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Parker v. Dunn

United States District Court, M.D. Alabama, Northern Division

August 6, 2018

SHAQUILLE PARKER, #275050 Plaintiff,
v.
JEFFERSON S. DUNN, et al., Defendants.

          RECOMMENDATION OF THE MAGISTRATE JUDGE

          GRAY M. BORDEN, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         I. INTRODUCTION

         Plaintiff Shaquille Parker, an inmate of the Alabama Department of Corrections, filed this action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, raising the following claims:

(i) The defendants violated his due process rights by relying on an offense committed during his incarceration in the Madison County Jail as a basis for the close custody determination; (ii) The classification hearing did not comport with minimal due process; (iii) He was denied due process during his confinement in close custody at Kilby Correctional Facility, a term of confinement which lasted over a year, because he did not receive periodic reviews of his close custody status during this time; (iv) The conditions in close custody, i.e., one hour out-of-cell time while handcuffed and shackled, visitation only once every six months, use of phone only once every 90 days, commissary visits one time per month, no television privileges, inadequate ventilation and heat, lack of required living space (80 square feet), no chair or stool in the cell, lack of emergency button and absence of a fire sprinkler, violated his Eighth Amendment rights; and (v) The differential treatment of inmates assigned to close custody from general population inmates is violative of equal protection.

Doc. 44 at 1-2 (footnote omitted).[1] Plaintiff names as defendants Jefferson Dunn, Phyllis Billups, Timothy Logan, and Michelle Ellington (“Defendants”).[2] Doc. 1. Plaintiff requests compensatory damages. Doc. 44 at 1 n.1.

         Defendants filed an answer, special report, supplemental special report, and evidentiary materials addressing Plaintiff's claims for relief. Docs. 23, 24, 42 & 48. Upon receipt of Defendants' reports, the court directed Plaintiff to file a response, including sworn affidavits and other evidentiary materials, and specifically cautioning Plaintiff that “at some time in the future the court may treat the defendants' report[s] and the plaintiff's response[s] as a dispositive motion and response.” Docs. 25 & 35. Plaintiff responded to Defendants' reports and materials. Docs. 26, 43 & 50.

         The court now will treat Defendants' reports as a motion for summary judgment. Upon consideration of the motion, responses, and evidentiary materials filed in support and in opposition to the motion, the court concludes that the motion for summary judgment is due to be granted.

         II. SUMMARY JUDGMENT STANDARD

         “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). “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 [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 omitted). The party moving 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 [dispute] of material fact.” Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986). The movant may meet this burden by presenting evidence indicating that 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 322-24.

         Defendants have met their evidentiary burden and demonstrated the absence of any genuine dispute of material fact. Thus, the burden shifts to Plaintiff to establish with appropriate evidence beyond the pleadings that a genuine dispute material to the case exists. 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 . . . .”); see also Caldwell v. Warden, FCI Talladega, 748 F.3d 1090, 1098 (11th Cir. 2014) (holding that court may consider facts pleaded in a plaintiff's sworn complaint when considering his opposition to summary judgment”). A genuine dispute of material fact exists when the nonmoving party produces evidence that would allow a reasonable fact- finder to return a verdict in its favor. Greenberg, 498 F.3d at 1263. The evidence must be admissible at trial, and if the nonmoving party's evidence “is merely colorable . . . or is not significantly probative . . . summary judgment may be granted.” Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 249-50 (1986); Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e). But a “mere ‘scintilla' of evidence supporting the opposing party's position will not suffice.” Walker v. Darby, 911 F.2d 1573, 1577 (11th Cir. 1990) (citing Anderson, 477 U.S. at 252). Only disputes involving material facts are relevant, and what is material is determined by the substantive law applicable to the case. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248. 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).

