Boyd v. Foster et al (INMATE 1)
MEMORANDUM OPINION. Signed by Honorable Charles S. Coody on 7/7/10. (scn, )
B o y d v. Foster et al (INMATE 1)(CONSENT)(LEAVE TO FILE DISCOVERY)
D o c . 122
IN THE DISTRICT COURT OF THE UNITED STATES F O R THE MIDDLE DISTRICT OF ALABAMA N O R T H E R N DIVISION C O U R T N E Y BOYD, #208921, P l a i n t if f , v. ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) )
CASE NO. 2:07-CV-961-CSC [WO]
S H A M E K A FOSTER, et al., D e f e n d a n ts .
M E M O R A N D U M OPINION I . INTRODUCTION T h is 42 U.S.C. § 1983 action is pending before the court on a complaint filed by C o u rtn e y Boyd ["Boyd"], a state inmate and frequent litigant in this court, on October 24, 2007. In his complaint, Boyd alleges Shemekia Foster, a mental health professional
e m p lo y e d at Easterling Correctional Facility [ "Easterling"], Mental Health Management S e rv ic e s, Inc., Ms. Foster's employer, and Jeffery Knox, a correctional officer at Easterling, v io late d his First Amendment right to freedom of expression with respect to a letter he wrote to Ms. Foster.1 Boyd also alleges Ms. Foster violated her patient/counselor oath when she d iv u lg e d the contents of this letter to correctional officials. Boyd further challenges his p la c em e n t in the restricted privilege dorm as violative of his due process rights and argues th e placement constituted cruel and unusual punishment. Boyd next complains correctional o ffic e rs Steve Canty and Dexter Baldwin acted with deliberate indifference to his mental
Boyd lists Ms. Foster's first name as Shameka when it is, in fact, Shamekia.
h e a lth .2 Finally, Boyd alleges the actions of the defendants constituted negligence. Boyd s e e k s a declaratory judgment, injunctive relief and monetary damages. The defendants filed special reports and supporting evidentiary materials addressing e a c h of Boyd's claims for relief. Pursuant to the orders entered in this case, the court deems it appropriate to treat these reports as motions for summary judgment. Order of December 2 0 , 2007 - Court Doc. No. 23; Order of July 1, 2008 - Court Doc. No. 82. Thus, this case is n o w pending on the defendants' motions for summary judgment. Upon consideration of such m o tio n s, the evidentiary materials filed in support thereof and Boyd's responses in opposition to the motions, the court concludes that the defendants' motions for summary judgment are d u e to be granted. I I . STANDARD OF REVIEW " S u m m a ry judgment is appropriate `if the pleadings, depositions, answers to in te rro g a to rie s, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show there is no g e n u i n e issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a m atter of law.'" Greenberg v. BellSouth Telecomm., Inc., 498 F.3d 1258, 1263 (11 th Cir. 2 0 0 7 ) (per curiam) (citation to former rule omitted); Fed.R.Civ.P. Rule 56(c) (Summary ju d g m e n t "should be rendered if the pleadings, the discovery and disclosure materials on file, a n d any affidavits show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the
Boyd initially identifies officer Baldwin as D. Balivan. The correctional defendants advise this officer's correct name is Dexter Baldwin.
m o v a n t is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.").3 The party moving for summary ju d g m e n t "always bears the initial responsibility of informing the district court of the basis for its motion, and identifying those portions of the [record, including pleadings, discovery m a te ria ls and affidavits], which it believes demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of m a te ria l fact." Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986). The movant may meet th is burden by presenting evidence indicating there is no dispute of material fact or by s h o w in g that the nonmoving party has failed to present evidence in support of some element o f its case on which it bears the ultimate burden of proof. Id. at 322-324. The defendants have met their evidentiary burden and demonstrated the absence of a n y genuine issue of material fact. Thus, the burden shifts to the plaintiff to establish, with a p p r o p r ia te evidence beyond the pleadings, that a genuine issue material to his case exists. C la r k v. Coats & Clark, Inc., 929 F.2d 604, 608 (11 th Cir. 1991); Celotex, 477 U.S. at 324; F e d .R .C iv .P . 56(e)(2) ("When a motion for summary judgment is properly made and s u p p o rte d , an opposing party may not rely merely on allegations or denials in its own p le a d in g ; rather, its response must ... set out specific facts showing a genuine issue for tria l." ). A genuine issue of material fact exists when the nonmoving party produces evidence th a t would allow a reasonable fact-finder to return a verdict in its favor. Greenberg, 498 F .3 d at 1263.
Effective December 1, 2007, "[t]he language of Rule 56 [was] amended ... to make the rule more easily understood and to make style and terminology consistent throughout the rules. These changes ... are stylistic only." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56 Advisory Committee Notes. Thus, although Rule 56 underwent stylistic changes, its substance remains the same and, therefore, all cases citing the prior rule remain equally applicable to the current rule.
