Springer v. Riley et al (INMATE 1)
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER: it is ORDERED and ADJUDGED that: 1) The plf's motion for preliminary injunction and requests for declaratory and permanent injunctive relief (Doc. No. 1 at 13) be and are hereby DENIED as moot; 2) The plf's c laims challenging actions which occurred prior to his return to prison in 2006 be DISMISSED with prejudice as the plf failed to file the complaint within the time prescribed by the applicable period of limitation; 3) The plf's challenges to the Alabama Community Notification Act with respect to actions which occurred on or after 9/28/2008, be and are hereby DISMISSED with prejudice for lack of subject matter jurisdiction; 4) The plf's claim seeking tiered classification of the sex offe nder registry be DISMISSED with prejudice as this claim provides no basis for relief; 5) The dfts' 12 Motion for Summary Judgment with respect to the plf's federal claims for relief be and is hereby GRANTED; 6) The plf's state law claims be and are hereby DISMISSED without prejudice; 7) This case be and is hereby DISMISSED; 8) No costs are taxed herein. Signed by Honorable Judge Susan Russ Walker on 6/4/2013. (wcl, )
IN THE DISTRICT COURT OF THE UNITED STATES
FOR THE MIDDLE DISTRICT OF ALABAMA
BRIAN KEITH SPRINGER, #249422,
BOB RILEY, et al.,
) CIVIL ACTION NO.: 2:10-CV-838-SRW
MEMORANDUM OPINION and ORDER
In this 42 U.S.C. § 1983 action, Brian Keith Springer, a state inmate, alleges that
rights, privileges or immunities afforded him under the Constitution or laws of the United
States have been abridged by the defendants.1 Springer names former Governor Bob Riley,
former Attorney General Troy King, former Director of Public Safety J. Christopher Murphy,
former Commissioner of the Alabama Department of Corrections Richard Allen, Director
of Central Records Kathy Holt and Director of Classification Carolyn Golson as defendants
in this cause of action. Springer seeks a trial by jury, monetary damages, declaratory relief,
Although the Clerk of this court stamped the complaint “received” on October 4, 2010, the affidavit filed
simultaneously with the complaint indicates that September 28, 2010, is the earliest date Springer could have presented
the complaint and attached documents to prison officials for mailing. Affidavit of Brian K. Springer - Doc. No. 1-1 at
3. The law is well settled that a pro se inmate’s complaint is deemed filed the date it is delivered to prison officials for
mailing. Houston v. Lack, 487 U.S. 266, 271-272 (1988); Adams v. United States, 173 F.3d 1339, 1340-41 (11th Cir.
1999); Garvey v. Vaughn, 993 F.2d 776, 780 (11th Cir. 1993). The court therefore considers September 28, 2010 as
the date of filing.
preliminary/permanent injunctive relief and costs.
The defendants filed an answer, special report and relevant supporting evidentiary
materials addressing Springer’s claims for relief. The court informed Springer that the
defendants’ special report may, at any time, be treated as a motion for summary judgment,
and explained to Springer the proper manner in which to respond to a motion for summary
judgment. Order of January 12, 2011 - Doc. No. 14. Springer responded to the special
report filed by the defendants. Doc. No. 16. Thus, this case is now pending on the
defendants’ motion for summary judgment. Upon consideration of this motion, the
evidentiary materials filed in support thereof and Springer’s response in opposition, the court
concludes that the defendants’ motion for summary judgment is due to be granted.
II. STANDARD OF REVIEW
“Summary judgment is appropriate ‘if the pleadings, depositions, answers to
interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show there is no
genuine [dispute] as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as
a matter of law.’” Greenberg v. BellSouth Telecomm., Inc., 498 F.3d 1258, 1263 (11th Cir.
2007) (per curiam) (citation to former rule omitted); Fed.R.Civ.P. Rule 56(a) (“The court
shall grant summary judgment if the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any
material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.”).2 The party moving
Effective December 1, 2010, Rule 56 was “revised to improve the procedures for presenting and deciding
summary-judgment motions.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56 Advisory Committee Notes. Under this revision, “[s]ubdivision (a)
carries forward the summary-judgment standard expressed in former subdivision (c), changing only one word -- genuine
for summary judgment “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 materials and affidavits], which it believes demonstrate the absence of a genuine
issue [- now dispute -] of material fact.” Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986).
