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Williams v. Ohio Department of Rehabilitations & Corrections

United States District Court, S.D. Ohio, Western Division

January 22, 2018


          District Judge Thomas M. Rose


          Sharon L. Ovington, United States Magistrate Judge

         I. Introduction

         Plaintiff Melody L. Williams is a former inmate at the Dayton Correctional Institution (DCI). She is currently incarcerated at the Ohio Reformatory for Women. She brings this case pro se under 42 U.S.C. §1983 partly claiming that Defendants violated her constitutional right of access to the courts and retaliated against her for exercising her constitutional right of access to the courts. The violations and retaliation occurred, she asserts, during her past incarceration at DCI. Defendants are Gary Mohr, Director of the Ohio Department of Rehabilitations and Corrections; Wanza Jackson, Warden of DCI; and John Mobley, librarian at DCI.

         The case is pending on Williams's Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. #62), Defendants' Memorandum in Opposition Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. #72), Williams's Response in Opposition (Doc. #76), Defendants' Motions to Strike and the parties' related Memoranda (Doc. #78, 79, 80, 81, 82), and the record as a whole.

         II. Cross-Motions for Summary Judgment

         When, as here, parties have filed cross-motions for summary judgment, the Court grants or denies each motion for summary judgment on its own merit, applying the standards described in Fed.R.Civ.P. 56. Taft Broadcasting Co. v. United States, 929 F.2d 240, 248 (6th Cir.1991).

         A party is entitled to summary judgment when there is no genuine dispute over any material fact and when the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a); see Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986); see also Barker v. Goodrich, 649 F.3d 428, 432 (6th Cir. 2011). To resolve whether a genuine issue of material fact exists, the Court draws all reasonable inferences in the light most favorable to the non-moving party. Richland Bookmart, Inc. v. Knox County, Tenn., 555 F.3d 512, 520 (6th Cir. 2009) (citing Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co., Ltd. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587-88 (1986)). With these reasonable inferences in the forefront, “[t]he central issue is ‘whether the evidence presents a sufficient disagreement to require submission to a jury or whether it is so one-sided that one party must prevail as a matter of law.'” Jones v. Potter, 488 F.3d 397, 402-03 (6th Cir.2007) (quoting, in part, Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 251-52 (1986)). “Accordingly, ‘[e]ntry of summary judgment is appropriate ‘against a party who fails to make a showing sufficient to establish the existence of an element essential to that party's case, and on which that party will bear the burden of proof at trial.'” Whitfield v. Tennessee, 639 F.3d 253, 258 (6th Cir. 2011) (citations omitted). An insufficient showing by the moving party cannot prevail, even if its factual underpinnings have not been challenged by the non-movant. Adickes v. S.H. Kress & Co., 398 U.S. 144, 153-61 (1970). “‘The filing of cross-motions for summary judgment does not necessarily mean that the parties consent to resolution of the case on the existing record or that the district court is free to treat the case as submitted for final resolution on a stipulated record.'” Id. (citations omitted). Yet, “[s]ummary judgment is ‘an integral part of the Federal Rules as a whole, which are designed ‘to secure the just, speedy, and inexpensive determination of every action.' rather than a ‘disfavored procedural shortcut.'” Cincom Systems, Inc. v. Novelis Corp., 581 F.3d 431, 435 (6th Cir. 2009) (quoting, in part, Celotex, 477 U.S. at 327) (other citation omitted).

         III. Williams's Allegations and Claims

         There is no dispute between the parties in the present case over the fact that DCI provides its inmates with access to a law library. Williams's overarching claim is that DCI's library is so inadequate it denied her right of access to the courts. She grounds this on the following:

1. DCI's law library fails to provide assistance from persons trained in the law.
2. It fails to provide self-help manuals to instruct inmates on how to use the law books.
3. It fails to provide adequate space at it only seats 24 inmates at a time, and there are no law-library hours, thus denying seats for inmates needing legal access.
4. General-populate inmates are not given access to the law library. They are allowed less than 10 hours a week in the law library. There are no morning hours. Although the library is open during afternoon and dinner hours, inmates must choose between eating and working on legal matters.
5. The library fails to provide adequate staffing because it is closed during Defendant Mobley's vacations, sick days, and other scheduled absences. Inmates are unable to print or save the work when Defendant Mobley is absent.
6. The library fails to provide adequate access to level-3 inmates. They were only given access to the library for less than 45 minutes a week; no law books were brought in and inmates were unable to meaningfully research the law and prepare legal documents needed to file in federal court-especially concerning habeas-corpus matters such ...

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