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Allen v. Holt

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

June 28, 2019

RONALD ALLEN and JUSTIN EZRA JONES
v.
BILL HOLT

          REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          Barbara D. Holmes, United States Magistrate Judge.

         To: Honorable Aleta A. Trauger, District Judge.

         By Order entered April 5, 2018 (Docket Entry No. 6), the Court referred this prisoner civil rights action to the Magistrate Judge for pretrial proceedings under 28 U.S.C. §§ 636(b)(1)(A) and (B), Rule 72(b) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, and the Local Rules of Court.

         Presently pending is the motion for summary judgment (Docket Entry No. 18) filed by Defendant Bill Holt. For the reasons set forth below, the undersigned respectfully recommends that the motion be granted in part and denied in part.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Ronald Allen, Jr., (“Allen”) and Justin Ezra Jones (“Jones”) filed this pro se and in forma pauperis lawsuit on January 9, 2018, against Bill Holt (“Holt”), the Sheriff of Robertson County, Tennessee. See Complaint (Docket Entry No. 1). At the time the lawsuit was filed, both Plaintiffs were confined at the Robertson County Detention Center (“Detention Center”) as pretrial detainees.[1]

         Plaintiffs seek injunctive and monetary relief under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for violations of their civil rights alleged to have occurred during their confinement at the Detention Center. Although Plaintiffs brought several claims based on different allegations of wrongdoing, the Court dismissed all but one claim upon conducting an initial frivolity review of the complaint under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2). See Memorandum and Order entered April 5, 2018 (Docket Entry Nos. 5 and 6). The sole remaining claim is a claim that Plaintiffs' constitutional rights have been violated because they were deprived of the opportunity for outdoor recreation and exercise. In a pleading that is somewhat sparse in terms of factual allegations, Plaintiffs allege “no outside recreational time at all, no fresh air” and that they “have not had any outside rec[reation]” since being incarcerated at the Detention Center on October 7, 2017. See Complaint at 5.

         Defendant, who is sued in only his official capacity, filed an answer denying the allegations of constitutional wrongdoing. See Docket Entry No. 14. Pursuant to a scheduling order, the parties were given a period for pretrial activity, including a period for discovery. See Docket Entry No. 15. Subsequent to the expiration of the scheduling order deadlines, Plaintiff Jones filed several motions, [2]which the undersigned has addressed in a contemporaneously entered order.

         II. MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT AND RESPONSE

         Defendant moves for the entry of summary judgment in his favor under Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. He argues that the undisputed evidence shows that Plaintiffs' constitutional rights regarding access to outdoor recreation at the Detention Center have not been violated. In support of his motion, Defendant relies upon the declaration of Anthony Crawford, who is the Jail Administrator at the Detention Center (Docket Entry No. 20), and a statement of undisputed material facts (Docket Entry No. 21).

         Defendant asserts that the Detention Center has two outdoor recreation areas which are used by inmates pursuant to a written policy, Policy 12.06, on a rotating basis as weather and staffing levels allow. See Declaration of Crawford at ¶ 5. Defendant asserts that the sign-in log for outdoor recreation shows that Plaintiff Allen had outdoor recreation on March 16, 2018, and May 14, 2018, and that Plaintiff Jones had outdoor recreation on October 17, 2018, but that he refused outdoor recreation on March 2, 2018, June 28, 2018, August 23, 2018, September 5 and 20, 2018. Id. at ¶¶ 6-7. Defendant also asserts that inmates are permitted to leave their cells to go to the indoor day room/recreation area for their housing units for between 1-14 hours a day, depending on the inmate's restriction status, and that inmates may engage in basic exercise type activities in these areas. Id. at ¶¶ 8-10. Finally, Defendant contends that Plaintiffs have not sought medical treatment for any physical or mental illness, injury, or condition that was caused by being denied access to sunlight or outdoor exercise and that Plaintiffs have not been diagnosed with any type of medical condition related to the lack of outdoor exercise. Id. at ¶¶ 11-12.

         Plaintiff Jones opposes the motion. See Docket Entry Nos. 25-27. In support of his response in opposition, he has submitted his own affidavit (Docket Entry No. 27 at 8-11), as well as affidavits from six current or former inmates at the Detention Center who state that their opportunities for outdoor recreation and exercise have either been limited or non-existent. See Docket Entry No. 27 at 12-17. Plaintiff Allen has not responded to the motion for summary judgment.

         III. STANDARD OF REVIEW

         Summary judgment is appropriate 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.” Rule 56(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. See also Celotex Corp. v. Catrett,477 U.S. 317, 322-23 (1986). A “genuine issue of material fact” is a fact which, if proven at trial, could lead a reasonable jury to return a verdict for the non-moving party. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). In considering whether summary judgment is appropriate, the Court must “look beyond the pleadings and assess the proof to determine whether there is a genuine need for trial.” Sowards v. Loudon Cnty., 203 F.3d 426, 431 (6th Cir.), cert. denied, 531 U.S. 875 (2000). The Court must view the evidence and all inferences drawn from underlying facts “in the ...


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