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Walker v. Hunt

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

March 20, 2019




         Plaintiff Demario Dontez Walker, proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis, filed a 42 U.S.C. § 1983 prisoner civil rights complaint alleging unconstitutional conditions of confinement at the South Mississippi Correctional Institution (SMCI). Doc. [1]. Plaintiff previously has been assessed three strikes and is therefore barred from filing complaints in forma pauperis unless he is “under imminent danger of serious physical injury.” 28 U.S.C. § 1915(g); see Doc. [10]. In fact, Plaintiff has filed dozens of prisoner civil rights lawsuits and accumulated at least three strikes under the Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA). See Walker v. Norwood, No. 3:08-cv-275-TSL-JCS, 2009 WL 387337 (S.D.Miss. Feb. 13, 2009); Walker v. Lewis, Civil Action No. 3:12cv441-CWR-LRA (S.D.Miss. July 10, 2012) (identifying some of Plaintiff's prior dismissed lawsuits that counted as “strikes”).

         In his original complaint, Plaintiff alleges repeated and ongoing assaults and extortion by other inmates. He further alleges that SMCI staff has lost control and authority over the prison gang members. According to Plaintiff, SMCI staff has failed to protect him from the assaults and has placed him in a dangerous housing unit. Plaintiff also alleges unconstitutional conditions of confinement in the administrative segregation unit at SMCI. On March 21, 2017, Plaintiff filed an amended complaint. Doc. [5]. In the amended complaint, Plaintiff reasserts that he was the victim of assaults, sexual assaults, and extortion by prison gang members, and that gang members forced him to hide contraband in his rectum. Plaintiff further alleges that he received Rule Violation Reports (RVRs) on January 19, 2017, that did not comport with due process and were issued in retaliation. Plaintiff complains that on March 10, 2017, Defendant Johnathan Hunt placed a “red tag” on inmate Fredderick Thompson for no reason other than Defendant Hunt believed Plaintiff and Thompson were in a “dating relationship”. Plaintiff then filed a motion to amend complaint on March 21, 2017, which the Court granted in part. Doc. [9] & [11]. Then again on May 9, 2017, Plaintiff filed a motion to amend complaint, which the Court granted. Doc. [22] & [23]. The amended complaints essentially restate the claims in his complaint and amended complaint, but with added details.

         Plaintiff subsequently filed a series of motions to amend his complaint and to add parties. On May 25, 2017, he filed a motion to amend the complaint, a motion to add plaintiffs, and a motion to add certain defendants. Doc. [24] [28] [29]. In the first of these motions, he sought to substitute Pelicia Hall as Defendant, based on her appointment as Commissioner of the Mississippi Department of Corrections (MDOC). Doc. [24]. He also requested that inmate Fredderick Eugene Thompson be allowed to join the lawsuit as a plaintiff. Id. In the motion to add plaintiffs, he submitted a list of approximately 70 additional inmates whom he wished to join to his lawsuit. Doc. [28]. In the motion to add defendants, Plaintiff requested that Lt. B. Miller and Captain Lockhart be added as defendants. Doc. [29]. On June 27, 2017, Plaintiff filed what was designated as yet another motion to amend his complaint. Doc. [37]. In fact, the pleading is a 34-page proposed complaint. On July 13, 2017, he filed another motion to amend his complaint. Doc. [51]. In the two-page motion, he requested that Belinda Miller, Captain Lockhart, Investigator Houston, Unknown K-9 Officers, Captain Mark Davis, K-9 Officer Keys, and Officer Jamario Clark be added as defendants. He also requested that several new plaintiffs be joined to the lawsuit. Plaintiff then attached a 45-page proposed Fifth Amended Complaint. Doc. [51-1]. By order dated July 19, 2017, the Court denied for the most part these five additional motions to amend the complaint. Doc. [53]. However, Plaintiff was permitted to proceed against two new defendants (Lt. B. Miller and Captain Lockhart), as well as on claims for assault and conversion. Id. at 7.

         Even after the Court's order of July 19, 2017, Plaintiff filed nine additional motions to amend his complaint, which the Court denied. See Doc. [165]. The Court conducted a screening hearing on November 9, 2017, at which time Plaintiff testified under oath regarding the allegations in his complaint. At the hearing, Plaintiff received almost 600 pages of documents, which included relevant portions of Plaintiff's institutional record, medical records, and Administrative Remedy Program (ARP) documentation. The parties consented to proceed before a United States Magistrate Judge. The Court established a discovery deadline of March 14, 2018, and a dispositive motion deadline of April 4, 2018. Doc. [188].