The movant may meet this burden by presenting evidence indicating there is no dispute of
material fact or by showing that the nonmoving party has failed to present evidence in
support of some element of its case on which it bears the ultimate burden of proof. Id. at
The defendants have met their evidentiary burden and demonstrated the absence of
any genuine dispute of material fact. Thus, the burden shifts to the plaintiff to establish, with
appropriate evidence beyond the pleadings, that a genuine dispute material to his case exists.
Clark v. Coats & Clark, Inc., 929 F.2d 604, 608 (11th Cir. 1991); Celotex, 477 U.S. at 324;
Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e)(3) (“If a party fails to properly support an assertion of fact or fails to
properly address another party’s assertion of fact by [citing to materials in the record
including affidavits, relevant documents or other materials] the court may ... grant summary
judgment if the motion and supporting materials -- including the facts considered undisputed
-- show that the movant is entitled to it.”). A genuine dispute of material fact exists when the
‘issue’ becomes genuine ‘dispute.’ ‘Dispute’ better reflects the focus of a summary-judgment determination.” Id.
“‘Shall’ is also restored to express the direction to grant summary judgment.” Id. Thus, although Rule 56 underwent
stylistic changes, its substance remains the same and, therefore, all cases citing the prior versions of the rule remain
equally applicable to the current rule.
nonmoving party produces evidence that would allow a reasonable fact-finder to return a
verdict in its favor. Greenberg, 498 F.3d at 1263.
In civil actions filed by inmates, federal courts
must distinguish between evidence of disputed facts and disputed matters of
professional judgment. In respect to the latter, our inferences must accord
deference to the views of prison [and other relevant state] authorities. Unless
a prisoner can point to sufficient evidence regarding such issues of judgment
to allow him to prevail on the merits, he cannot prevail at the summary
Beard v. Banks, 548 U.S. 521, 530, 126 S.Ct. 2572, 2578, 165 L.Ed.2d 697 (2006) (internal
citation omitted). Consequently, to survive the defendants’ properly supported motion for
summary judgment, Springer is required to produce “sufficient [favorable] evidence” which
would be admissible at trial supporting his claims of constitutional violations. Anderson v.
Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 249 (1986); Rule 56(e), Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.
“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 mere
‘scintilla’ of evidence supporting the opposing party’s position will not suffice; there must
be enough of a showing that the [trier of fact] could reasonably find for that party. Anderson
v. Liberty Lobby, 477 U.S. 242, 106 S.Ct. 2505, 2512, 91 L.Ed.2d 202 (1986).” Walker v.
Darby, 911 F.2d 1573, 1576-1577 (11th Cir. 1990). Conclusory allegations based on
subjective beliefs are likewise insufficient to create a genuine issue of material fact and,
therefore, do not suffice to oppose a motion for summary judgment. Waddell v. Valley Forge
Dental Associates, Inc., 276 F.3d 1275, 1279 (11th Cir. 2001); Holifield v. Reno, 115 F.3d
1555, 1564 n.6 (11th Cir. 1997) (plaintiff’s “conclusory assertions ..., in the absence of
[admissible] supporting evidence, are insufficient to withstand summary judgment.”); Harris
v. Ostrout, 65 F.3d 912, 916 (11th Cir. 1995) (grant of summary judgment appropriate where
inmate produces nothing beyond “his own conclusory allegations” challenging actions of the
defendants); Fullman v. Graddick, 739 F.2d 553, 557 (11th Cir. 1984) (“mere verification of
party’s own conclusory allegations is not sufficient to oppose summary judgment....”).
Hence, when a plaintiff fails to set forth specific facts supported by requisite evidence
sufficient to establish the existence of an element essential to his case and on which the
plaintiff will bear the burden of proof at trial, summary judgment is due to be granted in
favor of the moving party. Celotex, 477 U.S. at 322 (“[F]ailure of proof concerning an
essential element of the nonmoving party’s case necessarily renders all other facts
immaterial.”); Barnes v. Southwest Forest Industries, Inc., 814 F.2d 607, 609 (11th Cir. 1987)
(If on any part of the prima facie case the plaintiff presents insufficient evidence to require
submission of the case to the trier of fact, granting of summary judgment is appropriate.).
For summary judgment purposes, only disputes involving material facts are relevant.
