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Porter v. Sproul

United States District Court, M.D. Georgia, Albany Division

April 14, 2015

THEAPULIUS D. PORTER, Plaintiff,
v.
KEVIN SPROUL, et al., Defendants.

ORDER AND REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

STEPHEN HYLES, Magistrate Judge.

Presently pending before the Court are Defendants' motion for summary judgment (ECF No. 19) and two motions to strike (ECF Nos. 26, 27), as well as Plaintiff's "Motion to Relate" (ECF No. 23) and motion to strike (ECF No. 24). For the reasons detailed herein, Plaintiff's motions are denied, Defendants' motions to strike are denied, but it is recommended that Defendants' motion for summary judgment be granted.

BACKGROUND

Plaintiff is a pretrial detainee claiming various constitutional violations at Dougherty County Jail (DCJ). After a preliminary review of the Complaint, Plaintiff was allowed to proceed on two separate claims for violation of his due process rights, and a claim of unconstitutional conditions of confinement. Plaintiff generally complains that he was not provided due process before his placement on suicide watch when he entered DCJ in March 2013, subjecting him to a lack of mattress or foot protection for ninety (90) days. Further, Plaintiff complains that he was not provided due process during two disciplinary hearings, one on June 19, 2013, and the other on September 27, 2013.[1] Plaintiff was found guilty of multiple disciplinary infractions at each hearing and was placed in segregation per DCJ policy. He also complains about the conditions of confinement while in segregation including lack of shower shoes - causing pain in his feet and knees; lack of adequate running water - causing him to feel dehydrated, light-headed, and dizzy; lack of recreation time - causing back pain, muscle spasms, and stiff joints; and lack of adequate lighting at night - causing Plaintiff to urinate on the floor and toilet and preventing him from reading.

Following an initial review pursuant to 28 U.S.C. ยง 1915, these claims were allowed to proceed against Colonel John Ostrander, Lieutenant Chuck Faulk, Lieutenant Cathy Parks, Captain A. Brock, and Sergeant M. Farley in their individual and official capacities. Defendants move for summary judgment claiming that Plaintiff failed to exhaust his administrative remedies for one of his claims, that Defendants are entitled to Eleventh Amendment and qualified immunity, and that there is no genuine issue of material fact as to Plaintiff's other claims such that Defendants are entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Plaintiff responds that Defendants are not entitled to summary judgment. Also currently pending are Defendants' two motions to strike, as well as Plaintiff's "Motion to Relate" and motion to strike. These motions are ripe for review.

DISCUSSION

I. Plaintiff's motion to "relate" and motion to strike

Subsequent to the filing of Defendants' motion for summary judgment, Plaintiff filed a document titled "Motion to Relate, " (ECF No. 23) in which he requests that this case and another case filed against many of the same Defendants by Manasseh Roydrego Skinner ( Skinner v. Sproul, 1:13-cv-166-WLS, Oct. 16, 2013) be consolidated into one case. Plaintiff states that both cases involve similar complaints against many of the same defendants and therefore they should be combined. Defendants filed a response in opposition to the motion in which they argue that although both Plaintiffs complain of the conditions of confinement in disciplinary detention at DCJ, differences in the parties to the lawsuits and non-overlapping issues weigh against consolidation. Defs.' Resp. to Mot. to Relate 2-3, ECF No. 29. Since the filing of Plaintiff's motion, however, Judgment has been entered in favor of the defendants in case number 1:13-cv-166, and that case has been closed. See Skinner, 1:13-cv-166-WLS, Judgment, Mar. 31, 2015, ECF No. 64. Therefore, Plaintiff's motion is denied as moot.

Plaintiff also moves to strike Defendants' affidavits claiming that they are not based on personal knowledge and lack supporting facts. (ECF No. 24.) The Court cannot consider such statements in support of a motion for summary judgment. See Roswell v. BellSouth Corp., 433 F.3d 794, 800 (11th Cir. 2005) ("On motions for summary judgment, we may consider only that evidence which can be reduced to an admissible form."). However, the Court has sifted through these documents and determined which portions are factual statements that may be used in support of the motion for summary judgment and the Court denies Plaintiff's motion. To the extent that any of Defendants' affidavits contain conclusory statements or are otherwise not admissible, the Court will not consider such statements to support the motion for summary judgment.

II. Defendants' motions to strike Plaintiff's affidavit and pending motions

Defendants move to strike multiple filings by Plaintiff subsequent to the filing of their motion for summary judgment. The overarching basis for their motion is the fact that Plaintiff's one-time cellmate Manasseh Roydrego Skinner (a prolific filer in this Court on his own behalf) appears to have drafted, and possibly filed for Plaintiff, these motions and pleadings. Defs.' Br. in Supp. of First Mot. to Strike 1-3, ECF No. 26-1. Defendants argue that Skinner is conducting the unauthorized practice of law on Plaintiff's behalf and that his filings should consequently be struck from the record. Id. Defendants also argue that the Court should strike the affidavit/declaration of Skinner filed along with Plaintiff's response to the motion for summary judgment because it is "rife with conclusory allegations, speculation, and legal conclusions." Defs.' Br. in Supp. of Second Mot. to Strike 1-2, ECF No. 27-1.

As the Court stated above, Plaintiff's pending motions are without merit. Therefore, Defendants' First Motion to Strike (ECF No. 26) is denied as moot. The Court agrees that much of Skinner's affidavit is conclusory or states a legal conclusion. For example, Skinner repeatedly makes legal conclusions such as: "I was deprived [] of my rights to due process" in disciplinary hearing by DCJ officials. Decl. of Manasseh Roydrego Skinner 1, Jan. 10, 2015, ECF No. 25-1. However, for the same reasons explained above, the Court denies Defendants' Second Motion to Strike (ECF No. 27).

III. Defendants' motion for summary judgment

Defendants move for summary judgment claiming that Plaintiff failed to exhaust his administrative remedies for one of his claims, that Defendants are entitled to Eleventh Amendment and qualified immunity, and that there is no genuine issue of material fact as to Plaintiff's other claims such that Defendants are entitled to judgment as a matter of law. The Court addresses each of Defendants' arguments in turn.

A. Standard of Review[2]

Summary judgment may be granted only "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). In determining whether a genuine dispute of material fact exists to defeat a motion for summary judgment, the evidence is viewed in the light most favorable to the party opposing summary judgment, drawing all justifiable inferences in the opposing party's favor. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 255 (1986). A fact is material if it is relevant or necessary to the outcome of the suit. Id. at 248. A factual dispute is genuine if the evidence would allow a reasonable jury to return a verdict for the nonmoving party. Id.

B. Defendant Faulk

Defendants argue that Lieutenant Faulk should be dismissed from this case because although Plaintiff names him in the heading of his Recast Complaint, Plaintiff makes no specific allegations against him.[3] It appears that Lt. Faulk should have been included in the list of supervisory officials who were dismissed from the case following the Court's initial review of the compliant. For the reasons detailed in section III.A. of the Court's Order and Recommendation dated May 9, 2014 (ECF ...


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