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Fridline v. Holt

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

December 10, 2018



         This is a civil rights action brought by Jason Fridline contending that his constitutional rights were violated while he was incarcerated in the Benton County Detention Center (BCDC). Plaintiff proceeds pro se and in forma pauperis. Plaintiff maintains that his constitutional rights were violated in the following ways: (1) Defendants failed to protect him from a substantial risk of harm; and (2) he was denied access to law library materials.

         The case is before the Court on the Motion for Summary Judgment (ECF Nos. 21-23) filed by Defendants. Plaintiff has filed a Response (ECF No. 26).


         Summary judgment is appropriate if, after viewing the facts and all reasonable inferences in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party, Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986), 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). “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.” National Bank of Commerce v. Dow Chemical 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.” National 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 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).


         Plaintiff was booked into the BCDC on August 20, 2017, on pending criminal charges. (ECF No. 23-2 at 1).[1] At a health intake screening on August 30th, Plaintiff indicated he had been diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). (ECF No. 23-4 at 1). Plaintiff indicated that people view him as a violent person and that he had been arrested for a violent crime. (Id.).

         Detainees at the BCDC are provided access to an electronic kiosk and must put all general requests, non-emergency medical requests, and all grievances on the kiosk. (ECF No. 23-1 at 3). “This informs staff of any purported issue so that it may be addressed or investigated as needed.” (Id.).


         Section 1983 does not create substantive rights. Baker v. McCollan, 443 U.S. 137, 145 n.3 (1979). Instead, it provides remedies for deprivations of rights established by the Constitution or the laws of the United States. Id. Two elements are required to establish a claim under § 1983. These elements are: (1) the deprivation of a right secured by the Constitution or laws of the United States; and (2) that the deprivation was committed “under color” of state law. Lugar v. Edmondson, 457 U.S. 922, 931 (1982).

         A. Failure to Provide a Safe Environment/Failure to Protect

         (1). Relevant Facts

         Plaintiff submitted the following grievances about his safety:

• 9/6/2017-I am having a problem with a group of inmates. I feel like my safety is in jeopardy. I have told several deputies that I am not safe for a week now and they have not done anything. The problem with inmates is getting worse. Response by Lieutenant Holt: “Talk to a pod deputy.”
• 9/7/2017-I talked to two pod deputies yesterday to get moved. Nothing happened. I am still having problems with the same inmates. Response by Lieutenant Holt: “If you have a valid reason, you will be moved. If you are in fear of your safety, put a request into PC/AdSeg requests.
• 10/1/2017-I have been here since August 19, 2017, housed in D-109. From the beginning I told pod deputies that I was having trouble with inmates and am scared for my safety and security. I asked to be moved to a different pod. I have told pod deputies, sergeants, and Lieutenant Holt. I have talked to Deputy Sterling, Deputy McConnell, Deputy Browning, Deputy Volner, Deputy Dorsey, Deputy Coltren, Deputy Cogdill, Sergeant Martinez, and Lieutenant Holt that I fear for my safety and security. Response by Lieutenant Holt: Changed topic from grievance to Protective Custody/Administrative Segregation.
• 10/2/2017-On 9/6/2017, I asked for help because I was scared for my safety in D-109. Lieutenant Holt replied that I needed to talk to the pod deputy. I talked to many pod deputies. I submitted another grievance stating that I had talked to many pod deputies and they still did not move me. I said that I was still scared for my safety and need to be moved. I have still not been moved. I have been left in harm's way. On September 10, 2017, I was pulled out by Sergeant Martinez to talk about another incident. I have already talked to Deputy Sterling, Deputy Browning, and Deputy McConnell about the inmate I am having trouble and that I was scared for my safety. I told Sergeant Martinez I was scared for my safety and Deputy Cogdill was there listening as well. No Response.

(ECF No. 23-3 at 1-3).

