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Mace v. Smith

United States District Court, W.D. Kentucky, Louisville

December 21, 2018

Roy R. MACE, III PLAINTIFF
v.
Aaron SMITH, et al. DEFENDANTS

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          CHARLES R. SIMPSON III, SENIOR JUDGE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT.

         I. Introduction

         This case is before the Court on Defendants' motion for summary judgment. Specifically, Defendants assert that the Plaintiff, a Kentucky inmate, failed to properly exhaust his administrative remedies before bringing his federal civil rights claims, that some aspects are time-barred, and that, regardless, they fail on the merits. Plaintiff has not responded. Therefore, this matter is ripe for review. Finding that Plaintiff did not properly exhaust his administrative remedies for his conditions-of-confinement claim and that the statute of limitations has run on his failure-to-protect claim, the Defendants' motion for summary judgment will be granted and the case will be dismissed.

         II. Factual Background and Procedural History

         Roy R. Mace, III is an inmate currently housed at the Kentucky State Reformatory (“KSR”) in La Grange, Kentucky.[1] Mace, proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis, [2] brought this action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 on January 9, 2017, claiming that his Eighth Amendment right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment was violated twice while at KSR in 2015 and 2016. DN 1. He named then-Warden Aaron Smith, Instructor for the Division of Corrections Training Diane Jackson, [3] “John Doe (Unit Administrator), ” and “Jane Doe (Former Sgt.)” as defendants in their official and individual capacities. Id. at 1. The Court dismissed the official-capacity claims on initial review pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A. DN 17. Afterward, Mace moved to amend his complaint to replace John Doe with Ben Mitchell on August 3, 2017. DN 26. The Court granted that motion on March 2, 2018, simultaneously dismissing Jane Doe under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 4(m). DN 40.

         Mace brings two claims: a conditions-of-confinement claim and a failure-to-protect claim. For the conditions-of-confinement claim, Mace alleges that, around 10 AM on November 22, 2015, a sewer pipe burst in C-wing of KSR, causing his cell to flood with sewage. DN 1 at 5. He says he informed Defendants about the issue, but that they failed to do anything about it. Id. He alleges he was required to stay in his cell, walking in waste to retrieve his food tray, which he was then forced to eat in the flooded cell. Id. The cell remained that way for about seven hours until it was cleaned and he was finally permitted to take a shower. Id. As a result of the incident, Mace claims he developed painful, burning sores on his feet that did not heal for six months. Id. For the failure-to-protect claim, Mace alleges that, on February 5, 2016, he told Mitchell that he was having a conflict with another inmate, who had threatened him. Id. As a result, he requested protective custody. Id. Instead of receiving it (or even an investigation), he alleges he was placed in the same dorm with the inmate, who assaulted him later that day. Id. As a result of the incident, Mace claims he has developed a fear of others and hearing loss in his left ear. Id. at 6.

         While this case has been pending, Mace has repeatedly alleged that he was in danger at KSR and has requested that this Court intervene. See DNs 9, 11, 48. He has consistently requested the Court order that he be transferred to the Taylor County Detention Center or to a correctional institution outside the Commonwealth of Kentucky. Those requests have all been denied, with the Court noting that “a prisoner has no inherent right under the United States Constitution to be incarcerated in a particular institution.” See DN 16 (citing Montanye v. Haymes, 427 U.S. 236, 242 (1976)). See also DN 56 at 5-7 (denying preliminary injunction after finding that Mace failed to show a likelihood of success on the merits or irreparable harm, that the issuance would cause substantial harm, and that the public interest would not be served).

         This is also not the first time a motion for summary judgment has been tendered in this case. On December 18, 2017, Defendants moved for summary judgment, making many of the same arguments they make on the present motion. DN 33. Mace responded (DN 37) and Defendants replied (DN 38). However, shortly after the motion became ripe, the Court permitted Mace to amend his complaint. See DN 40. As a result, the Court reopened discovery and, “to avoid this action being litigated in a piecemeal fashion, ” denied the motion without prejudice until after the revised discovery deadline closed. Id. at 2. That deadline passed and the present motion for summary judgment stands submitted.

         III. Legal Standard

         A party moving for summary judgment must show that “there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). “[T]he mere existence of some alleged factual dispute between the parties will not defeat an otherwise properly supported motion for summary judgment; the requirement is that there be no genuine issue of material fact.” Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 247-48 (1986). A genuine issue for trial exists when “there is sufficient evidence favoring the nonmoving party for a jury to return a verdict for that party.” Id. In undertaking this analysis, the Court must view the evidence in a light most favorable to the non-moving party. Scott v. Harris, 550 U.S. 372, 378 (2007).

         The party moving for summary judgment bears the burden of establishing the nonexistence of any issue of material fact. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986). They can meet this burden by “citing to particular parts of materials in the record” or “showing that the materials cited do not establish the . . . presence of a genuine dispute.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(1). This burden can also be met by demonstrating that the nonmoving party “fail[ed] to make a showing sufficient to establish the existence of an element essential to that party's case, and on which that party will bear the burden of proof at trial.” Celotex Corp., 477 U.S. at 322.

         IV. Discussion

         Defendants' motion for summary judgment argues that Mace's claims should be dismissed because Mace failed to properly exhaust his administrative remedies before bringing his § 1983 claim and that the claims fail on the merits. As to the failure-to-protect claim, Defendants also argue that the claim is time-barred.

         A. ...


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