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Simpson v. Coleman

United States District Court, E.D. North Carolina, Western Division

September 11, 2019

ALEXANDER LEE SIMPSON, Plaintiff,
v.
ERNIE COLEMAN and LT. KATHRYN BRYAN, Defendants.

          ORDER

          LOUISE W. FLANAGAN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         This matter is before the court on defendants' motion for summary judgment (DE 17) pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56. Plaintiff did not respond to the motion. For the reasons that follow, the court grants the motion.

         STATEMENT OF THE CASE

         Plaintiff, a state pretrial detainee proceeding pro se, commenced this action by filing complaint on October 4, 2017, asserting claims for violations of his civil rights pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff alleges defendants Ernie Coleman (“Coleman”), the Beaufort County, North Carolina Sheriff, and Lieutenant Kathryn Bryan (“Bryan”), the Beaufort County Detention Center administrator, refused to provide adequate space and opportunity for physical exercise in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution. Plaintiff seeks monetary relief and an injunction directing detention center officials to change official policy for detainee exercise.

         On May 16, 2018, the court conducted its frivolity review of the complaint and allowed the action to proceed. On July 23, 2018, the court entered case management order governing discovery and pretrial dispositive motions practice.

         On January 4, 2019, defendants filed the instant motion for summary judgment, relying upon memorandum of law, statement of material facts, and the following: 1) declaration of defendant Bryan, and 2) plaintiff's medical records. That same day, pursuant to Roseboro v. Garrison, 528 F.3d 309 (4th Cir. 1975), the court provided plaintiff notice of his right to respond to defendants' motion. Plaintiff, however, did file response to the motion. On July 24, 2019, defendants filed notice of subsequently decided authority, pursuant to Local Civil Rule 7.1(h).

         STATEMENT OF THE FACTS

         The undisputed facts[1] may be summarized as follows.

         Defendant Coleman is the elected Sheriff of Beaufort County, and defendant Bryan is a deputy sheriff in Beaufort County, who holds the position of jail administrator. (DE 18 ¶¶ 1-2). Plaintiff was a pretrial detainee housed at the Beaufort County Detention Center from December 20, 2016, to January 11, 2018. (Id. ¶ 3).

         Plaintiff was housed in four different cell blocks while incarcerated at the Beaufort County Detention Center: B-Block, G-Block, D-Block, and H-Block. (Id. ¶ 4). B-Block has two cells that open into a long day room. (Id. ¶ 6; see also Bryan Decl. (DE 19-1) ¶ 11). The day room in B-Block is approximately 14 feet long and 3 feet, 7 inches wide, and it is accessible to detainees 18 hours per day. (DE 18 ¶¶ 7, 8; Bryan Decl. (DE 19-1) ¶ 11). The cells in B-Block are approximately 4 feet long and 3 feet wide. (DE 18 ¶¶ 9-10; Bryan Decl. (DE 19-1) ¶ 11).

         G-Block is the Beaufort County Detention Center's segregation unit. (DE 18 ¶ 11; Bryan Decl. (DE 19-1) ¶ 11). The G-Block has two cells that open into a day room, which is 4 feet, 11 inches long, and 4 feet wide. (DE 18 ¶¶ 13-14; Bryan Decl. (DE 19-1) ¶ 12). The G-Block cells only house one detainee, and have open floor space, excluding the bunk, that is 4 feet long, and 2 feet, 9 inches wide. (DE 18 ¶ 15; Bryan Decl. (DE 19-1) ¶ 12).

         H-Block has two cells that open into a long day room, accessible to detainees at least 18 hours per day. (DE 18 ¶¶ 16-17; Bryan Decl. (DE 19-1) ¶ 13). The H-Block day room is 18 feet, 8 inches long, and 8 feet, 6 inches wide. (DE 18 ¶ 18; Bryan Decl. (DE 19-1) ¶ 13). The cells in H-Block have open floor space between the bunks that is 8 feet, 2 inches long and 5 feet, 10 inches wide. (DE 18 ¶ 19; Bryan Decl. (DE 19-1) ¶ 13).

         D-Block has three cells that also open into a long day room, accessible to detainees 18 hours per day. (DE 18 ¶¶ 20-21; Bryan Decl. (DE 19-1) ¶ 14). The D-Block day room is 28 feet, 8 inches long, and 6 feet, 6 inches wide. (DE 18 ¶ 22; Bryan Decl. (DE 19-1) ¶ 14). The cells in D-block have open floor space between the bunks that is 7 feet long and 5 feet, 10 inches wide. (DE 18 ¶ 23; Bryan Decl. (DE 19-1) ¶ 23).

         Beaufort County Detention Center policy provides that detainees are allowed and encouraged to exercise in the day room areas. (DE 18 ¶ 24; Bryan Decl. (DE 19-1) ¶ 24). Defendant Bryan testified that detainees in the B-Block, H-Block, and D-Block routinely use the day rooms for exercise. (Bryan Decl. (DE 19-1) ...


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