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Toney v. Cash

United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Hot Springs Division

July 30, 2019




         Plaintiff proceeds in this matter pro se and in forma pauperis pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Currently before the Court is Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment. (ECF No. 27). The Parties have consented to the jurisdiction of a magistrate judge to conduct any and all proceedings in this case, including conducting the trial, ordering the entry of a final judgment, and conducting all post-judgment proceedings. (ECF No. 19). Pursuant to this authority, the Court issues this memorandum opinion and orders the entry of a final judgment in this matter.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff filed his Complaint on December 13, 2017. (ECF No. 1). He alleges his constitutional rights were violated while he was incarcerated as a pre-trial detainee in the Hot Spring County Jail (“HSCJ”). (ECF No. 1 at 2-3). Specifically, Plaintiff alleges that on November 1, 2017, he was told that the jail would no longer mail letters for inmates; instead inmates must purchase their own stamps. Plaintiff further alleges that the facility closed their commissary, so inmates do not have a way to purchase stamps. (ECF No. 1 at 4). He further alleges “his people are poor they have to work, ” which the Court interprets to mean that he is indigent. Plaintiff alleges this has prevented him from contacting his family or his attorney and has restricted his ability to send documents to this Court. (ECF No. 1 at 5). As his second claim, Plaintiff alleges he is being denied fresh air and exercise. He alleges the facility stopped taking him outside for “fresh air exercise” or recreation on October 1, 2017. Plaintiff alleges it is “very stuffy” inside, and inmates are staying sick and fighting as a result. Plaintiff does not allege that he became ill. (ECF No. 1 at 5-6). As his third claim. Plaintiff alleges he and other inmates are being denied sufficient calories in their daily meals. (ECF No. 1 at 6). Plaintiff alleges the meals are the same each day and consist of the following:

• Breakfast: 1 slice white bread, 4 ounces oatmeal
• Noon meal: 1 bologna sandwich, 5 potato chips, 1 cookie (1.5 inches in diameter)
• Last Chow: 1 slice white bread, 1 cookie (1.5 inches in diameter), 3 ounces brown beans, and 3 ounces mixed vegetables. Plaintiff alleges the vegetables were removed from the menu on December 2, 2017.

         Plaintiff proceeds against all Defendants in their official and personal capacities. (ECF No. 1 at 4-6). Plaintiff seeks compensatory and punitive damages, and for the issues to be “addressed.” (ECF No. 1 at 7).

         On January 29, 2018, Plaintiff filed a Motion to Amend his Complaint, stating he wished to clarify that he was seeking monetary damages, and that he wished to hold the Sheriff's Department liable for the actions of their officers. (ECF No. 8). On March 20, 2018, Plaintiff filed a Supplement with exhibits to support his Complaint. (ECF No. 16). These same documents were later attached to Plaintiff's Summary Judgment Response. (ECF No. 31).

         Defendants filed their Motion for Summary Judgment on November 6, 2018. (EC No. 27). On November 7, 2018, the Court entered an Order directing Plaintiff to file a Response to the Motion, which he did on November 29, 2018. (ECF No. 30, 31).


         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).

         III. ANALYSIS

         Defendants argue summary judgment in their favor is appropriate because: (1) Plaintiff failed to exhaust any grievances concerning the allegations in his Complaint prior to filing this case (ECF No. 28 at 2); (2) Plaintiff failed to Plaintiff cannot demonstrate that his alleged injuries resulted from a policy or custom in place at HSCJ; (3) Defendant Cash had no personal involvement in Plaintiff's alleged constitutional violation; (4) Defendant are entitled to qualified immunity as there was no constitutional violation. (ECF No. at 29).

         Plaintiff argues inmates were told they would not be going outside for recreation.[1] (ECF No. 31 at 1). He further argues they were told there would be “no more mailing of any kind, ” the stamp machine was removed, and there was no commissary. (Id. at 1-2). He attached a copy of an internal document labelled “Attention Gentleman, ” which appears to be a notice to the guards concerning envelopes, medications, and phone calls for inmates. (ECF No. 31-1 at 1). He argues inmates received “500 or less calories a day per person” and received only bread and beans for the last meal of the day. (ECF No. 31 at 1-2). In his Response, Plaintiff attached a grievance dated April 5, 2018, asking Lieutenant Lingo ...

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