United States District Court, W.D. Louisiana, Shreveport Division
TODD H. MERCER
STEVE PRATOR, ET AL
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
L. Hornsby, U.S. Magistrate Judge
Mercer (“Plaintiff”) is a self-represented inmate
who was formerly housed as a pretrial detainee at the Caddo
Correctional Center (“CCC”). Plaintiff's
primary complaint is that, during the approximately one year
he was housed at CCC, he was exposed to black mold in the
showers and on blue mats provided for sleeping. Plaintiff
alleges that the exposure has caused respiratory and other
health problems. Before the court are competing motions for
summary judgment (Docs. 97 and 100). For the reasons that
follow, it is recommended that Plaintiff's motion be
denied and that Defendants' motion be granted.
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.” Fed. R.
Civ. Pro. 56(a). A fact is “material” if it might
affect the outcome of the suit under governing law.
Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 106 S.Ct. 2505,
2510 (1986). A dispute is “genuine” if there is
sufficient evidence so that a reasonable jury could return a
verdict for either party. Anderson, supra;
Hamilton v. Segue Software Inc., 232 F.3d 473, 477
(5th Cir. 2000).
party seeking summary judgment has the initial responsibility
of informing the court of the basis for its motion and
identifying those parts of the record that it believes
demonstrate the absence of a genuine dispute of material
fact. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 106 S.Ct. 2548
(1986). If the moving party carries his initial burden, the
burden then falls upon the nonmoving party to demonstrate the
existence of a genuine dispute of a material fact.
Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp.,
106 S.Ct. 1348, 1355-56 (1986).
motions for summary judgment are filed by defendants, but
Plaintiff has filed his own motion in this case. Plaintiff
bears the burden of proving his claims at trial. To prevail
on a motion for summary judgment, he must present evidence
that would entitle him to judgment as a matter of law if it
went uncontroverted at trial. International Shortstop,
Inc. v. Rally's, Inc., 939 F.2d. 1257, 1264 (5th
Cir. 1991). All facts and inferences are viewed in the light
most favorable to the defendant, and all reasonable doubts
are resolved in the defense's favor. Puckett v.
Rufenacht, Bromagen & Hertz, Inc., 903 F.2d 1014,
1016 (5th Cir. 1990).
summary judgment challenge requires one to go beyond his
complaint and present competent summary judgment evidence,
but a summary of the allegations in the complaint is useful
as a background for the dispute. Plaintiff's original
complaint named as defendants Caddo Parish Sheriff Steve
Prator, Bossier Parish Sheriff Julian Whittington, and the
wardens at the jails in those two parishes. Plaintiff alleged
that his primary complaint was “gross negligence and
endangerment with exposure to black mold” while housed
at the two facilities. He alleged that at CCC the showers had
black mold growing on the tile, in the mortar, and on the
floors and ceilings. He also alleged that blue mats provided
for sleeping were “covered with black mold.” He
made similar allegations regarding the Bossier jail.
Plaintiff asked that the court order the removal of the
harmful materials and award him $20, 000, 000 in damages.
later filed an amended complaint and stated that he would
continue this civil action against Sheriff Prator and the CCC
officials, but he would pursue his complaint regarding
conditions at the Bossier jail in a separate civil action. He
later filed that action, and Magistrate Judge Hayes
recommended it be dismissed as frivolous and for failing to
state a claim on which relief could be granted. Mercer v.
Whittington, 5:16-cv-1272, 2016 WL 8222012 (W.D. La.
2016). Judge Foote adopted that recommendation and dismissed
the case. 2017 WL 507621 (W.D. La. 2017).
alleged, with respect to the Caddo Parish defendants, that he
was housed at CCC from August 6, 2014 through October 15,
2015. He claimed there was “constant daily exposure to
black mold” during those 14 months from the mold found
in the shower areas and on the blue mats. He claimed that the
exposure caused him to suffer chronic dry cough, sneezing,
irritation to his eyes and mucous membranes, and related
symptoms. Plaintiff later filed a clarification as to the
defendants who are named in this civil action. Doc. 40. Those
six defendants-Sheriff Prator, Commander Wyche, Sergeant
Dunn, Sergeant Hall, Deputy Fair, and Deputy Herrington-have
joined in a motion for summary judgment.
Defendants' Summary Judgment Evidence
Wright has been the CCC Health Services Director since 1994.
Defendants offer her affidavit in support of their motion.
Ms. Wright testifies that she is in a position where she
would be aware if inmates were diagnosed with respiratory
problems associated with mold. She states that there
“has never been such a diagnosis” by a physician
or other medical personnel to her knowledge. With respect to
Plaintiff, he “did not ever report any difficulties
related to mold, nor did he report any ...