United States District Court, M.D. Florida, Jacksonville Division
J. DAVIS UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Enoch Donnell Hall, a death-row inmate, is proceeding on a
fourth amended complaint (Doc. 22; Compl.) filed by his
court-appointed counsel. Plaintiff asserts claims based on
the conditions of his confinement and an alleged use of
excessive force while he was housed at Florida State Prison
(FSP). The first four counts are against
individuals the Court references collectively as
“supervisory defendants”: John Palmer, Warden of
FSP; Jeffery McClellan, Assistant Warden of FSP; Gina Gay,
Classification Supervisor of FSP; Amanda Maddox, Senior
Classifications Officer of FSP; and Julie Jones, former
Secretary of the Florida Department of Corrections
(FDOC). Plaintiff alleges the supervisory
defendants housed him a “heightened security”
cell for “multiple years” and arbitrarily
restricted his recreation and visitation privileges, in
violation of the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments and
contrary to the provisions of the Florida Administrative
Code. See Compl. at 10-12. Count five of the
complaint is against two corrections officers, Defendants
Simmons and Ellis, for their alleged use of excessive force
against Plaintiff on May 21, 2014. Id. at 13-14.
the Court are two motions for summary judgment: (1)
Plaintiff's motion for partial summary judgment as to
count four of his complaint in which he seeks declaratory and
injunctive relief against the supervisory defendants (Doc.
86; Pl. Motion); and (2) Defendants Jones, Palmer, McClellan,
Gay, Maddox, and Ellis's motion for summary judgment as
to the claims against the supervisory defendants (counts one
through four) (Doc. 87; Def. Motion). The motions are ripe for
this Court's review. See Responses (Doc. 92;
Def. Resp.) (Doc. 93; Pl. Resp.).
Summary Judgment Standard
Rule 56, “[t]he court shall grant summary judgment if
the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any
material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a
matter of law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). An issue is genuine
when the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return
a verdict in favor of the nonmovant. Mize v. Jefferson
City Bd. of Educ., 93 F.3d 739, 742 (11th Cir. 1996)
(quoting Hairston v. Gainesville Sun Publ'g Co.,
9 F.3d 913, 919 (11th Cir. 1993)). “[A] mere scintilla
of evidence in support of the non-moving party's position
is insufficient to defeat a motion for summary
judgment.” Kesinger ex rel. Estate of Kesinger v.
Herrington, 381 F.3d 1243, 1247 (11th Cir. 2004) (citing
Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 252
party seeking summary judgment bears the initial burden of
demonstrating to the court, by reference to the record, that
there are no genuine issues of material fact to be determined
at trial. See Clark v. Coats & Clark, Inc., 929
F.2d 604, 608 (11th Cir. 1991). The record to be considered
on a motion for summary judgment may include
“depositions, documents, electronically stored
information, affidavits or declarations, stipulations
(including those made for purposes of the motion only),
admissions, interrogatory answers, or other materials.”
a moving party has discharged its burden, the non-moving
party must then go beyond the pleadings, and by its own
affidavits, or by depositions, answers to interrogatories,
and admissions on file, designate specific facts showing that
there is a genuine issue for trial.” Jeffery v.
Sarasota White Sox, Inc., 64 F.3d 590, 593-94 (11th Cir.
1995) (internal citations and quotation marks omitted).
summary judgment, a party opposing the motion must point to
evidence in the record to demonstrate a genuine dispute of
material fact. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(1). Substantive law
determines the materiality of facts, and “[o]nly
disputes over facts that might affect the outcome of the suit
under the governing law will properly preclude the entry of
summary judgment.” Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248. In
determining whether summary judgment is appropriate, a court
“must view all evidence and make all reasonable
inferences in favor of the party opposing summary
judgment.” Haves v. City of Miami, 52 F.3d
918, 921 (11th Cir. 1995) (citing Dibrell Bros.