         “The evidence of the non-movant is to be believed, and all justifiable inferences are to be drawn in his favor.” Anderson, 477 U.S. at 255; Feliciano v. City of Miami Beach, 707 F.3d 1244, 1253 (11th Cir. 2013) (“To be sure, [plaintiff's] sworn statements are self-serving, but that alone does not permit us to disregard them at the summary judgment stage. . . . . ‘[c]ourts routinely and properly deny summary judgment on the basis of a party's sworn testimony even though it is self-serving.'”) (citation omitted). “Conclusory, uncorroborated allegations by a plaintiff in an affidavit or deposition will not create an issue of fact for trial sufficient to defeat a well supported summary judgment motion.” Solliday v. Fed. Officers, 413 Fed.Appx. 206, 207 (11th Cir. 2011) (citing Earley v. Champion Int'l Corp., 907 F.2d 1077, 1081 (11th Cir. 1990)); see also Holifield v. Reno, 115 F.3d 1555, 1564 n.6 (11th Cir. 1997) (per curiam) (holding that conclusory allegations based on subjective beliefs are likewise insufficient to create a genuine dispute of material fact). 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 court, a pro se litigant does not escape the burden of sufficiently establishing a genuine dispute of material fact. Brown v. Crawford, 906 F.2d 667, 670 (11th Cir. 1990). Thus, a plaintiff's pro se status alone does not mandate that this court disregard elementary principles of production and proof in a civil case. Here, Plaintiff fails to demonstrate a genuine dispute of material fact so as to preclude summary judgment on his claims. See Matsushita, 475 U.S. at 587.

         III. SUMMARY OF MATERIAL FACTS

         The court views the facts in the light most favorable to Plaintiff, the nonmoving party. During the time relevant to the complaint, Plaintiff was an inmate at the Kilby Correctional Facility (“Kilby”).[3] Defendant Dunn was the Alabama Department of Corrections (“ADOC”) Commissioner, and the other defendants were employed by the ADOC at Kilby. Billups was a warden, and Defendants Logan and Ellington were Captains. Doc. 24 at 1.

         Plaintiff arrived at Kilby from the Madison County Jail (“the jail”) on October 17, 2014, to serve a life sentence for robbery and burglary. Doc. 42-2 at 1. At the time, Plaintiff also had charges pending against him for assaulting a correctional officer at the jail on August 23, 2014. Docs. 42-11 at 5 & 48-1 at 1-2. In 2015, Plaintiff was convicted and sentenced to ten years in prison for the assault at the jail. Doc. 48-1 at 2.

         On October 24, 2014, Plaintiff received a “24 Hour Advance Notification of Pending Reclassification.” Doc. 48-1 at 7. The notice advised Plaintiff that on October 27, 2014 he would meet with a reclassification team to be moved to close custody because of the jail assault:

While in Madison County jail on 8/23/2014, Inmate Parker assaulted a correctional officer by striking the correctional officer in the head numerous times causing injury (cuts and contusions to head). At the time of assault it is believed that Parker was armed with a blunt object which was used during the attack. Assault II DC 14-5509 is pending as a result of this attack. In keeping with Classification guidelines a custody increase up to Close is being recommended.

Doc. 48-1 at 7. Plaintiff signed an acknowledgement of the notice and the opportunity to call witnesses on his behalf, and he waived his right to 24-hour notice. Doc. 48-1 at 7.

         The written “Due Process Hearing Minutes” from the classification hearing on October 24, 2014 indicate that Plaintiff was informed that the jail assault was the basis for recommending a reclassification to close custody, and the evidence in support of the classification included the assault charges. Doc. 48-1 at 14. Plaintiff was allowed to make a statement on his behalf and ask questions. He asserted that he had not been convicted of anything and that punishing him for the incident at the jail was “like double jeopardy.”[4] Doc. 48-1 at 14. He also asked why he had to stay in lockup for such a long time. Doc. 48-1 at 14. Plaintiff signed a form to acknowledge that he was advised of the decision for him to be placed in close custody. Doc. 48-1 at 14. Plaintiff asserts that he was told that he would remain in close custody for one year. Doc. 1 at 4.

         A written “Classification Summary, ” signed by Plaintiff and Alicia White, the Classification Specialist who represented the state at the hearing, repeats the justification for recommending close custody. Doc. 48-1 at 8. Six days later, Angela Lawson approved the summary on behalf of the Central Review Board “due to assaulting officer in county jail.” Doc. 48-1 at 8.

         While in close custody, Classification Specialist White, on behalf of the Institutional Segregation Review Board, issued memoranda relating to concerns of inmates in segregation. Doc. 48-3. The memoranda indicate that White answered Plaintiff's concerns on five dates during his close custody. Doc. 48-3 at 1-6. On December 23, 2014, Plaintiff asked about his hearing date. Doc. 48-3 at 1. On April 29, 2015, Plaintiff asked for a copy of his “PR.” Doc. 48-3 at 3. On May 6, 2015, Plaintiff again asked for a copy of his PR. Doc. 48-3 at 4. On September 9, ...


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