United States v. One Piece of Real Property Located at 5800 SW 74th Avenue, Miami,
Florida, 363 F.3d 1099, 1101 (11th Cir. 2004). What is material is determined by the
substantive law applicable to the case. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248; Lofton v. Secretary of the
Department of Children and Family Services, 358 F.3d 804, 809 (11th Cir. 2004) (“Only
factual disputes that are material under the substantive law governing the case will preclude
entry of summary judgment.”). “The mere existence of some factual dispute will not defeat
summary judgment unless that factual dispute is material to an issue affecting the outcome
of the case.” McCormick v. City of Fort Lauderdale, 333 F.3d 1234, 1243 (11th Cir. 2003)
(citation omitted). To demonstrate a genuine dispute of material fact, the party opposing
summary judgment “must do more than simply show that there is some metaphysical doubt
as to the material facts.... Where the record taken as a whole could not lead a rational trier
of fact to find for the nonmoving party, there is no ‘genuine [dispute] for trial.’” Matsushita
Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986). In cases where the
evidence before the court which is admissible on its face or which can be reduced to
admissible form indicates there is no genuine dispute of material fact and the party moving
for summary judgment is entitled to it as a matter of law, summary judgment is proper.
Celotex, 477 U.S. at 323-324 (summary judgment appropriate where pleadings, evidentiary
materials and affidavits before the court show no genuine dispute as to a requisite material
fact); Waddell, 276 F.3d at 1279 (to establish a genuine dispute of material fact, nonmoving
party must produce evidence such that reasonable trier of fact could return a verdict in his
Although factual inferences must be viewed in a light most favorable to the
nonmoving party and pro se complaints are entitled to liberal interpretation by the courts, a
pro se litigant does not escape the burden of establishing by sufficient evidence a genuine
dispute of material fact. Beard, 548 U.S. at 525, 126 S.Ct. at 2576; Brown v. Crawford, 906
F.2d 667, 670 (11th Cir. 1990). Thus, the plaintiff’s pro se status alone does not mandate this
court’s disregard of elementary principles of production and proof in a civil case. In this
case, Springer fails to demonstrate a requisite genuine dispute of material fact in order to
preclude summary judgment. Matsushita, supra.
Springer filed this action while incarcerated at the Elmore Correctional Facility in
Elmore, Alabama. The documents before the court demonstrate that he was convicted in
1996 by the Circuit Court of Limestone County, Alabama for second degree sexual abuse.
The trial court sentenced Springer to six months’ imprisonment for this conviction. Springer
completed this sentence but returned to prison in 2006 on convictions for possession of a
forged instrument and third degree burglary. He remained continuously incarcerated on these
convictions until his apparent release from prison in December of 2011.
In the present action, Springer alleges that the Alabama Community Notification Act
[“the Act” or “ACNA”], Ala. Code 1975 § 15-20-1 et seq. (1975, as amended) (repealed),
is unconstitutional.3 In support of the complaint, Springer makes a variety of allegations
claiming abuse, harassment, discrimination and general hardship based on both the
application of the ACNA during his time in the free-world prior to re-incarceration in 2006,
The ACNA became effective in 1996 and underwent various amendments until its repeal on July 1, 2011.
and the potential application of the ACNA to him after his release from prison in 2011.
Springer also asserts the following federal claims for relief: The defendants’ enactment,
application and enforcement of the ACNA violates (1) his substantive rights, privileges and
immunities protected by the Constitution; (2) the Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons
Act, 42 U.S.C. § 1997, et seq.; (3) the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act,
42 U.S.C. § 2000cc(1)(a), et seq.; (4) the Americans with Disabilities Act, 42 U.S.C. §
12101, et seq.; and (5) the Alabama Religious Freedom Amendment, under Art. I, § 3.01 of
the Alabama Constitution. Doc. No. 1 at 5-13. In his response to the defendants’ report,
Springer complains that the State of Alabama does not provide a classification system for sex
offenders on its public registry or community notifications which would allow sex offenders
to be grouped according to an individual assessment of potential dangerousness and risk of
re-offending. Doc. No. 16 at 9.
A. Suit Against the Defendants in Their Official Capacities - Absolute Immunity
To the extent that Springer seeks to sue the defendants in their official capacities, they
are immune from monetary damages. Official capacity lawsuits 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 official capacity unless the state has waived its Eleventh
Amendment immunity, see Pennhurst State School & Hospital v. Halderman, 465 U.S. 89, 100,
104 S.Ct. 900, 908, 79 L.Ed.2d 67 (1984), or Congress has abrogated the state’s immunity, see
Seminole Tribe v. Florida, [517 U.S. 44, 59], 116 S.Ct. 1114, 1125, 134 L.Ed.2d 252 (1996).
Alabama has not waived its Eleventh Amendment immunity, see Carr v. City of Florence, 916
F.2d 1521, 1525 (11th Cir. 1990) (citations omitted), and Congress has not abrogated Alabama’s
immunity. Therefore, Alabama state officials are immune from claims brought against them in
their official capacities.” Lancaster v. Monroe County, 116 F.3d 1419, 1429 (11th Cir. 1997).
