McCauley v. Gray et al
OPINION MEMORANDUM AND ORDER IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that Defendants Motion for Summary Judgment, [Doc No. 30], is GRANTED.A separate judgment in accordance with this Opinion, Memorandum and Order is entered this same date. 30 Signed by District Judge Henry Edward Autrey on 3/21/18. (CLA)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF MISSOURI
JEROME FIELDS, et.al.,
CASE NO. 4:15CV1899 HEA
OPINION, MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
This matter is before the Court on Defendant’s Motion for Summary
Judgment, [Doc. No. 30]. Plaintiff opposes the motion and has filed a written
response thereto, to which Defendant has filed a reply. For the reasons set forth
below, the Motion will be granted.
Facts and Background
Local Rule 7-401(E) provides:
Rule 7 - 4.01 Motions and Memoranda.
(E) A memorandum in support of a motion for summary judgment shall
have attached a statement of uncontroverted material facts, set forth in a
separately numbered paragraph for each fact, indicating whether each fact is
established by the record, and, if so, the appropriate citations. Every
memorandum in opposition shall include a statement of material facts as to
which the party contends a genuine issue exists. Those matters in dispute
shall be set forth with specific references to portions of the record, where
available, upon which the opposing party relies. The opposing party also
shall note for all disputed facts the paragraph number from movant’s listing
of facts. All matters set forth in the statement of the movant shall be deemed
admitted for purposes of summary judgment unless specifically controverted
by the opposing party.
Defendant has, in accordance with the Court’s Local Rule, submitted a
Statement of Uncontroverted Material Facts, which is supported by references to
the record. Although Plaintiff has filed a response to Defendant’s Statement, he
fails to support his denials with any specific references to admissible evidence in
the record. Pursuant to Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and Rule
7-401(E) of this Court’s Local Rules, Defendant’s facts are therefore deemed
Plaintiff alleges in his Amended Complaint that the conditions of
confinement at the St. Louis City Justice Center (“SLCJC”) and the St. Louis
Medium Security Institution (“MSI”) violated his rights. He brings this action
against correctional officers. He sues defendants in their individual and official
Plaintiff alleges that defendants1 retaliated against him pursuant to 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983 for filing complaints by transferring him from MSI to SLCJC.
Defendant Weber has filed a Notice of Death, [Doc. No. 42] wherein he advises the Court that
Defendant Fields has died. Because 42 U.S.C. § 1983 “does not deal expressly with the question
of survivorship,” federal courts look to state law in determining whether § 1983 claims against
an official in his individual capacity survive the death of a defendant, provided that state law is
not inconsistent with federal law. Pritchard v. Smith, 289 F.2d 153, 155–59 (8th Cir.1961)
(citing 42 U.S.C. § 1988); see Moor v. County of Alameda, 411 U.S. 693, 702 n. 14 (1973)
(citing Pritchard and stating “it has been held that pursuant to § 1988[,] state survivorship
statutes ... may be used in the context of actions brought under § 1983”); White v. Walsh, 649
F.2d 560, 562 n. 4 (8th Cir.1981) (“It is a matter well decided that state survivorship statutes that
At all relevant times Weber was a constituency services officer with the City
of St. Louis Division of Corrections (“Division”). In that position Weber was
responsible for responding to informal resolution requests and formal grievances
submitted by inmates in the custody of the Division. Weber was assigned to and
worked in the Constituency Services Unit (“CSU”) at the Division’s Medium
Security Institution (“MSI”). MSI is one of two jails operated by the Division. The
other is the St. Louis City Justice Center (“SLCJC”). MSI is a medium security
detention facility and SLCJC is a maximum security detention facility. Fields was
the Unit Manager at MSI.
An inmate’s “custody level” is the level of supervision and security an
inmate requires, and it affects whether the inmate is held at MSI or SLCJC. Inmate
custody level assessment and the determination of whether an inmate will be
reverse the general common law rule that abates causes of action properly apply in a § 1983
In Pritchard, the Eighth Circuit specifically ruled that a plaintiff's civil rights claim
survives the death of a defendant under Arkansas law. Pritchard, 289 F.2d at 158–59. Accord
White, 649 F.2d at 562 n. 4 (citing Pritchard and applying Missouri survival law to a suit against
a deceased defendant accused of conspiring with others to violate plaintiff's right to a fair trial);
Pritchard v. Downie, 326 F.2d 323, 324 n. 1 (8th Cir.1964) (noting that the Court previously
held that plaintiff's civil rights causes of action survived after defendant police chief's death and
that estate administrator should be substituted as defendant).
