Hayes v. Alabama Department of Corrections Commissioner et al (INMATE 1) (LEAD CASE)

Filing 107

CORRECTED OPINION. Signed by Honorable Judge Myron H. Thompson on 4/8/14. (scn, )

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IN THE DISTRICT COURT OF THE UNITED STATES FOR THE MIDDLE DISTRICT OF ALABAMA, NORTHERN DIVISION NATHANIEL HAYES, Plaintiff, v. ALA. DEPT. OF CORRECTIONS COMMISSIONER, et al., Defendants. NATHANIEL HAYES, Plaintiff, v. ALA. DEPT. OF CORRECTIONS COMMISSIONER, et al., Defendants. ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) CIVIL ACTION. NO. 2:11cv38-MHT [WO] CIVIL ACTION NO. 2:11cv44-MHT [WO] CORRECTED OPINION In these consolidated lawsuits, the plaintiff Nathaniel Hayes brings claims for relief pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and names the following as defendants: the Alabama Department of 1 Corrections Commissioner; Kilby Correctional Facility Warden John Cummings, whose last name is actually “Cummins”; Correctional Captain Victor Napier; Classification Officer Angela Lawson; and Correctional Officers Douglas McKinney and Taurean Crawford. The court has jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331 (federal question). Pursuant to the orders of the court, the defendants have filed complaints. a special Hayes report in response to Hayes’s was instructed to file a response to the special report and informed that at any time after the filing of his response the special report could be treated by the court as a motion for summary judgment. how to These instructions also informed Hayes about properly judgment. therefore, respond Hayes these to has filed cases are a motion his before for summary response, the defendants’ motion for summary judgment. court on and, the For reasons that follow, summary judgment will be entered in favor of the defendants. 2 I. LEGAL STANDARD "A party may move for summary judgment, identifying each claim or defense--or the part of each claim or defense--on which summary judgment is sought. 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." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(a). The court must view the admissible evidence in the light most favorable to the non-moving party and draw all reasonable inferences in favor of that party. Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. Ltd. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986). II. THE FACTS On December 22, 2010, Hayes was transferred from Holman Prison to Kilby Correctional Facility where he was initially placed in general population. The next day, however, Hayes was transferred to administrative segregation where he remained for 48 days. He does not dispute status that, while in segregation 3 his was reviewed once officials, transfer weekly which of team Hayes by a included to team a segregation of correctional psychologist. The precipitated this lawsuit. III. A. DISCUSSION Respondent-Superior Claim. Hayes claims that the Alabama Corrections Department Commissioner and the Kilby Warden should be held liable for the violations of “staff subordinates.” Of course, it “is axiomatic, in section 1983 actions, that liability must be based on something superior.” Cir. 1990). in the more than a theory of respondeat Brown v. Crawford, 906 F.2d 667, 671 (11th A supervisor must have either participated constitutional deprivation or taken actions linked to the deprivation through a causal connection. This link can be established when a history of abuse puts the supervisor on notice of deprivations and the supervisor fails to correct them; when improper custom or policy breed indifference to constitutional rights; 4 or when the “supervisor directed the subordinates to act unlawfully or knew that the subordinates would act unlawfully and failed to stop them from doing so.” Douglas v. Yates, 535 F.3d 1316, 1322 (11th Cir. 2008). Hayes presents absolutely no evidence showing that these two defendants participated in the actions about which he complains; had any knowledge of any alleged violations of his constitutional rights; or otherwise is subject to subordinates. liability for actions of their Therefore, summary judgment is due to be granted in favor of the Alabama Corrections Department Commissioner and the Kilby Warden. B. that Hayes claims Administrative-Segregation Claim. the placement of him in the Kilby Facility’s administrative segregation without cause violated his constitutional rights. segregation at Holman transferred to the Hayes was in Prison at the Kilby Facility, administrative time and he he was further contends that his rights were violated at the Kilby Facility because he was not 5 given an extension