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Jones v. Moore

United States District Court, N.D. Mississippi, Delta Division

October 7, 2014

JAMES MOORE, ET AL., Defendants.


NEAL B. BIGGERS, Senior District Judge.

This matter comes before the court on the pro se prisoner complaint of La Tidtus Jones, who challenges the conditions of his confinement under 42 U.S.C. ยง 1983. For the purposes of the Prison Litigation Reform Act, the court notes that the plaintiff was incarcerated when he filed this suit. The defendants have moved [56] for summary judgment. Jones has responded to the motion, and the matter is ripe for resolution. For the reasons set forth below, the motion [56] by the defendants for summary judgment will be granted, and judgment will be entered for the defendants in all respects.

Summary Judgment Standard

Summary judgment is appropriate if the "materials in the record, including depositions, documents, electronically stored information, affidavits or declarations, stipulations (including those made for purposes of the motion only), admissions, interrogatory answers, or other materials" show 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) and (c)(1). "The moving party must show that if the evidentiary material of record were reduced to admissible evidence in court, it would be insufficient to permit the nonmoving party to carry its burden." Beck v. Texas State Bd. of Dental Examiners, 204 F.3d 629, 633 (5th Cir. 2000) (citing Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317 (1986), cert. denied, 484 U.S. 1066 (1988)). After a proper motion for summary judgment is made, the burden shifts to the non-movant to set forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 249, 106 S.Ct. 2505, 2511, 91 L.Ed.2d 202 (1986); Beck, 204 F.3d at 633; Allen v. Rapides Parish School Bd., 204 F.3d 619, 621 (5th Cir. 2000); Ragas v. Tennessee Gas Pipeline Company, 136 F.3d 455, 458 (5th Cir. 1998). Substantive law determines what is material. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 249. "Only disputes over facts that might affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law will properly preclude the entry of summary judgment. Factual disputes that are irrelevant or unnecessary will not be counted." Id., at 248. If the non-movant sets forth specific facts in support of allegations essential to his claim, a genuine issue is presented. Celotex, 477 U.S. at 327. "Where the record, taken as a whole, could not lead a rational trier of fact to find for the non-moving party, there is no genuine issue for trial." Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587, 89 L.Ed.2d 538 (1986); Federal Savings and Loan, Inc. v. Krajl, 968 F.2d 500, 503 (5th Cir. 1992). The facts are reviewed drawing all reasonable inferences in favor of the non-moving party. Allen, 204 F.3d at 621; PYCA Industries, Inc. v. Harrison County Waste Water Management Dist., 177 F.3d 351, 161 (5th Cir. 1999); Banc One Capital Partners Corp. v. Kneipper, 67 F.3d 1187, 1198 (5th Cir. 1995). However, this is so only when there is "an actual controversy, that is, when both parties have submitted evidence of contradictory facts." Little v. Liquid Air Corp., 37 F.3d 1069, 1075 (5th Cir. 1994); see Edwards v. Your Credit, Inc., 148 F.3d 427, 432 (5th Cir. 1998). In the absence of proof, the court does not "assume that the nonmoving party could or would prove the necessary facts." Little, 37 F.3d at 1075 (emphasis omitted).

Jones' Allegations

La Tidtus Jones alleges that the defendants used excessive force against him when moving him from one pod of the Bolivar County Regional Correctional Facility by beating him severely, then using a Taser on him. He also claims that the defendants denied him medical attention for the injuries he sustained in the alleged attack. He also alleges that the defendants used force against him in retaliation for two lawsuits Jones had previously filed. Finally, Jones alleges that the defendants denied his right to due process by failing to prosecute the prison guard defendants for allegedly using excessive force.

Undisputed Material Facts

The relevant facts in this case are not genuinely in dispute. La Tidtus Jones was convicted of robbery and is serving a twenty-five year sentence with the Mississippi Department of Corrections. While serving this sentence, he was temporarily housed at the Bolivar County Regional Correctional Facility. Jones alleges that, on July 16, 2012, he was housed in pod "C-2" of the jail. His bunk was near an air conditioning vent, and he put a towel over the vent to block the cold air from blowing on him. When Defendant Stanley Douglas came into the Pod, he removed the towel. After he left, Jones put the towel back over the vent. When Douglas came back into the pod, he saw the towel and told Jones that he was being transferred to another pod, "C-3."