In light of the foregoing, it is clear that the defendants are state actors entitled to
sovereign immunity under the Eleventh Amendment for claims seeking monetary damages from
them in their official capacities. Lancaster, 116 F.3d at 1429; Harbert Int’l, Inc. v. James, 157
F.3d 1271, 1277 (11th Cir. 1998) (state officials sued in their official capacities are protected
from suit for damages under the Eleventh Amendment); Edwards v. Wallace Cmty. Coll., 49
F.3d 1517, 1524 (11th Cir. 1995) (damages are unavailable from state official sued in his official
B. Claims Barred by the Statute of Limitations
Springer presents claims which address alleged unconstitutional actions taken against
him prior to his re-incarceration in 2006 due to application of the ACNA. The defendants
argue that these claims are barred by the statute of limitations governing a 42 U.S.C. § 1983
action filed in this court. Defendants’ Special Report - Doc. No. 12 at 26.
All constitutional claims brought under § 1983 are tort actions, subject to the
statute of limitations governing personal injury actions in the state where the
§ 1983 action has been brought. Wilson v. Garcia, 471 U.S. 261, 275-76, 105
S.Ct. 1938, 1946-47, 85 L.Ed.2d 254 (1985). [The plaintiff’s] claim was
brought in Alabama where the governing limitations period is two years. Ala.
Code § 6-2-38; Jones v. Preuit & Mauldin, 876 F.2d 1480, 1483 (11th Cir.
1989) (en banc). Therefore, in order to have his claim heard, [the plaintiff is]
required to bring it within two years from the date the limitations period began
McNair v. Allen, 515 F.3d 1168, 1173 (11th Cir. 2008) (emphasis added).
Springer presents claims with respect to alleged violations of his constitutional rights
which occurred prior to his return to prison in 2006. By its express terms, the tolling
provision of Ala. Code § 6-2-8(a) provides no basis for relief to Springer from application
of the two-year period of limitation.4 Thus, the statute of limitations began to run on these
claims, at the latest, sometime in 2006. The limitation period ran uninterrupted until it
expired in 2008. As previously noted, Springer filed the instant complaint on September 28,
2010. This filing therefore occurred more than a year after expiration of the period of
limitation applicable to those claims which transpired during Springer’s time in the freeworld. In light of the foregoing, the court concludes that Springer’s challenges to actions
which occurred prior to his return to prison in 2006 are barred by the applicable two-year
period of limitation.5
C. Application of the ACNA on Release from Current Incarceration
The Alabama Community Notification Act was repealed on July 1, 2011, by the
Alabama Sex Offender Registration and Community Notification Act, Alabama Act No.
This section allows tolling of the limitation period for an individual who “is, at the time the right accrues ...
insane....” Ala. Code § 6-2-8(a). The complaint demonstrates that Springer was not legally insane at the time his right
accrued so as to warrant tolling under Ala. Code § 6-2-8(a).
The court addresses the remaining claims for relief/causes of action to the extent they address actions which
occurred on or after September 28, 2008.
2011–640, § 49, Ala. Code § 15–20A–1, et seq., [“ASORCNA”]. As of its enactment, the
ASORCNA governs the registration and community notification requirements applicable to
adult sex offenders, see Ala. Code § 15-20A-4(1), and is “applicable to every adult sex
offender convicted of a sex offense as defined in Section 15-20A-5, without regard to when
his or her crime or crimes were committed or his or her duty to register arose.” Ala. Code
§ 15-20A-3. Upon release from prison, Springer is therefore subject to the provisions of the
ASORCNA due to his prior conviction for second degree sexual abuse.
Because the ACNA was repealed by the ASORCNA, the court must decide whether
repeal of the ACNA renders Springer’s challenges to future application of the statute moot.
If repeal of the ACNA has rendered the timely challenges to the statute moot, then these
claims must be dismissed for lack of jurisdiction. As previously stated, Springer was
convicted in 1996 of second degree sexual abuse. It is clear to this court that Springer’s
challenges for declaratory and/or injunctive relief regarding the validity of the ACNA and
its application to him or enforcement against him upon his release in December of 2011are
now moot due to repeal of the statute.
