Scott et al v. Blackweilder et al
MEMORANDUM AND OPINION.Defendant Blackwelders motion for summary judgment [Doc.17] will be GRANTED and this action will be DISMISSED. Signed by District Judge Harry S Mattice, Jr on 1/12/2017. (BDG, )
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF TENNESSEE
A. TIMOTHY PULLEN,
Case No. 4:15-CV-015
Magistrate Judge Steger
This is a pro se prisoner’s civil rights complaint filed pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983.
Before the Court is Defendant Whaley’s unopposed motion for summary judgment [Doc. 33], a
motion to compel discovery filed by Plaintiff [Doc. 37], and a document filed as an “objection”
to the Court’s show cause order, which the Court interprets as a response to the Court’s show
cause order [Doc. 39]. As Plaintiff has not filed a response to Defendant’s motion for summary
judgment, he has waived any opposition to this dispositive motion. Elmore v. Evans, 449 F.
Supp. 2, 3 (E.D. Tenn. 1976), aff’d mem. 577 F.2d 740 (6th Cir. 1978); E.D. TN. LR 7.2. For the
following reasons, the motion for summary judgment [Doc. 33] will be GRANTED and this
action will be DISMISSED. Accordingly, the motion to compel discovery will be DENIED as
moot and the Clerk will be DIRECTED to terminate the “objection” to the Court’s show cause
The Court has previously summarized Plaintiff’s complaint and amended complaint as
Liberally construing the complaint and amended complaint,
Plaintiff Pullen alleges that, after an incident occurred in which
Plaintiff Pullen was not involved, [former] Defendant Tony Hill
called Sherriff Murray Blackwelder to the pod and Sheriff
Blackwelder then had Plaintiff and others removed from the pod,
stripped to their boxers, and returned to the pod after all of their
personal belongings had been removed [Doc. 1 p. 6; Doc. 12 p. 4–
5]. Plaintiff Pullen further alleges that, while stripped to their
boxers, Plaintiff Pullen and the other inmates were left for twelve
hours in a pod that was cold because the air was turned on, with no
blankets or bedding, and that all of the inmates had to huddle in the
shower with the hot water turned on in order to stay warm [Doc. 1
p. 5; Doc. 12 p. 4–5].
[Doc. 19 p. 3–4].
SUMMARY JUDGMENT STANDARD
Rule 56(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides that “[t]he court shall grant
summary judgment 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.” In ruling on a motion for summary
judgment, the court must draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the nonmoving party.
McLean v. 988011 Ontario Ltd, 224 F.3d 797, 800 (6th Cir. 2000). Summary judgment is proper
if the evidence, taken in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party, shows that there are no
genuine issues of material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of
law.” Hartman v. Great Seneca Fin. Corp., 569 F.3d 606, 611 (6th Cir. 2009) (internal quotation
marks omitted). The moving party has the burden of conclusively showing the lack of any
genuine issue of material fact. Smith v. Hudson, 600 F.2d 60, 63 (6th Cir. 1979).
Summary judgment is an integral tool for securing the “just, speedy[,] and inexpensive
determination of every action.” Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 327 (1986). The moving
party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law “against a party who 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 truth at trial.” Id. at 322.
A district court cannot grant summary judgment in favor of a movant simply because the
adverse party has not responded, but rather the court is required to, at a minimum, examine the
motion to ensure that the movant has met its initial burden. Stough v. Mayville Cmty. Sch., 138
F.3d 612, 614 (6th Cir. 1998). In doing so, the court “must not overlook the possibility of
evidentiary misstatements presented by the moving party.” Guarino v. Brookfield Twp. Trs., 980
F.2d 399, 407 (6th Cir. 1992). The court must “intelligently and carefully review the legitimacy
of  an unresponded-to motion, even as it refrains from actively pursuing advocacy or inventing
the riposte for a silent party.” Id. In the absence of a response, however, the Court will not “sua
sponte comb the record from the partisan perspective of an advocate for the non-moving party.”
Id. at 410. If the court determines that the unrebutted evidence set forth by the moving party
supports a conclusion that there is no genuine issue of material fact, the court will determine that
the moving party has carried its burden, and “judgment shall be rendered forthwith.”
In his amended declaration in support of his motion for summary judgment, Defendant
Blackwelder sets forth the following undisputed evidence regarding the incident at issue in
Plaintiff’s complaint:1 (1) after an initial disturbance in Plaintiff’s section of the jail at
approximately 10:30 p.m. on November 1, 2014, an incident of unrest occurred in B Block of the
Lincoln County Jail in which inmates refused to comply with orders from a jail official and
began to throw objects at him and to use bedding and clothes to cover the cameras; (2)
Defendant Blackwelder was notified of the unrest, ordered the inmates to comply and lock down,
While the initial declaration filed in support of Defendant Blackwelder’s motion for
summary judgment was unsworn, did not state that it was made under penalty of perjury, was not
certified or dated, and did not state the date of the incident it addressed [Doc. 34-1], Defendant
Blackwelder has now filed an amended declaration that cured these deficiencies [Doc. 38-1].
and had guards enter B Block to restore order; (4) when the guards entered B Block, half of the
inmates complied with orders to get on the floor; (5) the inmates who did not comply were
removed and placed in another section of the jail; (6) because inmates had used uniforms,
bedding, blankets, and other items to prevent viewing, Defendant Blackwelder ordered that those
items be removed “to ensure operational security and safety for everyone;” (7) inmates were
allowed to keep their undershirt and underwear; (8) the items that were taken from the inmates
were returned at approximately 9:15 the next morning; and (9) the temperature of the jail
remains approximately seventy-two degrees year round and is never at a low setting [Doc. 38-1].
Even if the Court assumes that Plaintiff was a pretrial detainee at the time of the incident
at issue, Defendant Blackwelder’s amended declaration establishes that he took away the
blankets, clothing, and other items due to concerns regarding security and safety. As such, the
denial of these items was reasonably related to legitimate government interests and not a
punishment that violated Plaintiff’s constitutional rights. Block v. Rutherford, 468 U.S. 576, 584
(holding that where a prison condition or restriction on pretrial detainees is reasonably related to
a legitimate government interest, it is not punishment and therefore does not violate a pretrial
detainee’s constitutional rights). Further, as Defendant Blackwell’s affidavit establishes that the
temperature in the jail is always approximately seventy-two degrees and never at a low setting,
the temporary denial of blankets, clothing, and other items for less than twelve hours was not an
extreme deprivation that violated Plaintiff’s constitutional rights. Helling v. McKinney, 509 U.S.
25, 36 (1993) (holding that an extreme deprivation is one “so grave that it violates contemporary
standards of decency to expose anyone unwillingly to such a risk. In other words, the prisoner
must show that the risk of which he complains is not one that today’s society chooses to
tolerate”). Accordingly, Defendant Blackwelder has carried his burden of setting forth evidence
that no genuine issue of material fact remains in this action and he is entitled to judgment as a
matter of law.
For the foregoing reasons, Defendant Blackwelder’s motion for summary judgment [Doc.
17] will be GRANTED and this action will be DISMISSED. The Court hereby CERTIFIES
that any appeal from this order would not be taken in good faith. Thus, should Plaintiff file a
notice of appeal, this Court will DENY Plaintiff leave to appeal in forma pauperis. See 28
U.S.C. § 1915(a)(3); Fed. R. App. P. 24.
AN APPROPRIATE JUDGMENT ORDER SHALL ENTER.
/s/ Harry S. Mattice, Jr._______
HARRY S. MATTICE, JR.
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
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