United States District Court, M.D. Alabama, Northern Division
ROBERT T. JENKINS, Plaintiff,
ALABAMA DEPT. OF CORRECTIONS, et al., Defendants.
RECOMMENDATION OF THE MAGISTRATE JUDGE
F. MOORER UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
filed this pro se 42 U.S.C. § 1983 complaint
during his incarceration at the Elmore Correctional Facility
in Elmore, Alabama. He brings suit against the Alabama
Department of Corrections, Charles McKee, Jemal E. Rogers,
and Rhonda Raines alleging; 1) he was under threat from
inmates due to his involvement in assisting law enforcement
officials during a riot at the St. Clair Correctional
Facility in 1985; 2) he was subjected to an arbitrary denial
of minimum custody in retaliation for his litigation
activity; and 3) his life was endangered because of prison
officials' refusal to classify him as minimum
custody. Doc. 11 at 2-3. For relief, Plaintiff
requests prison officials stop discriminating against him and
place him in segregation where he will be safe from inmates
and “corrupt” staff. Id. at 4.
Plaintiff filed this action he was incarcerated at the Elmore
Correctional Facility in Elmore, Alabama. Since filing this
action Plaintiff has been released from custody of the
Alabama Department of Corrections. See Doc. 33.
Based on Plaintiff's complaint and the specific relief
sought, the undersigned concludes this action is due to be
dismissed as moot.
do not sit to render advisory opinions. North Carolina v.
Rice, 404 U.S. 244, 246 (1971). An actual controversy
must exist when the case is pending. Steffel v.
Thompson, 415 U.S. 452, 459 n.10 (1974). Where the only
relief requested is injunctive, it is possible for events
subsequent to filing the complaint to make the matter moot.
National Black Police Ass'n v. District of
Columbia, 108 F.3d 346, 350 (D.C. Cir. 1997) (change in
statute); Williams v. Griffin, 952 F.2d 820, 823
(4th Cir. 1991) (transfer of prisoner); Tawwab v.
Metz, 554 F.2d 22, 23 (2d Cir. 1977) (change in policy).
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) (“[N]o
justiciable controversy is presented . . . when the question
sought to be adjudicated has been mooted by
developments” subsequent to filing of the complaint.).
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 may not rule upon
questions hypothetical in nature or which do not affect the
rights of the parties. Lewis v. Continental Bank
Corp., 494 US. 472, 477 (1990). “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.
Saladin v. Milledgeville, 812 F.2d 687, 693 (11th
Cir. 1987) (citations omitted), 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
violation.” See also Darring v. Kincheloe, 783
F.2d 874, 876 (9th Cir. 1986) (after an inmate is
transferred, there is neither a “reasonable
expectation” nor a “demonstrated
probability” that the inmate will return to the prison
against which he sought injunctive relief and therefore claim
for injunctive relief is moot). “This
case-or-controversy requirement subsists through all stages
of federal judicial proceedings, trial and appellate . . .
[I]t is not enough that a dispute was very much alive when
the suit was filed.” Lewis, 494 U.S. at 477.
relief is a prospective remedy, intended to prevent future
injuries.” Adler v. Duval County School Bd.,
112 F.3d 1475, 1477 (11th Cir. 1997). For that reason,
“[w]hen the threat of future harm dissipates, the
plaintiff's claims for equitable relief become moot
because the plaintiff no longer needs protection from future
injury.” Id.; Church v. City of
Huntsville, 30 F.3d 1332, 1337 (11th Cir. 1994)
(citation omitted) (“Logically, ‘a prospective
remedy will provide no relief for an injury that is, and
likely will remain, entirely in the past.'”). In
the context of a § 1983 action filed by a prisoner, such
as this, a prayer for declaratory or injunctive relief
becomes moot upon the transfer or release of that prisoner
from the facility where his cause of action arose. See,
e.g., Wahl v. McIver, 773 F.2d 1169, 1173 (11th Cir.
1985) (“[A] n inmate's claim for injunctive and
declaratory relief in a section 1983 action fails to present
a case or controversy once the inmate has been
is no longer an inmate at the Elmore Correctional Facility,
having been released from custody of the Alabama Department
of Corrections during the pendency of this action. He is,
therefore, no longer subject to the conditions about which he
complains when he filed suit. There is no indication
Plaintiff will be returned to the Elmore Correctional
Facility much less be returned in the immediate future.
“‘Past exposure to illegal conduct does not in
itself show a pending case or controversy regarding
injunctive relief if unaccompanied by any continuing, present
injury or real and immediate threat of repeated
injury.'” Cotterall v. Paul, 755 F.2d 777,
780 (11th Cir. 1985), quoting Dudley v. Stewart, 724
F.2d 1493, 1494 (11th Cir. 1984). Absent is any showing of a
“continuing, present injury or real and immediate
threat of repeated injury” to Plaintiff. See
Id. (finding that a transfer of the plaintiff back to
the county jail if he was again incarcerated at a
minimum-security facility and charged with a disciplinary
infraction was too speculative to satisfy the required injury
light of the foregoing, the court finds Plaintiff's
lawsuit is now moot. Because there is no present case or
controversy to support the court's jurisdiction over this
matter, it is due to be dismissed without prejudice for lack
the RECOMMENDATION of the Magistrate Judge that:
1. Plaintiff's amended complaint be DISMISSED for lack of