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Lockhart v. Bowers

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

July 19, 2019

MARCUS LOCKHART PLAINTIFF
v.
K. BOWERS DEFENDANT

          PROPOSED FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATION

         INSTRUCTIONS

         The following Recommendation has been sent to Chief United States District Judge Brian S. Miller. 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.

         DISPOSITION

         I. Introduction

         Plaintiff Marcus Lockhart filed this pro se civil rights complaint against Jail Administrator K. Bowers in his official capacity while incarcerated at the Craighead County Detention Center (“CCDC”). Doc. No. 1. Lockhart alleges that he suffered injuries resulting from unsanitary conditions in the CCDC. Id. He seeks injunctive[1] and monetary relief. Id. Because Lockhart is a “three-striker” under the three-strikes provision of the Prison Litigation Reform Act (“PLRA”), [2] Lockhart was ordered to amend his complaint to describe why he believed he was currently in danger of imminent serious physical injury at the time he filed the lawsuit. See Doc. No. 2. Lockhart subsequently filed an addendum to his complaint in which he alleged that he had preexisting lung damage and that the conditions in the CCDC caused him to have trouble breathing and other medical issues.[3]See Doc. No. 4. The Court found that Lockhart's allegations satisfied the imminent danger exception to the three-strikes provision, and caused his complaint to be served on Bowers. See Doc. No. 5 at 3.

         Bowers filed a motion for summary judgment, supporting brief, and statement of undisputed facts (Doc. Nos. 13-15), and Lockhart filed a response (Doc. No. 17). Bowers filed a reply (Doc. No. 19). The Court concludes that Bowers is entitled to summary judgment for the reasons described below.

         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. Analysis

         Bowers moves for summary judgment on a number of grounds; however, the Court does not reach all of Bowers' arguments because Bowers is correct that some of Lockhart's claims do not describe constitutional violations and Lockhart did not timely exhaust his administrative remedies with respect to his claim that the unclean and moldy conditions at the CCDC caused him significant breathing issues.

         A. Claims That Do Not Describe Constitutional Violations

         Bowers argues that Lockhart does not describe any constitutional violation. The Court disagrees with respect to Lockhart's allegation that the unclean and moldy conditions at the CCDC caused him significant breathing issues.[4] The Court allowed Lockhart's complaint to proceed based solely on that allegation because it is the allegation that met the imminent danger exception to the three-strikes rule (Lockhart alleged no serious physical injury relating to his food service, lice, or cups).

         Nevertheless, Bowers is correct that Lockhart fails to state sufficient facts to support his other claims. Specifically, Lockhart's claims regarding how food is served fails to state a constitutional claim; he does not describe how the food servers' failure to wear gloves and hair or facial nets put him at substantial risk of harm or that it has actually harmed him.[5] See e.g., Bradley v. Aviands Food Servs., No. 4:15-CV-264-JCH, 2015 WL 851367, at *3 (E.D. Mo. Feb. 26, 2015) (complaint alleging food service workers did not wear hair nets dismissed as legally frivolous). Likewise, his complaint that he was offered only one cup does not state a constitutional claim. Additionally, Lockhart's allegation that inmates are not appropriately treated for lice at intake fails to state a constitutional claim. He has not alleged he was infected with lice at the jail. Accordingly, those claims should be dismissed for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted.

         B. Exhaustion of ...


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