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Tomlin v. Jackson County

United States District Court, S.D. Mississippi, Southern Division

March 31, 2017




         Before the Court is [3');">3');">3');">34], Defendants&#3');">3');">3');">39; November 1');">17, 2');">201');">16 motion for summary judgment on several grounds including Plaintiff&#3');">3');">3');">39;s failure to exhaust administrative remedies prior to filing this prisoner civil rights lawsuit. Plaintiff filed no response to the motion, and the matter is ripe for ruling. The parties consented to the exercise of jurisdiction by the U.S. Magistrate Judge pursuant to 2');">28 U.S.C. § 63');">3');">3');">36(c) and Fed.R.Civ.p. 73');">3');">3');">3, and the case was reassigned to the undersigned for all purposes. [2');">27], [2');">29]

         Facts and Procedural History

         On February 2');">23');">3');">3');">3, 2');">201');">16, [1');">1" name="FN1');">1" id= "FN1');">1">1');">1] Plaintiff Donald Edward Tomlin, filed this prisoner civil rights lawsuit alleging violation of his constitutional rights by Captain Mike Wright, Officer Wendy Nevals, Sheriff Mike Ezell and Jackson County, Mississippi due to conditions in the Jackson County Adult Detention Center (JCADC), during his confinement there from September 2');">201');">15 until December 2');">201');">15. Since he filed his complaint, Tomlin has changed his address several times: on February 2');">29, 2');">201');">16 to the Mississippi Department of Corrections facility in Pearl, MS [5]; on April 6, 2');">201');">16 to an address in Hattiesburg, MS [1');">12');">2]; on July 2');">22');">2, 2');">201');">16 to Central Mississippi Correctional Facility [2');">26]; to Madison County Community Work Center in Canton, MS on October 5, 2');">201');">16 [3');">3');">3');">31');">1]; to a Forest, MS address on November 7, 2');">201');">16 [3');">3');">3');">32');">2]; to the Hinds County Restitution Center in Jackson, MS on January 3');">3');">3');">30, 2');">201');">17 [3');">3');">3');">36]; and to a free-world address in Pascagoula, MS on March 1');">1, 2');">201');">17. [3');">3');">3');">37]

         At the time of the events of which he complains, Tomlin had been convicted and was an MDOC inmate. [1');">1, p. 3');">3');">3');">3] He alleges his Eighth Amendment rights were violated by conditions of confinement in K-E Zone at JCADC where he claims he was confined from September 1');">10, 2');">201');">15[2');">2" name="FN2');">2" id="FN2');">2">2');">2]through December 4, 2');">201');">15. [3');">3');">3');">34-2');">2, p. 7] According to jail records, Tomlin was housed in K-E from October 1');">12');">2 until November 2');">2, 2');">201');">15, and from November 1');">10 to November 3');">3');">3');">30, 2');">201');">15.[3');">3');">3');">3" name="FN3');">3');">3');">3" id="FN3');">3');">3');">3">3');">3');">3');">3] [3');">3');">3');">34-1');">1, pp. 1');">10-1');">11');">1] The conditions of which Tomlin complains are that: there were 1');">10-1');">12');">2 prisoners in the zone which had five two-bed cells, a day room and a shower; there were four people in his cell at times; he had to sleep on a mattress on the floor; the light fixture in his cell was gone, with “asbestos coated” wires hanging down from where it had been;[4] a water pipe broke in the wall releasing water onto the floor; there was standing water on the floor; toilets were non-functional, only two of the five toilets in the zone worked; the entry/exit door to the common area of the zone was broken; the air conditioner was left on in cold weather; there was no hot water in the shower; and the sinks in the cells did not work. [3');">3');">3');">34-2');">2, pp. 8-1');">16]

         According to Tomlin&#3');">3');">3');">39;s testimony, he sued Jackson County because it owns the jail, Sheriff Ezell because he has control over the jail, Captain Wright (Director of the jail) because he sent prisoners to K-E Zone as punishment, and classification officer Wendy Nevals because she knew of the conditions in K-E Zone and did nothing about it. [3');">3');">3');">34-2');">2, pp. 2');">20-2');">22');">2]. In response to the Court&#3');">3');">3');">39;s inquiry as to what injury he suffered from Defendants&#3');">3');">3');">39; actions, Tomlin stated that living in the stated conditions was “mentally and physically disturbing.” [1');">13');">3');">3');">3]

         Tomlin initially stated in the August 1');">16, 2');">201');">16 screening hearing that he never filed an administrative remedy for the conditions of which he complains; that he simply made verbal maintenance requests to staff members. He later testified he filed a written grievance sometime in October but never received a response. [3');">3');">3');">34-2');">2, pp. 1');">18-1');">19] JCADC records contain no written grievance from Tomlin regarding the conditions in K-E. [3');">3');">3');">34-3');">3');">3');">3] Of the 1');">13');">3');">3');">3 Inmate Requests he submitted at JCADC, four are Grievances - one is about food service [3');">3');">3');">34-3');">3');">3');">3, p. 2');">25], and three concern medical problems which are not at issue in this lawsuit. [3');">3');">3');">34-3');">3');">3');">3, pp. 3');">3');">3');">30-3');">3');">3');">32');">2] The only request he directed to the JCADC Administration was to use the telephone up front to call and check on his mother. [3');">3');">3');">34-3');">3');">3');">3, p. 2');">29] His remaining Inmate Requests are directed to Classification and are about housing and work assignments [3');">3');">3');">34, pp. 2');">21');">1-2');">23');">3');">3');">3, 2');">24, 2');">26-2');">27-2');">28, 3');">3');">3');">33');">3');">3');">3]; none request that he be moved from K-E; in fact, two request that he be moved to K-E. [3');">3');">3');">34, pp. 2');">24, 2');">26]

