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Barrows v. Collins

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

November 15, 2019



          Timothy L. Brooks United States District Judge.

         Now before the Court is Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. 20). Barrows filed a Response in Opposition to the Motion (Doc. 24), and the matter is now ripe for decision. For the reasons set forth below, the Motion is GRANTED.

         I. BACKGROUND

         The claims asserted in this case arose while Plaintiff Danny Trent Barrows was incarcerated in the Washington County Detention Center ("WCDC") from September 4, 2018, to September 22, 2018. Barrows names as Defendants Deputies Collins, Grimes, Rex, Self, Hawkins and Simpson. With the exception of Deputy Simpson, Barrows has sued the Defendants in both their individual and official capacities. Deputy Simpson has been sued only in his official capacity.

         Barrows contends that his constitutional rights were violated when: (1) he was placed in administrative segregation ("A-seg") without having been charged with a disciplinary infraction or provided with due process; and (2) he was subjected to unconstitutional conditions of confinement-specifically, jail overcrowding and a leaky toilet in his jail cell-which created a punitive and unsafe environment.

         On August 15, 2018, Barrows was arrested on various criminal charges. He had fled from police and, in a last-ditch effort to escape, had attempted to jump off a highway bridge. (Doc. 22-2 at 12). Barrows had to be dragged back onto the bridge by police officers. He was then taken to the WCDC and booked. The next day, August 16, 2018, jailers made a note in his file that he was to be placed on suicide watch. (Doc. 22-5 at 1). Barrows indicated to the officers at the time that he wanted to be placed in B-pod. Id. Sergeant Wingate advised Barrows that with his charges, he was sure to be classified as a medium- or maximum-security inmate and not eligible to be housed in B-pod. Id.

         Barrows testified in his deposition that from the date of his arrest on August 15, 2018, until September 2, 2018, he was in isolation. (Doc. 22-8 at 29, 36). He claims he began suffering from anxiety at this time. Id. at 52. On September 2, Barrows was moved to A-seg where he spent two days in a cell by himself. Id. at 36. He was moved to cell P-14 on September 4 with detainees James Johnson, Luis Salazar, and Braden Collins. Id. at 36-37, 45. Around that time, Barrows's anxiety grew stronger, and he felt claustrophobic in cell P-14 with the three other men. Id. at 52. The cell was designed to house three people, not four. Id.

         As soon as Barrows was moved to cell P-14, he noticed water leaking around the bottom edge of the toilet.[1] (Doc. 22-8 at 39). Specifically, he claimed that water was leaking all the way around the toilet at the point where it was attached to the floor. Id. at 60. The water was "sludgy" and "slimy" looking, "smelled like sewage," and drew flies. Id. at 47. Barrows estimated that the toilet leaked at least a "good gallon of water" a day. Id. at 60. Barrows and his cell mates were given a blanket to wrap around the bottom of the toilet to keep the "spilled water and stuff from leaking out all over the middle of the floor." Id. at 19, 61. Barrows agreed that the blanket "soaked up most of the water." Id. at 60-61.

         Barrows testified that he and his cell mates asked several officers to request that maintenance fix the toilet. (Doc. 22-8 at 18). However, no one from maintenance ever came. Id. at 18-19. Barrows testified that he and his cell mates were forced to eat in the cell every day. In addition, one inmate-not Barrows-had to sleep on the floor, and the blanket was soaked and "covered in sewage every day." Doc. 22-8 at 25. The blanket was only changed about once a week. Id.

         Barrows testified that on September 6, he and his cell mates asked Deputy Collins, Deputy Grimes, and Deputy Bowman to be moved to a different cell. They also asked the officers to put in a work order for the toilet to be fixed. (Doc. 22-8 at 70). Barrows testified that the following day, they asked four officers on duty whether one person in the cell could be moved to an empty neighboring cell. Id. at 23, 70-71. According to Barrows, Deputy Collins agreed this would be a good idea. Id. Barrows and his cell mates asked Deputy Collins the same question later in the day, but he told them that his shift was ending, and no one would be moved to a different cell. Id.

         Barrows testified that after that, he and his cell mates asked every officer on duty on almost a daily basis to move an inmate out of P-14. (Doc. 22-8 at 24). Barrows does not know who was in charge of reviewing inmate classification and housing status in the jail. Id. at 39.

         On September 9, Barrows submitted his first grievance. In that grievance, he complained that he was being kept in a twenty-three-hour-a-day lock-down cell with only one hour out. (Doc. 22-3 at 12). He also complained that his "hour out" was so early in the day that he could not make personal calls. Id. Barrows pointed out in his grievance that he and three other inmates had been housed for over a week in a three-man cell. Id. He also stated that the toilet was leaking in his cell, which meant that one of his cell mates was forced to sleep on a cramped, wet floor, since there were only three bunks in the cell. Id. Barrows claimed one of his cell mates, Collins, had asked numerous times to be moved. Id. Barrows also asserted that there was an unoccupied cell right beside his overcrowded one. Id. He contended the conditions in his cell amounted to cruel and unusual punishment and asked for a § 1983 form so that he could "follow up on this grievance." Id.