Int'l, S.A. v. Banca Nazionale Del Lavoro, 38 F.3d
1571, 1578 (11th Cir. 1994)).
court is presented with cross motions for summary judgment,
the court must evaluate each motion separately to determine
whether either party is entitled to the relief sought. In
accordance with Rule 56, when evaluating the merits of each
motion, the court must construe the facts in the light most
favorable to the non-moving party. See 10A Charles
Alan Wright & Arthur R. Miller, Federal Practice and
Procedure § 2720 (4th ed., August 2019 update)
(“The court must rule on each party's motion on an
individual and separate basis, determining, for each side,
whether a judgment may be entered in accordance with the Rule
Plaintiff's Allegations & Claims for
sues the supervisory defendants in their individual and
official capacities. He alleges the supervisory defendants
treated him differently than other death row inmates with
respect to his cell assignment and visitation and recreation
privileges. See Compl. at 6, 7. Plaintiff asserts he
was arbitrarily “housed in a cell that was built for
and designated as a disciplinary confinement cell for
prisoners, ” though he had not been found guilty of any
disciplinary infraction to have warranted this
“heightened security” status. Id. at 6.
When Plaintiff grieved the issue, he was informed his cell
assignment was a result of “his conviction for which he
was sentenced to death.” Id.
also asserts the supervisory defendants arbitrarily
restricted his visitation and recreation privileges, which
further isolated him from other inmates and visitors.
Id. at 10. Plaintiff contends the collective
conditions of his confinement-placement in a heightened
security cell with restrictions on his ability to interact
with others during recreation and visitation-amount to cruel
and unusual punishment in violation of the Eighth Amendment
(count one). Id. Additionally, he contends the
restrictions on his visitation and recreation privileges
violate the Fourteenth Amendment due process clause (counts
two and three). Id. at 11, 12.
separately numbered count (four), which Plaintiff
characterizes as a “claim, ” he sets forth his
requests for declaratory and injunctive relief against the
supervisory defendants. Id. at 13. In count four,
Plaintiff asserts he faces “the continuing violation of
his limited rights afforded to him regarding the terms of his
confinement” unless declaratory and injunctive relief
are not granted. Id. In addition to declaratory and
injunctive relief, Plaintiff seeks nominal
damages and any equitable relief deemed just and
proper, reasonable attorneys' fees, costs, and litigation
expenses. Id. at 13-14.
“Heightened Security” Cell Assignment
was transferred to FSP in 2008 after he murdered a
corrections officer at Tomoka Correctional Institution. Pl.
Dep. at 4-5. Between 2008 and 2011, Plaintiff was housed in
maximum management at FSP. Id. at 5. See
also Palmer Dep. at 24. On March 23, 2011, after Plaintiff
was convicted and sentenced to death, he was moved to death
row and immediately placed in a “heightened
security” cell. Pl. Dep. at 5; Pl. Dec. ¶ 4. A
heightened security cell is one with a solid steel door
(solid door cell) as opposed to one with bars (open bar
cell). Pl. Dec. ¶ 5; Pl. Dep. at 12. See also
Palmer Dep. at 19 (stating there are five “reinforced
cells” on death row, which are reserved for inmates on
heightened security); Gay Dep. at 10 (recognizing that
confinement in a solid door cell is considered
deposition, Plaintiff described the differences between solid
door and open bar cells: solid door cells have a steel door
with only one small window, while open bar cells have bars
down the front allowing inmates to see out, reach out, and
communicate; the air quality in solid door cells is poor;
inmates in solid door cells are not permitted to have
entertainment or comfort items, such as televisions, radios,
computers, access to the canteen, reading materials from the
library, or fans, while inmates in open bar cells enjoy such
privileges; inmates in solid door cells sleep on a concrete
slab, while inmates in open bar cells sleep on a metal bed
that flexes; the shelf available for eating and writing is
smaller in solid door cells than in open bar cells; and
inmates in open bar cells receive cell-front visits from
members of the church, while those in solid door cells do
not. Pl. Dep. at 13, 14, 15, 18-19.