I n civil actions filed by inmates, federal courts must distinguish between evidence of disputed facts and disputed matters of p rof e ssio n al judgment. In respect to the latter, our inferences must accord d e fe re n c e to the views of prison authorities. Unless a prisoner can point to su ffic ien t evidence regarding such issues of judgment to allow him to prevail o n the merits, he cannot prevail at the summary judgment stage. B e a rd v. Banks, 548 U.S. 521, 530, 126 S.Ct. 2572, 2578, 165 L.Ed.2d 697 (2006) (internal c ita tio n omitted). Consequently, to survive the defendants' properly supported motions for s u m m a r y judgment, Boyd is required to produce "sufficient [favorable] evidence" which w o u ld be admissible at trial supporting his claims of constitutional violations. Anderson v. L ib e rty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 249 (1986); Rule 56(e)(1), Federal Rules of Civil P r o c e d u r e . "If the evidence [on which the nonmoving party relies] is merely colorable ... or is not significantly probative ... summary judgment may be granted." Id. at 249-250. "A m ere `scintilla' of evidence supporting the opposing party's position will not suffice; there m u s t be enough of a showing that the [trier of fact] could reasonably find for that party. A n d e rs o n v. Liberty Lobby, 477 U.S. 242, 106 S.Ct. 2505, 2512, 91 L.Ed.2d 202 (1986)." W a lk e r v. Darby, 911 F.2d 1573, 1576-1577 (11 th Cir. 1990). Conclusory allegations based o n subjective beliefs are likewise insufficient to create a genuine issue of material fact and, th e re fo re , do not suffice to oppose a motion for summary judgment. Waddell v. Valley Forge D e n ta l Associates, Inc., 276 F.3d 1275, 1279 (11 th Cir. 2001); Holifield v. Reno, 115 F.3d 1 5 5 5 , 1564 n.6 (11 th Cir. 1997) (plaintiff's "conclusory assertions ..., in the absence of [ad m iss ib le] supporting evidence, are insufficient to withstand summary judgment."); Harris v . Ostrout, 65 F.3d 912, 916 (11 th Cir. 1995) (grant of summary judgment appropriate where 4
in m a te produces nothing beyond "his own conclusory allegations" challenging actions of the d e fe n d a n ts); Fullman v. Graddick, 739 F.2d 553, 557 (11 th Cir. 1984) ("mere verification of p a r ty ' s own conclusory allegations is not sufficient to oppose summary judgment...."). H e n c e, when a plaintiff fails to set forth specific facts supported by requisite evidence s u ffic ie n t to establish the existence of an element essential to his case and on which the p lain tiff will bear the burden of proof at trial, summary judgment is due to be granted in fa v o r of the moving party. Celotex, 477 U.S. at 322 ("[F]ailure of proof concerning an e ss e n tial element of the nonmoving party's case necessarily renders all other facts im m a ter ial." ); Barnes v. Southwest Forest Industries, Inc., 814 F.2d 607, 609 (11 th Cir. 1987) (if on any part of the prima facie case the plaintiff presents insufficient evidence to require su b m issio n of the case to the trier of fact, granting of summary judgment is appropriate). F o r summary judgment purposes, only disputes involving material facts are relevant. U n ited States v. One Piece of Real Property Located at 5800 SW 74 th Avenue, Miami, F lo r id a , 363 F.3d 1099, 1101 (11 th Cir. 2004). What is material is determined by the s u b s ta n tiv e law applicable to the case. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248; Lofton v. Secretary of the D e p a rtm e n t of Children and Family Services, 358 F.3d 804, 809 (11 th Cir. 2004) ("Only fa c tu a l disputes that are material under the substantive law governing the case will preclude e n try of summary judgment."). "The mere existence of some factual dispute will not defeat s u m m a ry judgment unless that factual dispute is material to an issue affecting the outcome o f the case." McCormick v. City of Fort Lauderdale, 333 F.3d 1234, 1243 (11 th Cir. 2003) (citatio n omitted). To demonstrate a genuine issue of material fact, the party opposing 5
s u m m a ry judgment "must do more than simply show that there is some metaphysical doubt a s to the material facts.... Where the record taken as a whole could not lead a rational trier o f fact to find for the nonmoving party, there is no `genuine issue for trial.'" Matsushita E le c . Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986). In cases where the e v id e n ce before the court which is admissible on its face or which can be reduced to a d m iss ib le form indicates that there is no genuine issue of material fact and that the party m o v in g for summary judgment is entitled to it as a matter of law, summary judgment is p ro p e r. Celotex, 477 U.S. at 323-324 (summary judgment appropriate where pleadings, e v id e n tia ry materials and affidavits before the court show there is no genuine issue as to a re q u isite material fact); Waddell, 276 F.3d at 1279 (to establish a genuine issue of material fa c t, the nonmoving party must produce evidence such that a reasonable trier of fact could return a verdict in his favor). A lth o u g h factual inferences must be viewed in a light most favorable to the n o n m o v in g party and pro se complaints are entitled to liberal interpretation by the courts, a p r o se litigant does not escape the burden of establishing by sufficient evidence a genuine is s u e of material fact. Beard, 548 U.S. at 525, 126 S.Ct. at 2576; Brown v. Crawford, 906 F .2 d 667, 670 (11 th Cir. 1990). Thus, the plaintiff's pro se status alone does not mandate this c o u rt' s disregard of elementary principles of production and proof in a civil case. In this c a se , Boyd fails to demonstrate a requisite genuine issue of material fact in order to preclude s u m m a ry judgment. Matsushita, supra.
