West v. Gavins et al (INMATE 2)

Filing 84

ORDERED that Mr. West's 83 Objections are OVERRULED, the 68 Recommendation of the Magistrate Judge is ADOPTED, and Dfts' 33 Motion for Summary Judgment is GRANTED. Signed by Honorable William Keith Watkins on 8/6/2010. (wcl, )

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W e s t v. Gavins et al (INMATE 2) D o c . 84 IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE MIDDLE DISTRICT OF ALABAMA N O R T H E R N DIVISION J A M E S ROBERT WEST, JR., #110315, P l a in tif f , v. B R Y A N K. GAVINS, COI, et al., D e f e n d a n ts . ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ORDER P la in tif f James Robert West, Jr. brings this 42 U.S.C. 1983 action against Bryan G a v in s , a correctional officer at Easterling Correctional Facility ("ECF), James DeLoach, the A s s is ta n t Warden of Draper Correctional Facility ("DCF"), and Gwendolyn Mosley, Warden o f ECF. He alleges that Defendants violated his First Amendment rights by denying him a c ce ss to the courts and retaliating against him for filing grievances and lawsuits and for a ss is tin g other inmates with their legal matters. This cause is before the court on the M a g is tra te Judge's Recommendation (Doc. # 68) and Mr. West's objections to the R e c o m m e n d a tio n (Doc. # 83). Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. 636(b)(1), the court conducts a de n o v o review of the portions of the Recommendation to which the objections were made and f in d s that the objections are due to be overruled. 1. D e c la r a to r y Relief M r. West first objects to the Magistrate Judge's recommendation that the claim for C A S E NO. 2:07-CV-747-WKW Dockets.Justia.com d e c lar a to ry judgment be dismissed as moot. In his complaint, Mr. West requests " [ d ]e c la ra to ry relief wherein the Court declares that [Defendants Mosley and DeLoach] v io la te d [his] federally protected rights under the First Amendment" when they transferred a n d disciplined him. Mr. West contends that because Defendants "visited the institution one w ee k prior to the Plaintiff being placed in lockup for no reason and all of his legal papers c o n f is c a te d ," there is a genuine issue of material fact that Defendants were involved in these in c id e n ts . (Doc. # 83, at 2.) However, even if Mr. West's declaratory judgment claim is not m o o t, it fails on the merits. As the Magistrate Judge found and as discussed further below there is no genuine issue of material fact that Defendants violated Mr. West's First A m e n d m e n t rights. 2. D e n ia l of Access to Courts Mr. West objects to the Magistrate Judge's legal finding that Mr. West must present e v id e n c e of actual injury to maintain his First Amendment claim for denial of access to the c o u r ts . Mr. West cites Chandler v. Baird for the proposition that prejudice need not be sh o w n in systemic challenges. 926 F.2d 1057, 1063 (11th Cir. 1991). This argument falters in two respects. First, Mr. West does not allege "systemic" failure "embracing the basic a d e q u ac y of materials and legal assistance made available to all or subgroups of the prison p o p u la tio n ." Id. And second, even if he did properly allege systemic failure, Mr. West m u s t , for standing purposes, allege actual injury to himself. See Lewis v. Casey, 518 U.S. 3 4 3 , 349 (1996). To that end, Mr. West maintains that his legal mail was withheld for seven 2 m o n th s , that he had to file two suits in state court because he was not aware that he could ref ile and amend the present complaint, and that he was denied "basic materials" to present his c la im s . (Doc. # 83, at 3-4.) However, evidence of these allegations does not suffice to show a c tu a l injury. As the Magistrate Judge noted, Mr. West has not presented evidence that D e f e n d a n ts ' alleged actions deprived him of his capability or opportunity to file claims and h e has, in fact, been quite proficient at filing claims. 3. D u e Process M r. West's contention that he had a protected liberty interest "not to be kept in a d m in i s tr a t iv e segregation" for six and sixteen months is without merit. He argues that p ris o n administrative regulations created the liberty interest at issue (Doc. # 83 at 5-6.) W h ile it is true that state regulations "may under certain circumstances create liberty interests w h ic h are protected by the Due Process Clause[,] . . . these interests will be generally limited to freedom from restraint which, while not exceeding the sentence in such an unexpected m a n n e r as to give rise to protection by the Due Process Clause of its own force, nonetheless im p o se s atypical and significant hardship on the inmate in relation to the ordinary incidents o f prison life." Sandin v. Conner, 515 U.S. 472, 483-84 (1995) (internal citation omitted). M r. West has not demonstrated that his assignment to administrative segregation during his inca rce ratio n presented "atypical and significant hardship . . . in relation to the ordinary in c id e n ts of prison life." Id. at 484.1 To the extent Mr. West contends that the regulations 1 Ex parte Berry is inapposite. There, the Alabama Supreme Court analyzed whether a regulation created a liberty interest in participating in a work-release program, which allowed an inmate to "leave 3 cre ated a protected liberty interest in not being transferred between prisons (Doc. # 83, at 9), th a t contention fails for the same reasons. 4. E ig h th Amendment M r. West further objects to the Magistrate Judge's recommendation that the court not c o n sid e r Mr. West's allegations related to the water supply and excessive force. The M a g is tra te Judge's finding is correct, however. These allegations were not included in the o rig in a l or amended complaints, and to the extent Mr. West attempts to introduce new claims in a response brief or in his objections, he may not do so. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 15(a); Gilmour v . Gates, McDonald & Co., 382 F.3d 1312, 1314-15 (11th Cir. 2004). F o r the foregoing reasons, it is ORDERED that Mr. West's objections (Doc. # 83) are O V E R R U L E D , the Recommendation of the Magistrate Judge (Doc. # 68) is ADOPTED, and D e f e n d a n ts' Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. # 33) is GRANTED. ju d g m e n t will be filed. D O N E this 6th day of August, 2010. /s/ W. Keith Watkins UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE A separate the prison facility and work at paid employment." Ex parte Berry, 794 So. 2d 307, at 308 (Ala. 2000). No such interest was at issue here. 4

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