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Hibbs v. Henderson County Detention Center

United States District Court, W.D. Kentucky, Owensboro Division

May 30, 2017

PHILLIP TAYLOR HIBBS PLAINTIFF
v.
HENDERSON COUNTY DETENTION CENTER et al. DEFENDANTS

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          Joseph H. McKinley, Jr., Chief Judge.

         Before the Court is a motion for summary judgment[1] (DN 13) filed by Defendant Gray, the sole remaining Defendant in this action. Plaintiff has not responded to the motion despite the Court ordering (DN 21) him to do so. This matter is ripe for adjudication. For the reasons set forth below, Defendant's motion will be granted.

         I. SUMMARY OF CLAIMS

         After performing initial review of this case, the Court allowed the following two claims to continue: (1) the Eighth Amendment claim against Defendant Gray in his individual capacity regarding the lack of restroom breaks; and (2) the Eighth Amendment claim against Defendant Gray in his individual capacity regarding forcing Plaintiff to work despite Plaintiff being injured (DN 6). Defendant seeks summary judgment as to both claims.

         At the time he filed this action, Plaintiff was incarcerated at Henderson County Detention Center (HCDC).[2] In his complaint, as to the proceeding claims, Plaintiff stated that Defendant, who Plaintiff described as the “Road crew leader, ” would not allow Plaintiff to take appropriate restroom breaks while at work weedeating. According to Plaintiff, Defendant told him that he would have to “urinAte in a bottle After others in the van, ” and, if he needed to move his bowels, he would have to “Hold it.” Plaintiff stated that this caused him “to [illegible] it in my Pants a lil trying to hold it in Embarrising ME.”

         As to the second proceeding claim, Plaintiff asserted in his complaint that while working another inmate slipped and hit Plaintiff with the weedeater “put[ing] 18 lashes across the back of [his] leg caus[ing him] to Fall forward Jamming [his] Arm up Brusing [his] Leg Real bad and swelling.” Plaintiff stated that a few days after the accident, Defendant “insisted that [Plainitff] go back to work. Even though [Plaintiff] had A medical slip in and [had] Not been seen by the Nurse yet.” Plaintiff stated that by insisting he work this day caused Plaintiff's “Arm and shoulder to Hurt More and leg swelling.”

         Defendant denies that he violated Plaintiff's Eighth Amendment right. In support of his motion, Defendant has filed an affidavit, documents regarding the Community Service Program (CSP), Plaintiff's medical records, copies of grievances filed by Plaintiff, and a copy of an Incident Report.

         According to an affidavit filed by Defendant, “[i]nmates participate in CSP on a voluntary basis and may remove themselves or be dismissed by prison officials from the program at any time.” DN 13-3, p. 1. Plaintiff enrolled in the CSP on March 16, 2016. Id. CSP participants were, on average, given restroom breaks every 60-90 minutes. Id. “These breaks are given by ceasing community service activity, loading up the inmates and CSP equipment, and transporting the inmates back to HCDC or to a nearby public restroom.” Id. Defendant states that he would allow additional restroom breaks if a CSP participant specifically asked for one. Id. Defendant states that soon after starting the CSP, Plaintiff was “frequently disruptive and would attempt by various means to avoid actually performing his work duties.” Id. One of the means Plaintiff used to avoid work was to request frequent restroom breaks while on a worksite. Id.

         According to Defendant, Plaintiff took advantage of the restroom-break policy, “making so many restroom requests each day that CSP participants would spend more time being transported between the worksite and restrooms than actually working.” Id. In an attempt to “combat this tactic” of Plaintiff, Defendant informed Plaintiff “that if he needed to urinate as frequently as claimed, he would need to do so in a water bottle on the worksite.” Id. Defendant states that after this, Plaintiff “ceased his constant restroom requests and CSP was able to return to productively providing community service.” DN 13-3, p. 2. Defendant states that Plaintiff never “actually urinate[ed] in a water bottle or any other container while on a worksite.” Id. Further, Defendant states that HCDC policy required CSP participants to be strip-searched upon return to the institution and that this search included the “removal and inspection of each inmate's underwear.” Id. Defendant conducted these searches. Id. Defendant states that at “no point during his participation in CSP did [Plaintiff] urinate or defecate on himself.” Id.