remained in a solid door cell for a little over five years,
from March 2011 until July 2016. Pl. Dep. at 15; see
also Pl. Dec. ¶ 9. In July 2016, an officer
told Plaintiff he had “received a telephone call from
the administration” with an order to move Plaintiff to
an open bar cell. Pl. Dep. at 47. Plaintiff was housed in an
open bar cell for a couple of months, and then he was
returned to a solid door cell in about September or October
2016. Pl. Dep. at 16; Pl. Dec. ¶ 14. At that time, he
received a similar explanation for his return to a solid door
cell: the administration “got a call and [he] was to be
moved back.” Pl. Dep. at 47-48. Plaintiff remained in a
solid door cell for about five or six months, until March
2017, when, without explanation, he was again moved to an
open bar cell. Id. at 16, 48. Plaintiff said, after
March 2017, he was moved “a couple more times . . .
behind the [solid] door, ” though he could not recall
how many times or the dates. Id. at 16-17.
last time Plaintiff was placed in a solid door cell was
because of a disciplinary infraction in July 2017, following
an altercation with another inmate while in the recreation
yard. Id. at 17. Plaintiff remained in the
solid door cell for about twenty days, returning to an open
bar cell on August 9, 2017. Id. Plaintiff has not
been moved back to a solid door cell since. Id.
had no disciplinary charges lodged against him between 2011,
when he was transferred to death row and placed in a solid
door cell, and 2016, when he was moved to an open bar cell
(the first time). Id. at 43; Palmer Dep. at 11; Def.
Motion at 11-12, 18. When Plaintiff filed a grievance asking
why a restriction had been imposed against him even though he
had not committed a disciplinary infraction, a prison
official informed him he was housed in a cell “for
heightened security due to [his] . . . crime that sent [him]
to death row.” See Pl. Ex. E at 2. Defendant
Palmer, on the other hand, offered a different explanation
for Plaintiff's cell assignment, maintaining the cell
assignment was not related to Plaintiff's conviction.
Palmer Dep. at 14.
Palmer testified Plaintiff was placed on a “heightened
level of security” because he had a “propensity
for . . . violence” as demonstrated by his 1994
conviction (for which he received a life sentence) and the
2011 murder conviction. Id. at 12, 16. Defendant
Palmer explained, “from a behavioral risk assessment
standpoint [Plaintiff had] demonstrated a pattern of violence
towards others.” Id. at 16. According to
Defendant Palmer, Plaintiff had to regain the trust of
administrators to be moved to an open bar cell. Id.
at 17. However, Defendant Palmer also stated,
“[Plaintiff] committed one of the most heinous crimes
that you can commit inside of a prison, and that is murder on
a female correctional officers.” Id. at 12.
offers the affidavit of Dr. Michael S. Maher, who is a
“board certified psychiatrist specializing in general
and forensic psychiatry” and evaluates inmates in FDOC
facilities. Maher Aff. ¶¶ 2, 3. Dr. Maher avers
Plaintiff was “confined in a heightened security,
disciplinary-type cell with limited human interaction, except
for prison officials, for over five (5) years and
intermittently since then.” Id. ¶ 4.
According to Dr. Maher, the conditions of Plaintiff's
confinement, with sporadic out-of-cell recreation and limited
contact with others, can have “a profoundly negative
impact on [a] prisoner's mental health - due to lack of
outside human contact and interaction - and poses a
significant risk of serious harm to [an inmate's]
well-being.” Id. ¶ 5.
testified he feels physically better when he is in an open
bar cell as opposed to a solid door cell. Pl. Dep. at 13. He
avers the conditions in a solid door cell are similar to
those of “solitary confinement in that it severely
restricts [his] ability to communicate with other human
beings.” Pl. Dec. ¶ 6.
to Defendant Palmer, when Plaintiff was sentenced to death
row in 2011, his privileges should have “automatically
reverted to contact visitation.” Palmer Dep. at 25-26.
