Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Frazier v. George

United States District Court, M.D. Tennessee, Columbia Division

October 6, 2014

BRANDON FRAZIER, Plaintiff,
v.
ENOCH GEORGE, individually and in his official capacity as sheriff of Maury County, et al., Defendants.

MEMORANDUM

WILLIAM J. HAYNES, Jr., District Judge.

Plaintiff, Brandon Frazier, filed this action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against Defendants Enoch George, Bucky Rowland, Lt. Debra Wagonshutz, Floyd Sealey, Maury Regional Medical Center, ABL Management, Inc., and Genella Potter. Plaintiff alleges that the conditions of confinement in the Maury County Jail are inhumane and constitute a violation of his rights under the First, Sixth, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendments of the United States Constitution as well as the Federal Civil Rights Act.

Before the Court is Defendants Enoch George and Debra Wagonschutz's motion for summary judgment (Docket Entry No. 94), contending in sum that: (1) Defendants cannot be liable to Plaintiff in their official capacities because Plaintiff cannot show an unconstitutional policy, practice, or custom, (2) Defendants cannot be held liable in their individual capacities because they are entitled to qualified immunity, and (3) Plaintiff's claims for injunctive relief are moot as a result of his transfer from the Maury County Jail. In response (Docket Entry No. 127), Plaintiff contends that genuine issues of material fact preclude summary judgment.

A. Findings of Fact[1]

Plaintiff, Brandon Frazier, was incarcerated at the Maury County Jail from June 26, 2011 until March 27, 2013. (Docket Entry No. 128, Plaintiff's Response to Defendants' Statement of Undisputed Facts at ¶ 1). Defendant Enoch George served as Sheriff of Maury County from 1994 until August 2014. In 2014, Defendant Bucky Rowland took office as Sheriff of Maury County.[2] Defendant Debra Wagonschutz was, at all times relevant to this action, the Jail Supervisor of the Maury County Jail. (Docket Entry No. 127-5, Deposition of Debra Wagonschutz at 6). In her role as Jail Supervisor, Defendant Wagonschutz acts as the chief administrative officer of the Maury County Jail, overseeing all operations through regular inspection and review. Id . Defendant George discusses recommended policy changes with the jail supervisors, including Defendant Wagonschutz. (Docket Entry No. 127-4, Deposition of Enoch George at 15).

Upon his booking at the Maury County Jail, Plaintiff estimates that he weighed 290 pounds. Id. at ¶ 2. Fifteen days after Plaintiff was booked, he weighed 274 pounds. Id . Given his height and weight, Plaintiff's BMI measured 38.2, which is consistent with Class 2 obesity. Id. at ¶ 3. Although his exact pre-incarceration daily caloric intake is disputed, both parties acknowledge that Plaintiff's pre-incarceration diet consisted of "home cooking" which included fat and sugar quantities that contributed to his state of obesity upon entry into the Maury County Jail. Id. at ¶ 4. At the time of his transfer from the Maury County Jail, Plaintiff alleges that he weighed 185 pounds; Defendants contend that Plaintiff's actual weight upon transfer was 195 pounds. Id. at ¶ 7.

On several occasions, Plaintiff told Defendant Wagonschutz about food shortages. (Docket Entry No. 127-1, Deposition of Brandon Frazier at 81-82). In addition to his own complaints about the insufficient quantity of food served, Plaintiff cites to several Incident Reports reflecting that the actual quantity of food served differed from the quantity called for in the ABL menu. (Docket Entry No. 127-15). These Incident Reports are consistent with a January 7, 2013 email from Nathan Johns that notified Defendant Wagonschutz about prisoner complaints concerning the conditions of confinement, including complaints about the food. (Docket Entry No. 127-20). The email reflects that correctional officers were measuring the contents of the food trays in 2012, and found several instances of measurable food shortages. Id . Defendant Wagonschutz, herself, conducted a random tray test that found a shortage of pudding in June 2012. (Docket Entry No. 127-5, Deposition of Debra Wagonschutz at 25). Defendant Wagonschutz relayed these findings to Genella Potter, the kitchen supervisor. Id . Defendant George testified that he was generally aware of inmate complaints regarding inadequate meals. (Docket Entry No. 127-4, Deposition of Enoch George at 7-8).

The reports of both Plaintiff's and Defendant ABL Management's experts reflect that the daily menus, as planned, provide approximately 2, 650-3, 000 calories per day, which is consistent with the recommended daily allowance ("RDA") for a male of average height and average weight. (Docket Entry No. 91-2, Affidavit of Dr. Hayes TT 12-13; Docket Entry No. 125-1, Expert Report of Dr. Silver at 5). Yet, in order for Plaintiff to maintain his BMI category of Class 2 obesity, he would have to receive a total daily energy expenditure of 3, 387 calories per day based on a mild degree of activity. (Docket Entry No. 133, Plaintiff's Response to Defendants' Statement of Undisputed Facts at ¶ 26). Similarly, both experts acknowledge that Plaintiff experienced "clinically significant" weight loss while incarcerated at the Maury County Jail. (Docket Entry No. 125-1 at 6; Docket Entry No. 91-2 at 5). According to the contracted Physician Assistant, Plaintiff's low white blood count could be the result of recent significant weight loss. (Docket Entry No. 127-19 at 2).