I I I . DISCUSSION A . Absolute Immunity W ith respect to any claims Boyd lodges against the defendants in their official c a p a c itie s, they are entitled to absolute immunity from monetary damages. Official capacity la w s u its are "in all respects other than name, ... treated as a suit against the entity." Kentucky v . Graham, 473 U. S. 159, 166 (1985). "A state official may not be sued in his [or her] o ff ic ia l capacity unless the state has waived its Eleventh Amendment immunity, see P e n n h u rs t State School & Hospital v. Halderman, 465 U.S. 89, 100, 104 S.Ct. 900, 908, 79 L .E d .2 d 67 (1984), or Congress has abrogated the state's immunity, see Seminole Tribe v. F lo r id a , [517 U.S. 44, 59], 116 S.Ct. 1114, 1125, 134 L.Ed.2d 252 (1996). Alabama has not w a iv e d its Eleventh Amendment immunity, see Carr v. City of Florence, 916 F.2d 1521, 1 5 2 5 (11 th Cir. 1990) (citations omitted), and Congress has not abrogated Alabama's im m u n ity . Therefore, Alabama state officials are immune from claims brought against them in their official capacities." Lancaster v. Monroe County, 116 F.3d 1419, 1429 (11 th Cir. 1 9 9 7 ). In light of the foregoing, it is clear that the defendants are state actors entitled to s o v e re ig n immunity under the Eleventh Amendment for claims seeking monetary damages fr o m them in their official capacities. Lancaster, 116 F.3d at 1429; Jackson v. Georgia D e p a r tm e n t of Transportation, 16 F.3d 1573, 1575 (11 th Cir. 1994). Thus, each of the d e fe n d a n ts is entitled to absolute immunity from those claims for monetary relief presented a g a in s t them in their official capacities. Parker v. Williams, 862 F.2d 1471 (11 th Cir. 1989). 7
B . The First Amendment Claim O n October 3, 2007, Boyd wrote a letter to defendant Foster which she deemed to c o n ta in inappropriate statements. Ms. Foster did not request that Boyd write the letter nor w a s it part of any treatment regiment set forth by Foster. In this letter, Boyd "took certain q u e stio n s and comments made [in a prior mental health] evaluation session out of context" a n d made statements in reference to Ms. Foster that were wholly "personal in nature" with n o treatment value Defendant Foster's Exhibit A (Affidavit of Shemekia Foster) - Court D o c. No. 20-1 at 2; Correctional Defendants' Exhibit 3 (October 3, 2007 Letter from C o u rtne y Boyd to Ms. Foster) - Court Doc. No. 22-1 at 4-5 ("A man will be crazy not to find y o u beautiful.... I'm not in love with you, but yes I love you as a black woman, so that why I enjoy talking with you, because you are not just a yes person.... I would love to have ... see n you on the street, and then I could have asked you out being that you seem like a very g o o d woman, until you get mad. But don't take this the wrong way, I will be crazy not to w a n t to have you for a wife, because you don't find to many black women who don't try to liv e off a man with money...."). In accordance with prison policy, Foster referred Boyd's le tte r to Capt. Jeffery Knox for review. Based on the contents of this letter, Boyd received a behavior citation for violating institutional rules and regulations which prohibit fr a te rn iz a tio n with or disrespect of staff. Correctional Defendants' Exhibit 2 - Court Doc. N o . 22-1 at 3. This citation resulted in the temporary loss of telephone, canteen and visitation p riv ile g e s and placement in the restricted privilege dorm for 30 days. Id. Boyd complains defendant Foster referred his letter to correctional officials for their 8
re v iew and Knox utilized this letter for disciplinary purposes in retaliation for expressing his fe e lin g s in violation of his First Amendment rights to freedom of speech and expression. These defendants, however, maintain that they undertook the challenged actions solely b ec au se the letter violated institutional rules and regulations. The affidavits and evidentiary m a te ria ls submitted by the defendants, including documents contained in Boyd's institutional file , support this assertion. Federal law recognizes "that `courts are ill equipped to deal with the increasingly u rge n t problems of prison administration and reform.' [Procunier v. Martinez, 416 U.S. 396, 4 0 5 , 94 S.Ct. 1800, 1807 (1974)]. As the Martinez Court acknowledged, `the problems of p riso n s in America are complex and intractable, and, more to the point, they are not readily su sce p tib le of resolution by decree.' Id., at 404-405, 94 S.Ct., at 1807. Running a prison is a n inordinately difficult undertaking that requires expertise, planning, and the commitment o f resources...." Turner v. Safley, 482 U.S. 78, 84-85, 107 S.Ct. 2254, 2259 (1987). C o rre c tio n a l officials are therefore "accorded latitude in the administration of prison a f fa irs [,]" Cruz v. Beto, 405 U.S. 319, 321, 92 S.Ct. 1079, 1081 (1972), which necessarily in c lu d e s "the [inescapable] withdrawal or limitation of many [inmate] privileges and rights." P e ll v. Procunier, 417 U.S. 817, 822, 94 S.Ct. 2800, 2804 (1974) (quotation marks and c itatio n omitted); Bell v. Wolfish, 441 U.S. 520, 546, 99 S.Ct. 1861, 1877 (1979). "In the First Amendment context, ... some rights are simply inconsistent with the statu s of a prisoner or `with the legitimate penological objectives of the corrections system.'" S h a w v. Murphy, 532 U.S. 223, 229, 121 S.Ct. 1475, 1479 (2001), quoting Pell, 417 U.S. at 9
