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Hudson v. Smiley

United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Terre Haute Division

September 27, 2019

CLAUDE HUDSON, JR., Plaintiff,



         Plaintiff Claude Hudson, Jr., filed this civil rights action alleging that while he was incarcerated at the Vigo County Jail he was unreasonably cold. He asserts that defendants Jail Matron Smiley (“Lt. Smiley”), Sgt. Firestone, Sgt. Dyer, Sgt. Burns, Sgt. Taylor, and Cpl. Newman were responsible for exposing him to these conditions. See dkt. 7. The defendants now seek resolution of the claims alleged against them through summary judgment. They argue that Mr. Hudson has failed to produce any evidence to support his Eighth Amendment claim. For the reasons explained below, the defendants’ motion for summary judgment filed May 30, 2019, dkt. [89], is granted.

         I. Standard of Review

         A motion for summary judgment asks the Court to find that a trial is unnecessary because there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and, instead, the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(a). As the current version of Rule 56 makes clear, whether a party asserts that a fact is undisputed or genuinely disputed, the party must support the asserted fact by citing to particular parts of the record, including depositions, documents, or affidavits. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(1)(A). A party can also support a fact by showing that the materials cited do not establish the absence or presence of a genuine dispute or that the adverse party cannot produce admissible evidence to support the fact. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(1)(B). Failure to properly support a fact in opposition to a movant’s factual assertion can result in the movant’s fact being considered undisputed, and potentially in the grant of summary judgment. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e).

         In deciding a motion for summary judgment, the Court need only consider disputed facts that are material to the decision. A disputed fact is material if it might affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law. Williams v. Brooks, 809 F.3d 936, 941-42 (7th Cir. 2016). “A genuine dispute as to any material fact exists ‘if the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party.’” Daugherty v. Page, 906 F.3d 606, 609-10 (7th Cir. 2018) (quoting Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986)).

         The Court views the record in the light most favorable to the non-moving party and draws all reasonable inferences in that party’s favor. Skiba v. Illinois Cent. R.R. Co., 884 F.3d 708, 717 (7th Cir. 2018). It cannot weigh evidence or make credibility determinations on summary judgment because those tasks are left to the fact-finder. Miller v. Gonzalez, 761 F.3d 822, 827 (7th Cir. 2014). The Court need only consider the cited materials, Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(3), and the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals has repeatedly assured the district courts that they are not required to “scour every inch of the record” for evidence that is potentially relevant to the summary judgment motion before them. Grant v. Trustees of Indiana University, 870 F.3d 562, 573-74 (7th Cir. 2017).

         In this case, the defendants assert that Mr. Hudson does not have any evidence to support his constitutional claims. Mr. Hudson did not respond to this argument. Smith v. Lamz, 321 F.3d 680, 683 (7th Cir. 2003) (“[F]ailure to respond by the nonmovant as mandated by the local rules results in an admission.”). By not responding to the motion for summary judgment, Mr. Hudson conceded to the defendants’ version of the facts. Brasic v. Heinemann's Inc., 121 F.3d 281, 286 (7th Cir. 1997). This is the result of Local Rule 56-1, of which Mr. Hudson was notified. See dkt. 91. This does not alter the standard for assessing a Rule 56 motion but does “reduc[e] the pool” from which the facts and inferences relative to such a motion may be drawn. Smith v. Severn, 129 F.3d 419, 426 (7th Cir. 1997).

         II. Undisputed Facts

         Mr. Hudson was incarcerated at the Vigo County Jail (“Jail”) from January through September 2017. Dkt. 89-1 at 5-6 (Hudson Deposition). Mr. Hudson was detained in the Jail after being charged with touching a police officer in the line of duty and being a habitual criminal. He was a pretrial detainee from the time he entered the Jail until July of 2017 when he was convicted by a jury of both charges. Id.

         Mr. Hudson was housed in the Health Unit because of high blood pressure and his age (80 years of age at the time).[1] Dkt. 89-1 at 8. Mr. Hudson described the temperatures in the Health Unit[2] at the Vigo County Jail as icy cold. Id. at 7-8. He testified that the cold conditions in his living quarters made it impossible to do his legal work without a coat and blanket. Id.

         Mr. Hudson complained to defendants Sgt. Burns, Lt. Smiley, and Sgt. Firestone about the cold temperatures in the Health Unit. Id. at 9. Lt. Smiley testified that air circulation and temperatures in the Jail are only an issue during the winter when the outdoor temperatures are very cold.

         Mr. Hudson complained about the cold temperatures in the Health Unit to Lt. Smiley. Id. at 14. Mr. Hudson testified that he requested transfer to another block due to the cold temperatures. Id. at 11. Lt. Smiley was cooperative, and Mr. Hudson was transferred to the segregation unit for a few weeks. Id. at 12-14. Mr. Hudson testified that he was more comfortable in the segregation unit because it was convenient, he had privacy, and his meals were delivered. Id.

         On February 26, 2017, Mr. Hudson submitted a general request form asking for stocking caps to be sold through commissary because he found it warmer and more comfortable if he wore one to bed. Dkt. 89-1 at 17 and 35. That request was denied. Id. at 18 and 35. Lt. Smiley testified that stocking caps were not necessary and that they could be used for unintended purposes. Dkt. 89-7.

         On May 10, 2017, Mr. Hudson filed a general grievance form complaining that Officer Wyrick removed the covering that Sgt. Burns had placed to block the air from coming out of the vent in Mr. Hudson’s cell. Dkt. 89-1 at 19. In response, Mr. Hudson was told that Mr. Burns did not recall saying that the vents could stay covered, but even if he did, it was no longer ...

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