         Plaintiff asserts that while working, he was hit with the weedeater and fell forward hurting himself; the date of this event is unclear. Plaintiff's medical records show that on March 29, 2016, Plaintiff was seen by medical complaining that his left arm hurt and that he had some left arm pain, tingling, and numbness from a “fall/injury that was work related.” DN 13-5. Plaintiff was given Ibuprofen and “taken off work till 4/6/16.” Id. Plaintiff was seen by medical again on April 2, 2016, at which time he complained that he still had intermittent pain and tingling in his left shoulder and arm. Plaintiff further stated that Ibuprofen was not helping. Id. An examination was performed, and it was found that Plaintiff had full range of motion, with the exception of a “slight grimace with backwards flexion of [the] extremity, ” no redness, no bruising, and no swelling. Id. Naproxen was ordered for Plaintiff, and Plaintiff was advised to stretch his arm with light exercise and to remain off work until April 9, 2016. Id. On April 10, 2016, the progress note states that Plaintiff still complained of weakness and pain that also involved his neck. The note further states, “will let Dr. Davis review.” Id.

         Defendant wrote an incident report on Plaintiff on April 11, 2016. Id. 13-7. The report states that Plaintiff was called out to work for the CSP crew, but Plaintiff stated that he no longer wanted to work. “Capt. Duncan was notified and a job dismissal was filled out.” Id. The HCDC CSP Supervision Requirements for State Inmates states that it is considered misconduct if an inmate refuses to work. DN 13-4. On April 12, 2016, Plaintiff filed a grievance in which he alleged that he was being punished for exercising his right to stay off work per medical. He stated that he had a medical excuse to stay off work, and it was not fair for him to lose his preferred housing. DN 13-8. In response, Captain Hendricks wrote, “Spoke with inmate Explained Job Dismissal was required to remove from Work program medical or not. Inmate Moved To Main Due To Word's Reportedly Exchanged and would be returned to CSC when Bed available.” Id.

         On April 14, 2016, an x-ray was taken of Plaintiff's left shoulder which showed no evidence of fracture or dislocation of his cervical spine or left shoulder. DN 13-5. On April 18, 2016, Plaintiff still complained of shoulder and neck pain. DNs 13-95 & 13-9. He was to remain off work “for now.” DN 13-5. Plaintiff was seen again by medical on April 26, 2016, at which time he continued to complain of left arm pain. Plaintiff stated that Ibuprofen and Naproxen were not working. It was noted that Plaintiff had full range of motion. Plaintiff was placed on the list to see the medical doctor. DN 13-9. On May 3, 2016, Plaintiff was seen by the doctor who noted that Plaintiff refused an anti-inflammatory; however, the doctor recommended that Plaintiff try a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication for inflammation and pain for a time to help with his recovery. Id. On May 23, 2016, Plaintiff presented to medical stating that this medication was not helping and that he felt he was not being transferred to another facility because of his arm injury. He also requested to see a doctor to discuss his options. Id. That same date, Plaintiff was seen by the doctor who examined Plaintiff and found his range of motion was adequate, but that Plaintiff complained of pain. Plaintiff expressed that he was upset because he had been denied transfer to Hopkins County because he was under medical care and wanted to be released from medical. Id. This is the last entry in the medical records before the Court.

         II. SUMMARY OF ARGUMENTS

         As to Plaintiff's proceeding claim regarding the lack of restroom breaks, Defendant argues that Plaintiff was given appropriate restroom breaks in compliance with Eighth Amendment requirements. Defendant states that Plaintiff made excessive requests for restroom breaks in order to keep from working, that Plaintiff never urinated in a bottle, and that Plaintiff never soiled his undergarments. As to Plaintiff's proceeding claim regarding Defendant forcing Plaintiff to work despite Plaintiff being injured, Defendant argues that he was not aware of and disregarded an excessive risk to Plaintiff's health or safety in violation of the Eighth Amendment. Defendant argues that Plaintiff did not have any evidence of an injury, ...


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