Where a claim is not extinguished by a party's death, substitution of the proper party may
be ordered upon “motion for substitution ... by any party or by the decedent's successor or
representative.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 25(a)(1). The motion for substitution must be made within ninety
days after service of the notice of death or “the action ... against the decedent must be
Considering that this case does not survive the motion for summary judgment, the Court
will not require the substitution of Defendant Fields with his estate.
assigned to MSI or the St. Louis City Justice Center (“SLCJC”) is the
responsibility of Classification Manager Warren Thomas. Fields did not have the
authority to change an inmate’s custody level and did not have the authority to
transfer an inmate from MSI to SLCJC. Weber does not have the authority to
transfer inmates from MSI to SLCJC.
During his initial intake process, Plaintiff was not asked whether or not he
was on probation/parole supervision.
On July 23, 2014, Plaintiff was transferred to MSI. On July 28, 2014, parole
officer Angela Laster faxed a Missouri Department of Corrections Board of
Probation and Parole Warrant to the City of St. Louis Sheriff’s Department. An
officer of the Sheriff’s Department added a “parole hold” to the Division’s
electronic Integrated Jail Management System (“IJMS”).
On June 15, 2015, Weber received a letter from Plaintiff that complained of,
among other things, the conditions at MSI. On June 22, 2015, Weber met with
Plaintiff in his office to discuss Plaintiff’s complaints and orally responded to
Plaintiff’s various complaints.
Every time Weber meets with an inmate he reviews that inmate’s profile on
IJMS. IJMS profiles contain identifying information, inmate arrest and charge
information, inmate cell history information, and an inmate journal history. Weber
was trained and directed to review inmate charge information every time he met
with an inmate. While meeting with Plaintiff on June 22, 2015, Weber reviewed
his IJMS profile and learned that Plaintiff had a “parole violation” listed in his
IJMS profile. It is the Division’s policy that the Classification Manager be notified
when any staff member authorized to access inmate charge information through
IJMS learns that an inmate held at MSI has been charged with a parole violation.
Weber understood that inmates with parole violations should be held at SLCJC and
brought Plaintiff’s parole violation to the attention of Fields.
After Weber notified Fields that Plaintiff had a parole violation listed in his
IJMS profile, Fields notified Classification Manager Warren Thomas. Thomas
made the decision to transfer Plaintiff and, on June 23, 2015, Plaintiff was
transferred to SLCJC. Plaintiff was transferred because of his parole violation
charge. Whenever Classification Manager Warren Thomas learns that an inmate at
MSI has been charged with a parole violation, that inmate is transferred to SLCJC.
Aside from investigating and responding to Plaintiff’s complaints, none of
the actions Weber took had anything to do with the fact that Plaintiff had
complained and none of the actions Weber took were in retaliation for Plaintiff’s
complaints. None of the actions Fields took had anything to do with the fact that
Plaintiff had complained and none of the actions Fields took were in retaliation for
Plaintiff’s complaints. Neither Weber nor Fields knew Plaintiff had been charged
with a parole violation prior to June 22, 2015. No one ever told Plaintiff he was
transferred because he complained. Plaintiff never had any personal interaction
Standard of Review
The Court may grant a motion for summary judgment if the movant shows
that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and that the moving party is
entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a); Celotex Corp. v.
Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322, 106 S.Ct. 2548, 91 L.Ed.2d 265 (1986). The
substantive law determines which facts are critical and which are irrelevant. Only
disputes over facts that might affect the outcome will properly preclude summary
judgment. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248, 106 S.Ct. 2505, 91
L.Ed.2d 202 (1986). Summary judgment is not proper if the evidence is such that a
reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party. Id.
A moving party always bears the burden of informing the Court of the basis
of its motion. Celotex, 477 U.S. at 323. Once the moving party discharges this
burden, the nonmoving party must set forth specific facts demonstrating that there
is a dispute as to a genuine issue of material fact, not the mere existence of some
alleged factual dispute. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 247. The nonmoving party may not
rest upon mere allegations or denials of its pleadings. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 256.
In passing on a motion for summary judgment, the Court must view the facts
in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party, and all justifiable inferences
are to be drawn in its favor. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 255. The Court’s function is not
to weigh the evidence but to determine whether there is a genuine issue for trial. Id.
Summary judgment is appropriate when, viewing the facts and inferences in
the light most favorable to the nonmoving party, the pleadings, the discovery and
disclosure materials on file, and any affidavits show that there is no genuine
dispute as to any material fact and that the movant is entitled to judgment as a
matter of law.
