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Smith v. Fulton County Detention Center

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

July 25, 2019




         This matter comes before the Court upon Defendants, Carrie Powell's, Jeff Johnson's, and Brittany Walsh's, Motion for Summary Judgement, (R. 28). Despite the Court warning pro se Plaintiff and inmate Monyal D. Smith of the potential consequences, (R. 30), he has failed to respond. Also pending before the Court is Smith's Motion to Appoint Counsel. (R. 31). These matters are now ripe for adjudication. For the reasons that follow, the Court HEREBY DENIES Smith's Motion to Appoint Counsel, (R. 31), and GRANTS the Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment, (R. 28).


         On November 4, 2016, Monyal D. Smith was booked into the Fulton County Detention Center. (R. 29, Smith Depo. p. 41). He was placed in Cell 121. (Id. at p. 46). While in Cell 121 on the fourth, Smith reported to Deputy Jailer Jamie Alexander that another inmate had threatened him with a knife. (Id. at p. 15). The other inmate's name was later identified as Davenport. Accordingly, Alexander transferred Smith from Cell 121 to Cell 105. (Id.). Smith also claims that Alexander told him “he had put a keep-away on us, something like a conflict.” (Id. at p. 53). Although never fully explained, the Court understands a “keep-away” to be a sort of note made in Fulton County Detention Center records that would notify Fulton County employees that Smith and Davenport were to remain separated.

         On November 24, 2016, Smith was again booked into Fulton County Detention Center and placed in Cell 105. (Id. at p. 64). He was released a few days later without incident. (Id.).

         On February 8, 2017 Smith was booked into Fulton County Detention Center for a third time by Deputy Jailer Terry Hutcherson. (Id. at pp. 65, 67). Smith did not mention the incident with Davenport to Hutcherson. (Id.). Hutcherson placed Smith in Cell 121. (Id.). Shortly after Smith was placed in Cell 121, he was allegedly attacked with a “sharpened utensil” by Davenport. (Id. at pp. 67-72). Other inmates in Cell 121 alerted Fulton County Detention Center staff that Smith and Davenport were fighting. (Id. at p. 71). Corrections Officer William Jackson was the first to respond and called for Corrections Officer Brittany Walsh to assist him. (Id.). Jackson instructed Davenport to separate from Smith. (Id. at pp. 62-63, 157-58). Davenport complied. (Id. at p. 158). Smith was then taken out of Cell 121 and brought to the Fulton County Detention Center medical facility. (Id. at p. 71).

         Between February 8, 2017 and February 12, 2017, Smith filed an inmate memorandum addressed to Defendant Jeff Johnson stating that Smith was going to file a lawsuit concerning the incident on the eighth. (R. Ex. C). Again, on March 21, 2017, Smith wrote a letter to Johnson regarding the incident (R. 28, Ex. D). Johnson responded, instructing Smith that he needed to exhaust the grievance procedure prior to filing suit. (Id.). Smith admits that he failed to do so. (R. 29, Smith Depo., pp. 164-165). He claims that he attempted to, but the electronic grievance kiosk at Fulton County Detention Center was broken. (R. 29, Smith Depo., p. 122). Other than trying to use the electronic kiosk, Smith admits he made no other effort to file a grievance or exhaust his administrative remedies prior to filing suit. (Id. at pp. 120-122, 164-165).

         Instead, on April 27, 2017, Smith filed sit against Fulton County Detention Center, Acting Jailer Carrie Powell, Chief Deputy Officer Jeff Johnson, Corrections Officer Brittany Walsh, and Corrections Officer William Jackson. (R. 1). He claims that the security cameras in Cell 121 were not functioning and that all the Defendants failed to honor the “keep-away.” (R. 1). After the Court's initial review, claims remain pending against Carrie Powell, Jeff Johnson, Brittany Walsh, and William Jackson in their individual capacities for failure-to-protect pursuant to the Eighth Amendment. (R. 14). To date, William Jackson has not been served. (R. 20). Defendants Powell, Johnson, and Walsh now move for summary judgment. The Court has warned Smith about the potential consequences of failing to respond to the Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment. Despite this warning, Smith has not responded.



         I. Smith's Motion to Appoint Counsel

         Smith has asked the Court to appoint him counsel. (R. 31). Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(1), in proceedings in forma pauperis, “[t]he court may request an attorney to represent any person unable to afford counsel.” Importantly though, “[t]he appointment of counsel in a civil proceeding is not a constitutional right and is justified only in exceptional circumstances.” Lanier v. Bryant, 332 F.3d 999, 1006 (6th Cir. 2003) (emphasis added). When considering whether such “exceptional circumstances exist, courts typically consider ‘the type of case and the ability of the plaintiff to represent himself.'” Id. (quoting Archie v. Christian, 812 F.2d 250, 253 (5th Cir. 1987) and Poindexter v. Federal Bureau of Investigation, 737 F.2d 1173, 1185, 238 U.S.App.D.C. 26 (D.C. Cir. 1984)). “This generally involves a determination of the ‘complexity of the factual and legal issues involved.'” Lavado v. Keohane, 992 F.2d 601, 606 (6th Cir. 1993) (quoting Cookish v. Cunningham, 787 F.2d 1, 3 (1st Cir. 1986)).

         Here, Smith's sole reason for requesting counsel be appointed is “because the Courts is trying to dismiss [his] case.” (R. 31). This does not qualify as exceptional circumstance. Furthermore, the Court finds that issues here are relatively ...

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