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Walker v. Payne

United States District Court, E.D. Arkansas, Pine Bluff Division

January 14, 2019

ANDREW WALKER, ADC #118512 PLAINTIFF
v.
D. PAYNE, et al. DEFENDANTS

          RECOMMENDED DISPOSITION

         I. Procedures for Filing Objections:

         This Recommended Disposition (“Recommendation”) has been sent to Judge D.P. Marshall Jr. Any party may file written objections with the Clerk of Court. To be considered, objections must be filed within 14 days. Objections should be specific and should include the factual or legal basis for the objection.

         If parties do not file objections, they may waive the right to appeal questions of fact. And, if no objections are filed, Judge Marshall can adopt this Recommendation without independently reviewing the record.

         II. Procedural Background:

         Plaintiff Andrew Walker, an inmate in the Arkansas Department of Correction (“ADC”), filed this 42 U.S.C. § 1983 lawsuit claiming that Defendants were deliberately indifferent to his health and safety. Mr. Walker's claims arise from his fall on an icy sidewalk outside of the chow hall at the ADC's Wrightsville Unit. (Docket entries #2, #15)

         The Court initially recommended that Mr. Walker's claims be dismissed based on claim preclusion.[1] (#16) Judge Marshall declined to adopt the recommendation, however, because new facts were alleged in this case that were not raised in the prior case. (#20)

         The Court ordered service of process for Defendants John L. Henderson and Stephen M. Cockrell on claims that they were deliberately indifferent to Mr. Walker's safety in failing to keep the sidewalk clear of ice; for Defendant Jones on a claim that he was deliberately indifferent to Mr. Walker's need for medical care and on a claim of retaliatory transfer; and for Defendant Correctional Care Solutions (“CCS”) for deliberate indifference to medical needs. (#29) Judge Marshall subsequently adopted a partial recommended disposition granting summary judgment to Defendants CCS and Jones based on failure to exhaust administrative remedies. (#98)

         The remaining Defendants Henderson and Cockrell (“Defendants”) have now moved for summary judgment on the merits of Mr. Walker's claims. (#113) Mr. Walker has filed a response and memorandum in support of his response, and an amended response, and the case is ripe for decision. (#123, #124, #125)

         III. Standard:

         In a summary judgment, the court rules in favor of a party before trial. Defendants Henderson and Cockrell are entitled to summary judgment if-but only if-the evidence, viewed in the light most favorable to Mr. Walker, shows that there is no genuine dispute about any fact that is important to the outcome of the case. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56; Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322-23 (1986); Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 247-48 (1986).

         IV. Undisputed Facts:

         Here, the facts critical to the decision in this case are not disputed. On December 8, 2013, Mr. Walker was detained in general population at the ADC's Wrightsville Unit. (#115-6 at 14) On that day, ice and snow caused slick sidewalks and streets. (#115-6 at 16-17) Defendants Henderson and Cockrill were supervising inmates and kitchen staff at the chow hall at the Wrightsville Unit that morning. (#115-4 at 1, #115-5 at 1)

         Mr. Walker asked an unidentified officer if his food could be brought to his barracks, because he was recovering from recent back surgery. (#115-6 at 17-18, 20) The officer denied Mr. Walker's request, because he did not have a medical script requiring delivery of his meals to the barracks. (#115-6 at 21) And in fact, Mr. Walker had not requested a medical script. (#115-6 at 21-23)

         Mr. Walker walked to the chow hall for breakfast that morning without incident. (#115-6 at 30, 32) He testified in deposition that he saw two inmates fall on the ice as he made his way to the chow hall, but he could not identify the inmates. And he did not report the falls he witnessed. (#115-6 at 30)

         As he left the chow hall after breakfast, Mr. Walker did not notice any snow or ice on the sidewalk. (#115-6 at 35) He did not sense that he was in danger of falling because the sidewalk appeared to be clear. (#115-6 at 35- 36) Just outside the chow hall door, however, he fell on black ice. At that time, he noticed a pile of snow 10 or 15 feet in front of him behind the door. (#115-6 at 36) He does not know how the snow got there, but he assumes that kitchen workers used a broom or shovel to push the snow behind the door. (#115-6 at 38)

         At the Wrightsville Unit, the maintenance crew typically clears sidewalks. (#115-6 at 23) Defendants Cockrell and Henderson were not on the maintenance crew and did not supervise the maintenance crew. (#115-6 at 23) Mr. Walker did not see either Defendant Cockrell or Defendant Henderson sweeping snow or moving snow behind the door. (#115-6 at 39) Mr. Walker did not see either Defendant Cockrell or Defendant Henderson attempting to clear any sidewalks that day. (#115-6 ...


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