to S.C. Reporter 10/23/17
V. Jacobus Assistant Attorney General.
Peterson Magistrate Judge.
ENTRY GRANTING DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY
PATRICK M. McGRATH JUDGE.
On June 5, 2017, defendant filed a motion pursuant to Civ.R.
56(B) for summary judgment. On July 3, 2017, plaintiff filed
a memorandum in opposition.
Civ.R. 56(C) states, in part, as follows:
"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
Cty., 104 Ohio St.3d 660, 2004-Ohio-7108, citing
Temple v. Wean United, Inc., 50 Ohio St.2d 317
According to the complaint, plaintiff is an inmate in the
custody and control of defendant at the Warren Correctional
Institution (WCI). The complaint provides that in October
2015, plaintiff was assigned to work in the prison chow hall
where the food service operation is performed by Aramark, a
private company. The complaint goes on to provide that the
chow hall has tile floors and that water from cleaning and
cooking regularly covers the floors. As a consequence of the
water on the floor, a "detail crew" conducts
spot-mopping for safety and there are numerous "wet
floor" signs in the area. Plaintiff alleges in the
complaint that Aramark employees are provided with non-slip
shoes for their safety whereas requests from inmates to be
accommodated with similar shoes have been denied. Plaintiff
states that the "state shoes" that defendant does
provide have little or no grip and are extremely slippery on
the chow hall floor.
Plaintiff alleges that on October 8, 2016, while working his
shift, he encountered a wet floor that was not marked with
signs or a mop bucket, and as a result, slipped and fell.
Plaintiff was wearing his own personal boots at the time.
Plaintiff suffered an "A.C. tear in his right
shoulder." Plaintiff brings this action for negligence.
Defendant moves for summary judgment, arguing that it was not
negligent and that its actions did not proximately cause
plaintiffs alleged injury. In support, defendant submitted
affidavits from Corrections Officer Cody Barrett, Warden Chae
Harris, Corrections Officer Mark Sims, and Business
Administrator Dawn Vencill. All of the individuals are
employed by defendant at WCI.
Barrett avers that on October 8, 2016, he was doing security
rounds in the food service area when he was called to the
dish room "car wash" area where plaintiff was lying
on the floor. Barrett states that plaintiff alleged that he
had slipped and fallen. Barrett contacted medical to check on
plaintiff. Barrett asserts that on the date of the accident,
plaintiff was assigned to work in food service as a cook,
plaintiff did not need to be in the dish room, and plaintiff
was therefore out of place.
According to Barrett, "[t]here was, and always is, a wet
floor sign displayed in the area where [plaintiff] fell
because the floor is often wet. This is the area where
inmates wash dishes so it is inherently wet. Given that there
are dishes being cleaned in the dish room, the floor is
wetter in the dish room than it is in the area where the
cooks cook." Affidavit ¶ 4. As a result, there are
5-7 inmates working in food service whose sole responsibility
it is to mop the floors and keep them in the best possible
condition while the inmates are working. Barrett further
provides that the dish room floor is "a rough,
concrete-as opposed to a smooth tile-which helps the inmate
keep traction with the floor." Id. at ¶ 5.
Finally, Barrett avers that "[b]efore this incident, no
inmate working in food service had ever said anything to me
about a concern that their shoes were inadequate at
preventing slipping. I have never seen or heard of another
inmate slipping and falling because of slippery floors in
food service." Id. at ¶ 8.
Warden Harris avers that he has never received any
communication from plaintiff or other inmates regarding the
adequacy of footwear while working in food service at WCI.
Regarding the flooring, Warden Harris provides that the
flooring in the area of the dish tank is an epoxy, non-slip
floor that helps inmates keep traction between their shoes
and the floor. Additionally, wet floor signs are placed
around food service to remind inmates to be careful, and
galosh style boots are available for inmates to wear while
working. Warden Harris adds that several inmates work in food
service to clean up water on the floor. Finally, Warden
Harris avers that there is no ...