8 2 2 , 94 S.Ct. at 2804. In accordance with this principle, an inmate's rights established under th e First Amendment are not protected if allowing such protection is "inconsistent with his s ta tu s as a prisoner or with the legitimate penological objectives of the corrections system." P e ll, 417 U.S. at 822, 924 S.Ct. at 2804. Any right protected by the First Amendment is lim ite d by the fact of incarceration and valid penological objectives such as maintaining in s titu tio n a l security and order. The law is well settled that "central to all other corrections g o a ls is the institutional consideration of internal security within the corrections facilities th e m s e lv e s." Pell, 417 U.S. at 823, 94 S.Ct. at 2804; Bell v. Wolfish, 441 U.S. at 546, 99 S .C t. at 1878 ("[M]aintaining institutional security and preserving internal order and d is c ip lin e are essential goals that may require limitation or retraction of the retained c o n stitu tio n a l rights of both convicted prisoners and pretrial detainees."). It is therefore clear th a t preservation of security and order within a correctional facility is essential to the fa c ility 's effective administration and constitutes both a compelling and substantial g o v e rn m e n ta l interest. Pell, 417 U.S. at 823, 94 S.Ct. at 2804; Lawson v. Singletary, 85 F.3d 5 0 2 , 512 (11 th Cir. 1996); Harris v. Chapman, 97 F.3d 499, 504 (11 th Cir. 1996). " T h e first amendment prohibits state officials from retaliating against prisoners for e x e rc is in g their right of free speech. See, e.g., Wright v. Newsome, [795 F.2d 964, 968 (11 th C ir. 1986)].... The gist of a retaliation claim is that a prisoner is penalized for exercising a rig h t of free speech." Thomas v. Evans, 880 F.2d 1235, 1241-1242 (11 th Cir. 1989); Farrow v . West, 320 F.3d 1235, 1248 (11 th Cir. 2003). "In prison, of course, first amendment rights a re not absolute. Pell v. Procunier, 417 U.S. 817, 94 S.Ct. 2800, 41 L.Ed.2d 495 (1974). 10
L e g itim a te policies and goals of the correction system may justify restrictions limiting p ris o n e rs ' [First Amendment] rights. 417 U.S. at 821." Adams v. James, 784 F.2d 1077, 1 0 8 1 (11 th Cir. 1986). "A prisoner retains those First Amendment rights that are `not in c o n sis te n t with his status as a prisoner or with the legitimate penological objectives of the co rrectiv e system.' Prison Legal News v. Cook, 238 F.3d 1145, 1149 (9 th Cir. 2001) (quoting J o n e s v. North Carolina Prisoners' Labor Union, Inc., 433 U.S. 119, 129, 97 S.Ct. 2532, 53 L .E d .2 d 629 (resist)) (internal quotation marks omitted).... [P]rison authorities have a le g itim a te penological interest in the consistent enforcement of prison rules and ... d isc ip lin in g prisoners who attempt to coerce a guard into not enforcing prison rules is re a so n a b ly related to that interest." Hargis v. Foster, 312 F.3d 404, 409-410 (9 th C i r. 2002); see also Jackson v. Cain, 864 F.2d 1235, 1248 (5 th Cir. 1989). The situation is somewhat c o m p lica ted when the alleged act of retaliation is undertaken to assure compliance with p ris o n rules as inmates often attempt to "inappropriately insulate themselves from [such] a c tio n s by drawing the shield of retaliation around them." Woods v. Smith, 60 F.3d 1161, 1 1 6 6 (5 th Cir. 1995), cert. denied sub nom Palermo v. Woods, 516 U.S. 1084, 116 S.Ct. 800, 1 3 3 L.Ed.2d 747 (1996). To proceed on a claim for retaliation and withstand the entry of summary judgment, a n "inmate must establish ... three elements: (1) his speech was constitutionally protected; (2) the inmate suffered adverse action such that the [defendant's] allegedly retaliatory c o n d u c t would likely deter a person of ordinary firmness from engaging in such speech; and (3 ) there is a causal relationship between the retaliatory action and the protected speech. See 11
B e n n e tt v. Hendrix, 423 F.3d 1247, 1250, 1254 (11 th Cir. 2005)." Smith v. Mosley, 532 F.3d 1 2 7 0 , 1276 (11 th Cir. 2008); Thaddeus-X v. Blatter, 175 F.3d 378, 397 (6 th Cir. 1999). With re sp e c t to the causal relationship element, a prisoner must demonstrate that correctional o ffic ia ls intended to retaliate for his exercise of a right protected under the First Amendment a n d , but for the retaliatory motive, the adverse act complained of would not have occurred. W o o d s , 60 F.3d at 1166; Smith, 532 F.3d at 1278. An inmate does not retain First Amendment rights which are inconsistent with his s ta tu s as a prisoner. Prison Legal News, 238 F.3d at 1149. In addition, "[l]egitimate policies a n d goals of the correction system may justify restrictions limiting prisoners' [first a m e n d m e n t] rights. 417 U.S. at 821." Adams, 784 F.2d at 1081. Having said all that, the c o u rt has no hesitancy in concluding that the speech for which the defendants disciplined B o y d , i.e., expressing personal feelings towards Ms. Foster, is properly restricted by the leg itim a te penological objective of maintaining institutional security and order and is th e re fo re not protected speech. Pell, 417 U.S. at 821. Consequently, the defendants are e n title d to summary judgment on the First Amendment claim. C. Violation of Counselor Oath B o y d complains defendant Foster violated her oath as a counselor when she allowed c o rre c tio n a l officials access to the letter he had written her. An essential element of a 42 U .S .C . § 1983 action is that the conduct complained of deprived the plaintiff of rights, p riv ile g e s or immunities secured by the Constitution or laws of the United States. American M a n u fa c tu r e rs Mutual Ins. Co. v. Sullivan, 526 U.S. 40, 119 S.Ct. 977, 985, 143 L.Ed.2d 130 12
