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Smith v. Williams

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

August 17, 2017

RODNEY SMITH PLAINTIFF
v.
ROB WILLIAMS, et al. DEFENDANTS

         MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANTS' DEFENDANTS' MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT FOR FAILURE TO EXHAUST ADMINISTRATIVE REMEDIES (ECF NO. 49); GRANTING DEFENDANTS' MOTION FOR JUDGMENT ON THE PLEADINGS AS TO STATE LAW CLAIMS (ECF NO. 39); GRANTING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION TO DISMISS FALSE ARREST CLAIM (ECF NO. 86); AND DENYING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION TO ORDER ADMINISTRATION AT PEARL RIVER COUNTY JAIL TO ANSWER GRIEVANCES AND ADMINISTRATIVE REMEDY REQUEST (ECF NO. 61)

          JOHN C. GARGIULO, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         BEFORE THE COURT are five motions: a Motion to Dismiss False Arrest Claim (ECF No. 86) and a Motion to Order Administration at Pearl River County Jail to Answer Grievances and Administrative Remedy Request (ECF No. 61) filed by Plaintiff Rodney Smith; and a Motion for Summary Judgment (ECF No. 79), a Motion for Summary Judgment for Failure to Exhaust Administrative Remedies (ECF No. 49), and a Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings as to State Law Claims (ECF No. 39) filed by Defendants Rob Williams and Pearl River County, Mississippi. Defendants' Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings and Motion for Summary Judgment for Failure to Exhaust Administrative Remedies are fully briefed, as is Plaintiff's Motion to Order Administration to Answer Grievances. Plaintiff responded to Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment following the Court's issuance of an Order to Show Cause (ECF No. 87). (ECF No. 89). For the reasons that follow, Plaintiff's Motion to Dismiss False Arrest Claim (ECF No. 86) will be GRANTED, Plaintiff's Motion to Order Administration at Pearl River County Jail to Answer Grievances and Administrative Remedy Request (ECF No. 61) will be DENIED, Defendants' Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings as to State Law Claims (ECF No. 39) will be GRANTED, Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment for Failure to Exhaust Administrative Remedies (ECF No. 49) will be DENIED AS MOOT, and Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment (ECF No. 79) will be GRANTED.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff Rodney Smith is an inmate currently incarcerated at the Central Mississippi Correctional Facility in Pearl, MS. He filed his Complaint (ECF No. 1) while incarcerated at the Lenoir Rowell Criminal Justice Center (“LRCJC”) in Poplarville, Mississippi. His claims have been supplemented through responses to court orders (ECF Nos. 14, 32-33) numerous “attachments” (ECF Nos. 15-18, 20), motions to amend (ECF Nos. 9, 19), and testimony at the omnibus hearing[1] held January 18, 2017. Many of Plaintiff's claims have already been dismissed in prior Orders. See (ECF No. 22); (ECF No. 23); Text Order dated Jan. 19, 2017; (ECF No. 78). Remaining are his claims pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and the Mississippi Tort Claims Act (“MTCA”) against Defendants Rob Williams and Pearl River County, Mississippi. He proceeds pro se and in forma pauperis.

         Plaintiff alleges that Defendant Williams, an officer with the Pearl River County Sheriff's Department, unlawfully seized Plaintiff when he arrested Plaintiff on January 13, 2015. (ECF No. 1, at 4). Plaintiff states that he had been serving a sentence of house arrest when he cut off his monitoring bracelet on December 23, 2014. Id. He asserts that Williams had no authority to arrest him because “Pearl River Co Sheriff did not have jurisdiction to charge me with anything.” Id. He says this is because he “was under MDOC's custody” and the arrest was “just harassment from Det Rob Williams because of bad blood between [Plaintiff] and him from years ago.” Id. Therefore, Plaintiff asserts that Defendant Williams wrongfully arrested him in violation of the Fourth Amendment.

         Against Pearl River County, Plaintiff asserts denial of prompt dental care in violation of the Eighth Amendment. Plaintiff says that he filed a sick call request via the inmate kiosk at LRCJC on November 18, 2015, requesting to see a dentist for a broken tooth. Id. at 5. He testified that he saw a nurse the next day, who told him that he would be going to see a dentist soon. He says he sent four more sick call requests via the kiosk on December 9, 2015, January 8, 2016, January 29, 2016, and February 22, 2016 before finally seeing a dentist on February 26, 2016. Id.; (ECF No. 14, at 1). He says that the dentist had to pull five teeth out, which had been causing him tooth aches such that he “couldn't hardly eat.” (ECF No. 14, at 1). He testified that he was given ibuprofen for the pain in response to his numerous sick calls. Plaintiff says that two other inmates went to see the dentist before him on January 29, 2016, and neither had been at the LRCJC even sixty days. (ECF No. 9, at 5).

         Plaintiff also makes a claim against Pearl River County for tampering with his mail. Id. at 6. He says that staff in the LRCJC mail room opened his legal mail and that he is not receiving all of the letters sent to him by his girlfriend. Id. He states that he is sure staff are tampering with his mail because he mailed a letter addressed to himself and he never received it. Id.[2]

         II. DISCUSSION

         Because Plaintiff is a prisoner pursuing a civil action seeking redress from government employees, the Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA), Pub. L. No. 104-134, 110 Stat. 1321, H.R. 3019 (codified as amended in scattered titles and sections of the United States Code), applies and requires that this case be screened.

         The PLRA provides that “the Court shall dismiss the case at any time if the court determines that . . . the action . . . (i) is frivolous or malicious; (ii) fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted; or (iii) seeks monetary relief against a defendant who is immune from such relief.” 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b); see 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B). Accordingly, the statute “accords judges not only the authority to dismiss a claim based on an indisputably meritless legal theory, but also the unusual power to pierce the veil of the complaint's factual allegations and dismiss those claims whose factual contentions are clearly baseless.” Denton v. Hernandez, 504 U.S. 25, 32 (1992).

         If a prisoner is proceeding in forma pauperis, and his complaint is dismissed on grounds that it is frivolous, malicious, or fails to state a claim, the dismissal counts as a strike. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(g). If a prisoner receives three strikes, he may no longer proceed in forma pauperis in a civil suit unless he is in imminent danger of serious physical injury. Id.

         A. Plaintiff's Motion to Dismiss False Arrest Claim

         In Plaintiff's Motion to Dismiss False Arrest Claim (ECF No. 86), Plaintiff seeks “to dismiss the False Arrest Claim against Det Rob Williams, ” but “ask[s] that all other claims stay in Place.” (ECF No. 86, at 1). The Court construes this Motion as a Motion to Voluntarily dismiss Plaintiff's claims against Defendant Williams for unlawful arrest. Defendants filed a Response (ECF No. 88) indicating no opposition. Because Defendants do not oppose Plaintiff's voluntary dismissal of his unlawful arrest claims ...


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