         By Order [3');">3');">3');">30] entered October 4, 2');">201');">16, the Court dismissed Tomlin&#3');">3');">3');">39;s official capacity claims against Defendants Ezell, Nevals and Wright, as those claims are actually claims against the governmental entity the individuals represent, i.e., Jackson County, Mississippi, which is already a named defendant in the case. All Defendants now seek summary judgment on Tomlin&#3');">3');">3');">39;s remaining claims. Defendants assert that Tomlin failed to exhaust his administrative remedies prior to filing his lawsuit; he has failed to establish an Eighth Amendment violation; he has not established the requisite elements of a municipal liability claim against Jackson County; and that the individual Defendants have qualified immunity. In support of their motion, Defendants have presented the November 1');">15, 2');">201');">16 affidavit of JCADC director Michael D. Wright, accompanied by JCADC policies and procedures and the Inmate Handbook, Tomlin&#3');">3');">3');">39;s booking sheet and activity sheet from JCADC, his hearing testimony, and jail records for September 1');">18 through December 4, 2');">201');">15 regarding his claims. [3');">3');">3');">34-1');">1], [3');">3');">3');">34-2');">2], [3');">3');">3');">34-3');">3');">3');">3]

         Summary Judgment Standard

         Rule 56, Fed.R.Civ.P., requires that a motion for summary judgment be granted “if the movant shows there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and that the movant is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law.” A material fact is one that might affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law; a genuine dispute exists when the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the non-moving party. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 2');">242');">2');">477 U.S. 2');">242');">2, 2');">248 (1');">1986). On a motion for summary judgment, the Court views the evidence and draws reasonable inferences most favorable to the non-moving party. Abarca v. Metropolitan Transit Authority, 3');">3');">3');">3d 93');">3');">3');">38');">404 F.3');">3');">3');">3d 93');">3');">3');">38, 940 (5th Cir. 2');">2005). The party who bears the burden of proof at trial also bears the burden of proof at the summary judgment stage. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 3');">3');">3');">31');">17');">477 U.S. 3');">3');">3');">31');">17, 3');">3');">3');">32');">22');">2-3');">3');">3');">32');">23');">3');">3');">3 (1');">1986).

         One seeking summary judgment must identify those portions of the pleadings and discovery on file and any affidavits which he believes demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of material fact. Id., at 3');">3');">3');">32');">25. If the movant fails to show the absence of a genuine issue concerning any material fact, summary judgment must be denied, even if the non-movant has not responded to the motion. John v. State of Louisiana, 2');">2d 698');">757 F.2');">2d 698, 708 (5th Cir. 1');">1985). However, once the movant carries his burden, the burden shifts to the non-movant to show summary judgment should not be granted. The non-movant may not rest upon mere allegations or denials, but must set forth specific facts showing there is a genuine issue for trial by either submitting opposing evidentiary documents or referring to evidentiary documents already in the record which show the existence of a genuine issue of material fact. Celotex, 477 U.S. at 3');">3');">3');">32');">24-3');">3');">3');">32');">25; Reese v. Anderson, 2');">26 F.2');">2d 494');">92');">26 F.2');">2d 494, 498 (5th Cir. 1');">1991');">1); Howard v. City of Greenwood, 3');">3');">3');">3 F.2');">2d 1');">13');">3');">3');">31');">11');">1');">783');">3');">3');">3 F.2');">2d 1');">13');">3');">3');">31');">11');">1, 1');">13');">3');">3');">31');">15 (5th Cir. 1');">1986) (non-movant “must counter factual allegations by the moving party with specific, factual disputes; mere general allegations are not a sufficient response.”). Conclusory allegations, unsubstantiated assertions or the presence of a scintilla of evidence, will not suffice to create a real controversy regarding material facts. Lujan v. National Wildlife Federation, 497 U.S. 871');">1, 888-89 (1');">1990); Hopper v. Frank, 1');">16 F.3');">3');">3');">3d 92');">2, 97-98 (5th Cir. 1');">1994); Davis v. Chevron U.S.A., Inc., 1');">14 F.3');">3');">3');">3d 1');">1082');">2');">1');">14 F.3');">3');">3');">3d 1');">1082');">2, 1');">1086 (5th Cir. 1');">1994).

         Law and Analysis

         The Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA) requires a prisoner to exhaust all available administrative remedies through the prison grievance system before filing a lawsuit pursuant to 42');">2 U.S.C. § 1');">1983');">3');">3');">3:

No action shall be brought with respect to prison conditions under section 1');">1983');">3');">3');">3 of this title, or any other Federal law, by a prisoner confined in any jail, prison, or other correctional facility until such ...

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