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Like v. Wallace

United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Southeastern Division

May 11, 2017

TRAVIS LIKE, Plaintiff,
IAN WALLACE, et al., Defendants.



         Plaintiff Travis Like, an inmate at the Southeast Correctional Center (“SECC”), brought this action pro se under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against officials at SECC, alleging violations of his constitutional rights. This matter is before the Court on Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment. (Doc. 25.) For the following reasons, the Court will grant Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment.

         I. Background

         In his Complaint, Like names Ian Wallace, warden at SECC at all times relevant to this action; and Donna Wigfall, Functional Unit Manager at SECC, as Defendants.[1] Like alleges that Defendant Wigfall violated his Eighth Amendment rights by depriving him of soap, shampoo, and lotion in January of 2015. (Doc. 5 at p. 6.) He also alleges that Defendant Wallace violated his Eighth Amendment rights by ordering the removal of towels from Like's cell on August 26, 2015. Id.

         In their Motion for Summary Judgment, Defendants argue that there are no genuine issues of material fact, and they are entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Defendants further argue that they are entitled to qualified immunity.

         Like did not respond to Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment and the time for doing so has expired.

         II. Summary Judgment Standard

         Pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(a), a district court may grant a motion for summary judgment if all of the information before the court demonstrates that “there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986). The burden is on the moving party. City of Mt. Pleasant, Iowa v. Associated Elec. Co-op. Inc., 838 F.2d 268, 273 (8th Cir. 1988). After the moving party discharges this burden, the nonmoving party must do more than show that there is some doubt as to the facts. Matsushita Elec. Industrial Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986). A genuine issue of material fact is not the “mere existence of some alleged factual dispute between the parties.” State Auto. Ins. Co. v. Lawrence, 358 F.3d 982, 985 (8th Cir. 2004). “Instead, the dispute must be outcome determinative under prevailing law.” Mosley v. City of Northwoods, 415 F.3d 908, 910-11 (8th Cir. 2005) (internal quotations omitted). A fact is material when it “might affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law.” Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986).

         Like did not respond to Defendant's Statement of Material Facts (Doc. 27), as required under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure (“FRCP”) 56 and Local Rule 4.01(E). Like's status as a pro se prisoner does not excuse him from responding to Defendants' Motion “with specific factual support for his claims to avoid summary judgment, ” or from complying with local rules. Beck v. Skon, 253 F.3d 330, 333 (8th Cir. 2001). With his failure to respond, Like is deemed to have admitted all of the facts in Defendants' statement of uncontroverted facts. Turner v. Shinseki, No. 4:08-CV-1910 CAS, 2010 WL 2555114, at *2 (E.D. Mo. Jun. 22, 2010) (citing Deichmann v. Boeing Co., 36 F.Supp.2d 1166, 1168 (E.D. Mo. 1999), aff'd 232 F.3d 907 (8th Cir. 2000), cert. denied, 531 U.S. 877).

         Summary judgment is not granted in favor of Defendants as a result of Like's failure to properly respond to Defendants' statement of material facts. Instead, the Court deems the facts set forth by Defendants as true. Reasonover v. St. Louis Cty., Mo., 447 F.3d 569, 579 (8th Cir. 2006). Defendants must still establish that they are entitled to judgment as a matter of law. See id.

         III. Facts[2]

         Like was housed in Housing Unit 1 (“HU 1”) at SECC from March 6, 2014, until November 19, 2015, which includes all times relevant to Like's claims. HU 1 houses offenders who have demonstrated the inability to adhere to unit rules, which has resulted in long-term segregation assignment; offenders who are assaultive towards staff or other offenders; offenders who cannot control their behavior due to mental health issues; or offenders who require single cell assignments. Offenders are placed in HU 1 because they pose the greatest threat to the safety and security of SECC. The most restrictive property limits are placed on offenders in HU 1 due to these safety and security threats. Offenders in HU 1 are not permitted to have any property that could pose a safety or security risk to themselves, other offenders, or the staff at SECC.

         SECC Standard Operating Procedure (“SOP”) 21-1.2 sets the policy on which items of property are permitted for offenders in HU 1. SECC SOP 21-1.2 states that offenders in HU 1 are only permitted one bar of state-issued soap at a time, to be distributed once per week. The non-state-issued bars of soap available for purchase to offenders outside of HU 1 are larger than the state-issued soap. The larger non-state-issued bars of soap can create a safety and security risk to those offenders in HU 1. Given the violent nature of offenders, an offender could potentially hollow out the soap in order to hide contraband, or potentially use the large bar of soap as a weapon. The only reason an offender in HU 1 would be permitted to possess non-state-issued soap would be if he had written documentation indicating that he could not use state-issued soap due to medical reasons.

         Like received state-issued soap on a weekly basis during the entirety of the relevant time period. If Like required more soap in order to maintain good hygiene, and asked for it, staff members at SECC were expressly permitted to supply him with more soap. Like admits he never asked for additional soap. Defendant Wigfall never received any communication from Like, or any staff member, that Like requested more soap. Wigfall never took any hygiene items away from Like. Like's only medical lay-ins stated that he could purchase soap from the Canteen, but did not state that he could not use the state-issued soap. Like did not have any medical documentation stating that he was ...

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