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Craig v. Alabama Department of Corrections

United States District Court, N.D. Alabama, Southern Division

March 27, 2017

MICHAEL JAMES CRAIG, Plaintiff,
v.
ALABAMA DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS, et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          L. Scott Coogler United States District Judge

         The magistrate judge entered a report on December 5, 2016, recommending all claims against all defendants be dismissed without prejudice pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b) for failing to state a claim upon which relief can be granted, with the exception of the following:

(1) the First Amendment retaliation claims against defendants Brown and Headley,
(2) the First Amendment conspiracy to retaliate claims against defendants Brown, Sanders and Richie, and
(3) the Procedural Due Process claims related to the plaintiff's indefinite isolation segregation against defendants Glass, Despane, White, Hetzel, Bonner, Stinson, Hicks, Specks and Miree.

(Doc. 19). The magistrate judge further recommended the remaining claims be referred back to the magistrate judge for further proceedings. (Id. at 84). The plaintiff filed objections to the report and recommendation. (Doc. 20). He objects to the recommended dismissal of: (1) his claims for monetary damages against the defendants in their official capacities, and (2) his Eighth and Fourteenth Amendment claims for psychological damages against defendants Sanders, Headley, Davenport, Culliver and Thomas for their deliberate indifference to the unsafe and undersecured dorm in which he was housed at St. Clair Correctional Facility in 2011-2012. (Id.).

         I. OBJECTIONS

         A. Objection to the recommended dismissal of the claims for monetary damages against the defendants in their official capacities

         Although his argument is somewhat incoherent, the plaintiff seems to suggest the magistrate judge only considered his claims for monetary damages against the defendant Alabama Department of Corrections' employees in their official capacities, when he in fact sued these defendants for monetary damages in their official and individual capacities. (Doc. 20 at 1-3). The plaintiff also argues he can seek monetary damages from the defendants in their official capacities if they “abused their official capacities, ” citing “Article 4, Section 108 of” the 1901 Alabama Constitution and Code of Alabama, 1975, §§14-3-1, 14-3-50, and 14-11-4. (Id.).

         The plaintiff is incorrect on both counts. First, the magistrate judge considered the plaintiff's claims for monetary damages against the defendants in their official and individual capacities. Second, and no matter how the plaintiff attempts to characterize it, the defendants are entitled to Eleventh Amendment immunity from damages liability to the extent they are sued in their official capacities. See Alabama v. Pugh, 438 U.S. 781, 782 (1978) (Art. I, Sec. 14, of the Alabama Constitution provides that “the State of Alabama shall never be made a defendant in any court of law or equity”); Will v. Michigan Dept. Of State Police, 491 U.S. 58, 71 (1989) (a lawsuit against a state official in his official capacity is the same as a lawsuit against the state itself). As far as injunctive relief, the plaintiff is no longer incarcerated at any of the facilities made the subjects of his complaints. Therefore, his requests for injunctive relief are moot.

         B. Objection to the dismissal of the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendment conditions of confinement claims against defendants Sanders, Headley, Davenport, Culliver and Thomas for deliberate indifference to his undersecured and unsafe dorm at St. Clair County Correctional Facility in 2011 and 2012.

         1. Objections based on the Alabama Constitution, Alabama Statutory law, and Administrative Regulations

         The plaintiff points to “Art. I Sec. 15” of the Alabama Constitution and “Alabama Penal” Code §§ 14-3-1, 14-3-50, 14-3-51, and 14-11-4. (Doc. 20 at 3).[1] He then objects “to the ‘asinine, subjective, conclusionary (sic) myth, ' cloaked in legal jargon, ”[2] that he did not state a plausible cruel and unusual punishment claim concerning the lack of security in Q1 dorm St. Clair Correctional Facility (SCCF) in 2011 and 2012. (Id. at 3) (citing Doc. 19 at 25 ‘report and recommendation'). In support of the same objection, the plaintiff also declares he cited numerous Alabama Department of Corrections Administrative Regulations. (Id. at 4, 6).

         a. Article 1, Section 15, Alabama Constitution

         The plaintiff did not rely upon Article 1, Section 15 of the Alabama Constitution in connection with his claims about the 2011-2012 unconstitutional conditions of his confinement in SCCF's Q1 dorm. The only mention of the Alabama Constitution appears in the plaintiff's second amended complaint, where he perfunctorily declares that a Jefferson County Circuit Court Judge sentenced him to life in prison with the possibility of parole “[p]ursuant to Article I-Section 6, Alabama 1901 Constitution.” (Doc. 13 at 11). Additionally, Article 1, Section 15 of the Alabama Constitution provides “[t]hat excessive fines shall not be imposed, nor cruel or unusual punishment inflicted.” Thus, it is superfluous to the plaintiff's Eighth Amendment claim.

         b. Alabama Code §§ 14-3-1, 14-3-50, 14-3-51, 14-11-4[3]

          The plaintiff did not mention Alabama Code §§ 14-3-1, 14-3-50, 14-3-51, and 14-11-4 in his complaints. Thus, the statutes cannot be used to argue errors of fact or law in the magistrate judge's report and recommendation.