         Barrows explained in his deposition that he had not submitted a grievance prior to this one because he knew that in most jails, the jailers required that the prisoner speak with the floor officer about the issue before submitting a formal grievance. (Doc. 22-8 at 48). This, however, was not the policy and practice of the WCDC. Id.

         On September 11, Barrows's cell mate Johnson was moved out of the cell after he suffered a seizure and was taken to the hospital. (Doc. 22-8 at 22). Johnson returned to the cell the following day. Id. at 26. Also on September 11, Corporal Mulvaney responded to Barrows's September 9 grievance. In the response, Corporal Mulvaney stated that Barrows's "hour-out" time was generally at around 8:00 a.m., with the exception of September 5, when the "hour out" took place at around noon, and September 8, when it took place around 6:45 a.m. (Doc. 22-3 at 13). Corporal Mulvaney also stated in his response to the grievance that he understood there were no longer four inmates assigned to Barrows's cell and that maintenance had been notified to address the leaking toilet. Id. Finally, Corporal Mulvaney explained that Barrows had been given an address to use to request § 1983 paperwork. He asked Barrows to state briefly what his complaint was about so that it could be documented, and he also asked Barrows whether any video needed to be saved in connection with the complaint. Id.

         In reply to Corporal Mulvaney's written response, Barrows stated that inmate Collins had been moved into the cell on September 4. (Doc. 22-3 at 14). Barrows claimed that the following day, the cell next to P-14 was empty. Id. According to Barrows, he and his cell mates asked several times on September 5 for Collins to be moved. Id. Barrows indicated that they also asked Corporal Graham to move Collins during "morning chow on the following day." Id. Barrows ultimately testified in his deposition that all the officers he named as Defendants were asked if one of the four inmates in Barrows's cell could be moved out due to "overcrowding and the condition the cell was in." (Doc. 22-8 at 21).

         On September 12, Barrows submitted another grievance in which he asked to be moved to B-Block. (Doc. 22-3 at 2). Barrows felt he should be housed in general population. (Doc. 22-8 at 56). Corporal Atchley responded that Barrows was classified as a medium 7 and "[i]n order to be in B-pod you must be classified as a minimum." (Doc. 22-3 at 2-3). Barrows was told that his next classification review was on October 14. Id. at 3.

         Barrows testified that late in the evening on September 13, when he got up to use the toilet, "my flipflop got hung up on the blanket [that had been wrapped around the toilet] causing me to twist my ankle, fall back. And I fell down and landed on my rear-end and when I did, it tore ligaments in my leg, as far as muscles in my ankle, and I twisted my ankle real bad." (Doc. 22-8 at 19, 44). Barrows did not fall onto Collins, who was sleeping on the floor, because Collins was lying against the back wall of the cell, farthest away from the leaking toilet. Id. at 45. Barrows testified that for days he was not able to walk after the incident and had to rely on other inmates to help him around. Id. at 19-20. Barrows testified that the injury is still causing him joint pain at nighttime and requires him to elevate his foot. Id. at 19.

         Barrows submitted a medical request related to this foot injury the day after it occurred, September 14. In the medical request, he stated that he had slipped and fallen in his cell and could not walk. (Doc. 22-3 at 28, 44). Barrows was seen that day at sick call. Id. at 28. According to Barrows, the nurse told him she did not feel his foot was broken, so there was no need for an x-ray. (Doc. 22-8 at 48). Barrows testified the nurse told him that the injury "was probably torn ligaments" and torn "muscle tissue," basically, a "sprained ankle." Id. Barrows testified he asked for a wheelchair or crutches, and the nurse responded that there was a wheelchair in the facility he could use. Id. at 50. According to Barrows, Deputy Grimes indicated he would try to locate the wheelchair, but he never did. Id. at 50-51.

         The nurse noted:

Pt stating that he tripped over a blanket and twisted his foot during the night, then landing hard on his left heel. Pt stated it felt like a stone bruise but was also sore during flexion of the foot when bearing weight on the plantar surface. Pt stated that he did not feel that it was broken. Pt has FROM [full range of motion], just advised that it was painful, no swelling or heat noted. Will RX naproxen per protocol. Advised Pt to elevate and report any further symptoms to medical.

(Doc. 22-4 at 12-13). The Naproxen was prescribed two times a day until September 21. Id. at 13.