Article III of the United States Constitution confers jurisdiction on the district courts
to hear and determine “cases” or “controversies.” U.S. Const. Art. III, 2. Federal courts are
not permitted to rule upon questions which are hypothetical in nature or which do not affect
the rights of the parties in the case before the court. Lewis v. Continental Bank Corp., 494
US. 472, 477 (1990). This is because courts do not sit to render advisory opinions. North
Carolina v. Rice, 404 U. S. 244, 246 (1971). An actual controversy must exist at all times
when the case is pending. Steffel v. Thompson, 415 U. S. 452, 459 n.10 (1974).
A claim becomes moot when the controversy between the parties is no longer alive
because one party has no further concern in the outcome. Weinstein v. Bradford, 423 U.S.
147 (1975); Flast v. Cohen, 392 U.S. 83, 95 (1968) (“Where the question sought to be
adjudicated has been mooted by developments subsequent to filing of the complaint, no
justiciable controversy is presented.”). “Article III requires that a plaintiff’s claim be live not
just when he first brings suit, but throughout the litigation.” Tucker v. Phyfer, 819 F.2d 1030,
1034 (11th Cir. 1987). Because mootness is jurisdictional, dismissal is required when an
action is moot, as a decision in a moot action would be an impermissible advisory opinion.
Al Najjar v. Ashcroft, 273 F.3d 1330, 1336 (11th Cir. 2001).
In Saladin v. Milledgeville, 812 F.2d 687, 693 (11th Cir. 1987), the Eleventh Circuit
Court of Appeals determined:
A case is moot when the issues presented are no longer “live” or the parties
lack a legally cognizable interest in the outcome of the litigation, such as
where there is no reasonable expectation that the violation will occur again or
where interim relief or events have eradicated the effects of the alleged
“Generally, a challenge to the constitutionality of a statute is mooted by repeal of the
statute.” Coral Springs St. Sys., Inc. v. City of Sunrise, 371 F.3d 1320, 1329 (11th Cir. 2004);
National Advertising Co. v. City of Miami, 402 F.3d 1329, 1332 (11th Cir. 2005) (“[T]he
repeal or amendment of an allegedly unconstitutional statute moots legal challenges to the
legitimacy of the repealed legislation.”); Kremens v. Bartley, 431 U.S. 119, 128-29 (1977)
(holding moot a constitutional challenge to a state statute governing the involuntary
commitment of mentally ill minors, because the law had been replaced with a different
statute). Under the circumstances of this case, repeal of the ACNA has rendered Springer’s
requests for injunctive and declaratory relief with respect to further application of the Act
moot thereby depriving the court of jurisdiction over these claims for relief.
The repeal of a challenged law does not necessarily moot a claim for damages by a
plaintiff alleging a past violation of his rights. Outdoor Media Group, Inc., v. City of
Beaumont, 506 F.3d 895, 902 (9th Cir. 2007). In this regard, however, the court must first
consider whether Springer suffered any injury with respect to those claims presented within
the period of limitations concerning potential application of the ACNA to him upon his latest
release from prison. Artway v. Attorney General of State of N.J., 81 F.3d 1235, 1246 (3rd Cir.
1996). The mere speculative threat of injury is insufficient for Article III purposes. Hill v.
McDonough, 547 U.S. 573, 585, 126 S.Ct. 2096, 2104 (2006) (“[F]ederal courts can and
should protect States from ... speculative suits.”); Babbitt v. United Farm Workers Nat’l
Union, 442 U.S. 289, 298, 99 S.Ct. 2301, 60 L.Ed.2d 895 (1979) (plaintiff who challenges
state statute must demonstrate realistic danger of sustaining direct injury due to enforcement
of the statute against him); Conner v. Sticher, 801 F.2d 1266, 1268 (11th Cir. 1986)
(plaintiffs’ subjective belief harm may occur fails to implicate a constitutionally protected
interest); Cotterall v. Paul, 755 F.2d 777, 780 (11th Cir. 1985) (jurisdiction cannot be
premised upon mere speculation).
The record before the court establishes that the provisions of the ACNA were not
applied to Springer after he began his second term of incarceration in 2006. Claims arising
during this time period are the only claims not barred by the applicable period of limitation.
Thus, it is clear that Springer bases the timely claims for damages on a past potential threat
of application of various provisions of the now-repealed statute. Springer may not, however,
proceed on prospective damage claims under § 1983. Tanner Advertising Group v. Fayette
County, 451 F.3d 777, 786 (11th Cir. 2006). As the Eleventh Circuit explained, damages are
reserved for constitutional deprivations that have occurred, not those that are merely
speculative. Id. Since there is no present case or controversy to support the court’s
jurisdiction over Springer’s challenges to the prior possible application of various provisions
of the ACNA to him upon his release in December of 2011, these claims are due to be
dismissed for lack of jurisdiction.