(19 9 9 ); Parratt v. Taylor, 451 U.S. 527 (1981). The action about which the Boyd complains d id not violate either his constitutional rights or any federal law.4 Thus, this claim entitles B o y d to no relief. D. Placement in the Restricted Privilege Dorm 1 . Due Process. Boyd complains that his placement in the restricted privilege dorm b a se d on the behavior citation for his violation of a disciplinary rule deprived him of due p ro c e ss . Under the circumstances of this case, Boyd's due process challenge entitles him to n o relief. The Supreme Court has identified two circumstances in which a prisoner, an in d iv id u a l already deprived of his liberty in the ordinary sense, can be further deprived of his lib erty such that due process is required. "The first is when a change in a prisoner's c o n d itio n s of confinement is so severe that it essentially exceeds the sentence imposed by the c o u rt. See Sandin v. Conner, 515 U.S. 472, 484, 115 S.Ct. 2293, 2300, 132 L.Ed.2d 418 (1 9 9 5 ); see, e.g., Vitek v. Jones, 445 U.S. 480, 492-93, 100 S.Ct. 1254, 1263-64, 63 L.Ed.2d 5 5 2 (1980) (holding that a prisoner is entitled to due process prior to being transferred to a m e n tal hospital). The second is when the state has consistently given a certain benefit to p ris o n e rs (for instance, via statute or administrative policy), and the deprivation of that b en efit `imposes atypical and significant hardship on the inmate in relation to the ordinary in c id e n ts of prison life.' Sandin, 515 U.S. at 484, 115 S.Ct. at 2300; see, e.g., Wolff v.
In Jaffee v. Redmond, 518 U.S. 1, 9 (1996), the Supreme Court established a psychotherapist-patient p r iv ile g e in federal cases. But an evidentiary privilege is not a right within the meaing of 42 U.S.C. § 1983.
M c D o n n e ll, 418 U.S. 539, 558, 94 S.Ct. 2963, 2976, 41 L.Ed.2d 935 (1974) (prisoners may n o t be deprived of statutory `good-time credits' without due process); cf. Dudley v. Stewart, 7 2 4 F.2d 1493, 1497-98 (11th Cir.1984) (explaining how the state creates liberty interests). In the first situation, the liberty interest exists apart from the state; in the second situation, th e liberty interest is created by the state." Bass v. Perrin, 170 F.3d 1312, 1318 (11 th Cir. 1 9 9 9 ). The Constitution itself does not give rise to a liberty interest in avoiding transfer to m o re adverse conditions of confinement. Meachum v. Fano, 427 U.S. 215, 225 (1976) (no lib e rty interest arising from Due Process Clause itself in transfer from low-to maximums e c u rity prison because "[c]onfinement in any of the State's institutions is within the normal lim its or range of custody which the conviction has authorized the State to impose."); see a ls o Olim v. Wakinekona, 461 U.S. 238, 245-246 (1983) (a prisoner has no constitutional rig h t to be confined in a particular institution and may be subjected to an interstate transfer w ith o u t implicating the Constitution). Moreover, an inmate in the Alabama prison system h a s no constitutionally protected interest in the privileges bestowed upon him or confinement in the least restrictive prison environment because the resulting restraints are not so severe th a t they exceed the sentence imposed upon him. Sandin, 515 U.S. at 485, 115 S.Ct. at 2301 (" D is c ip lin e by prison officials in response to a wide range of misconduct falls within the e x p e c te d parameters of the sentence imposed by a court of law."). Thus, the temporary p la c em e n t of Boyd in a restricted privilege dorm based on the behavior citation did not " e x ce e d the sentence [imposed by the trial court] in such an unexpected manner as to give 14
ris e to protection by the Due Process Clause of its own force." Sandin, 515 U.S. at 484, 115 S .C t. at 2300. This court must therefore determine whether the action about which Boyd c o m p la in s involves the deprivation of a state-created liberty interest as defined by the s ta n d a rd set forth in Sandin. As the Supreme Court observed, S a n d in involved prisoners' claims to procedural due process protection b e fo re placement in segregated confinement for 30 days, imposed as discipline fo r disruptive behavior. Sandin observed that some of our earlier cases, Hewitt v . Helms, 459 U.S. 460, 103 S.Ct. 864, 74 L.Ed.2d 675 (1983), in particular, h a d employed a methodology for identifying state-created liberty interests that e m p h a s iz e d "the language of a particular [prison] regulation" instead of "the n a tu re of the deprivation." Sandin, 515 U.S., at 481, 115 S.Ct. 2293. In S a n d in , we criticized this methodology as creating a disincentive for States to p ro m u lg a te procedures for prison management, and as involving the federal c o u rts in the day-to-day management of prisons. Id., at 482-483, 115 S.Ct. 2 2 9 3 . For these reasons, we abrogated the methodology of parsing the la n g u a g e of particular regulations. "[T]he search for a negative implication from mandatory language in p riso n e r regulations has strayed from the real concerns undergirding the liberty p ro te c te d by the Due Process Clause. The time has come to return to the due p ro c e s s principles we believe were correctly established in and applied in W o lff and Meachum. Following Wolff, we recognize that States may under c e rta in circumstances create liberty interests which are protected by the Due P r o c e ss Clause. But these interests will generally be limited to freedom from re stra in t 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 fo rc e , nonetheless imposes atypical and significant hardship on the inmate in re la tio n to the ordinary incidents of prison life." Id., at 483-484, 115 S.Ct. 2 2 9 3 (citations and footnote omitted). After Sandin, it is clear that the touchstone of the inquiry into the e x is te n c e of a protected, state-created liberty interest in avoiding restrictive c o n d i tio n s of confinement is not the language of regulations regarding those c o n d itio n s but the nature of those conditions themselves "in relation to the o rd in a ry incidents of prison life." Id., at 484, 115 S.Ct. 2293. W ilkin so n v. Austin, 545 U.S. 209, 222-223, 125 S.Ct. 2384, 2393-2394 (2005). 15
