Huffman v. Autauga County Metro Jail et al (INMATE 2)

Filing 6

RECOMMENDATION of the Magistrate Judge that plaintiff's 1 Inmate 1983 Complaint be dismissed with prejudice prior to service as further set out in order. Objections to R&R due by 12/19/2006. Signed by Judge Wallace Capel Jr. on 12/11/06. (sl, )

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Huffman v. Autauga County Metro Jail et al (INMATE 2) Doc. 6 Case 2:06-cv-01064-WKW-WC Document 6 Filed 12/11/2006 Page 1 of 5 IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT F O R THE MIDDLE DISTRICT OF ALABAMA N O R T H E R N DIVISION ______________________________ J A M E S G. HUFFMAN P l a i n t if f , v. AU T AU G A COUNTY METRO JAIL, e t al., D e f e n d a n ts . ______________________________ * * * * * 2:06-CV-1064-WKW (WO) R E C O M M E N D A T I O N OF THE MAGISTRATE JUDGE P lain tiff, James Huffman ["Huffman"], an inmate incarcerated at the Autauga County M e tro Jail located in Prattville, Alabama, filed this 42 U.S.C. 1983 action on November 2 9 , 2006. He complains that jail personnel improperly confiscated his personal property on Se p te m b e r 12, 2006. Huffman requests that the personal items taken be returned to him and that he be awarded monetary damages. Named as defendants are the Autauga County Metro J a il, Sheriff James Johnson, Captain Larry Nixon, Lieutenant S. Lamar, and Sergeant Liles. U p o n review of the complaint, the undersigned concludes that dismissal of this case p rio r to service of process is proper under 28 U.S.C. 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii).1 See Neitzke v. A prisoner who is allowed to proceed in forma pauperis in this court will have his complaint screened in accordance with the provisions of 28 U.S.C. 1915(e)(2)(B). This screening procedure requires the court to dismiss a prisoner's civil action prior to service of process if it determines that the complaint is frivolous, malicious, fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or seeks monetary damages from a defendant who is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. 1915(e)(2)(B)(i)-(iii). 1 Case 2:06-cv-01064-WKW-WC Document 6 Filed 12/11/2006 Page 2 of 5 W illia m s, 490 U.S. 319 (1989); see also Denton v. Hernandez, 504 U.S. 25 (1992). I. FACTS H u ffm a n complains that Defendants improperly confiscated property from his cell a fte r conducting a shakedown of inmate living areas. The property about which Huffman c o m p la in s consists of gold wire-rimmed frames and prescription lenses.2 Huffman maintains that Defendants' actions were arbitrary and capricious and amounts to theft of property. Huffman requests that Defendants replace his prescription eyewear and that he be awarded m o n e ta ry damages for the physical and emotional "damages" he has endured as a result of D efe n d an ts' conduct. (Doc. No. 1.) II. DISCUSSION T h e court understands Huffman to complain that Defendants' allegedly improper co n fisca t i o n of his property violated his right to due process. Insofar as Huffman's co m p lain t about the allegedly improper confiscation of his property is concerned, the court fin d s that under no set of facts is he entitled to relief. "If the [property from Plaintiff's cell] was not returned because o f [Defendants'] negligence, there has been no unconstitutional d ep rivatio n of property. See Daniels v. Williams, 474 U.S. 327, 1 0 6 S.Ct. 662, 88 L.Ed.2d 662 (negligent loss of property does Huffman filed a grievance with jail personnel wherein he stated that he was missing the gold wire-rim frames of his eyeglasses which had been on a shelf prior to the shakedown. Huffman indicated that the lenses were out of the eyeglass frames because he was cleaning them at the time inmates were ordered removed from their cells for the shakedown. In his grievance, Huffman requested that the wire-rim frames be returned to him. Lt. Lamar responded to Huffman's grievance by informing him that anything removed from his cell was determined to be contraband. (Doc. No. 3 at pg. 7.) 