D. The Remaining Federal Causes of Action
1. General Claims of Constitutional/Federal Violations. Springer maintains that by
enacting, applying and enforcing the ACNA the defendants willfully subjected him and/or
conspired to subject him to alleged violations of his substantive rights, privileges and
immunities protected by the Constitution, including various rights under the First, Fourth,
Fifth, Eighth, Ninth and Fourteenth Amendments, as well rights protected under Art. 1, § 9,
the Constitutional Rights of Incarcerated Persons Act, 42 U.S.C. § 1997, et seq., the
Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act of 2000, 42 U.S.C. § 2000cc(1)(a), et
seq., the Americans with Disabilities Act, 42 U.S.C. § 12101, et seq., and the Alabama
Religious Freedom Amendment, Art. I, § 3.01 of the Alabama Constitution. To the extent
that these allegations are not subject to dismissal for the reasons previously set forth in this
opinion, infra at 9-14, and to the extent that Springer may bring a cause of action under the
above constitutional amendments and/or Acts, his contentions are merely broad assertions
of constitutional violations without any facts to support his claims that the defendants
violated or conspired to violate his rights under the Constitution and stated statutory
provisions through enactment, application and/or enforcement of the ACNA.6 See Fullman
v. Graddick, 739 F.2d 553, 556-557 (11th Cir. 1984) (holding that a conspiracy allegation that
is vague and conclusory fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted and is subject
to dismissal). That is, Springer’s complaint fails to identify any specific facts which allow
this court to make a plausible inference that the challenged conduct or actions he attributes
to the named defendants amounted to a violation of his constitutional rights or federal law.
With respect to Springer’s challenge to the defendants’ “enactment” of the ACNA, none of the named
defendants are or were responsible for enacting state laws. Even if Springer had named a proper defendant, the Supreme
Court has “recognized that state legislators enjoy common-law immunity from liability for their legislative acts” and that
this immunity can shield officials against suits brought under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 seeking damages, declaratory relief, or
injunctive relief. Supreme Court of Va. v. Consumers Union of the U.S., Inc., 446 U.S. 719, 732 (1980) (citing Tenney
v. Brandhove, 341 U.S. 367 (1951)); see also Yeldell v. Cooper Green Hosp., Inc., 956 F.2d 1056, 1062 (11th Cir. 1992)
(legislative immunity applies to “those acts which are ‘necessary to preserve the integrity of the legislative process.’”)
(quoting United States v. Brewster, 408 U.S. 501, 517 (1972)). In Scott v. Taylor, 405 F.3d 1251, 1257 (11th Cir. 2005),
the Eleventh Circuit concluded that state legislators who act in their legislative capacities are entitled to absolute
legislative immunity whether a suit seeks damages or prospective relief and regardless of whether the state legislators
are named in their individual or official capacities.
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009) (“[T]he tenet that a court
must accept as true all of the allegations contained in a complaint is inapplicable to legal
conclusions. Threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere
conclusory statements, do not suffice.”); see also Marsh v. Butler County, 268 F.3d 1014,
1036 n.16 (11th Cir. 2001) (“[U]nsupported conclusions of law or of mixed fact and law have
long been recognized not to prevent a Rule 12(b)(6) dismissal.”). “[A] complaint must
contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to ‘state a claim to relief that is plausible
on its face.’ A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that
allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the
misconduct alleged.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678, 129 S.Ct. at 1949 (quoting Bell Atlantic Corp.,
v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 555, 556 (2007) (internal citation omitted). Springer cannot rely on
subjective suspicions and unsupported speculation but must provide sufficient facts to show
how the conduct or actions of a defendant amounted to a violation of his constitutional rights.
Id. Further, “[b]ecause vicarious liability is inapplicable to ... § 1983 suits, a plaintiff must
plead that each Government official defendant, through the official’s own individual
actions, has violated the Constitution.” 556 U.S. at 676, 129 S.Ct. at 1948 (emphasis added).
The plaintiff must plead that a defendant acted with “purpose rather than knowledge” to
satisfy this standard. 556 U.S. at 677, 129 S.Ct. at 1949.
In this case, Springer fails to specify any injury or harm actually caused by the alleged
unconstitutional conduct of the defendants occurring since September 28, 2008, and only
conclusorily asserts that he has been told he will suffer alleged violations of various
constitutional rights upon his release. Doc. No. 1-1 (Affidavit of Brian K. Springer) at 1-2.
