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Williams v. McGee

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

August 7, 2017



          F. Keith Ball, United States Magistrate Judge

         Before the Court is the Motion for Summary Judgment [38] filed by Defendants in this action brought pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff, Daniel Louis Williams, has not responded to the motion. The Court held an Omnibus Hearing in this matter, at which time the parties consented to proceed before the undersigned United States Magistrate Judge, and the District Judge subsequently entered an Order of Reference. 28 U.S.C. § 636(c); Fed.R.Civ.P. 73. Williams is proceeding in this matter in forma pauperis and pro se. For the reasons explained in this opinion, the Court finds that the motion for summary judgment should be granted in part and denied in part.

         I. CLAIMS

         Williams is currently a post-conviction inmate housed at the South Mississippi Correctional Institution (“SMCI”). He alleges that his constitutional rights were violated while he was a pre-trial detainee at the Forrest County Detention Center (“FCDC”) during 2014 and 2015. Defendants are Sheriff Billy McGee, Captain Donell Brannon, Sergeant Jason Milsap, Sergeant Andrea Estrada, Phillip Jackson, Brandon Freeman, Charles Sanders, Shane Giacone, Richard Laubsher, Adrian Jones, and Greg Anderson.[1]

         After the omnibus hearing, Plaintiff's claims were narrowed. See [35]. Plaintiff voluntarily dismissed some conditions of confinement claims, and the Court dismissed others. Id. Plaintiff also dismissed his claims against Defendant Officer Adam Graves. Id. Accordingly, the claims remaining at this juncture are Williams's claims that (1) Defendants showed deliberate indifference to his serious medical needs related to his teeth, and (2) Defendants denied him visitation with his son. Defendants have moved for summary judgment as to both of these claims. Additionally, Defendants have moved for summary judgment as to Plaintiff's claim of denial of access to assistance at a law library. The Court, however, previously dismissed that claim based on Williams's failure to allege an injury. See Id. at 1-2.

         Turning to his claims, Williams alleges that Defendants did not allow him visitation with his three-year-old son, but that Defendants allowed other inmates visitation with whomever they wished to see. [1-2] at 1. At the omnibus hearing, Williams clarified that he was not allowed to visit with his son on approximately three occasions during 2014 and 2015. [34] at 23-24. He testified that the Defendants explained that it was the policy of FCDC not to allow visitors under age eighteen.

         Williams also alleges that Defendants denied him adequate dental care when he broke two wisdom teeth in March 2014 and June 2014, and for the following months until he saw a dentist in May 2015. [34] at 12-16. He alleges that one tooth broke in half in March 2014, and that he suffered a chip to the other one in June 2014. Id. at 12-13. He admits that the nurses gave him ibuprofen for his pain, but he argues that he was informed by FCDC officers and medical personnel that his family would have to pay for any non-emergency dental work. Id.; [38-2] at 5, 9, 14, 15, 21. At the omnibus hearing, Williams admitted that he was sent to a dentist in May 2015, at which time the dentist pulled one of his teeth. [34] at 15-16. Williams alleges that the dentist arranged a follow up appointment to pull the second tooth, but that Defendants refused to transport him to the second appointment. Id.

         For the reasons explained below, the Court grants summary judgment as to Williams's claim of denial of visitation. However, the Court finds insufficient evidence in the record to grant summary judgment in favor of Defendants on Plaintiff's claims related to dental treatment.


         Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure states, in relevant part, that “[t]he court shall grant summary judgment if the movant shows 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). An issue of fact is genuine if the "'evidence is sufficient to permit a reasonable factfinder to return a verdict for the nonmoving party.'" Lemoine v. New Horizons Ranch and Center, 174 F.3d 629, 633 (5th Cir. 1999)(quoting Colston v. Barnhart, 146 F.3d 282, 284 (5th Cir.), cert. denied, 119 S.Ct. 618 (1998)). Issues of fact are material if Aresolution of the issues might affect the outcome of the suit under governing law." Lemoine, 174 F.3d at 633. The Court does not, "however, in the absence of any proof, assume the nonmoving [or opposing] party could or would prove the necessary facts." Little v. Liquid Air Corp., 37 F.3d 1069, 1075 (5th Cir. 1994)(en banc)(emphasis omitted). Moreover, the non-moving party's burden to come forward with "specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial, " Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986), is not satisfied by "conclusory allegations" or by "unsubstantiated assertions, " or by only a "scintilla" of evidence. Little, 37 F.3d at 1075.


         A. Visitation

         Williams alleges that Defendants violated his constitutional rights when they did not allow him to have visitation with his three-year-old son on an unspecified date in 2014, on an unspecified date in February or March of 2015, and on August 19, 2015. [34] at 24. In a response to the Court [10], he alleges that all defendants were involved in this denial of visitation, while other inmates were allowed to have special visits with their children. [10] at 1-2.

         Among other bases for summary judgment, Defendants argue that Williams did not exhaust his administrative remedies with regard to this claim. Statutory law and case law require a prisoner to exhaust administrative remedies, regardless of the relief sought, before bringing a § 1983 action in federal court. The relevant portion of 42 U.S.C. § ...

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