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Godeaux v. Tubbs

United States District Court, W.D. Louisiana, Monroe Division

July 15, 2019





         Before the undersigned Magistrate Judge, on reference from the District Court, is a motion for summary judgment filed by Morehouse Parish Sheriff Mike Tubbs, Warden Carl Patrick, Nurse Brandon Goodson, and Nurse Daniel Pennington (collectively, “Defendants”). [doc. # 29]. For reasons set forth below, it is recommended that the motion be GRANTED.


         Plaintiff Charles Godeaux, proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis, is a pre-trial detainee formerly house at the Morehouse Parish Jail in Louisiana. On July 16, 2018, he filed the above-captioned lawsuit pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against Tubbs and Patrick, claiming (1) inmates are required to place outgoing mail in a cracker box, “waste gets on outgoing mail, ” and “mail is ‘often' picked up by inmate workers and logged in by inmate workers”; (2) the food is unsanitary and food trays are covered in black mold; and (3) he has no access to law books. [doc. # 1].

         On August 15, 2018 Plaintiff amended his Complaint, adding Goodson, Pennington, Mail Officer Patricia Sisk, Corporal White, and Lieutenant Richard Smith as defendants and raising the following additional claims: (1) he was denied glasses; (2) correctional officers dispense medical without gloves and often drop pills on the floor, causing them to be contaminated; and (3) he did not receive two items of mail even though they were logged in. [doc. # 8].

         On September 11, 2018, Plaintiff again amended his Complaint, adding Correctional Officer Butch Aulds, Deputy Higginbottom, and Lieutenant Chuck Lord as defendants. [doc. # 10]. He also raised a new claim: he has a “chronic heart condition with a pacemaker” and Tubbs, Patrick, Goodson, Pennington, Aulds, and Higginbottom refuse to allow him to see his heart doctor. (Id. at 6-8).

         The Court conducted a preliminary screening of Plaintiff's Complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915A and 1915(e)(2) and dismissed his claims against Sisk, White, Smith, Aulds, Higginbottom, and Lord. The two remaining claims in this action are: (1) Plaintiff's claim against Tubbs and Patrick concerning the deprivation of incoming mail; and (2) Plaintiff's claim against Tubbs, Patrick, Goodson, and Pennington concerning his lack of glasses. [docs. # 12, 19].

         On April 29, 2019, Defendants filed the instant motion for summary judgment pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56. Defendants contend Plaintiff's suit should be dismissed because (1) Plaintiff failed to exhaust available administrative remedies as required by 42 U.S.C. § 1997e; and (2) the conduct alleged does not rise to the level of a Constitutional violation. (MSJ at 1, [doc. # 29-2]).

         On May 8, 2019, Plaintiff filed an opposition to the motion, in which he stated he needed more time to conduct discovery to “review each fact which defendants contend is undisputed, identify facts that are not material to [his] claim, and show which material facts are genuinely disputed.” [doc. # 31]. Plaintiff also filed a separate motion for a continuance [doc. # 32], which the Court denied, [doc. # 34]. Defendants did not file a reply.

         Standard of Law

         Summary 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.P. 56(a). A fact is “material” if proof of its existence or nonexistence would affect the outcome of the lawsuit under the applicable law in the case. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). A dispute about a material fact is “genuine” if the evidence is such that a reasonable fact-finder could render a verdict for the nonmoving party. Id.

         The party seeking summary judgment “bears the initial responsibility of informing the district court of the basis for its motion, and identifying those portions of ‘the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any,' which it believes demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of material fact. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986) (quoting Anderson, 477 U.S. at 247). The moving party may meet its burden “by pointing out that the record contains no support for the non-moving party's claim.” Stahl v. Novartis Pharm. Corp., 283 F.3d 254, 263 (5th Cir. 2002). If the nonmoving party is then unable to point to anything in the record to support its claim, summary judgment is appropriate. Id.

         When considering the evidence in a motion for summary judgment, the court resolves factual disputes in favor of the nonmoving party, “but only when there is an actual controversy, that is, when both parties have submitted evidence of contradictory facts.” Alvarez v. City of Brownsville, 904 F.3d 382, 389 (5th Cir. 2018). Rule 56 mandates the entry of summary judgment if the nonmoving party “fails 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. In such a situation, there is “no genuine issue as to any material ...

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