Springer’s broad and unsubstantiated allegations of constitutional violations against the
named defendants, in the absence of any factual development to support his claims against
the defendants, is insufficient to defeat their motion for summary judgment.7 The court,
therefore, concludes that the defendants’ dispositive motion is due to be granted with respect
to the allegations set forth above to the extent that these allegations are not otherwise subject
to dismissal as untimely filed or for lack of jurisdiction.8 Celotex, 477 U.S. at 324; Harris,
65 F.3d at 916.
2. The Sex Offender Registry Classification Claim. In his response, Springer contends
that the defendants should institute a tiered classification system based on the convicted sex
offender’s individual dangerousness. Doc. No. 16 at 9. He argues that the failure of the State
Although in his response Springer argues that he “does suffer from his convictions, as he is ineligible for many
of the Dept. of Corrections programs because of his sex offenses ... [and] suffers the stigma of his sex offenses within
the prison system[,]" Doc. No. 16 at 1-2, it is clear that these alleged sufferings are not attributable to application of the
ACNA to Springer. Rather, the assertions made by Springer demonstrate that the lack of access to prison programs and
any stigma imputed to him are due solely to his conviction for second degree sexual abuse.
Springer likewise asserts that the defendants conspired to violate his rights under 42 U.S.C. § 1985, as well
as under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Under § 1985, Springer must establish (a) the existence of a conspiracy; (b) that the
defendants intended to deny Springer of his equal protection of laws, or equal privileges and immunities under the laws;
(c) injury or deprivation of a federally-protected right; (d) an overt act in furtherance of the object of the conspiracy; and
(e) some racial or otherwise class-based invidiously discriminatory animus behind the conspirator’s action. Arnold v.
Board of Education of Escambia County, Alabama, 880 F.2d 305, 317-318 (11th Cir. 1989), overruled on other grounds
by Leatherman v. Tarrant County Narcotics Intelligence & Coordination Unit, 507 U.S. 163 (1993). As this court has
already determined, Springer’s allegations of a conspiracy between the defendants are merely conclusory, vague and
general. Bendiburg v. Dempsey, 909 F.2d 463, 468 (11th Cir.1990); Fullman, 739 F.2d at 556-557. Additionally,
Springer has not alleged that the defendants’ conduct was motivated by race or any other class-based invidiously
discriminatory animus. Consequently, Springer fails to state a claim for relief under § 1985.
of Alabama to employ such a classification system on its website registry of sex offenders
and in community notifications violates his constitutional rights. Id. Springer appears to
base this claim on the belief that if defendants do not disseminate information as to a
registrant’s potential dangerousness those putatively non-dangerous registrants must endure
the stigma of the general public’s erroneously thinking otherwise.
In Connecticut Department of Public Safety v. Doe, 538 U.S. 1, 123 S.Ct. 1160, 155
L.Ed.2d 98 (2003), the Court addressed a Fourteenth Amendment Due Process challenge to
Connecticut’s sex offender registration and notification law on grounds that it did not provide
registrants a pre-deprivation hearing to determine whether they were currently dangerous.
Reasoning that “due process does not require the opportunity to prove a fact that is not
material to the State’s statutory scheme,” and that Connecticut’s registration requirement was
“based on the fact of previous conviction, not the fact of current dangerousness,” the
Supreme Court found that “due process does not entitle [a defendant] to a hearing....” 538
U.S. at 4, 7.
Here, Springer’s contention that he has a constitutional right not to be stigmatized due
to omission of an assessment of a registrant’s potential dangerousness on Alabama’s sex
offender registry, community notification flyers, and website listings entitles him to no relief.
Although Springer does not assert violation of a specific federal constitutional right with
respect to this claim, the court understands this allegation as one implicating the Fourteenth
Amendment Due Process Clause. The law is well-settled, however, that damage to reputation
alone does not implicate a protected liberty or property interest. See Paul v. Davis, 424 U.S.
693, 701 (1976). In order for a defamation claim to be viable under § 1983, a plaintiff must
show that the “governmental action taken ... deprived [him] of a right previously held under
state law.” Id. at 708. That is, in addition to showing reputational harm, the plaintiff must
also show an alteration or extinguishment of an interest protected by the Constitution or state
law. Id. at 708-709. This is known as the “stigma-plus” test. Id. at 711.
The Doe Court applied the “stigma-plus” test in addressing the constitutionality of
Connecticut’s sex offender registry law. As noted, the Court determined that because the
basis of Connecticut’s registration requirement is the fact of conviction alone, dangerousness
and the opportunity to be heard on the issue of dangerousness are simply not material issues.