In order to survive a motion for summary judgment, “the nonmoving party
must ‘substantiate his allegations with sufficient probative evidence [that] would
permit a finding in [her] favor based on more than mere speculation, conjecture, or
fantasy.’” Barber v. C1 Truck Driver Training, LLC, 656 F.3d 782, 801 (8th Cir.
2011) (quoting Putman v. Unity Health Sys., 348 F.3d 732, 733–34 (8th Cir. 2003))
(internal quotation marks omitted).
Plaintiff brought this action based on his belief that he was transferred to
SLCJC in retaliation for complaining about the conditions of MCI.
In order to demonstrate retaliation in violation of the First
Amendment under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, Spencer must “show (1) he engaged in
a protected activity, (2) the government official took adverse action against
him that would chill a person of ordinary firmness from continuing in the
activity, and (3) the adverse action was motivated at least in part by the
exercise of the protected activity.” Revels v. Vincenz, 382 F.3d 870, 876 (8th
Cir.2004) (citing Naucke v. City of Park Hills, 284 F.3d 923, 927–28 (8th
Cir.2002)). The retaliatory conduct itself need not be a constitutional
violation; the violation is acting in retaliation for “the exercise of a
constitutionally protected right.” Cody v. Weber, 256 F.3d 764, 771 (8th
Cir.2001) (citing Madewell v. Roberts, 909 F.2d 1203, 1206–07 (8th
Spencer v. Jackson Cty. Mo., 738 F.3d 907, 911 (8th Cir. 2013).
To prevail on a retaliation transfer claim, a prisoner must show that
retaliation was the “actual motivating factor” for adverse treatment and that the
adverse action would not have occurred “but for a retaliatory motive.” Lewis v.
Jacks, 486 F.3d 1025, 1029 (8th Cir. 2007); Haynes v. Stephenson, 588 F.3d 1152,
1156 (8th Cir. 2009). Importantly, a prisoner cannot prevail if adverse action was
taken for both a legitimate reason and for retaliatory reason. Id.; Webb v. Hedrick,
Case No. 09–2896, 2010 WL 4366438, *1 (8th Cir. Nov. 5, 2010) (unpublished
opinion) (explaining that a prisoner cannot prevail “if retaliation was one factor” in
the defendants' decision); Ponchik v. Bogan, 929 F.3d 419, 420 (8th Cir. 1991)
(rejecting a retaliation claim where retaliation was only one of the factors leading
to the inmate's transfer). A finding that a disciplinary action is based on some
evidence of a violation “essentially checkmates” a retaliation claim. Henderson v.
Baird, 29 F.3d 464, 469 (8th Cir. 1994) cert. denied, 515 U.S. 1145, 115 S.Ct.
2584 (1995). “A report from a correctional officer, even if disputed by the inmate
and supported by no other evidence, legally suffices as ‘some evidence’ upon
which to base a prison disciplinary decision, if the violation is found by an
impartial decision-maker.” Cole v. Norris, No. 2:08CV00056-WRW, 2008 WL
4949283 (E.D. Ark.) (quoting Hartsfield v. Nichols, 411 F.3d 826, 831 (8th Cir.
2008)). See also, Hamner v. Kelley, No. 5:16-CV-369-JLH-BD, 2017 WL
6993041, at *2 (E.D. Ark. Dec. 19, 2017), report and recommendation adopted,
No. 5:16-CV-369 JLH-BD, 2018 WL 475007 (E.D. Ark. Jan. 18, 2018).
Although Plaintiff argues that Defendants must have known of the parole
violation, and therefore transferred him because of it, the record establishes that
neither Defendant knew of the parole violation before June 22, 2015. Weber
learned of the violation during his meeting with Plaintiff, and then notified Fields.
Fields then notified Classification Manager Warren Thomas. Thomas made the
decision to transfer Plaintiff to SLCJC because, pursuant to Division Policy,
inmates with parole violation charges are to be held at SLCJC.
Plaintiff has failed to present any evidence whatsoever that either Defendant
was responsible for the transfer, or that either Defendant facilitated the transfer
because Plaintiff complained of the conditions of MSI. Indeed, Defendants have
established that Plaintiff was transferred for a legitimate reason and in accordance
with the Division policy. Defendants are entitled to judgment as a matter of law.
Based upon the foregoing analysis, the record clearly establishes that there
are no genuine disputes as to any material facts.
IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that Defendants’ Motion for Summary
Judgment, [Doc No. 30], is GRANTED.
A separate judgment in accordance with this Opinion, Memorandum and
Order is entered this same date.
Dated this 21st day of March, 2018.
HENRY EDWARD AUTREY
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
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