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Singleton v. Fisher

United States District Court, N.D. Mississippi, Greenville Division

April 17, 2018

SHAWN M. SINGLETON PLAINTIFF
v.
COMMISSIONER MARSHALL L. FISHER, et al. DEFENDANTS

          ORDER

          DEBRA M. BROWN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         This civil rights action is before the Court on pro se prisoner Shawn M. Singleton's motion for summary judgment, Doc. #55, and motion for reconsideration, Doc. #66; and Marshall L. Fisher, Jerry Williams, Earnest Lee, Timothy Morris, and Wendell Banks' motion for summary judgment, Doc. #61.

         I

         Procedural History

         On June 15, 2015, Shawn M. Singleton filed a complaint in this Court against several defendants, alleging sexual assault during pat-down searches, unconstitutionally harsh general conditions of confinement, mail tampering, deficient handling of grievances, deprivation of property without due process of law, failure to protect, denial of medical care, and constitutionally inadequate living space within his cell at the Mississippi State Penitentiary (“MSP”). Doc. #1 at 37-39. On November 9, 2015, United States Magistrate Judge S. Allan Alexander held a Spears[1]hearing on Singleton's claims.

         On December 15, 2015, Judge Alexander issued a Report and Recommendation recommending that Singleton's (1) claims for sexual assault, unconstitutionally harsh general conditions of confinement, mail tampering, deficient handling of grievances, and failure to protect be dismissed for failure to exhaust; (2) claim for unlawful taking be dismissed for failure to exhaust and failure to state a claim; (3) claim for denial of medical care be dismissed for failure to state a claim; and (4) claim for inadequate living space proceed against Marshall L. Fisher, Jerry Williams, Earnest Lee, Timothy Morris, and Wendell Banks. Doc. #20 at 6-7. Singleton filed objections to the Report and Recommendation. Doc. #22. Ultimately, this Court rejected the Report and Recommendation to the extent it recommended dismissal of Singleton's claims for failure to exhaust but adopted the Report and Recommendation in all other respects. Doc. #49.

         On December 2, 2016, the defendants filed a motion for summary judgment on Singleton's constitutionally inadequate living space claim. Doc. #42. Singleton timely responded in opposition. Doc. #46.

         On September 11, 2017, Singleton filed a motion for summary judgment. Doc. #55. The defendants did not respond to Singleton's motion for summary judgment but on September 26, 2017, filed a motion for summary judgment on the remaining claims. Doc. #61. The next day, on September 27, 2017, this Court granted the defendants' December 2 motion for summary judgment and dismissed Singleton's overcrowding claim. Doc. #63. On October 27, 2017, Singleton filed a motion for reconsideration of the September 27 order. Doc. #66. The defendants did not respond to Singleton's motion for reconsideration.

         II

         Summary Judgment Motions

         A. Standard of Review

         Under Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, “[s]ummary judgment is proper only when the record demonstrates that no genuine issue of material fact exists and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Luv N' Care, Ltd. v. Groupo Rimar, 844 F.3d 442, 447 (5th Cir. 2016). “A factual issue is genuine if the evidence is sufficient for a reasonable jury to return a verdict for the non-moving party, and material if its resolution could affect the outcome of the action.” Burton v. Freescale Semiconductor, Inc., 798 F.3d 222, 226 (5th Cir. 2015) (internal quotation marks omitted). On a motion for summary judgment, a court must “consider the evidence in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party and draw all reasonable inferences in its favor.” Edwards v. Cont'l Cas. Co., 841 F.3d 360, 363 (5th Cir. 2016).

         In seeking summary judgment, “[t]he moving party 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.” Nola Spice Designs, L.L.C. v. Haydel Enters., Inc., 783 F.3d 527, 536 (5th Cir. 2015) (internal quotation marks and alterations omitted). If the moving party satisfies this burden, “the non-moving party must go beyond the pleadings and by her own affidavits, or by the depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, designate specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial.” Id. (internal quotation marks omitted). “Where the nonmoving party bears the burden of proof at trial, the moving party satisfies this initial burden by demonstrating an absence of evidence to support the nonmoving party's case.” Celtic Marine Corp. v. James C. Justice Cos., Inc., 760 F.3d 477, 481 (5th Cir. 2014).

         B. Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment

         1. Prison Litigation Reform Act

         Because Singleton brought this suit as a prisoner, the Prison Litigation Reform Act (“PLRA”) governs his claims. Pursuant to the PLRA, a prisoner must exhaust all available administrative remedies before filing a lawsuit. 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(a); Jones v. Bock, 549 U.S. 199, 202 (2007). The PLRA's exhaustion requirement is mandatory and “[d]istrict courts have no discretion to excuse a prisoner's failure to properly exhaust the prison grievance process before filing their complaint.” Gonzalez v. Seal, 702 F.3d 785, 788 (5th Cir. 2012).

         The Mississippi Department of Corrections (“MDOC”), pursuant to Miss. Code Ann. § 47-5-801, has established a two-step Administrative Remedy Program (“ARP”) through which prisoners may seek formal review of their complaints or grievances while incarcerated. Threadgill v. Moore, No. 3:10-cv-378, 2011 WL 4388832, at *3 n.6 (S.D.Miss. July 25, 2011). Under the ARP, an inmate must make a “request to the [ARP] in writing within a 30 day period after an incident has occurred.” Inmate Handbook, Miss. Dep't of Corrs. (June 2016), at ch. VIII(IV)(A).[2]The request is then screened to ...


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