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Cry v. Dilliard

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

May 16, 2017




         This § 1983 case is before the Court on the Motion for Summary Judgment [27] filed by Defendants R. Dilliard, Scotty Moore, and David Redd. For the reasons that follow, Defendants' motion is granted as to the official-capacity claims but otherwise denied.

         I. Facts and Procedural History

         On January 27, 2015, Plaintiff Cedric Cry was arrested on a probation violation related to a prior felony conviction. He was taken to the Hinds County Detention Center in Raymond, Mississippi and placed in a holding tank with other inmates. At some point, officers notified the inmates that they were being moved to their cell blocks and asked them to pack their belongings. Cry told the officers he was “not supposed to be housed in this jail.” Omnibus Tr. [26] at 8. Officers told him he would be housed in “the old folks zone, ” and Cry eventually “turned to go in the cell in the tank to get [his] mat.” Id. at 9. When he turned to go into the cell, he claims that Defendant Dilliard “grabbed [him] and pulled [him] back out in the hallway” where Defendant Moore “grabbed [him] around [his] throat, pushed [his] head up against the wall . . . and put his knee in [Cry's] back.” Id. After that, Cry claims Defendant Redd “came and grabbed [him] and hit [him] in [his] mouth and broke [his] tooth and ran [his] head into the wall.” Id.

         Cry filed this lawsuit against Dilliard, Moore, Redd, and others on April 28, 2015. After the dismissal of some defendants, Magistrate Judge F. Keith Ball held a Spears hearing on June 29, 2016. See Spears v. McCotter, 766 F.2d 179 (5th Cir. 1985). Following that hearing, Judge Ball clarified that Cry's claims against Dilliard, Moore, and Redd-the sole remaining Defendants-are based on his allegation that “he was beaten by three guards at” the Hinds County Detention Center. Omnibus Order [24] at 1. At the close of discovery, Defendants filed their motion for summary judgment. Cry responded in opposition [32], and Defendants filed a reply [34]. The Court has personal and subject-matter jurisdiction and is prepared to rule.

         II. Standard

         Summary judgment is warranted under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(a) when evidence reveals no genuine dispute regarding any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. The rule “mandates the entry of summary judgment, after adequate time for discovery and upon motion, against a party who fails to make a showing sufficient to establish the existence of an element essential to that party's case, and on which that party will bear the burden of proof at trial.” Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986).

         The party moving for summary judgment “bears the initial responsibility of informing the district court of the basis for its motion, and identifying those portions of [the record] which it believes demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of material fact.” Id. at 323. The nonmoving party must then “go beyond the pleadings” and “designate ‘specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial.'” Id. at 324 (citation omitted). In reviewing the evidence, factual controversies are to be resolved in favor of the nonmovant, “but only when . . . both parties have submitted evidence of contradictory facts.” Little v. Liquid Air Corp., 37 F.3d 1069, 1075 (5th Cir. 1994) (en banc). When such contradictory facts exist, the court may “not make credibility determinations or weigh the evidence.” Reeves v. Sanderson Plumbing Prods., Inc., 530 U.S. 133, 150 (2000). Conclusory allegations, speculation, unsubstantiated assertions, and legalistic arguments have never constituted an adequate substitute for specific facts showing a genuine issue for trial. TIG Ins. Co. v. Sedgwick James of Wash., 276 F.3d 754, 759 (5th Cir. 2002); Little, 37 F.3d at 1075; SEC v. Recile, 10 F.3d 1093, 1097 (5th Cir. 1993).

         Cry filed a response to Defendants' motion, but he did not support his response by “citing to particular parts of materials in the record” to show the existence of a genuine dispute of material fact. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(1)(A). And while the Court “need consider only the cited materials, . . . it may consider other materials in the record” as well. Id. R. 56(c)(3). The record in this case includes Cry's sworn testimony given at the Spears hearing. The Court has considered the record as a whole in ruling on the summary-judgment motion.

         III. Analysis

         A. Exhaustion

         Defendants argue that all of Cry's claims are barred by his alleged failure to exhaust. Under the Prison Litigation Reform Act, prisoners must exhaust any available administrative remedies prior to filing suit under § 1983. Woodford v. Ngo, 548 U.S. 81, 85 (2006). “[T]o properly exhaust administrative remedies prisoners must ‘complete the administrative review process in accordance with the applicable procedural rules, '” and the rules that apply are those defined “by the prison grievance process itself.” Jones v. Bock, 549 U.S. 199, 218 (2007) (quoting Woodford, 548 U.S. at 88). Finally, “[s]ince exhaustion is an affirmative defense, the burden is on [Defendants] to demonstrate that [Cry] failed to exhaust available administrative remedies.” Dillon v. Rogers, 596 F.3d 260, 266 (5th Cir. 2010).

         Defendants did not submit a copy of the grievance procedures for the Hinds County Detention Center along with their motion for summary judgment. Instead, they rely on the Affidavit of Warden Mary Rushing, who says, “In order to exhaust administrative remedies at Hinds County Detention Center, inmates must submit grievance forms which outline their complaints.” Rushing Aff. [27-4] ¶ 4. Rushing says that she “personally conducted a search of Cedric Cry's Hinds County inmate file, and said search revealed that Mr. Cry did not file any grievances during the course of his 2015 incarceration.” Id. ¶ 5.

         For his part, Cry testified under oath at the Spears hearing that he submitted a grievance form regarding the January 27, 2015 incident. Omnibus Tr. [26] at 18. Defendants acknowledge this testimony, noting that it conflicts with Rushing's testimony. Defs.' Mem. [28] at 12. But at the summary-judgment stage, the Court must view the evidence in the light most favorable to the non-moving party-here, Cry. And because Cry says he filed a grievance, which is the only step in the ...

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