A p p ly in g the Sandin inquiry, the court concludes that the placement of Boyd in the re stricted privilege dorm "though concededly punitive, does not represent a dramatic d e p a rtu re from the basic conditions" of the sentence imposed upon him. Id. at 485. In light o f the foregoing, it is clear that the aforementioned action fails to "impose atypical and s ig n ific a n t hardship on the inmate in relation to the ordinary incidents of prison life." Id. at 4 8 4 . Thus, the plaintiff's challenge to his confinement in the restricted privilege dorm fails to implicate any protected liberty interest as such confinement does not present "the type of a ty p ic a l, significant deprivation [that] might conceivably create a liberty interest." Sandin, 5 1 5 U.S. at 486. Summary judgment is therefore due to be granted in favor of the defendants o n the due process claim. 2. Cruel and Unusual Punishment. Boyd alleges his placement in the restricted p riv ile g e dorm constituted cruel and unusual punishment. The Eighth Amendment proscribes th o se conditions of confinement which involve the wanton and unnecessary infliction of pain. Rhodes v. Chapman, 452 U.S. 337 (1981). Only actions which deny an inmate "the minimal civilize d measure of life's necessities" are grave enough to violate the Eighth Amendment's p ro h ib itio n against cruel and unusual punishment. Id. at 347; see also Wilson v. Seiter, 501 U .S . 294 (1991). Boyd fails to identify any condition related to his placement in the re stric te d privilege dorm which rises to the level of an Eighth Amendment violation. In light o f the foregoing, the defendants are entitled to summary judgment on this claim. E. Deliberate Indifference to Mental Health C o rre c tio n a l officials may be held liable under the Eighth Amendment for acting with 16
" d e lib e ra te indifference" to an inmate's health when the official knows that the inmate faces " a substantial risk of serious harm" and with such knowledge disregards that risk by failing to take reasonable measures to abate it. Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 828 (1994). A c o n stitu tio n a l violation occurs only "when a substantial risk of serious harm, of which the o ffic ia l is subjectively aware, exists and the official does not `respond reasonably to the risk .' Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 114 S.Ct. 1970, 1982-83, 128 L.Ed.2d 811 (1994). A plaintiff must also show that the constitutional violation caused his injuries." Marsh v. B u tler County, 268 F.3d 1014, 1028 (11 th Cir. 2001) (en banc). In Farmer, the Court identified both objective and subjective elements necessary to e s ta b l is h an Eighth Amendment violation. With respect to the requisite objective elements, a n inmate must first show "an objectively substantial risk of serious harm ... exist[ed]. S e c o n d , once it is established that the official is aware of this substantial risk, the official m u s t react to this risk in an objectively unreasonable manner." Marsh, 268 F.3d 1028-1029. A s to the subjective elements, "the official must both be aware of facts from which the in fe re n c e could be drawn that a substantial risk of serious harm exists, and he must also draw th e inference.... The Eighth Amendment does not outlaw cruel and unusual `conditions'; it o u tla w s cruel and unusual `punishments.' ... [A]n official's failure to alleviate a significant r is k that he should have perceived but did not, while no cause for commendation, cannot u n d er our cases be condemned as the infliction of punishment." Farmer, 511 U.S. at 8378 3 8 (emphasis added); Campbell v. Sikes, 169 F.3d 1353, 1364 (11 th Cir. 1999) (citing F a r m e r, 511 U.S. at 838) ("Proof that the defendant should have perceived the risk, but did 17
n o t, is insufficient."); Cottrell v. Caldwell, 85 F.3d 1480, 1491 (11 th Cir. 1996) (same). The c o n d u c t at issue "must involve more than ordinary lack of due care for the prisoner's interests o r safety.... It is obduracy and wantonness, not inadvertence or error in good faith, that c h a ra c te riz e the conduct prohibited by the Cruel and Unusual Punishments Clause, whether th a t conduct occurs in connection with establishing conditions of confinement, supplying m e d ic a l needs, or restoring official control over a tumultuous cellblock." Whitley v. Albers, 4 7 5 U.S. 312, 319 (1986) (emphasis added). To prevail on a claim concerning an alleged denial of adequate mental health tre a tm e n t, an inmate must, at a minimum, show that the named defendants acted with d e lib e ra te indifference to a serious mental health need. Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97 (19 7 6 ); Taylor v. Adams, 221 F.3d 1254 (11 th Cir. 2000); McElligott v. Foley, 182 F.3d 1248 (1 1 th Cir. 1999); Waldrop v. Evans, 871 F.2d 1030, 1033 (11 th Cir. 1989); Rogers v. Evans, 7 9 2 F.2d 1052, 1058 (11 th Cir.1986). Specifically, correctional personnel may not subject a n inmate to "acts or omissions sufficiently harmful to evidence deliberate indifference to s e rio u s [mental health] needs." Estelle, 429 U.S. at 106, 97 S.Ct. at 292; Mandel v. Doe, 888 F .2 d 783, 787 (11 th Cir.1989). When seeking relief based on deliberate indifference, an in m a te is required to establish "an objectively serious need, an objectively insufficient re sp o n s e to that need, subjective awareness of facts signaling the need and an actual in fe re n c e of required action from those facts." Taylor, 221 F.3d at 1258; McElligott, 182 F .3 d at 1255 (for liability to attach, the official must know of and then disregard an excessive ris k to the prisoner). Thus, deliberate indifference occurs only when a defendant "knows of 18
a n d disregards an excessive risk to inmate health or safety; the [defendant] must both be a w a re of facts from which the inference could be drawn that a substantial risk of serious h a r m exists and he must also draw the inference." Farmer, 511 U.S. at 837; Johnson v. Q u in o n e s, 145 F.3d 164, 168 (4 th Cir. 1998) (defendant must have actual knowledge of a s e rio u s condition, not just knowledge of symptoms, and ignore known risk to serious co n d ition to warrant finding of deliberate indifference). Furthermore, "an official's failure to alleviate a significant risk that he should have perceived but did not, while no cause for c o m m e n d a tio n , cannot under our cases be condemned as the infliction of punishment." F a r m e r, 511 U.S. at 838. To be deliberately indifferent, Defendants must have been " s u b je c tiv e ly aware of the substantial risk of serious harm in order to have h ad a `"sufficiently culpable state of mind."'" Farmer, 511 U.S. at 834-38, 1 1 4 S.Ct. at 1977-80; Wilson v. Seiter, 501 U.S. 294, 299, 111 S.Ct. 2321, 2 3 2 4 -2 5 , 115 L.Ed.2d 271 (1991).... Even assuming the existence of a serious risk of harm and legal causation, the prison official must be aware of specific fa c ts from which an inference could be drawn that a substantial risk of serious h a rm exists - and the prison official must also "draw that inference." Farmer, 5 1 1 U.S. at 837, 114 S.Ct. at 1979. Carter v. Galloway, 352 F.3d 1346, 1349 (11 th Cir. 2003). "The known risk of injury must b e a strong likelihood, rather than a mere possibility before a guard's failure to act can c o n stitu te deliberate indifference." Brown v. Hughes, 894 F.2d 1533, 1537 (11 th Cir. 1990) (c ita tio n s and internal quotations omitted). Thus, in order to survive summary judgment on h is deliberate indifference claim against defendants Canty and Baldwin, Boyd is "required to produce sufficient evidence of (1) a substantial risk of serious harm; (2) the defendants' d e lib e ra te indifference to that risk; and (3) causation." Hale v. Tallapoosa County, 50 F.3d 19
1 5 7 9 , 1582 (11 th Cir. 1995); Farmer, 511 U.S. at 837-838 (To evade entry of summary ju d g m e n t on a properly supported motion, plaintiff must produce sufficient evidence d e m o n s tr a tin g (1) an objectively substantial risk of serious harm; (2) subjective awareness o f this risk on the part of the defendants; (3) the defendants responded to such risk in an o b je c tiv e ly unreasonable manner; and (4) the actions/omissions of the defendants caused h is injuries); Marsh, 268 F.3d at 1028-1029. O n October 2, 2007, Boyd requested and received a consultation with mental health p ro fe s s io n a ls . Medical Records of Courtney Boyd - Court Doc. No. 14-1 at 44. At this time, B o y d advised he did not "`want medication.' I just need counseling, it helps me to talk." Id . Boyd denied any "suicidal/homicidal ideations" but did "report experiencing worry & panic attacks associated with incarceration." Id. The attending mental health
p ro fe ss io n a l enrolled Boyd in group therapy and referred him to [the] Psychiatrist for e v a lu a tio n ." Id. On October 8, 2007, Ms. Caffie, a mental health professional, evaluated Boyd. D u rin g this evaluation, Boyd advised Ms. Caffie that he felt stressed because correctional o f fic ia ls had placed him in the restricted privilege dorm based on the letter he wrote to Ms. F o s te r. Medical Records of Courtney Boyd - Court Doc. No. 14-1 at 43. Ms. Caffie o b s e r v e d that Boyd was "[a]lert, oriented, [with] appropriate ... mood, [and zero] s u ic id a l/h o m ic id a l ideations." Id. Ms. Caffie further noted that Boyd was "[r]elatively
s ta b le " and indicated she "[s]uspected manipulation" by the inmate. Id. Ms. Caffie n e v e rth e le s s referred Boyd to the psychiatrist for additional evaluation. In the morning hours of October 10, 2007, Dr. Ferrell evaluated Boyd regarding his co m p lain t s of stress and depression arising from the status of his confinement. After a d is c u ss io n with Boyd regarding possible medications and a referral for group therapy, Boyd m e n tio n e d his letter to Ms. Foster. Dr. Ferrell advised she knew about the letter and d is m is s e d Boyd from her office at which time Boyd returned to the restricted privilege d o rm . Boyd asserts his "stress level went even higher to the point [he] started having s u ic id e thoughts." Plaintiff's Complaint - Court Doc. No. 1 at 7. Boyd alleges he advised o ffic e rs Baldwin and Canty of his thoughts to which the officers responded they "need[ed] to see some blood" before they would "do anything" for him. Id. Boyd then scratched his rig h t wrist and the officers escorted him to the health care unit for treatment. Id. Upon arrival at the health care unit, the nurse observed a "[s]mall superficial scratch" o n Boyd's right wrist with no "active bleeding." Medical Records of Courtney Boyd - Court D o c . No. 14-1 at 9. Boyd advised the attending nurse he "want[ed] to see mental health" re g a rd in g his stress level. Id. In addition, Boyd told the nurse he did not want to kill h im se lf and injured himself merely because he wanted to again be seen by mental health b e c au s e he was "`stressing real bad.'" Id. The nurse deemed no treatment necessary for the s c ra tc h to Boyd's wrist and notified mental health of her observations. Pursuant to the
