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Jones v. Gentle

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

August 28, 2019

JAY JONES PLAINTIFF
v.
JOSEPH GENTLE ADC Correctional Officer; FAUST Warden ADC Ouachita River Unit; WENDY KELLY ADC Director; RAYMOND NAYLOR ADC Disciplinary Hearing Officer; DANIEL W. GOLDEN ADC Hearing Officer; DOE ADC Ouachita River Unit Sergeant[1] DEFENDANTS

          ORDER

          Susan O. Hickey Chief United States District Judge

         Before the Court is the Report and Recommendation filed July 25, 2019, by the Honorable Barry A. Bryant, United States Magistrate Judge for the Western District of Arkansas. (ECF No. 67). Judge Bryant recommends granting Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment. (ECF No. 51). Judge Bryant further recommends that Plaintiff's Motion to Compel (ECF No. 46), Motion for Address Assistance and a Walk-Through of ORCU (ECF No. 61), and Motion for Summary Judgment (ECF No. 62) be denied. Plaintiff has filed objections to the Report and Recommendation. (ECF No. 68). The Court finds this matter ripe for consideration.

         BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff brought this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, on March 29, 2018, in the Eastern District of Arkansas. (ECF No. 2). Plaintiff's Complaint was screened and served in the Eastern District. (ECF No. 8). On July 11, 2018, Plaintiff's Complaint was transferred to the Western District of Arkansas. (ECF No. 14).

         Plaintiff alleges that on January 9, 2018, Defendant Gentle violated his Fourteenth Amendment Due Process rights by falsifying a behavior report and disciplinary charge in retaliation for verbal altercation between them. (ECF No. 2, p. 5). Plaintiff then appeared before Defendant Golden for a disciplinary charge hearing on January 19, 2018. Plaintiff alleges Defendant Golden violated his Due Process rights by refusing to review camera footage which showed that Defendant Gentle lied about the altercation and by ignoring Corporal Butler's witness statement on his behalf. He alleges Defendant Golden found him guilty based on “no evidence.” (Id.). Plaintiff alleges his appeals were denied by Defendants Faust, Naylor, and Kelley, who also declined to review the camera footage and Corporal Butler's witness statement. (Id. at 5-7).

         Plaintiff also alleges that, as a result of the disciplinary charge conviction, he was placed in punitive segregation, where his Eighth Amendment rights were violated by the conditions of confinement. Specifically, Plaintiff alleges that he was subjected to: (1) 24-hour isolation (2) constant cell illumination; (3) mat extraction for “obtuse hours;” (4) loss of the ability to shower; and (5) constant excessive noise, including banging on walls and vents and yelling throughout the night. (Id. at 7).

         Plaintiff proceeds against all Defendants in both their official and individual capacities. (Id. at 2). He seeks compensatory relief, punitive relief from Defendant Gentle, injunctive relief concerning the excessive noise and constant illumination in the punitive isolation area, court costs and legal fees, and expungement of his disciplinary conviction. (Id. at 9).

         Defendants filed their Motion for Summary Judgment on December 17, 2018. (ECF No. 51). Plaintiff responded on January 7, 2019. (ECF No. 59). Plaintiff then filed a separate Motion for Summary Judgment on May 2, 2019. (ECF No. 62). On July 25, 2019, Judge Bryant entered his Report and Recommendation, recommending that that Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment be denied, and that Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment be granted. (ECF No. 67). Plaintiff filed his objections to the Report and Recommendation on August 12, 2019. (ECF No. 68).

         DISCUSSION

         Judge Bryant recommends denying Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment (ECF No. 62) as untimely. Judge Bryant further recommends granting Defendants summary judgment on each of Plaintiff's claims. Plaintiff has made numerous objections to Judge Bryant's findings. The Court will first address whether Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment was timely filed. Then, the Court will address each of Plaintiff's claims in turn.

         I. Timeliness of Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment

         Judge Bryant recommends denying Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment (ECF No. 62) as untimely. The dispositive motions deadline in this case passed on December 17, 2018. Plaintiff did not file his Motion for Summary Judgment until May 2, 2019. Plaintiff does not dispute that his motion was untimely. However, Plaintiff states that he was denied legal supplies and transferred four times to three different units in an effort to prevent him from accessing the law library.

         Upon review, the Court agrees with Judge Bryant. As noted above, the dispositive motions deadline in this case was December 17, 2018. Defendants filed their Motion for Summary Judgment (ECF No. 51) on the deadline. Plaintiff was able to timely respond to Defendants' summary judgment motion and did not begin filing grievances pertaining to legal supplies and law library access until March 7, 2019. Thus, there was approximately a two-month window where Plaintiff presumptively had access to the law library and legal supplies, and could have filed an unhindered, albeit late, summary judgment motion. Plaintiff also never moved to extend any deadlines or attempted to notify this Court that he needed additional time to prepare any documents. Further, Plaintiff states in his objections that he was allowed to visit the law library once a week.

         Accordingly, the Court finds that Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment (ECF ...


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