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Dunn v. Simmons

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

September 5, 2017

JONATHAN DUNN, Plaintiff,
v.
CHARLES SIMMONS, et al., Defendants.

          Newbern Magistrate Judge.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          ALETA A. TRAUGER UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Pending before the court is a motion for summary judgment filed by defendants Jeffrey Baker, Sherri Duckett-Gregory, Tammy Jones, Yolanda McQuiddy-Estes, Michael Robertson, Charles Simmons, Bruce Westbrook, and Jason Woodall (Doc. No. 78), to which Plaintiff Jonathan Dunn responded in opposition (Doc. No. 99) nearly five months after his response was due (Doc. No. 47). For the reasons stated herein, the motion for summary judgment is GRANTED IN PART and DENIED IN PART.

         I. Statement of Facts

         A. Factual History

         Dunn, who is currently incarcerated in the Morgan County Correctional Facility, was a prisoner in the Lois M. DeBerry Correctional Facility (DeBerry) until August 2016. (Doc. No. 1, PageID# 2; Doc. No. 63.) In this action, Dunn brings claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 challenging as violations of his First, Fifth, and Fourteenth Amendment rights limitations on his access to legal materials, certain publications, and stamps, as well as the adequacy of DeBerry's grievance procedures. Dunn claims that, during his incarceration at DeBerry, he and other inmates housed in the sheltered living or segregated units were denied access to “any type of legal law books” or computer-assisted legal research. (Doc. No. 1, PageID# 10.) DeBerry policy required prisoners “to provide cite/case laws, or ref[e]rence court rules” to receive resources. (Id.) Dunn states that if he did “not know what [legal materials he] . . . should be looking for, ” he was given “a slip” informing him that there were “no documents that satisfy [his] search, ” that his request was too “vague, ” or that he must “either give case citations, law or rule citations or specific statement of which [he] is looking for.” (Id.) These policies hampered Dunn's ability to litigate pending cases. (Id. at PageID# 11.)

         Dunn also challenges limitations placed on inmates' receipt of stamps and certain publications. On December 3, 2014, a Tennessee Department of Corrections (TDOC) policy banned stamps “coming in thr[ough] the mail from any form of outside source.” (Id. at PageID# 8.) As a result, inmates could not receive stamps as gifts, which forced Dunn to “choose between [purchasing] hygienic products or postage.” (Id. at PageID# 8-9.) On March 10, 2015, Defendant Simmons banned DeBerry inmates from receiving the Victoria's Secret catalog and a number of other publications with sexually explicit titles. (Id. at PageID# 6.) On August 27, 2015, McQuiddy-Estes, Robertson, and Baker intercepted Dunn's Victoria's Secret catalog and rejected it on the basis that it contained “sexually explicit material or material which features nudity.” (Id. at PageID# 7.) Defendants Nixon and Simmons upheld this decision. (Id.) Dunn states that he is an “author of urban books . . . which contain sexual detail[ed] stories, ” and argues that this ban hindered his “purpose of pursuance of a[n] adult author” because he could not use the catalog as source material for his writing. (Id. at PageID# 8.)

         Dunn states that, when he filed grievances about these issues, Defendants Simmons, Nixon, Westbrook, Duckett-Gregory, and Woodall did not review his grievances adequately “based on facts, ” and Simmons, Nixon, and Woodall upheld Duckett-Gregory's inadequate decisions “without a personal review of the case.” (Id. at PageID# 11-12.)

         B. Procedural History

         Dunn, proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis, filed this action on January 8, 2016, against Defendants Sherri Duckett-Gregory, Warden Charles Simmons, Tammy Jones, Warden Bruce Westbrook, Yolanda McQuiddy-Estes, Michael Robertson, Jeffrey Baker, Steven Nixon and Deputy Commissioner Jason Woodall.[1] (Doc. No. 1.) All defendants but Tennessee Department of Corrections Deputy Commissioner Jason Woodall were corrections officers at the Lois M. DeBerry Special Needs Facility at times relevant to this case. (Doc. No. 1, PageID# 1- 4.)

         The court issued summonses to all defendants on June 2, 2016 (Doc. No. 25), all of which were returned as executed (Doc. Nos. 28, 34, 40-46). All defendants except Nixon filed an answer on July 11, 2016.[2] (Doc. No. 35.) On August 22, 2016, the court issued a scheduling order, setting January 19, 2017, as the deadline to file dispositive motions and February 20, 2017, as the response deadline. (Doc. No. 47, PageID# 249.) The scheduling order cautioned Dunn as follows:

Plaintiff is forewarned that dispositive motions must be responded to by February 20, 2017, unless an extension is granted by the Court, and that failure to respond to the motion and to statements of facts may result in the Court taking the facts alleged in the matter as true and granting the relief requested.

(Id.)

         On January 19, 2017, Defendants Jeffrey Baker, Sherri Duckett-Gregory, Tammy Jones, Yolanda McQuiddy-Estes, Michael Robertson, Charles Simmons, Warden Bruce Westbrook and Jason Woodall filed a motion for summary judgment (Doc. No. 78) accompanied by a supporting memorandum of law (Doc. No. 79), Dunn's deposition (Doc. No. 79-1), and a statement of undisputed material facts (Doc. No. 80). The defendants argue that summary judgment is proper because Dunn failed to exhaust administrative remedies before bringing his claims and, in the alternative, that Dunn's claims against Duckett-Gregory should be ...


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