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Burke v. Glass

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

September 12, 2017

CALVIN BURKE, Plaintiff,
v.
DALE GLASS, et al, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          RONNIE L. WHITE, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         This matter is before the court on Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment (ECF No. 111). This matter is fully briefed and ready for disposition.

         BACKGROUND

         Burke's lawsuit arises from his confinement at the Medium Security Institution ("MSI"), also known as the "Workhouse." Burke brings claims against Defendants in their individual capacities pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and 42 U.S.C. §2000cc. Plaintiffs Second Amended Complaint contains eight separate counts: Count I "42 U.S.C. §1983"; Count II "First Amendment Violations"; Count III "Fourth Amendment Violations, " i.e., the strip search policy at MSI was unconstitutional; Count IV "Due Process Violation of the Fifth Amendment"; Count V "Deliberate Indifference to Safety and Health"; Count VI "Custom and Usage"; Count VII "Violation of Equal Protection and Due Process Under the Fourteenth Amendment, " and Count VIII "42 USC §1983".

         Burke was incarcerated at MSI from November 6, 2014 through September 14, 2015. (Defendants' Statement of Uncontroverted Material Facts ("DSUMF"), ECF No. 11 l-l).[1] Burke alleges that the accommodations at MSI were unsatisfactory because MSI was unsanitary and the heating system malfunctioned. Burke also complains about the quality of the food service at MSI because it did not conform to applicable and nutritional and caloric standards, and defendants interfered with his access to kosher meals. Burke alleges that inmates at MSI were encouraged to engage in "gladiator style battles." Burke alleges that Defendants' strip search policy is unconstitutional because he was searched in the presence of "homosexuals, sexual predators, and known sex offenders, " without privacy partitions, and that the searches occurred on a floor made wet from leaking toilets and urinals.

         The undisputed material facts, however, demonstrate that Burke's claims are unfounded. During Burke's incarceration, the boiler system would occasionally fail, but was always repaired within an hour. (DSUMF, ¶2). Inmates were not without heat or hot water for any significant amount of time. (DSUMF, ¶3). While the plumbing fixtures (sinks, toilets, urinals) at MSI occasionally leaked or clogged, these problems were always promptly repaired. (DSUMF, ¶4).

         The St. Louis City Division of Corrections has an established policy 3.3.3, Inmate Grievances, which requires that inmates first submit an Informal Resolution Request form, or "IRR." (DSUMF, ¶¶6-7). The Policy further provides that certain issues are "non-grievable, " i.e., cannot be addressed within the inmate grievance system; these include policies and procedures of the Division of Corrections, conditions not affecting the inmate personally, and frivolous or repetitive complaints. (DSUMF, ¶8). If the inmate is dissatisfied with the outcome of the IRR process, he is provided with a grievance form and may submit that form within five business days. (DSUMF, ¶9).

         Defendants Weber and Fields consistently responded to Burke's complaints and requests submitted via IRR through the grievance system. (DSUMF, ¶10)- Burke was denied grievance forms for non-grievable issues only in accordance with the grievance policy. (DSUMF, ¶ 11). During his incarceration at MSI, Burke abused the grievance system by repeatedly filing frivolous and repetitive grievances and by sending a folded, full food tray to Weber. (DSUMF, ¶12).

         On December 17, 2014, Burke was approved to receive kosher meals. (DSUMF, ¶13). This authorization was revoked on February 17, 2015. (DSUMF, ¶14). Prior to March 2015, Burke was re-approved for kosher meals. (DSUMF, ¶15). Burke received kosher-certified meals for the remainder of his confinement at MSI. (DSUMF, ¶16). Defendants Fields and Edwards were not responsible for approval of special diet requests; rather, the Corizon doctors or the chaplain were responsible for approving such requests. (DSUMF, ¶40).

         At MSI, strip searches must be conducted "to locate and seize contraband in order to ensure the safety and security of the facility, the Correctional Officers, and the inmates. There is no effective alternative to the strip search policy." (DSUMF, ¶21). Privacy partitions or screens are not provided for inmates during strip searches "to ensure the safety and security of the Correctional Officers conducting the searches." (DSUMF, ¶22). During the strip searches "inmates were never made to stand in human waste." (DSUMF, ¶23).

         During his incarceration, Burke received adequate nutrition and medical care. (DSUMF, ¶25). Problems with the boilers and plumbing were repaired within a reasonable amount of time and insect extermination was regularly conducted. (DSUMF, ¶26). Burke suffered no significant harm to his health while incarcerated at MSI. (DSUMF, ¶27).

         Burke was kept in administrative segregation for 34 days, from December 17, 2014 until January 20, 2015. (DSUMF, ¶29). Before being confined to Administrative Segregation, Burke received a pre-deprivation hearing. (DSUMF, ¶28). The disciplinary reports against Burke were substantiated and Burke's punishment was determined after his hearing. (DSUMF, ¶30).

         Burke maintained his approximate weight during his incarceration. (DSUMF, ¶31). Burke did not suffer any exacerbation of vision problems during his confinement. (DSUMF, ¶32). Burke suffered no significant harm as a result of a result of the cleanliness or temperature at MSI, the condition of the sinks, toilets, and urinals, and the light and noise, presence of insects, etc. (DSUMF, ¶33). Burke never sought medical attention related to other inmates smoking near him. (DSUMF, ¶34). In fact, Burke was a drug and tobacco user at the time of his confinement at MSI. (DSUMF, ¶35).

         At MSI, whether an inmate receives out-of-cell exercise is dictated by the administrative segregation and recreation policies. (DSUMF, ¶36). Correctional officers working in the administrative segregation area have the discretion to deny out-of-cell exercise for inmates exhibiting disruptive behavior. (DSUMF, ¶37).

         DISCUSSION

         I. MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

         A. Standard of Review

         The Court may grant a motion for summary judgment if "the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c); Celotex Corp. v. Citrate, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986); Torgerson v. City of Rochester, 643 F.3d 1031, 1042 (8th Cir. 2011). The substantive law determines which facts are critical and which are irrelevant. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 411 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). Only disputes over facts that might affect the outcome will properly preclude summary judgment. Id. Summary judgment is not proper if the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party. Id.

         A moving party always bears the burden of informing the Court of the basis of its motion. Celotex Corp., 411 U.S. at 323. Once the moving party discharges this burden, the nonmoving party must set forth specific facts demonstrating that there is a dispute as to a genuine issue of material fact, not the "mere existence of some alleged factual dispute." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e); Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248. The nonmoving party may not rest upon mere allegations or denials of his pleading. Id.

         In passing on a motion for summary judgment, the Court must view the facts in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party, and all justifiable inferences are to be drawn in his favor. Celotex Corp., 477 U.S. at 331. The Court's function is not to weigh the evidence but to determine whether there is a genuine issue for trial. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 249. '"Credibility determinations, the weighing of the evidence, and the drawing of legitimate inferences from the facts are jury functions, not those of a judge.'" Torgerson, 643 F.3d at 1042 (quoting Reeves v. Sanderson Plumbing Prods., Inc., 530 U.S. 133, 150 (2000)).

         B. Count I: 42 U.S.C. §1983

         Count I alleges that Burke's constitutional rights were violated by Defendants. "The two requisites for a § 1983 cause of action are: (1) an allegation that the conduct complained of subjected the complainant to a deprivation of rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution and laws of the United States, and (2) an allegation that the conduct complained of was done or caused to have been done by a person acting under the color of law." Jennings v. Davis,476 F.2d 1271, 1275 (8th Cir. 1973) (citing Basista v. Weir,340 F.2d ...


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