2 2 Case 2:06-cv-01064-WKW-WC Document 6 Filed 12/11/2006 Page 3 of 5 n o t rise to the level of a constitutional violation.) If [D efe n d an ts] intentionally refused to return the [property], p la in tiff has not alleged a constitutional violation. In Hudson v. Pa lm e r the Court ruled that an 'unauthorized intentional d e p rivatio n of property by a state employee does not constitute a violation of the Due Process Clause . . . if a meaningful postd e p riva tio n remedy for the loss is available.' 104 S.Ct. at 3202, 8 2 L.Ed.2d at 407. It is essential to [the instant] complaint that it allege that [Defendants] acted without authorization. If [D efe n d an ts] w[ere] acting pursuant to authorization, [their] a c tio n s would be within the outer perimeter of [their] duties and w o u ld not have violated any clearly established constitutional righ t and therefore [they] would be immune from suit. See S c h e u e r v. Rhodes, 416 U.S. 232, 247-48, 94 S.Ct. 1683, 16919 2 , 40 L.Ed.2d 90 (1974); Flinn v. Gordon, 775 F.2d 1551, 1 5 5 3 (11 th Cir.1985). Only if the complaint is construed as a lle gin g that [Defendants] w[ere] acting in bad faith outside the s c o p e of [their] duties can it evade the doctrine of official i m m u n i ty . Rodriguez-Mora v. Baker, 792 F.2d 1524, 1527 (11 th Cir. 1986). See also Holloway v. W a lk e r, 790 F.2d 1170, 1173-74 (5 th Cir. 1986) (finding no breach of federally guaranteed c o n stitu tio n a l rights, even where a high level state employee intentionally engages in tortuous c o n d u c t, as long as the state system as a whole provides due process of law); Myers v. K le v en h a g e n , 97 F.3d 91, 94-95 (5 th Cir. 1996) ("the Parratt [v. Taylor, 451 U.S. 527 (19 8 1 )]/H u d s o n [v. Palmer, 468 U.S. 517 (1984)] doctrine protects the state from liability fo r failing to provide a pre-deprivation process in situations where it cannot anticipate the ra n d o m and unauthorized actions of its officers." The complainant bears the burden of estab lish ing that the state's post-deprivation remedy is inadequate). The State of Alabama, through its Board of Adjustment, provides a meaningful postd ep rivatio n remedy for Plaintiff to seek redress for the loss of his property. Ala. Code 413 Case 2:06-cv-01064-WKW-WC Document 6 Filed 12/11/2006 Page 4 of 5 9 -6 0 et seq. (1982). In light of this adequate state remedy, Plaintiff's allegation that D e fe n d a n ts violated his due process rights by improperly confiscating his personal property, w h e th e r such was the result of negligence or an intentional act, lacks an arguable basis in the law and is, therefore, subject to dismissal under the provisions of 28 U.S.C. 1 9 1 5 ( e ) ( 2 ) ( B ) ( i) . III. CONCLUSION A c c o rd in gly , it is the RECOMMENDATION of the Magistrate Judge that Plaintiff's c o m p la in t be DISMISSED with prejudice prior to service of process pursuant to the p rovision s of 28 U.S.C. 1915(e)(2)(B)(i). It is further O R D E R E D that the parties are DIRECTED to file any objections to the said R e c o m m e n d a tio n on or before December 19, 2006. Any objections filed must specifically id e n tif y the findings in the Magistrate Judge's Recommendation to which a party is objecting. F r ivo lo u s , conclusive or general objections will not be considered by the District Court. The p a rtie s are advised that this Recommendation is not a final order of the court and, therefore, it is not appealable. F a ilu re to file written objections to the proposed findings and recommendations in the M a gis t r a t e Judge's report shall bar the party from a de novo determination by the District C o u rt of issues covered in the report and shall bar the party from attacking on appeal factual fin d in gs in the report accepted or adopted by the District Court except upon grounds of plain erro r or manifest injustice. Nettles v. Wainwright, 677 F.2d 404 (5 th Cir. 1982). See Stein 4 Case 2:06-cv-01064-WKW-WC Document 6 Filed 12/11/2006 Page 5 of 5 v . Reynolds Securities, Inc., 667 F.2d 33 (11 th Cir. 1982). See also Bonner v. City of P ric h a r d , 661 F.2d 1206 (11 th Cir. 1981) (en banc), adopting as binding precedent all of the d e c is io n s of the former Fifth Circuit handed down prior to the close of business on Se p te m b e r 30, 1981. D o n e , this 11 th day of December 2006. /s / Wallace Capel, Jr. W A LLA C E CAPEL, JR. U N IT E D STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE 5

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