Phillip v. Geo Group, et al.

A nonsmoking prisoner brought a lawsuit against the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) and GEO Group, a private corporation which operates the Rivers Correctional Institution, a privately run facility where Phillip resides.  Phillip alleges that the defendants have been deliberately indifferent to his health regarding exposure to secondhand smoke.  Phillip brought equal protection and negligence claims.  The Defendants argued that Phillips’ claims are moot because the prison in November 2010 implemented a smoking ban.  The Court granted BOP’s motion for summary judgment.  GEO argued that Phillips’ asthma is not within the scope of his pleadings.  The court also stated that, after the adjudication of GEO defendants’ last motion for summary judgment, it learned that Phillip did not have an opportunity to engage in discovery.  “The court finds that dismissing plaintiff’s negligence claim before he has the opportunity to engage in discovery, especially where plaintiff argues that discovery is needed to demonstrate the elements of his claim, would be unfairly prejudicial.”  Thus, GEO defendants’ request for reconsideration is denied.

In November 2012, the court, at 2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 158210, granted the defendants’ motion for summary judgment, because “…the court finds that plaintiff’s medical records are not sufficient to establish that his exposure to tobacco smoke at Rivers is a proximate cause of his asthma and other injuries.” Also, the court ruled that, as for “plaintiff’s general allegation that prison officials did not enforce the smoking policy, he has not provided sufficient allegations to support this claim.”

2011 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 120547 (U.S.D.C. E.D. N.C. 2011).