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Lyle v. Montgomery County

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

February 8, 2017

MONTGOMERY COUNTY, et al Defendant.

          Crenshaw Judge.


          JEFFERY S. FRENSLEY United States Magistrate Judge.

         I. Introduction and Background

         This matter is before the Court upon Defendant Montgomery County's “Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff's Complaint, or in the Alternative for Summary Judgment.” Docket No. 29. Along with its Motion, Defendant has filed a supporting Memorandum of Law (Docket No. 30), a Statement of Undisputed Material Facts (Docket No. 31), and the Affidavit of Douglas Tackett (Docket No. 32).

         Plaintiff has not responded to Defendant's Motion or Statement of Undisputed Material Facts, nor has he filed his own Statement of Undisputed Material Facts.

         Plaintiff originally filed this pro se, in forma pauperis action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging the following:

1.) On or About Aug. 5, 2015 I have been received little or no food on my trays.
2.) On or About Aug. 10, 2015 Female Deputy's look at inmates showering.
3.) On or About Sept. 26, 2015 Deputy Paul Carter could not give me any answers to my questions about my state time at all.
4.) Nurse Ison RN has not or have I [sic] received - medical treatment for hemorrhoids 9-28-2015
5.) Female nurses look at male inmates and male doctor's and male nurses look at female inmates. 9-28-2015
6.) Search of cells with inmates not there when cell is searched.

         Docket No. 1.

         An Order entered on October 14, 2015 dismissed all of Plaintiff's claims against Montgomery County except for his claim related to female guards being able to see male inmates while they were showering and all of his claims against the other named Defendants except his deliberate indifference to a serious medical need claim against Nurse Jessica Ison.[1] See Docket Nos. 3, 4. Accordingly, those are the only two claims remaining in this action.[2]

         Defendant Montgomery County filed the instant Motion and supporting materials arguing that Plaintiff's claims against it should be dismissed because Plaintiff filed an identical lawsuit against it which was dismissed against it in its entirety by Judge Kevin Sharp upon its Motion for Summary Judgment. Docket No. 29, referencing Lyle v. Montgomery County Jail, Case No. 3:15-cv-00480, Docket Nos. 26, 27. Defendant argues that Plaintiff filed the present matter during the pendency of Plaintiff's prior action, but prior to its dismissal. Id. Defendant argues that because the “present suit alleges the exact same claim as brought in an identical, dismissed suit against this Defendant, Defendant requests that this matter be dismissed on the basis of collateral estoppel and in the interest of judicial economy, ” or, in the alternative, that summary judgment be granted because there are no genuine issues of material fact and it is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law. Id.

         For the reasons set forth below, the undersigned recommends that Defendant Montgomery County's “Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff's Complaint, or in the Alternative for Summary Judgment” (Docket No. 29) be GRANTED.

         II. Undisputed Facts[3]

         A. Relevant Allegations of Plaintiff's Verified Complaint

         As pertains to Plaintiff's sole remaining claim against the instant Defendant, Plaintiff asserts that female guards watch male inmates shower. Docket No. 1.

         B. Affidavit of Douglas Tackett

         The Montgomery County Jail (“Jail”) is a 736 bed pre-trial detention facility, built in 2004. Docket No. 32, Affidavit of Douglas Tackett (“Tackett Aff.”), ¶ 2. The Jail was constructed in accordance with the standards set by the American Corrections Association (“ACA”), and was constructed by an Architect certified with the American Institute of Architects (“AIA”). Id., ¶ 3. The Jail meets the minimum standards for the physical plant of Jail Facilities as set forth by the Tennessee Corrections Institute (“TCI”), has always been recommended for certification by the TCI, and has continuously maintained its certification by the TCI that it has complied with the Tennessee minimum standards for local correctional facilities. Id., ¶¶ 2, 3.

         Plaintiff was incarcerated at the Jail from January 12, 2015 until May 25, 2015, when he was furloughed from the Jail to attend a rehabilitation facility. Id., ¶ 4. Plaintiff was returned to the control and custody of the Jail following the rehabilitation treatment. Id. Plaintiff was transferred from the Montgomery County Jail to the custody of the Tennessee Department of Corrections on August 25, 2016 and is now housed at a state run facility in Pikeville, Tennessee. Id.

         No inmate at the Jail is subjected to regular surveillance by deputies of the opposite sex while naked and it is not the policy or the procedure of the Jail to require male inmates to shower under close or extended surveillance of female deputies. Id., ¶ 5.

         The Jail employs both male and female deputies and is an equal opportunity employer. Id., ¶ 6. Of the 169 total commissioned Jail deputies, 32 (just under 19%) are female. Id. Jail deputies are responsible for handling inmate booking and processing, visitation, transportation to court and other detention facilities, and providing security for both inmates and the facility. Id.

         The supervision of inmates is an essential function and responsibility of the Jail. Id., ¶ 7. The safety and security of inmates and Jail staff is primary among the many reasons why inmates must be supervised in Jail. Id. Jail showers are known areas with increased security risks in Jail. Id. Inmates may go to the shower to handle or transfer contraband or may start fights in the showers. Id. As such, it is important for Jail staff to have some supervisory access to shower areas. Id. Female deputies at the Jail may serve in the control tower or as rovers. Id. The duties associated with these positions may include the incidental viewing of nude male inmates. Id. However, such viewing would be infrequent and casual observations only and would be at a distance. Id.

         The male showers at the Jail are situated below a control tower by a distance of at least 10 feet. Id., ¶ 8. In order to observe an inmate showering for any significant period of time, a deputy would have to peer over the edge of the window to specifically view the nude body of a male inmate. Id. Control tower deputies are tasked with many duties, such as the observation of four inmate Pods simultaneously, and would not be able to sufficiently perform their jobs and observe an inmate shower for an extended amount of time. Id. One deputy is assigned to the control tower per shift. Id. The control towers have four pods to oversee. Id. Tower deputies are required to maintain an accurate and legible log for the tower which lists all events ...

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