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Davis v. Spezze

United States District Court, D. Colorado

October 25, 2018

JADA DAVIS, Plaintiff,
v.
JOHN SPEZZE, JOE MCGUIRE, and TRACY JACKSON, Defendants.

          ORDER ON PENDING MOTIONS AND DIRECTING CLOSURE OF THE CASE

          Marcia S. Krieger, Chief United States District Judge

         THIS MATTER comes before the Court on Defendants' Motion to Dismiss, or in the Alternative, Motion for Summary Judgment (#26). Plaintiff Jada Davis[1] has not filed a response.

         Also before the Court is Ms. Davis' Motion for Reconsideration of an Order issued by Judge Babcock dismissing claims against certain Defendants. (#21).

         Statement of Jurisdiction

         The instant lawsuit asserts an Eighth Amendment claim pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Thus, the Court exercises jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1331.

         MOTION FOR RECONSIDERATION

         Before turning to the Motion to Dismiss, the Court briefly addresses Ms. Davis' pending Motion for Reconsideration (#21). It seeks reconsideration of a May 14, 2018 Order (#13) dismissing claims against the Chaffee County Sheriff's Office and the Board of Commissioners of the County of Chaffee. The Order found that the Chaffee County Sheriff's Office is not a proper party because it is not separate entity from the County of Chaffee, and thus any claim must be asserted against the County. With respect to the Board of Commissioners, the Order concluded that because Ms. Davis has asserted no allegations that might allow the Court to find that Ms. Davis' injury was caused by a municipal policy or custom, she had not stated a claim against it.

         In her Motion for Reconsideration, Ms. Davis does not appear to address the deficiencies identified in the Order. She apparently believes that the claims against the Chaffee County Sheriff's Department and the Board of Commissioners of the County of Chaffee were dismissed as duplicative of claims brought in another case. Since that was not the basis of the dismissal, her Motion for Reconsideration is DENIED.

         MOTION TO DISMISS/MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

         Ms. Davis initiated this lawsuit on February 20, 2018, by letter (#1), which was supplemented by a formal Complaint (#4), and then an Amended Complaint. (#8). The Amended Complaint asserts an Eighth Amendment claim against Defendants John Spezze, Tracy Jackson and Joe McGuire.[2] Defendants responded to the Amended Complaint by filing a document entitled “Motion to Dismiss, or in the Alternative, Motion for Summary Judgment” (#26). Among the arguments Defendants raise is that Ms. Davis failed to exhaust the administrative remedies available to her at the Chaffee County Jail as required by the Prison Litigation Reform Act (the “PLRA”), 42 U.S.C. §1997e. Because the Motion relies on matters outside parameters of Ms. Davis' letter, initial Complaint and Amended Complaint, the Court addresses the Motion as one for summary judgment. See: Fitzgerald v. Corr. Corp. of America, 403 F.3d 1134, 1140-41 (10th Cir. 2005).

         Undisputed Facts

         Because Ms. Davis participates pro se and has not responded to the Motion, the Court interprets her allegations in the Amended Complaint (#8) liberally, treating them as true. Summarized briefly, Ms. Davis was a convicted inmate serving a one year sentence at the Chaffee County Jail. (#4, at p. 5.) During September 2017, and from October 30, 2017 through May 7, 2018, Ms. Davis was detained in cells at the Chaffee County Jail, where she was exposed to black mold. This exposure caused her to have nosebleeds, shortness of breath, a burning sensation in her nose, and other respiratory symptoms. She asked jail staff, particularly Tracy Jackson and Joe McGuire, to remove the black mold, but they did not do so. Mr. Spezze, who ultimately is responsible for supervising the jail, also was aware of the mold but did not take steps to have it removed.

         The jail had a four-step grievance process. (#26-1, at pp. 2, 5-6.) The inmate handbook stated that “[s]hould [an inmate] feel personally aggrieved about any matter, ” compliance with the specified administrative steps was mandatory. (Id. at p. 5.) The administrative grievance process required that: 1) an inmate discuss his or her problem with a Detention Deputy; 2) if that did not resolve the problem, the inmate should submit a kite (a written request) to the Shift Supervisor explaining the problem; 3) if the response to the kite did not satisfy the inmate, he or she should submit a formal grievance to a jail supervisor; and 4) if the grievance did not resolve the issue to the inmate's satisfaction, he or she should submit a sealed letter to the Detention Jail Center Commander. (Id. at pp. 5-6.) According to Defendants, Ms. Davis submitted three kites and a grievance raising concerns about black mold. None occurred prior to the filing of this lawsuit, with the earliest being submitted on April 10, 2018.

         Defendants argue they are entitled to summary judgment based on Ms. Davis' failure to exhaust her available ...


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