notification of his continued placement in segregation. Hayes specifically alleges that Captain Napier should be held liable because he “was aware of the violations of plaintiff’s rights because he’s responsible for the operation of the Segregation Unit, as he review (sic) the status of each inmate on a weekly basis w/ the Segregation Review Board.” With regard to Correctional Officer Crawford, Hayes claims he “was a party that processed plaintiff into Administrative Segregation w/o cause.”1 As a matter of law, Hayes is entitled to no relief on this claim. Placement of an inmate in segregation or administrative confinement for limited periods of time does not impose an “atypical, significant deprivation” 1. It is unclear which, if any, of the other defendants Hayes contends violated his constitutional rights because he was placed in administrative segregation. For example, with respect to Classification Officer Lawson, Hayes states she was "put on notice of the violations of plaintiff's rights, but failed to respond in any manner." Since the court concludes that on the merits Hayes is not entitled to relief on any of his claims, it is unnecessary for the court to parse the complaint, as amended, claim by claim and defendant by defendant. 6 sufficient to give rise to a constitutionally protected liberty 485–87 interest. (1995) Sandin v. (concluding 515 Conner, 30 days of U.S. 472, disciplinary segregation did not give rise to a protected liberty interest); see also Rodgers v. Singletary, 142 F.3d 1252, 1253 (11th Cir.1998) (concluding two months in administrative confinement did not constitute deprivation of a protected liberty interest). While at the Kilby Facility, Hayes was in segregation for 48 days during which his status was reviewed weekly. show that this Hayes has presented no facts that confinement imposed an “atypical and significant hardship on ... [him] in relation to the ordinary incidents of prison life” that would qualify as a Sandin, liberty 515 deprivation U.S. at implicating 484-85. The due process. defendants are entitled to summary judgment as a matter of law on Hayes’s segregation claim. C. Adulterated-Food Claim. In his original complaint, Hayes alleges that the “[Alabama Department 7 of Corrections] Administration is continuing to spike my food trays and store draw with mood altering drugs.” More specifically, he contends that Sergeant McKinney2 “spiked plaintiff’s food trays plaintiff’s past behavior.” continuously due to To the extent that this claim is premised on a retaliation theory, the court will separately address that issue in a later section of this opinion. Hayes’s spiked-food claim arises Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments. requires that prisoners adequate food. ... be under both the The Eighth Amendment provided “reasonably A well-balanced meal, containing sufficient nutritional value to preserve health, is all that is required.” 1567, 1575 (11th Hamm v. De Kalb County, 774 F.2d Cir. 1985). In addition, it is undeniable that Hayes possesses a significant liberty interest in avoiding the unwanted administration of 2. The original complaint names Sergeant Jenkins as a defendant in this claim. In an amended complaint filed February 7, 2011, Hayes substituted McKinney for Jenkins whom Hayes “erroneously identified.” 8 mood-altering drugs under the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Washington See v. Harper, 494 U.S. 210, 221-22 (1990). The difficulty for Hayes is that he has presented to the court absolutely no evidence that supports his adulterated food verification of sufficient to oppose Harris Ostrout, v. claim. A conclusory a 65 motion F.3d plaintiff’s allegations for 912 summary (11th is mere not judgment. Cir. 1995); Fullman v. Graddick, 739 F.2d 553, 556-57 (11th Cir. 1984). And, “although [the court] must view factual inferences favorably toward the nonmoving party and pro se complaints are entitled to a liberal interpretation by the courts, ... a pro se litigant does not escape the essential burden under summary judgment standards of establishing that there is a genuine ... [dispute] as to a fact material to his case in order to avert summary judgment." Brown v. Crawford, 906 F.2d 667, 670 (11th Cir. 1990) (a pro se litigant's allegation of contaminated drinking water found unsubstantiated and 9 completely speculative because the litigant failed to submit a doctor's diagnosis or any medical examination evidence supporting those allegations). Hayes has submitted no evidence that would support a conclusion that the food he received at Kilby was nutritionally inadequate and no evidence substantiating his mere contention that