         On September 15, Barrows submitted a grievance "in hopes to get my toilet fixed in cell p 14 because of an injury [I've] got now because of the leaking sewage and blanket placed over it that caused me to twist my ankle and fall back on my [heel] causing problems now for me to get around." (Doc. 22-3 at 15). He also complained that the situation resulted in him incurring expenses for medical services due to his injury. Id. Barrows asserted that he had been told by the floor officers that a maintenance call had already been placed, and Barrows asked if there was any way to speed it up. Id. In response, Officer Cody Stidham told Barrows that he would speak to maintenance. Id.

         On September 16, Barrows asked how he could get classified as a minimum-security inmate so that he could be moved to B-Block. (Doc. 22-3 at 3). Officer J. Velasco responded in writing, "you are a medium 7 so that is why your [sic] over in A-pod." Id.

         On September 19, Barrows submitted a request to be removed from A-seg to a different area of the jail. (Doc. 22-3 at 3). Barrows noted he had not been giving the officers any trouble. Id. Sergeant Byrd responded that due to Barrows's pending charges, he would not be allowed in B-pod. Id. However, Sergeant Byrd said If Barrows wanted out of A-seg, he would see what he could do. Id. Barrows responded that he wanted out of A-seg and had not caused any problems since he had been there. Id. at 4. Corporal Terry Warford responded that Barrows's request would be forwarded to a sergeant. Id. On September 20th, Barrows asked if a sergeant had looked at his request. Id. Sergeant Byrd responded that he would come and speak to Barrows soon. Id.

         That same day, Barrows submitted a medical request stating he was still housed in A-seg and wondered if there was a medical reason why he was being kept there. (Doc. 22-3 at 29). In response, medical personnel informed him that he would need to speak with the officers about that. Id.

         On September 21, Barrows submitted another grievance, asking again to be moved out of A-seg. (Doc. 22-3 at 5). He noted he had not caused any problems and had no disciplinary charges. Id. The following day, Deputy Atchley responded that Barrows would be moved. Id.

         Barrows testified that on September 22, Sergeant Byrd moved him out of A-seg and into general population. (Doc. 22-8 at 24, 56, 68). Barrows indicated Deputy Grimes had been talking to Sergeant Byrd about him and helped get him moved. Id. at 68. However, Barrows maintains his legal claims against Deputy Grimes in this lawsuit are due to the overcrowding conditions Barrows claims he endured and Deputy Grimes's failure to get maintenance to fix the leaking toilet in Barrows's cell. Id.

         Also on September 22, Barrows requested copies of the grievances he submitted on September 9. (Doc. 22-3 at 6). He indicated that he needed a statement regarding his prisoner account to be completed to go along with his § 1983 paperwork. Id. Corporal Mulvaney responded on September 24, advising he would get the paperwork regarding Barrdws's inmate account back to him that day. Id. Corporal Mulvaney declined to provide copies of the inmate account to Barrows and stated that during the process of the case, Barrows would be afforded copies of everything. Id. Corporal Mulvaney again asked what the complaint was concerning so that he could document it and to see if there was "any relevant video that may need to be saved." Id. at 7.

         On September 25, Barrows submitted a medical request asking for something for pain in his ankle and heel. (Doc. 22-3 at 30). He indicated the pain was keeping him up at night. Id. He also noted that walking made his heel worse. Id. In response, Barrows was added to the sick call list. Id. Barrows was seen at sick call the following day. (Doc. 22-4 at 12). The nurse noted a full range of motion with no bruising or discoloration. Id. Barrows was prescribed Tylenol, told to rest and elevate his foot and ankle when possible, and to do gentle exercises to increase ankle strength. Id. The Tylenol was prescribed through October 10, on an as-needed basis twice a day. Id.

         On September 26, Barrows submitted a medical request stating he had been told by the nurses to keep his ankle elevated when possible. (Doc. 22-3 at 31). He said he was having trouble keeping the ankle elevated and asked for a second blanket to help with this. Id. The following day, a note was made in his file that a second blanket was added and to "verify at AM med pass to receive it." Id.

         When Barrows was asked to describe the policy, practice, or custom that he believed caused his injury, he responded that it was "[j]ust the lack of maintenance." (Doc. 22-8 at 59). While Barrows did not believe any of the Defendants did maintenance work, he explained that "they are the ones that you're speaking to about putting maintenance calls in to be fixed." Id.

         When Barrows was asked about the nature of his individual or personal capacity claims against each of the Defendants, Barrows responded they were the same for every Defendant. (Doc. 22-8 at 62-63). Barrows maintains that between September 4 and September 22, each Defendant was told multiple times about the conditions in P-14, specifically, the overcrowding and the leaky toilet. Id. Barrows kept track of the Defendants' names and badge numbers. Id. at 67. Barrows contends that all ...

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