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Martin v. Daley

United States District Court, E.D. Kentucky, Northern Division, Covington

October 23, 2018

MATTHEW R. MARTIN, Plaintiff,
v.
JAMES A. DALEY Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          William O. Bertelsman, United States District Judge.

         Plaintiff Matthew R. Martin is an inmate confined at the Campbell County Detention Center (“CCDC”) located in Newport, Kentucky. Proceeding without an attorney, Martin has filed a civil rights complaint against prison officials pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. [R. 3] By separate order, the Court conducted a preliminary review of Martin's complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2), 1915A and dismissed all but Martin's claim against Defendant James A. Daley alleging that the quantity and nutritional content of the food served at the CCDC is insufficient. [R. 12][1]

         Daley has now filed a motion for summary judgment pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. Pro. 56 [R. 19], asserting that Daley is entitled to judgment as a matter of law because Martin failed to exhaust his available administrative remedies prior to filing his lawsuit, as required by the Prison Litigation Reform Act (“PLRA”), 42 U.S.C. § 1997(e), et seq. The time period for filing a response to this motion has now expired, and no response has been filed by Martin. Thus, this matter is ripe for review.

         I.

         Martin's complaint alleges that the portions of food served at the CCDC are inadequate. [R. 3 at p. 3] Specifically, he alleges that there are under 800 calories on each tray and inmates are limited to about 1500 calories per day. [R. 3 at p. 3] He claims that he has lost approximately 17 pounds since he arrived at CCDC on August 13, 2017. [Id.]

         Martin seeks to bring his claim in this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. To establish a § 1983 claim, a plaintiff must show that he was deprived of a constitutional right and that the deprivation occurred at the hands of defendant who was a “state actor, ” or acted under color of state law. See Gomez v. Toledo, 446 U.S. 635, 640 (1980); Searcy v. City of Dayton, 38 F.3d 282, 286 (6th Cir. 1994). Although Martin does not specify the basis for his claim, the Court construes his claim broadly to allege that the inadequate food portions violate the Eighth Amendment's prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment.

         In response, Daley has filed a motion seeking summary judgment on Martin's claim regarding the quantity of food served at the CCDC because Martin failed to exhaust his administrative remedies with respect to this claim. [R. 19]

         II.

         Before addressing the merits of Daley's motion, the Court notes that, on July 23, 2018, the Court entered an order directing Martin to file a response to Daley's motion within 45 days and specifically warned him that, if he failed to do so, the Court may dismiss his case for failure to prosecute, see Fed. R. Civ. P. 41(b), or grant Daley's motion for any reason adequately supported by the record, see Carver v. Bunch, 946 F.2d 451, 454-55 (6th Cir. 1991). [R. 21] On August 8, 2018, Martin filed a motion requesting that his time for filing a response be extended until December 3, 2018, to allow time for him to be released from custody and seek legal counsel. [R. 22] The Court granted the motion in part, but found that the length of the extension sought by Martin was unreasonable. [R. 24] Thus, the Court directed Martin to file a response to Daley's motion on or before September 27, 2018, again warning him that, if he failed to do so, the Court may dismiss his case for failure to prosecute or grant Daley's motion for any reason adequately supported by the record. [Id.]

         Martin's extended response deadline has now expired, and Martin has not filed any response or taken any other action in this case. Martin was specifically warned that his failure to file a response may result in the dismissal of his case for failure to prosecute. Dismissal is generally warranted where the party fails to act in the face of a clear prior warning that the case would be dismissed. Bowles v. City of Cleveland, 129 Fed.Appx. 239, 244 (6th Cir. 2005). Thus, Martin's failure to respond alone would justify dismissal of this action.

         Regardless, in the interest of completeness and finality, the Court will also consider the substantive arguments set forth by Daley in his motion for summary judgment.

         III.

         A motion under Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure challenges the viability of another party's claim by asserting that at least one essential element of that claim is not supported by legally-sufficient evidence. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a); Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 324-25 (1986). A party moving for summary judgment must establish that, even viewing the record in the light most favorable to the nonmovant, there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and that the party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law. Loyd v. St. Joseph Mercy Oakland, 766 F.3d 580, 588 (6th Cir. 2014). The burden then shifts to the nonmoving party to “come forward with some probative evidence to support its claim.” Lansing Dairy, Inc. v. Espy, 39 F.3d 1339, 1347 (6th Cir.1994). However, if the responding party's allegations are so clearly contradicted by the record that no reasonable jury could adopt them, the court need not accept them when determining whether summary judgment is warranted. Scott v. Harris, 550 U.S. 372, 380 (2007). The Court must grant summary judgment if the evidence would not support a jury verdict for the responding party with respect to at least one essential element of his claim. Johnson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 251 (1986).

         Under the PLRA, “[n]o action shall be brought with respect to prison conditions under [42 USC § 1983], or any other Federal law, by a prisoner confined in any jail, prison, or other correctional facility until such administrative remedies as are available are exhausted.” 42 USC § 1997e(a). Exhaustion is mandatory, Jones v. Bock, 549 U.S. 199, 211 (2007) (“There is no question that exhaustion is mandatory under the PLRA and that unexhausted claims cannot be brought in court.”), and applies to any claim that arises out of any aspect of prison life, whether it ...


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