         Plaintiff proceeded to file a plethora of discovery-related motions prior to the discovery deadline, nineteen by the Court's count. Meanwhile, on April 4, 2018, Defendants filed a motion for summary judgment which asserted, among other things, that Plaintiff failed to exhaust administrative remedies with respect to all claims asserted in his original and amended complaints. See Doc. [286] [287]. In the interests of judicial economy, the Court entered an order directing Plaintiff to file a response limited to the exhaustion issue and set a deadline of May 4, 2018, for Plaintiff to file his response. Doc. [289]. Plaintiff continued to file an additional 16 discovery-related motions after the discovery and motions deadlines had expired. In addition, he filed at least 17 “responses” to Defendants' motion for summary judgment.

         Again, in the interests of justice and judicial economy, the Court determined that, prior to ruling on Defendants' motion for summary judgment, Plaintiff should be afforded the opportunity to file a single, consolidated motion for discovery on the exhaustion issue. Doc. [373]. Accordingly, the Court set a deadline of July 6, 2018, for Plaintiff to file one and only one motion for discovery limited to the issue of exhaustion. The Court stayed all other discovery until ruling on the exhaustion issue and directed Plaintiff to refrain from filing any more discovery motions unrelated to the exhaustion issue. Plaintiff duly filed a motion for exhaustion-related discovery on July 10, 2018. Doc. [376]. The Court denied Plaintiff's motion. Doc. [381]. The then Court struck Plaintiff's 17 prior responses to summary judgment and directed Plaintiff to file, by October 15, 2018, a single response to Defendants' motion for summary judgment, limited to the issue of exhaustion. Id. at 5. The Court later granted Plaintiff an extension to December 3, 2018, to file his single response to Defendants' motion. Doc. [384].

         Apparently not satisfied by the Court's admonition to file a single response to summary judgment, Plaintiff has filed three additional responses to summary judgment. See Doc. [386] [390] [394]. Plaintiff later filed a motion to withdraw his response filed on October 18, 2018, which motion the Court now grants. Doc. [395]. Thus, there remain two responses to Defendants' motion for summary judgment. Despite Plaintiff's breach of the Court's directive, when ruling on Defendants' motion for summary judgment, the Court will consider the following of Plaintiff's pleadings: Plaintiff's response filed November 19, 2018 (Doc. 390); exhibits to the response filed on December 6, 2018 (Doc. [392]); and Plaintiff's response filed on December 10, 2018 (Doc. [394]).

         Law and Analysis

         Summary Judgment Standard

         Rule 56 provides 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); Sierra Club, Inc. v. Sandy Creek Energy Assocs., L.P., 627 F.3d 134, 138 (5th Cir. 2010). Where the summary judgment evidence establishes that one of the essential elements of the plaintiff's cause of action does not exist as a matter of law, all other contested issues of fact are rendered immaterial. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986); Topalin v. Ehrman, 954 F.2d 1125, 1138 (5th Cir. 1992). In making its determinations of fact on a motion for summary judgment, the court must view the evidence submitted by the parties in a light most favorable to the non-moving party. McPherson v. Rankin, 736 F.2d 175, 178 (5th Cir. 1984).

         The moving party has the duty to demonstrate the lack of a genuine issue of a material fact and the appropriateness of judgment as a matter of law to prevail on its motion. Union Planters Nat'l Leasing v. Woods, 687 F.2d 117 (5th Cir. 1982). The movant accomplishes this by informing the court of the basis of its motion, and by identifying portions of the record which highlight the absence of genuine factual issues. Topalian, 954 F.2d at 1131. “Rule 56 contemplates a shifting burden: the nonmovant is under no obligation to respond unless the movant discharges [its] initial burden of demonstrating [entitlement to summary judgment].” John v. State of Louisiana, 757 F.3d 698, 708 (5th Cir. 1985). Once a properly supported motion for summary judgment is presented, the nonmoving party must rebut with “significant probative” evidence. Ferguson v. Nat'l Broad. Co., Inc., 584 F.2d 111, 114 (5th Cir. 1978).

         As part of his response to summary judgment, Plaintiff cites to Martin v. Harrison County Jail, 975 F.2d 192 (5th Cir. 1992) and argues that “a pro se prisoner faced with a summary judgment motion must receive an understandable notice of the requirement of the summary judgment rules.” Doc. [394] at 3. In fact, the case cited by Plaintiff stands for the exact opposite proposition. In Martin the Fifth Circuit held that “particularized additional notice of the potential consequences of a summary judgment motion and the right to submit opposing affidavits need not be afforded a pro se litigant.” Id. at 193. Despite Plaintiff's blatant misrepresentation of Fifth Circuit precedent, Plaintiff demonstrates in his response to the motion for summary judgment that he fully understands summary judgment procedures. See Doc. [390] at 3-4.

         Exhaustion of ...

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