On September 24, 2012, Plaintiff complained of dizziness, blurred vision, and weakness. (Docket Entry No. 128, Plaintiff's Response to Defendants' Statement of Undisputed Facts at ¶ 16). In response, Plaintiff's blood sugar was checked each day from October 19, 2012 until October 26, 2012. Id. at ¶ 17. On November 21, 2012, Plaintiff went to the Ambulatory Care Clinic ("Clinic"), where Dr. Berschied drew his blood. Id . On December 11, 2012, Plaintiff's blood work was repeated at the Maury Regional Hospital. Id. at ¶ 20. The December 11, 2012 blood work showed a low white and red blood cell count, but Plaintiff did not return to the doctor. Id. at ¶ 21.

Plaintiff later testified that the issue with his blurred vision was actually the result of a laceration sustained to his left eye during an altercation in February 2012, for which he received treatment at the Clinic immediately thereafter. Id. at ¶ 23. Although Plaintiff testified that he continued to have issues with his vision, it has not interfered with his daily activities and additional medical treatment had not yet become necessary. Id.

In January 2013, Plaintiff injured his shoulder and left lower extremity after falling from his bunk bed. Id. at ¶ 24. Shortly after the incident occurred, Plaintiff was evaluated by the medical staff at the Jail. Id . After requesting a second opinion, Plaintiff received additional care at the Clinic on February 20, 2013. Id . There, Plaintiff received an ultrasound of his left lower extremity and x-rays of his shoulder, left ankle, and left foot. Id . The x-rays were negative for any sort of fracture, and the ultrasound was negative for a clot. Id . The Clinic recommended that Plaintiff receive a compression hosiery for his left lower extremity, and that he see internal medicine as to the cause of his anemia. Id . Although Plaintiff never received the compression hosiery, the swelling eventually subsided, and Plaintiff testified that he has not had a problem like that since being released from prison. Id. at ¶ 26. Due to Plaintiff's status as a Hickman County inmate, who was temporarily housed at the Maury County Jail for capacity reasons, authorization for the compression hosiery had to be made by Hickman County. Id. at ¶ 27. Such authorization was sought, and was still pending when Plaintiff was transferred from Maury County Jail into the custody of the Tennessee Department of Corrections. Id . Although Plaintiff did not see an internal medicine physician, his blood work came back normal when it was tested at the Hickman County Clinic. Id. at ¶ 28.

Plaintiff also alleges inadequate/unsanitary housing, overcrowding, and raw sewage. Specifically, Plaintiff alleges that, during his incarceration at the Maury County Jail, there was: (1) mold and mildew in the showers and on the mattresses, (2) rust, rodents, spiders, and ants present, (3) little natural light, (4) long periods without hot water, and (5) that the jail was very cold in the winter. (Docket Entry No. 127-1, Deposition of Brandon Frazier at 115-19). Defendant George testified that the showers were recently refurbished for the first time in 14 years. (Docket Entry No. 127-4, Deposition of Enoch George at 11).

Plaintiff also testified that he slept on the floor for approximately three months while in the max pod. (Docket Entry No. 128, Plaintiff's Response to Defendants' Statement of Undisputed Facts at ¶ 43). Defendant George testified that he depends on Defendant Wagonschutz to take care of overcrowding issues in the maximum security cells. (Docket Entry No. 127-4, Deposition of Enoch George at 12). Defendant Wagonschutz testified that, when three or four people are confined to a two-person cell, the extra inmates sleep on the floor. (Docket Entry No. 127-5, Deposition of Debra Wagonschutz at 11).

Plaintiff also testified that, when he was in max, there was raw sewage (urine and human feces) on the floor every day due to leaky toilets. (Docket Entry No. 127-1, Deposition of Brandon Frazier at 130-32). Plaintiff testified that he had to clean up the raw sewage and sleep near it. Id. at 131-32.

Plaintiff does not know if any doctor or medical care professional has diagnosed him with any type of condition that resulted from the allegedly unsanitary conditions at the Maury County Jail. (Docket Entry No. 128, Plaintiff's Response to Defendants' Statement of Undisputed Facts at ¶¶ 32-35). Yet, Plaintiff described the cold temperature as very uncomfortable. Id. at ¶ 38. When inmates complained of cold temperatures, they were either moved out of the cell, if there was another cell available, or they were given extra blankets. (Docket Entry No. 127-5, Deposition of Debra Wagonschutz at 27).