Jones also alleges that Defendants Octavious Harris, Eric Bridgett, Walter Grant, Bradshaw, and an unknown jailor joined Douglas to assist with the transfer. When Jones heard that he was being transferred to C-3, he objected because he had been in an earlier confrontation with another inmate in C-3. The parties disagree as to the level of Jones' resistance, but he admitted in his deposition that he told the jailors refused to enter Pod C-3. In both his complaint and his deposition, Jones testified that the officers beat him severely and caused serious injuries. In his complaint, Jones alleges that defendant Grant struck him in the right side with a flashlight, then in the back with a larger flashlight. When Jones refused to enter the adjacent unit, Grant allegedly knocked Jones to the floor by striking him twice on the right side with a flashlight. Then, according to Jones, defendants Douglas, Harris, Grant, Bradshaw, and Bridgett assaulted him by repeatedly punching, stomping, and kicking him - and striking him with their flashlights. Jones alleges that one of the defendants broke his hand by stomping on it - and that he suffered serious bodily injuries: two elbow sprains, abrasions and bruises all over his body - to his right eye socket, upper and lower lips, the top of his head, ribs on both sides, his back, and his neck. Indeed, Jones alleges that he suffered brain damage from the severe beating. At this point, defendant Grant deployed a Taser on Jones, which caused both pain and involuntary muscle convulsions. After the Taser was deployed, Jones cooperated and was placed in a single lockdown cell. He was ultimately moved to Pod C-3 without further incident.

As for medical treatment, Jones saw the jail nurse the day after the incident - complaining of swelling in his left ribs, left elbow, head and back. He also complained of chest pain, and contusions on his forehead and the back of his head. The nurse noted that Jones was "involved in a take down with officers this morning with tazer." However, she found no significant injury and prescribed ibuprofen. She recorded her findings in a report the defendants attached to their motion for summary judgment. The nurse also saw Jones a day later and treated him. This time he complained only of high blood pressure, right eye pain, and left elbow pain. The defendants also provided this second report in support of their motion for summary judgment. The report shows that Jones suffered no serious injury. Jones' head, eyes, ears, nose, and throat were normal. His extraocular muscles were intact. His heart had regular rate and rhythm. His lungs were normal. His abdomen was normal. His pupils were normal. The nurse diagnosed Jones with a contusion to his right eye - and as having high blood pressure. She prescribed ice packs to his right eye for ten minutes, four times per day, 800 milligrams of ibuprofen, suggested that Jones continue taking his high blood pressure medicine, and recommended a low-salt diet.

Jones claims that as result of the jailors' actions he filed federal criminal charges against the individual defendants. He is currently housed at the South Mississippi Correctional Facility and is not receiving any medical treatment for injuries he allegedly suffered in this case.

Defendants Eddie Williams, Donny Whitten, James McBride, Richard Coleman, Pete Roncalt, and Will Hooker: No Involvement in the Incident.

The only connection defendants Eddie Williams, Donny Whitten, James McBride, Richard Coleman, Pete Roncalt, and Will Hooker have to this case is that they are members of the Bolivar County Board of Supervisors, or, in the case of Will Hooker, the Bolivar County Administrator. None of these defendants works at the jail, and none were in any way involved in the incident at issue in this case. In addition, none of the men plays the slightest role in setting jail policy, as that is the province of the Sheriff. Brooks v. George County, Mississippi, 84 F.3d 157, 165 (5th Cir. 1996). As such, Jones' claims against these defendants are frivolous. See Cunningham v. Hinds Co. Sheriff's Dept., 3:12CV634-CWR-FKB (S.D.Miss., November 1, 2012) (conditions of confinement claims against Board of Supervisors and County Clerk dismissed as patently frivolous). The plaintiff's claims against these defendants will thus be dismissed as frivolous.

Defendants Bolivar County Sheriff Kelvin Williams and Former Jail Administrator James Moore: No ...

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