         The plaintiff did request the court pursue federal criminal charges against defendant Culliver and the other defendants, but in so doing wrote, “All A.L.D.O.C. Corrections officers, pursuant to Ala. Code 1975-Title 41 & 14, ” are “classif[ied] as ‘peace officers, ' with powers to arrest.” (Doc. 1 at 69-70). He declares Culliver and other defendants failed to report that defendants Sanders and Headley withheld evidence in the John Rutledge murder investigation, in violation of “§14-3-9, Ala. Code, 1975.” (Id. at 70). Section 14-3-9 sets forth criminal penalties for correctional employees who fail “to report all violations of the law relating to prisons.” Regardless, this court has no authority to refer the defendants for federal or state criminal prosecution. To the extent the plaintiff may be attempting to argue that citation to several state criminal penalties satisfies his burden to state a sufficient factual basis for his conditions of confinement claim at SCCF, his objections are overruled. Blanket citations to statutory penal code sections are inadequate substitutes for the specific factual allegations necessary to set forth an Eighth Amendment conditions of confinement claim.

         c. Objections based on Administrative Regulations

         The plaintiff argues the magistrate judge erred in reporting he “did not cite any specific law, or regulation, on ‘guards failing to secure dorms [and] be on their posts.” (Doc. 20 at 6). He asserts that he cited several provisions of the Alabama Department of Corrections' Administrative Regulations (AR) to support his conditions of confinement claim: (1) AR “18, ‘Accountability logs;'” (2) AR 201, ‘Personnel Files;'” and (3) AR “208-Sec. V, # 28, ‘Officer Posts.'” (Doc. 20 at 4, 6). The plaintiff makes the incoherent and conclusory argument that the “regulations cited, are legally bound by ‘color of state law, ' via-Administrative Procedures Act-Ala. Code Title 41, ” and the criminal penalties addressed in section I.B.1.b. supra. He declares he presented these citations to support his allegations that “guards were not on their ‘posts'” when John Rutledge was murdered in April 2012 and he was robbed in May 2012, but the guards were given “zero reprimands . . . for failing in their duties to guard and protect.” (Id. at 4). The plaintiff declares, “If that is not stating a legitimate claim, of ‘supervisory retention, ' ‘neglect, ' and ‘deliberate indifference'” that can be substantiated by records, “then what is?” (Id. at 5).[4]

         First and foremost, the plaintiff's objections alter the actual allegations he made in his complaint. The plaintiff did not allege in his complaint that John Rutledge was murdered in April 2012 and he was robbed in May 2012 because the officers on duty abdicated their posts and were not reprimanded for their failures.[5]Instead, the complaint alleges these incidents occurred because Q1 dorm had “zero hall rovers at a desk 24 hours per day, and floor rovers only come through to conduct shakedowns for contraband, count, [and] occasionally . . . dorm security walk through[s].” (Doc. 1 at 6). Indeed, that allegation is the linchpin of his claim that Q1 dorm was undersecured, because he compares the security level afforded population dorms such as Q1 dorm to the “heavily secured” honor dorms, and declares that the ADOC “has a mandated [and] constitutional duty” to provide the population dorms with the same type of security afforded the honor dorms, i.e., “a rover at [a] desk in the hall at all times, [and] rovers who frequent the floors.” (Id.).

         Second, it is false that the plaintiff cited in his complaints to the specific Administrative Regulations he now presents in his objections. He did not.

         Finally, the plaintiff has mischaracterized the recommendation, as the magistrate judge never reported the plaintiff had failed to “cite any specific law, or regulation, on ‘guards failing to secure dorms [and] be on their posts, ” as the plaintiff now argues. (Doc. 20 at 6). The magistrate judge did point to the plaintiff's allegation that Lt. Graham admitted during questioning at his January 12, 2013, disciplinary hearing that “St. Clair dorms L through Q did ‘not have security rovers, at all times, on the floor, as required by legal standards.'” (Doc. 19 at 17) (quoting Doc. 1 at 14). The magistrate judge also correctly reported the plaintiff did not detail “the source of these standards, ” but did assert “staff accountability logs” would “corroborate [Graham's] testimony.” (Id.).

         Having clarified the record in addressing the foregoing objections, the court turns to the plaintiff's argument that he stated a plausible Eighth Amendment claim.

         2. Objections based on whether a plausible Eighth Amendment conditions of confinement claim has been alleged

         a. Objective prong- constitutional deprivation

         The plaintiff argues his pleadings contain “specific detailed incidents” sufficient to show Q1 dorm was undersecured and unsafe from 2011-2012 and “beyond the time” period “of Q1, ” which the court interprets as referring to the plaintiff's SCCF dorm housing prior to 2011-2012. (Doc. 20 at 3-5).[6] The court begins first with Q1 dorm years 2011 and 2012, the years ...


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