Plaintiff's Third Amended Complaint alleges that there is no recreational equipment at the Maury County Jail. (Docket Entry No. 89, Third Amended Complaint at ¶ 37). Yet, Defendant George testified that, in response to the Court's prior suggestion, three basketball goals have been installed for recreational purposes. (Docket Entry No. 127-4, Deposition of Enoch George at 11). Instead, Plaintiff claims to have been injured by a lack of recreation time, meaning that he did not get enough sun. (Docket Entry No. 128, Plaintiff's Response to Defendants' Statement of Undisputed Facts at ¶ 41).

Plaintiff testified that the deodorant provided by the Maury County Jail caused him to break out, and that he does not think the toothpaste helped his teeth. Id. at ¶ 45. Yet, Plaintiff admitted that he did not develop any type of dental problems as a result of the toothpaste, and simply stopped using the deodorant. Id.

Plaintiff acknowledges that he has not been injured by the allegedly insufficient law library. Id. at ¶ 42.

B. Conclusions of Law

"The very mission of the summary judgment procedure is to pierce the pleadings and to assess the proof in order to see whether there is a genuine need for trial." Advisory Committee Notes on Rule 56, Federal Civil Judicial Procedure and Rules (West Ed. 1989). Moreover, "district courts are widely acknowledged to possess the power to enter summary judgment sua sponte, so long as the opposing party was on notice that [he] had to come forward with all of [his] evidence." Celotex Corp. v. Catrett , 477 U.S. 317, 326 (1986); accord Routman v. Automatic Data Processing, Inc. , 873 F.2d 970, 971 (6th Cir. 1989).

In Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc. , 477 U.S. 242 (1986), the United States Supreme Court explained the nature of a motion for summary judgment:

Rule 56(c) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides that summary judgment "shall be rendered forthwith if the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the, moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law." By its very terms, this standard provides that the mere existence of some alleged factual dispute between the parties will not defeat an otherwise properly supported motion for summary judgment; the requirement is that there be no genuine issue of material fact.
As to materiality, the substantive law will identify which facts are material. Only disputes over facts that might affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law will properly preclude the entry of summary judgment. Factual disputes that are irrelevant or unnecessary will not be counted.

477 U.S. at 247-48 (emphasis in the original and added in part). Earlier the Supreme Court defined a material fact for Rule 56 purposes as "[w]here the record taken as a whole could not lead a rational trier of fact to find for the nonmoving party, there is no genuine issue for trial.'" Matsushita Electrical Industrial Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp. , 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986) (citations omitted).

A motion for summary judgment is to be considered after adequate time for discovery. Celotex , 477 U.S. at 326 (1986). Where there has been a reasonable opportunity for discovery, the party opposing the motion must make an affirmative showing of the need for additional discovery after the filing of a motion for summary judgment. Emmons v. McLaughlin , 874 F.2d 351, 355-57 (6th Cir. 1989). But see Routman v. Automatic Data Processing, Inc. , 873 F.2d 970, 971 (6th Cir. 1989).

There is a certain framework in considering a summary judgment motion as to the required showing of the respective parties, as described by the Court in Celotex:

Of course, a party seeking summary judgment always bears the initial responsibility of informing the district court of the basis for its motion, and identifying those portions of "the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, " which it believes demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of material fact.... [W]e find no express or implied requirement in Rule 56 that the moving party support its motion with affidavits or other similar materials negating the opponent's claim.

Celotex , 477 U.S. at 323 (emphasis deleted).

As the Court of Appeals explained, "[t]he moving party bears the burden of satisfying Rule 56(c) standards." Martin v. Kelley , 803 F.2d 236, 239, n.4 (6th Cir. 1986). The moving party's burden is to show "clearly and convincingly" the absence of any genuine issues ofmaterial fact. Sims v. Memphis Processors, Inc. , 926 F.2d 524, 526 (6th Cir. 1991) (quoting Kochins v. Linden-Alimak, Inc. , 799 F.2d 1128, 1133 (6th Cir. 1986)). "So long as the movant has met its initial burden of demonstrat[ing] the absence of a genuine issue of material fact, ' the nonmoving party then must set forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial.'" Emmons , 874 F.2d at 353 (quoting Celotex and Rule 56(e)).

Once the moving party meets its initial burden, the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit warned that "the respondent must adduce more than a scintilla of evidence to overcome the motion [and]... must present affirmative evidence in order to defeat a properly supported motion for summary judgment.'" Street v. J.C. Bradford & Co. , 886 F.2d 1472, 1479 (6th Cir. 1989) (quoting Liberty Lobby). Moreover, the Court of Appeals explained that:

The respondent must "do more than simply show that there is some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts." Further, "[w]here the record taken as a whole could not lead a rational trier of fact to find" for the respondent, the motion should be granted. The trial court has at least some discretion to determine whether the respondent's claim is "implausible."

Street , 886 F.2d at 1480 (citations omitted). See also Hutt v. Gibson Fiber Glass Products , 914 F.2d 790, 792 (6th Cir. 1990) ("A court deciding a motion for summary judgment must determine whether the evidence presents a sufficient disagreement to require submission to a jury or whether it is so ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.