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Ellis v. Rushing

United States District Court, Southern District of Mississippi, Northern Division

February 18, 2015

TROY VANCURTIS ELLIS, PLAINTIFF,
v.
MAJOR MARY RUSHING, DEFENDANT.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

LINDA R. ANDERSON, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

This case came before the Court for trial on January 20, 2015. Plaintiff Troy Vancurtis Ellis testified on his own behalf and presented the testimony of his witnesses, inmates Sylvester Wright, Jr., and Ervin Jones. All Defendants other than Major Mary Rushing were previously dismissed by Memorandum Opinion and Order [45] entered on March 27, 2014. Defendant Rushing testified on her own behalf and offered into evidence the Policy and Procedures Manual of the Hinds County Detention Center (HCDF) [59]; General Order 92-01-17 of the Hinds County Sheriff’s Office [60], and the Inmate Records of Ellis [61].

Ellis is a state inmate who was formerly housed at the HCDF in Raymond, Mississippi, as a pretrial detainee. He filed this § 1983 action alleging unconstitutional conditions at the jail, both while he was held in the “holding tank” for approximately 16 days in October 2011, and while he was housed in Pod A2 from October 2011 until October 2014.

Evidence Presented

Plaintiff testified regarding the facts upon which his Complaint is based:

When I arrived in the HDCF the things I brought to light was the inhumane conditions of being in the booking holding cell for the excess of 16 days, sleeping on concrete floors, being subject to raw sewage coming out of the center of the floor. And when I got to A2 pod, being able - well, witnessing inmates pop out of their cells, doing violent things to other inmates and like I say, making it known to the staff and they did nothing. So through constant requests and grievances, I filed this 1983.

Regarding what Defendant Rushing did, Plaintiff testified:

Well, Ms. Rushing in her capacity as being over the facility had full knowledge of the incidents and yet did nothing. Her and her subordinates.

Plaintiff also testified that 20 other inmates were in the holding tank with him. When testifying regarding his claims in A2 pod, Plaintiff testified:

Popping cell doors, making threats, acts of violence, taking other inmates’ canteen, just doing all sorts of things. And the deputies under Mrs. Rushing’s administration did nothing. They broke policy. You know, they make and break policy as they choose. ...
...
It’s Major Rushing and her subordinates went against their very policy that they’re sworn - that’s their sworn duty to take.

Plaintiff also testified that he never once spoke with Defendant Rushing about the conditions in HCDF. When he tried, he was told not to bother her; the window on the door was taped over so he could not see when officers were present. Ellis did not testify as to any injuries he sustained as a result of the conditions he described, nor did he present any medical evidence. Ellis only provided the above quoted testimony as the factual basis for his claims against Defendant Rushing, even after the Court asked him to further explain the facts upon which he relied.

Ellis’s witnesses, Jones and Wright, also testified regarding the conditions at the HCDF. Wright was housed at HCDF after his arrest on September 24, 2011, and he left HCDF on October 23, 2014. He was booked and held in the holding tank for about 7-10 days when he first arrived at the jail. He had to sleep on a blanket on the concrete floor while he was there and was housed with about “15 or more” inmates. He was then transferred to A-2 pod. According to Wright, the lights were off in the cells and in the showers, and electrical live wiring hung down from the ceilings. He brought this to the attention of the housing deputy but nothing was done. The inmates could pop the locks of the cell doors, and he feared for his safety. Wright was fed his meals by trays being slid under the cell door, making him feel like an animal. The ...


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