregation for thirty days which included the loss of commissary, visitation, and mail privileges during this time. Id.

         On September 19, 2016, Separate Defendant King[3] entered a notation on Plaintiff's medical progress notes which reads in part: “Due to the fact that [Plaintiff] is not taking his prescribed medication as directed and is hoarding and using them as currency, [Nurse Practitioner] Foltz directs the medications to be discontinued.” (ECF No. 35-7). Underneath the notes there is an illegible signature. It is not clear if this signature is Separate Defendant King's or that of the Nurse Practitioner Foltz.[4] Also on September 19, 2016, Plaintiff's medications were discontinued without any evaluation of Plaintiff for potential adverse reactions that may occur as a result of the cessation of his medications.

         On September 23, 2016, Plaintiff submitted a medical request stating: “I think that I am having a mental breakdown, please call me to psych or get me some help because I have no way of dealing with anything that I am feeling.” (ECF No. 53-2, p. 2). Separate Defendant King responded as follows: “You were on medication to help with this. You chose to refuse your meds after being caught hoarding your medication for sale. Your medication was discontinued due to this. It will not be restarted.” Id. The following day, Plaintiff filed a grievance against Separate Defendant King, alleging that he had denied Plaintiff proper medical attention. (ECF No. 53-2, pp. 5-6). Separate Defendant King responded to the grievance and informed Plaintiff that he could contact the corporate headquarters for his employer in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Id.

         Plaintiff filed his Complaint on August 15, 2016, alleging that Defendants Moore and Adams subjected him to the following unlawful conditions of confinement at the MCDC:

[L]ockdown in a 8' x 12' cell 23 hours a day . . . no access to outside recreation . . . no access to television or newspapers, no visitation privileges, no commissary privileges, rat and roach infestations, no cells in Max Echo have windows . . . the dayroom in which we are allowed ‘1 hour out' per day has not bathroom or toilette, forcing plaintiff to shower in the same shower inmates urinate and defecate in.

(ECF No. 1). In addition, Plaintiff alleged that the MCDC had an unconstitutional classification system because “pre-trial detainees are housed with sentenced inmates . . . misdemeanor inmates are housed with felons . . . [and] state inmates are housed with federal inmates.” Id. at 4. Plaintiff claimed further that regardless of the classification of inmates, all who are assigned to Max Echo are treated as if they are on punitive segregation. Id.

         On June 21, 2017, Plaintiff filed an Amended Complaint, reasserting his conditions of confinement claims against Defendants Moore and Adams, naming Separate Defendant King as an additional defendant, and alleging that all Defendants denied him adequate medical care.[5] (ECF No. 19). Plaintiff also added claims for inadequate training of employees and contractors in providing recreation, sanitized living, and the dispensing of medication, and interference with medical treatment as a punitive measure. Id. at p. 3. Plaintiff proceeds against Defendants Moore and Adams in both their individual and official capacities and seeks compensatory and punitive damages. Id. at p. 6.

         On February 12, 2016, Defendants Moore and Adams filed the instant motion. Defendants argue they are entitled to summary judgment because: (1) Plaintiff failed to exhaust his administrative remedies; (2) there is no proof that Defendant Moore or Adams were personally involved in any of the alleged constitutional violations; (3) there is no constitutional right to the answering of grievances; (4) Plaintiff was not subjected to unconstitutional conditions of confinement; (5) Defendants were not deliberately indifferent to Plaintiff's medical needs; (6) Defendants are entitled to qualified immunity; and (7) there is no basis for official capacity liability. (ECF No. 37).


         Summary judgment is appropriate if, after viewing the facts and all reasonable inferences in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party, the record “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); Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986). “Once a party moving for summary judgment has made a sufficient showing, the burden rests with the non-moving party to set forth specific facts, by affidavit or other evidence, showing that a genuine issue of material fact exists.” Nat'l Bank of Comm. v. Dow Chem. Co., 165 F.3d 602, 607 (8th Cir. 1999).

         The non-moving party “must do more than simply show that there is some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts.” Matsushita, 475 U.S. at 586. “They must show there is sufficient evidence to support a jury verdict in their favor.” Nat'l Bank, 165 F.3d at 607 (citing Anderson v. Liberty Lobby,Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 249 (1986)). “A case founded on speculation or suspicion is insufficient to survive a motion for summary judgment.” Id. (citing Metge v. Baehler, 762 F.2d 621, 625 (8th Cir. 1985)). “When opposing parties tell two different stories, one of which is blatantly contradicted by the record, so that no reasonable ...

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