538 U.S. at 7-8. Alabama’s sex offender website registry and its community notifications
are based upon the fact of an offender’s conviction. There is no indicator regarding the
dangerousness of the persons listed on the registry or named in the flyers. See Alabama
Safety Community Information
http://dps.alabama.gov. See Ala. Code § 15-20A-8.9 Further, there is nothing on the website
or the community notifications indicating that the State has made an individual determination
regarding a registrant’s dangerousness. The registry actually cautions persons that “the
information contained on th[e] site may not reflect the current residence, status, or other
Ala. Code § 15-20A-8 concerns registration information for the public registry website and delineates the
information which is to be provided thereon.
information regarding the offender.” Id. Thus, similar to the statute at issue in Connecticut
Dept. of Public Safety v. Doe, the State of Alabama “decided that the registry of information
of all sex offenders -- currently dangerous or not -- must be publicly disclosed” and “states
are not barred by principles of ‘procedural due process’ from drawing such classifications.”
538 U.S. at 11 (emphasis in original). Based on the foregoing, the defendants are entitled
to summary judgment on Springer’s sex offender registry classification claim.
3. The Exercise of Supplemental Jurisdiction. To the extent that Springer seeks to
invoke the supplemental jurisdiction of this court with respect to those claims arising under
state law, he is entitled to no relief. Review of pendent state law claims is only appropriate
upon exercise of this court’s supplemental jurisdiction over a related constitutional claim.
In the posture of this case, however, the court concludes that the exercise of supplemental
jurisdiction is inappropriate.
Two factors determine whether state law claims lacking an independent federal
jurisdictional basis can be heard in federal court with a federal claim over
which the court has jurisdiction. To exercise pendent jurisdiction [or what is
now identified as supplemental jurisdiction] over state law claims not
otherwise cognizable in federal court, “the court must have jurisdiction over
a substantial federal claim and the federal and state claims must derive from
a ‘common nucleus of operative fact.’” Jackson v. Stinchcomb, 635 F.2d 462,
470 (5th Cir.1981) (quoting United Mine Workers v. Gibbs, 383 U.S. 715, 86
S.Ct. 1130, 16 L.Ed.2d 218 (1966)). See generally C. Wright, A. Springer &
E. Cooper, Federal Practice and Procedure: Jurisdiction § 3567 pp. 443-47
L.A. Draper and Son v. Wheelabrator Frye, Inc., 735 F.2d 414, 427 (11th Cir. 1984). The
exercise of supplemental jurisdiction is completely discretionary. United Mine Workers v.
Gibbs, 383 U.S. 715 (1966). “If the federal claims are dismissed prior to trial, Gibbs strongly
encourages or even requires dismissal of the state claims.” L.A. Draper and Son, 735 F.2d
at 428. In view of this court’s resolution of the federal claims presented by Springer, any
pendent state claim is due to be dismissed. Gibbs, 383 U.S. at 726 (if the federal claim from
which the state claim arises is dismissed prior to trial, the state claim should be dismissed as
well); see also Ray v. Tennessee Valley Authority, 677 F.2d 818 (11th Cir. 1982).
For the foregoing reasons, it is
ORDERED and ADJUDGED that:
1. The plaintiff’s motion for preliminary injunction and requests for declaratory and
permanent injunctive relief (Doc. No. 1 at 13) be and are hereby DENIED as moot.
2. The plaintiff’s claims challenging actions which occurred prior to his return to
prison in 2006 be DISMISSED with prejudice as the plaintiff failed to file the complaint
within the time prescribed by the applicable period of limitation.
3. The plaintiff’s challenges to the Alabama Community Notification Act with respect
to actions which occurred on or after September 28, 2008, be and are hereby DISMISSED
with prejudice for lack of subject matter jurisdiction.
4. The plaintiff’s claim seeking tiered classification of the sex offender registry be
DISMISSED with prejudice as this claim provides no basis for relief.
5. The defendants’ motion for summary judgment with respect to the plaintiff’s
federal claims for relief be and is hereby GRANTED.
6. The plaintiff’s state law claims be and are hereby DISMISSED without prejudice.
7. This case be and is hereby DISMISSED.
8. No costs are taxed herein.
A separate Final Judgment will accompany this memorandum opinion.
DONE, this 4th day of June, 2013.
/s/ Susan Russ Walker
SUSAN RUSS WALKER
CHIEF UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
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