         Plaintiff testified that he believed some of the trouble he was having stemmed from an incident that occurred prior to his incarceration. (ECF No. 23-9 at 19). In January of 2017, Ronnie[2] Goff's brother, Shane, who was a passenger in Plaintiff's truck, took off in the truck when Plaintiff had stopped at a gas station. (Id. at 19-21). The truck was gone for about a week and a half and the Plaintiff ended up filing a police report. (Id. at 20). The day after Plaintiff filed a police report, the truck was returned but his personal belongings, including his tools and items belonging to his children were missing. (Id. at 20-23). Plaintiff dismissed the charges. (Id. at 20). While the truck was missing, Plaintiff approached some of the Goff brothers' friends to get information on the stolen truck. (Id. at 24). This was the extent of Plaintiff's conflict with the Goff brothers. (Id. at 23).

         In February 2017, Plaintiff was incarcerated with Ronnie and Shane Goff. (ECF No. 23-9 at 29). Shane Goff was moved out of the pod Plaintiff was in to avoid any conflicts between the two. (Id.). Plaintiff testified they would have “probably had to fight” because of the stolen truck. (Id.). Ronnie Goff remained in the same pod for a couple of days. (Id. at 30). Plaintiff testified they avoided each other. (Id.).

         Plaintiff next saw Shane Goff at one of Plaintiff's court appearances. (ECF No. 23-9 at 28). Shane Goff leaned over and asked the Plaintiff if he wanted to fight. (Id. at 28). Plaintiff did not respond, and Shane Goff did not say or do anything else. (Id.). This occurred prior to Plaintiff's August incarceration. (Id. at 27-28)

         By the time Plaintiff was incarcerated at the BCDC in August 2017, Shane Goff had been transferred to prison. (ECF No. 23-9 at 31). Ronnie Goff remained at the BCDC. (Id.).

         Plaintiff testified that starting on August 25th, he began asking the deputies to be moved. (ECF No. 23-9 at 32). Plaintiff indicated he was scared for his safety and security because he “had problems with inmates in there.” (Id. at 33). Between August 25th and September 10th, Plaintiff testified that he talked with every one of the deputies he named as Defendants, but he does not recall the specific date when he spoke with each Defendant. (Id.).

         However, Plaintiff recalled that he spoke with Deputy Browning on September 6th. (Id. at 52-53). Deputy Browning knew Shane Goff had taken Plaintiff's truck. (Id.). According to Plaintiff, Deputy Browning was explaining to Deputy Gully that Plaintiff was having problems with Ronnie Goff because of the truck incident. (Id. at 53). At no point did Plaintiff identify a specific person or persons that he felt threatened by. (Id. at 53-54).

         On September 10th, Plaintiff spoke with Sergeant Martinez, and Deputies Sterling, McConnell, Browning and Cogdill were present. (ECF No. 23-9. at 34). Plaintiff testified that prior to September 10th, he had spoken with Deputies Sterling, Browning, McConnell, Dorsey, and Volner about getting moved out of the pod. (Id.). Plaintiff, who is Caucasian, testified he told the deputies that he was having trouble with some of the “NAE cats.” (Id.); (ECF No. 23-2 at 1). According to Plaintiff, this term refers to a “white supremacist or white separatist group.” (ECF No. 23-9 at 34). He did not mention any names until he talked to Deputy Browning. (Id. at 34-35).

         Plaintiff testified he was being shunned a little bit and you could feel the tension. (ECF No. 23-9 at 35). One thing other inmates would do is keep repeating his name in a low voice and when he asked what they wanted, they would not respond back. (Id.). The inmates were also “kind of being threatening toward me.” (Id. at 36). Plaintiff testified the inmates referred to him in disrespectful or derogatory terms, used profanity towards him, and belittled him by, for example, telling him he was making stupid moves while playing cards and was retarded. (Id. at 36-37 & 72). No. one said they were going to injure him. (Id. at 37-38). Plaintiff, however, felt that the taunting was getting more aggressive. (Id. at 38). It was the Plaintiff's belief ...

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