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Young v. Scott

United States District Court, M.D. Florida, Fort Myers Division

August 24, 2017


          OPINION AND ORDER [1]



         Plaintiff Michael George Young, Jr., initiated this 42 U.S.C. § 1983 action proceeding pro se as a pre-trial detainee at the Lee County Jail. Plaintiff is proceeding on his Amended Complaint (Doc. #56) filed October 26, 2016, against the following defendants from the Lee County Sheriff's Office: Sheriff Mike Scott, Colonel Thomas Eberhard, Major James Baracco, Captain Kevin Koller, and Captain Mia Rodgers in their official and individual capacities. Doc. #56 at 3-4.

         Under the “Statement of Claim” portion on the Amended Complaint, Plaintiff summarizes his claims against Defendants as follows:

In violating Mr. Young's First Amendment rights, Sheriff Mike Scott's policies, rules, and procedures of visitation violate Mr. Young's liberty interest to intimate association with his daughter. They violated Florida State law and Florida Model Jail standards of allowing all persons held within [its] state prisons and county jail systems visitation with their spouses, children, relatives, and friends. This also a violation of due process of law and equal protection rights of the 5th and 14th Amendments.
In violating Mr. Young's [Eighth] Amendment right, Sheriff Mike Scott and his officers in charge of the corrections and the care and well-being of Mr. Young and denying him visitation without regard to his mental and emotional stat[u]s. This is further compounded by the fact, as show in in Exhibit “I” that the current system has capabilities of being upgraded with software and hardware at a [minimal] cost. The “Deliberate Indifference” being shown to Mr. Young constitutes cruel and unusual punishment. Mr. Young is also subjected needlessly to the mental and emotional stresses of long term separation from family and friends without hope of ever seeing his daughter again, unless she can scrape up enough money to come all the way to Fort Myers, Florida.
In violation of Mr. Young's [Fifth] and [Fourteenth] Amendment rights, Sheriff Mike Scott and the other defendants in charge of Mr. Young's care and well-being violated his Substantive Due Process rights in not allowing some form of hearing or other mediation method to find a solution for the denial of visitation with his daughter. He has suffered cruel and unusual punishment from the long term denial to see Ms. Young and is suffering from mental and emotional anguish, tensions, and stresses unjustly placed upon him. He suffers from daily depressive episodes and mental hardships needlessly due to this denial. His Equal Protection rights are violated in the denial of allowing him the same rights, privileges, and immunities that others enjoy during their detainments. His liberty interest is violated in the denial of his intimate association with Ms. Young.

Doc. #56 at 5-7. As relief Plaintiff seeks declaratory relief, injunctive relief, and monetary damages. Id. at 14.

         Defendants' move for summary judgment in an Amended Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. #58) filed on November 2, 2016. Defendants refer to the following exhibits in support of their motion: Affidavit of Colonel Thomas Eberhardt (Doc. 58-1, Aff. Eberhardt), Affidavit of Deputy First Class Bryon Haycook (Doc. #58-2, Aff. Haycook), and a copy of the final criminal judgment entered against Plaintiff in the Twentieth Judicial Circuit Court (Doc. #58-3).[2]

         Defendants argue that none of Plaintiff's allegations rise to the level of a Constitutional violation. Doc. #58 at 7. Regarding the visitation claim, Defendants recognize that pre-trial detainees have a Constitutional right to reasonable visitation. Id. at 8 (citing Jones v. Diamond, 594 F.2d 997, 1013 (5th Cir 1979)). However, Defendants argue that visitation may be limited when necessary to preserve institutional security. Id. Defendants argue that the Lee County Sheriff's policy prohibiting Skype-style visitation was implemented to preserve institutional security. Id. at 9.

         In support of the security argument, Defendants opine that if inmates were permitted Skype visitation they could “pass messages, plan escapes, or conduct gang related, or other criminal activity” because the correctional officials would lose the ability to control and supervise the visitors visiting each inmate. Id. at 4 (Exh. A ¶ 8). Defendants further state that Skype visitation would have a negative effect on security “as the secure network could be compromised due to open connections outside the firewalls.” Id. at 4 (citing Exh. A ¶ 9). Defendants submit that the current video visitation system is not compatible with Skype and the cost associated with adding even one Skype portal would be $25, 580.00. Id. at 5, 10; see also Aff. Haycook, Doc. #58-2 at 2. Defendants explain that the current visitation procedures allow standard video visitation and allow the Lee County Sheriff's Office to control the number of visitors, the identity of the visitors, the items a visitor can bring with them to visitation, and the behavior of the visitors. Id.

         Defendants Eberhardt, Baracco, and Koller further argue that the Amended Complaint does not allege they were personally involved in the alleged Constitutional deprivations. Id. In fact, Defendants point out that their names are not even mentioned in the Amended Complaint. Id. Because there is no affirmative causal connection between the Defendants and the alleged Constitutional deprivations, they move for summary judgment. Id.

         Despite Plaintiff being allotted additional time to respond to the Defendants' amended motion in response to Plaintiff's Amended Complaint, Plaintiff did not file an amended response and the time to do so has long expired. See Doc. #61. Considering Plaintiff is proceeding pro se, the Court will consider Plaintiff's previous response (Doc. #39) opposing Defendants' initial motion for summary judgment because both motions are substantially the same. Attached to Plaintiff's response is a document entitled “Psychiatric opinions on visitation” (Doc. #39-1).

         In response to Defendants' allegations that the Complaint contains no allegations of personal involvement, Plaintiff argues that all Defendants established the jail's policies and procedures board. Doc. #39 at 13. Plaintiff recognizes that Defendant Baracco's name is not mentioned in the Complaint, but states he identified Baracco as a defendant due to his position in the chain-of-command and his long career with the Lee County Corrections Bureau. Id. Plaintiff contends Defendants ...

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