mood-altering drugs were placed in his food or store-draw items. failed to produce In other words, Hayes has “sufficient [favorable] evidence” that would be admissible at trial supporting his claim See Anderson v. Liberty of a constitutional violation. Lobby, Inc., supra; Civil Procedure. a genuine Rule 56(e)(1), Federal Rules of In the absence of such proof creating dispute, the defendants are entitled to summary judgment on this claim. D. Retaliation Claim. To understand this claim, it is necessary that the court look closely at Hayes’s complaints. The original complaint was filed on January 14, 2011, on a form provided by the court. In the section of that form in which Hayes is asked to 10 explain his claim briefly, is retaliating “Administration behavior code(s) disciplinaries.” in he my wrote that the for the harassment file, due to past In the next sections of the complaint form, Hayes is asked to explain his claim against each named defendant. In these sections of the complaint, there is no direct reference to any retaliation claim. With respect to Sergeant Jenkins (later identified as Sergeant McKinney), plaintiff (sic) Hayes food trays plaintiff’s past behavior.” retaliation amended 2011, otherwise. complaints and on February states he continuously “spiked due to But there is no mention of Hayes January 7, that filed 21, 2011. several 2011, In other January none 25, of these in their amendments did Hayes mention retaliation. In the defendants’ special report and separate affidavits, the defendants understandably do not mention retaliation. Hayes response: 11 then filed his “Defendant(s) has overlooked plaintiff’s underlying claim of retaliated harassment, which now is fully developed. “Plaintiff was charged with an Assault at Holman Prison, and while in Lockup, he was arbitrarily classed under a (Seg Boarded) Campaign Demonstration, due to a framed disciplinary transcript. Seg. Boarded--meaning, subjected an inmate to demonstrated harassment, due to disciplinary files. “However, plaintiff transferred from Holman to Kilby on a lay over, en route to Donaldson; as Kilby Classification received special Instructions to prep a Seg. Boarded Rally: (by serenading propaganda [false] campaigns throughout the Institution), before transferring plaintiff to Donaldson on a Hostile Seg. Boarded Rally Campaign, in a conspiracy to provoke entrapment; as demonstrated by defendant(s) orchestrated harassment.” The method of establishing a retaliation claim is essentially the same as for a claim of race or sex discrimination. Donnellon v. Fruehauf Corporation, 794 F.2d 598, 600-01 (11th Cir. 1986). An inmate has the initial burden of establishing a prima-facie case of unlawful retaliation by a 12 preponderance of the evidence, which once established raises a presumption that prison officials retaliated against the inmate. Texas Dep’t of Cmty Affairs v. Burdine, 450 U.S. 248 (1981). Merely alleging the ultimate retaliation, however, is insufficient. 857 F.2d 1139, Additionally, 1142, conclusory n.6 of Cain v. Lane, (7th allegations fact Cir. are 1988). insufficient to demonstrate the existence of each element required to establish retaliation. Morales v. MacKalm, 278 F.3d 126, 131 (2d Cir. 2002), abrogated on other grounds by Porter v. Nussle, 534 U.S. 516, 532 (2002); see also Bennett v. Goord, 343 F.3d 133, 137 (2nd Cir. 2003) (because abuse, prisoner “we are allegation.”). retaliation careful to claims require are prone to non-conclusory If an inmate establishes a prima-facie case, the burden then shifts to the prison officials to rebut the presumption by producing sufficient evidence to raise a genuine issue of fact as to whether the prison official retaliated against the inmate. may be done by the prison 13 official This articulating a legitimate, non-retaliatory reason for the adverse decision or action, a reason which is clear, reasonably specific and worthy of credence. The official has a burden of production, not of persuasion, and thus does not have to persuade a court that he or she actually was motivated by the reason advanced. Once the jail production, the persuading evidence official the that inmate court the by Burdine, supra. satisfies this burden of then the burden of has sufficient proffered reason and for admissible the adverse decision or action is a pretext for retaliation. Given the liberality with which the Id. court must construe pro se complaints, the court construes Hayes’s complaints as raising a retaliation claim with respect to spiking his food and store draws and with regard to placement of him in segregation. With regard to the food and store-draw claims, Hayes’s retaliation