n u rs e 's referral, Mr. Mitchell, a mental health care provider, evaluated Boyd. B o y d complained to Mr. Mitchell of "stressing" and alleged neither "the doctor" nor a n y o n e else will "take me serious.... I'm stressing and people think I'm trying to see Ms. F o s te r. I'm not suicidal or homicidal, I'm stressing.... [Inmate complains of] not getting in c e n tiv e package or family contact [due to placement in the restricted privilege dorm]. In m a te [complains of] being locked up over a letter [and] having his patient confidence b ro k e n over the letter...." Medical Records of Courtney Boyd - Court Doc. No. 14-1 at 495 0 . Mr. Mitchell observed "good eye contact, faint scratch on arm, smiling [and] good v o ic e tone.... Upset over recent placement in restricted dorm for writing a letter to a mental h e a lth professional and not getting an incentive package. Inmate previously admitted he k n e w writing the letter was wrong." p s y c h ia tris t for further evaluation. D r. Ferrell, the attending psychiatrist, in the presence of Mr. Mitchell and a nurse, d is c u ss e d with Boyd his "making a very superficial scratch to arm." Medical Records of C o u rtne y Boyd - Court Doc. No. 14-1 at 48. Dr. Ferrell again advised Boyd of medications w h ic h could be utilized in the treatment of his stress. "Inmate `backpedaled' from his a.m. sta n c e , & verbalized willingness to take low dose [of] Vistaril ... for `stressing.' Inmate a d a m a n tly denies both suicidal and homicidal ideations, intent, or plan. Once again urged to explore coping skills and stress [management] classes in conjunction with [medication]. Id. at 50. Mr. Mitchell referred Boyd to the
D a ily [medication] compliance emphasized." Id. Mental health professionals likewise d e e m e d Boyd's behavior, especially his actions toward correctional officials, as malingering a n d manipulative. Medical Records of Courtney Boyd - Court Doc. No. 14-1 at 54-58. Defendants Canty and Baldwin state Boyd never reported to them that he was having s u ic id a l thoughts and maintain neither of them advised Boyd they wanted to see blood. C o r r e c tio n a l Defendants' Exhibit B (Affidavit of Steven Canty) - Court Doc. No. 22-2 at 1; C o r r e c tio n a l Defendants' Exhibit C (Affidavit of Dexter Baldwin) - Court Doc. No. 22-3 at 1 . They deny any knowledge of Boyd suffering suicidal tendencies. Id. The undisputed e v id e n tia ry materials before the court further indicate Canty and Baldwin at all times a llo w e d Boyd unlimited access to mental health professionals, including immediately prior to and after his alleged "suicidal thoughts" on October 10, 2007. Moreover, during his n u m e r o u s evaluations/examinations by both mental health and medical professionals, in c lu d in g those which occurred on October 10, 2007, Boyd repeatedly and adamantly denied e v e r having suicidal thoughts and, instead, consistently advised he was merely stressed a b o u t his incarceration. Boyd fails to present sufficient evidence to create a genuine issue of disputed fact w ith respect to his claim that defendants Canty and Baldwin acted with deliberate in d iffe re n c e to his mental health needs. Specifically, the record does not indicate that d e fe n d a n ts Canty and Baldwin had knowledge of specific facts from which an inference
c o u ld be drawn that a substantial risk of harm existed to Boyd, that these defendants actually d r e w this inference and thereafter ignored the risk. Boyd has therefore failed to establish e a c h of the requisite elements of his deliberate indifference claim against defendants Canty a n d Baldwin. Carter, 352 F.3d at 1350. Consequently, summary judgment is due to be g ra n te d in favor of these defendants. F. Negligence B o y d asserts the actions of the defendants constituted negligence. The law is well s e ttle d that the Constitution is not implicated by negligent acts of an official. Daniels v. W illia m s, 474 U.S. 327 (1986); Mandel v. Doe, 888 F.2d 783,787-788 (11 th Cir. 1989) (mere n e g lig e n c e insufficient to establish constitutional violation); Davidson v. Cannon, 474 U.S. 3 4 4 , 348 (1986) (protections of the Constitution "are just not triggered by lack of due care b y prison officials."). Accordingly, the alleged negligent actions about which the plaintiff c o m p la in s do not rise to the level of a constitutional violation and provide no basis for relief in this 42 U.S.C. § 1983 action. A separate order will accompany this memorandum opinion. D o n e this 7 th day of July, 2010.
/s/Charles S. Coody CHARLES S. COODY U N IT E D STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
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