Plaintiff testified he indeed had contact visitation when he
was first sent to death row in 2011. Pl. Dep. at 5-6.
However, in early 2013, Defendant Palmer learned Plaintiff
had contact visitation, which he thought was an error. Palmer
Dep. at 26. As such, Defendant Palmer changed Plaintiff's
visitation privileges to non-contact. Id. See
also Pl. Dep. at 9. Defendant Palmer believed, based on
the nature of Plaintiff's offense (the murder) and his
“pattern of behavior, ” the Institution
Classification Team (ICT) should have placed Plaintiff on
non-contact visitation status when Plaintiff initially was
sent to death row. Id.
Palmer testified Plaintiff had a violent history and a
“pattern of behavior, ” and Palmer “did
[not] trust [Plaintiff] when [Palmer] was off at night or on
weekends.” Id. at 26-27. According to
Defendant Palmer, a “behavioral risk assessment would
say that [Plaintiff] was at risk for . . . repeat
behavior.” Id. at 28-29. Defendant
Palmer said Plaintiff is different from other inmates on
death row, though he did not explain how. Id. at 33.
testified Defendant Palmer told him he was being denied
contact visitation because of Plaintiff's “actions,
” for which Plaintiff was “warned that [he] would
suffer the consequences.” Pl. Dep. at 49. Plaintiff did
not know what “actions” Defendant Palmer was
referring to, though he assumed it was his murder conviction.
Id.; see also Pl. Dec. ¶23.
Plaintiff also testified Defendant Maddox stated Defendant
Palmer changed Plaintiff's visitation status “due
to [his] conviction.” Pl. Dep. at 11.
has not had a visitor since 2006. Pl. Dep. at 6. However, in
2013, two people tried to visit him but were prevented from
doing so. Id. at 53, 56.
to Plaintiff, inmates on death row have two kinds of outdoor
recreation: communal recreation and cage (solo) recreation.
Pl. Dep. at 23. See also Pl. Dec. ¶ 7.
Defendant Palmer testified death row inmates
“automatically” have communal, outdoor recreation
unless the ICT imposes a restriction. Palmer Dep. at 25-26.
Inmates with communal recreation privileges can interact with
other inmates and play team sports such as basketball or
volleyball. Pl. Dep. at 28. Inmates in communal recreation
also have access to a water fountain and a kiosk machine (to
email family members). Id. at 33, 34.
assigned to solo recreation, however, are restricted to a
cage that roughly measures ten-feet tall by twelve to
fifteen-feet wide by twenty-feet long. Pl. Dep. at 30; Pl.
Dec. ¶8; Palmer Dep. at 48. When confined to cage
recreation, inmates are not permitted to talk to others (even
though they can see and hear inmates exercising in the
communal area), are not permitted to bring anything with
them, and have no access to water or the kiosk machine. Pl.
Dep. at 29-30, 33, 34. Defendant Palmer, however, testified
water is provided for inmates exercising in the cage. Palmer
Dep. at 50.
Plaintiff was sentenced to death row in 2011, he was not
permitted to enjoy communal recreation. Rather, he was
automatically assigned to cage recreation. Pl. Dep. at 5-6,
23. Defendant Gay testified she understood Plaintiff's
recreation privileges were restricted because of “the
murder for which he was convicted.” Gay Dep. at 53. On
March 31, 2013, Plaintiff submitted an informal grievance
inquiring about his recreation status, saying he was assigned
to the “cages that are used for disciplinary
purposes.” See Def. Ex. G at 2. Defendant
Maddox responded to the grievance, informing Plaintiff his
outdoor recreation status complies with Florida
Administrative Code rule 33-601.830(j)3. Id.
first time Plaintiff received communal recreation was when he
was moved from the solid door cell to an open bar cell in
July 2016, but each time he subsequently was moved back to a
solid door cell, ...