claim founders on the first prong of establishing such a claim because, as earlier noted, he failed to adduce any evidence that the defendants placed in his food or 14 store draw any foreign objects or mood-altering drugs. His allegations are merely conclusory and as such are insufficient to establish that the defendants retaliated against him. With regard to segregation, the court will assume that Hayes presented a prima-facie case. The defendants have come forward with a legitimate, nonretaliatory reason for placing Hayes in segregation. In his affidavit, the Kilby Warden states: “On December 22, 2011, Inmate Hayes arrived at Kilby and was placed in BDormitory which is a population dormitory. On December 23, 2011, Ms. Lawson was off and Kilby's other Classification Supervisor, Ms. Ashley Slatton reviewed Inmate Hayes file which indicated that he was in Administrative Segregation at Holman Correctional Facility. Ms. Slatton then contacted the Director of Classification, Carolyn Golson, to verify if inmate Hayes placement in population was accurate due to the fact that Inmate Hayes was in Administrative Segregation at the time of transfer. Ms. Golson informed Ms. Slatton that Kilby could not release an inmate that was in Administrative Segregation into population and that only the approved receiving 15 institution (William E. Donaldson or St. Clair) could release Inmate Hayes to population. Inmate Hayes had been approved to be transferred to William E. Donaldson or St. Clair Correctional Facility. Inmate Hayes was immediately removed from Kilby Correctional Facility population and placed in Administrative Segregation to await transfer to his approved facility. Inmate Hayes was given a detention notification, as required by Administrative Regulation #433 Administrative Segregation, informing him that he was being placed in Administrative Segregation and he refused to sign....” These facts, which Hayes does not dispute, except if at all in a conclusory fashion, are sufficient to meet the defendants’ burden of producing a legitimate, non-retaliatory segregation. reason for placing Hayes in Thus the burden now shifts to Hayes to produce admissible evidence that demonstrates that the reason proffered by the defendants is a pretext for retaliation. The court has set forth above Hayes’s response to the defendants’ motion for summary judgment. As interpreted by the court, Hayes appears to claim that 16 his placement in segregation at Holman was caused by a “framed disciplinary....” It is well established in this circuit that, in meting out discipline to inmates, prison officials may not rely on information they know to be false. See Monroe v. Thigpen, 932 F.2d 1437, 1441–42 (11th Cir.1991). But Hayes presents no evidence that any of the defendants had any knowledge that disciplinary action taken against him by prison officials at information. Holman Prison was based on false Hayes suggests that the actions against him were the result of a conspiracy, but he fails to present any non-conclusory and meaningful evidence that the prison officials reached an agreement to violate his constitutional rights. Rowe v. City of Fort Lauderdale, 279 F.3d 1271, 1283–84 (11th Cir.2002). In short, Hayes has failed to meet his burden of showing that any reason proffered pretext for retaliation. by the defendants is a The defendants are entitled to summary judgment on Hayes’s retaliation claim. 17 There is one final matter the court must address. In his response to the motion for summary judgment, Hayes argues that the defendants “overlooked ... [his] underlying claim of Retaliated Harassment....” it is correct judgment, the retaliation as that in defendants a claim their did on motion not which for directly they were While summary identify seeking summary judgment, Hayes did not name specifically any of the defendants as retaliating against him. Instead, he claimed that the “DOC Administration,” which is not a party, was responsible for retaliation. these circumstances defendants retaliation for the failing claim. court to Moreover, cannot fault the address his defendants have directly the Thus, under presented a sufficient evidentiary basis for the court to determine Hayes’s retaliation claim on the merits, and, for the reasons already set forth, the court finds that claim to lack merit. *** 18 The defendants are, therefore, entitled to summary judgment in their favor on all of Hayes’s claims. appropriate judgment will be entered in these cases. DONE, this the 8th day of April, 2014. /s/ Myron H. Thompson UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE An two

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