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Coleman v. Holladay

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

August 7, 2018

ALEX COLEMAN Reg. No. 28929-009 PLAINTIFF
v.
DOC HOLLADAY, Sheriff; CAROL McGEE; FELICIA ROBINSON, Deputy; MISTY HODGES, Deputy; and TEQUILA TURNER, Deputy, Pulaski County Detention Center DEFENDANTS

          RECOMMENDED DISPOSITION

         The following Recommended Disposition ("Recommendation") has been sent to United States District Judge Billy Roy Wilson. 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 the date of this Recommendation. If you do not file objections, Judge Wilson can adopt this Recommendation without independently reviewing all of the evidence in the record. By not objecting, you may waive the right to appeal questions of fact.

         I. Introduction

         Plaintiff Alex Coleman (“Coleman”) has filed this pro se § 1983 action alleging that, while he was a pretrial detainee in the Pulaski County Regional Detention Facility (“PCRDF”), [1] Defendants Pulaski County Sheriff Doc Holladay (“Holladay”), Carol McGee (“McGee”), Deputy Felicia Robinson (“Robinson”), Deputy Misty Hodges (“Hodges), and Deputy Tequila Turner (“Turner”) violated his due process rights by placing him on “suicide watch” when he engaged in a hunger strike to protest inadequacies in the PCRDF law library.[2] Docs. 2 & 5.

         All Defendants have filed a Motion for Summary Judgment, a Brief in Support, a Statement of Undisputed Facts, and a Reply. Docs. 27, 28, 29 & 42. Coleman has filed a Response. Doc. 41.

         Before addressing the merits of Defendants' Motion, the Court will summarize the relevant facts giving rise to Coleman's claim:[3]

1. In September 2016, Coleman was a pretrial detainee in the PCRDF, awaiting trial on federal charges. Doc. 2, at 3, 4 & 7; Doc. 28, Ex. 1 ¶5 (Ballard Aff.) & Ex. 1-1 (PCRDF Book-In Sheet).
2. On September 22, 2016, Coleman did not pick up his breakfast tray. When a non-party deputy went to check on Coleman, Coleman said he was on a hunger strike because “he was a federal inmate and wanted to get out of the facility.” A “hunger strike log” was started. Doc. 28, Ex. 1-5 (Ouzts Incident Report).
3. Later that day, after receiving a report that Coleman was on a hunger strike, Defendant McGee, a licensed certified social worker, visited him in his cell. Coleman told McGee that: he was not sure if he ate anything on September 20; he did not eat anything on September 21; and he had not eaten anything that day (September 22). He explained he was on a hunger strike because he wanted to be moved to a facility with a “better law library” so that he could “work on his case.” Id., Ex. 1-6 (PCRDF Progress Notes).
4. According to McGee's treatment notes, she told Coleman that refusing to eat was a form of self-harm and that, if he did not eat, he would be placed on “suicide watch.” Coleman told McGee he understood. Id., Ex. 1-6. Coleman disputes this, asserting that McGee told him he would be placed in “administrative segregation, not suicide watch.” Doc. 41, at 2.
5. After her visit with Coleman, McGee placed him on suicide watch for refusing to eat, and he was moved to a segregation unit for observation (T Unit). Doc. 28, Ex. 1 ¶¶ 10-11, 19, & Ex. 1-7 (Seg Rounds). Defendants Robinson and Hodges escorted him to T Unit. Doc. 2, at 6.
6. When Coleman was placed on suicide watch, he was required to remove his clothing and was issued a “paper suit” to wear. He was also required to surrender his personal effects, including court documents and legal notes. Doc. 2, at 6; Doc. 5, at 2; Doc. 41, at 2.
7. On the morning of September 25, 2016, a non-party social worker completed a PCRDF Medical Communication Form, stating that, based on reports from Coleman and a deputy, Coleman was now eating and drinking and thus no longer required suicide watch or segregation.[4] Doc. 28, Ex. 1-9 (Medical Communication Form).
8. Soon thereafter, Coleman was taken off suicide watch, and he was moved to general population in D Unit. Doc. 28, Ex. 1 ¶ 17, & Ex. 1-7.
9. At noon on September 25, a non-party deputy heard Coleman stating that he was again declaring a hunger strike because the PCRDF law library was out of date. The deputy contacted a sergeant and medical staff, and he started a “meal observation log.” Id., Ex. 1-10 (Curtner Incident Report). Coleman was not moved from D Unit or placed on suicide watch at that time.
10. Two days later, on September 27, 2016, Coleman was placed on suicide watch as a result of his refusal to eat. Defendant Turner escorted him to a segregation unit (U Unit). Medical staff was called, and a “suicide smock and gown” was sent to Coleman's cell. Doc. 2, at 6; Doc. 28, Ex. 1 ¶ 24, Ex. 1-11 (Hoof Incident Report) & Ex. 1-12 (Medical Communication Form). Coleman was again ...

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