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Gustav Thomas Plaintiff v. Lorain Correctional Institution

August 25, 2011

GUSTAV THOMAS PLAINTIFF
v.
LORAIN CORRECTIONAL INSTITUTION DEFENDANT



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge Clark B. Weaver Sr.

Cite as Thomas v. Lorain Corr. Inst.,

The Ohio Judicial Center 65 South Front Street, Third Floor Columbus, OH 43215 614.387.9800 or 1.800.824.8263 www.cco.state.oh.us

ENTRY GRANTING DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

{¶1} On June 22, 2011, defendant filed a motion for summary judgment pursuant to Civ.R. 56(B). On July 19, 2011, plaintiff filed a response.*fn1 The motion is now before the court for a non-oral hearing pursuant to L.C.C.R. 4(D).

{¶2} Civ.R. 56(C) states, in part, as follows:

{¶3} "Summary judgment shall be rendered forthwith if the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, written admissions, affidavits, transcripts of evidence, and written stipulations of fact, if any, timely filed in the action, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. No evidence or stipulation may be considered except as stated in this rule. A summary judgment shall not be rendered unless it appears from the evidence or stipulation, and only from the evidence or stipulation, that reasonable minds can come to but one conclusion and that conclusion is adverse to the party against whom the motion for summary judgment is made, that party being entitled to have the evidence or stipulation construed most strongly in the party's favor." See also Gilbert v. Summit County, 104 Ohio St.3d 660, 2004-Ohio-7108, citing Temple v. Wean United, Inc. (1977), 50 Ohio St.2d 317.

{¶4} At all times relevant to this action, plaintiff was an inmate in the custody and control of defendant, Lorain Correctional Institution (LCI), pursuant to R.C. 5120.16. On November 20, 2007, plaintiff sustained personal injury after his cellmate, inmate Tyna, climbed to the upper bunk and sat on the mattress, causing bedsprings to come into contact with plaintiff's head while he was sitting on the lower bunk. Plaintiff asserts that defendant failed both to maintain safe sleeping accommodations and to supervise the proper use of bunk beds.

{¶5} Defendant contends that it is entitled to summary judgment inasmuch as there is no evidence that it breached any duty it owed to plaintiff.

{¶6} In order to prevail upon his claim of negligence, plaintiff must prove by a preponderance of evidence that defendant owed him a duty, that it breached that duty, and that the breach proximately caused his injuries. Armstrong v. Best Buy Company, Inc., 99 Ohio St.3d 79, 81, 2003-Ohio-2573, citing Menifee v. Ohio Welding Products, Inc. (1984), 15 Ohio St.3d 75, 77. Additionally, Ohio law imposes a duty of reasonable care upon the state to provide for the prisoners' health, care, and well-being. Clemets v. Heston (1985), 20 Ohio App.3d 132, 136. Reasonable or ordinary care is that degree of caution and foresight which an ordinarily prudent person would employ in similar circumstances. Smith v. United Properties, Inc. (1965), 2 Ohio St.2d 310. However, the state is not an insurer of inmates' safety. See Williams v. Ohio Dept. of Rehab. & Corr. (1991), 61 Ohio Misc.2d 699, 702.

{¶7} In support of its motion, defendant submitted the affidavit of David Trottier, a Corrections Officer who was on duty at LCI on November 20, 2007. Therein, Trottier avers:

{¶8} "3. LCI has procedures in place regarding the inspection of inmate sleeping quarters and beds, and to the best of my knowledge and belief, these procedures are consistently followed;

{¶9} "4. During these routine inspections, officers examine the condition of the bunk beds, including the springs. I would have made a routine inspection of the bunk bed on the day in question and action would have been taken if repairs were needed. I did not observe any problem with Inmates Thomas and Tyna's bunk beds that day;

{¶10} "5. Inmate Gustav Thomas contacted me following the alleged incident and I wrote an incident report, a true copy of which is attached as Exhibit 1;

{ΒΆ11} "6. Inmate Tyna, the bunkmate of Inmate Thomas, jumped onto the top bunk, allegedly causing the bedsprings to dip ...


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