United States District Court, M.D. Alabama, Northern Division
RECOMMENDATION OF THE MAGISTRATE JUDGE
CHARLES S. COODY UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
U.S.C. § 1983 action is pending before the court on a
complaint filed by Jeffrey Scott Clegg, a former state
inmate, challenging the constitutionality of a disciplinary
imposed upon him during a prior term of incarceration at the
Bullock Correctional Facility. Specifically, Clegg alleges
defendant Carlton, the disciplinary hearing officer, denied
him due process in a disciplinary hearing conducted on a
charge for failure to obey a direct order. Doc. 1 at 4. Clegg
also asserts Carlton relied on false information in finding
him guilty of the aforementioned charge. Doc. 1 at 4. Clegg
seeks a declaratory judgment, injunctive relief and monetary
damages for the alleged violations of his constitutional
rights. Doc. 1 at 5; Doc. 30 at 1.
defendant filed a special report, supplemental special report
and relevant evidentiary materials in support of these
reports addressing the claims presented by Clegg. In these
reports, the defendant denies acting in violation of
Clegg's constitutional rights.
reviewing the special reports filed by the defendant, the
court issued an order on March 7, 2016 directing Clegg to
file a response, supported by affidavits or statements made
under penalty of perjury and other evidentiary materials, to
each of the arguments set forth by the defendant in her
reports, . Doc. 18 at 2. The order specifically cautioned
that “unless within fifteen (15) days from the
date of this order a party . . . presents sufficient legal
cause why such action should not be undertaken . . .
the court may at any time [after expiration of the time for
the plaintiff filing a response to this order] and
without further notice to the parties (1)
treat the special reports and any supporting evidentiary
materials as a motion for summary judgment and (2) after
considering any response as allowed by this order, rule on
the motion for summary judgment in accordance with the
law.” Doc. 18 at 3 (emphasis in original). In
compliance with this order, Clegg filed a response (Doc. 22)
and affidavit (Doc. 23) in opposition to the defendants'
to the directives of the order entered on March 7, 2016, the
court now treats the defendant's reports as a motion for
summary judgment and concludes that summary judgment is due
to be granted in favor of the defendant.
SUMMARY JUDGMENT STANDARD
judgment is appropriate ‘if the pleadings, depositions,
answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together
with the affidavits, if any, show there is no genuine
[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); Rule 56(a), Fed.R.Civ.P.
(“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.”). 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 issue [dispute]
of material fact.” Celotex Corp. v. Catrett,
477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986); Beard v. Banks, 548 U.S.
521, 529 (2006) (holding that a court “must examine the
record to see whether the [party moving for summary
judgment], in depositions, answers to interrogatories,
admissions, affidavits and the like, has demonstrated the
absence of a genuine [dispute] of material fact, and his
entitlement to judgment as a matter of law.”) (internal
citations and quotation marks omitted); Jeffery v.
Sarasota White Sox, Inc., 64 F.3d 590, 593 (11th Cir.
1995) (holding that moving party has initial burden of
showing there is no genuine dispute of material fact for
trial). The movant may meet this burden by presenting
evidence indicating there is no dispute of material fact or
by showing that the nonmoving party has failed to present
appropriate evidence in support of some element of its case
on which it bears the ultimate burden of proof.
Celotex, 477 U.S. at 322-24; Moton v.
Cowart, 631 F.3d 1337, 1341 (11th Cir. 2011) (holding
that moving party discharges his burden by showing that the
record lacks evidence to support the nonmoving party's
case or that the nonmoving party would be unable to prove his
case at trial).
the moving party meets its evidentiary burden, the burden
shifts to the plaintiff to establish, with appropriate
evidence beyond the pleadings, that a genuine dispute
material to his case exists. At this juncture, the court
“must determine whether [the plaintiff], who bears the
burden of persuasion, has by affidavits or as otherwise
provided in Rule 56 . . . set forth specific facts showing
that there is a genuine [dispute of material fact] for
trial.” Beard, 521 U.S. at 529 (internal
citations and quotation marks omitted); Jeffery, 64
F.3d at 593-94 (holding that, once a moving party meets its
burden, “the non-moving party must then go beyond the
pleadings, and by its own affidavits [or statements made
under penalty of perjury], or by depositions, answers to
interrogatories, and admissions on file, ” demonstrate
that there is a genuine dispute of material fact.). This
court will also consider “specific facts” pled in
a plaintiff's sworn complaint when considering his
opposition to summary judgment. Caldwell v. Warden, FCI
Talladega, 748 F.3d 1090, 1098 (11th Cir. 2014). A
genuine dispute of material fact exists when a party produces
evidence that would allow a reasonable fact-finder to return
a verdict in its favor such that summary judgment is not
warranted. Greenberg, 498 F.3d at 1263; Allen v.
Bd. of Pub. Educ. for Bibb Cnty., 495 F.3d 1306, 1313
(11th Cir. 2007). “The mere existence of some factual
dispute will not defeat summary judgment unless that factual
dispute is material to an issue affecting the outcome of the
case.” McCormick v. City of Fort Lauderdale,
333 F.3d 1234, 1243 (11th Cir. 2003) (citation omitted).
“[T]here must exist a conflict in substantial evidence
to pose a jury question.” Hall v. Sunjoy Indus.
Group, Inc., 764 F.Supp.2d 1297, 1301 (M.D. Fla. 2011).
[This court] recognize[s] that at this stage [it] must draw
“all justifiable inferences in [the plaintiff's]
“favor.” Anderson v. Liberty Lobby,
Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 255, 106 S.Ct. 2505, 91 L.Ed.2d 202
(1986). In doing so, however, we must distinguish between
evidence of disputed facts and disputed matters of
professional judgment. In respect to the latter, our
inferences must accord deference to the views of prison
authorities. Overton [v. Bazetta, 539 U.S. 126, 132
(2003)]. Unless a prisoner can point to sufficient evidence
regarding such issues of judgment to allow him to prevail on
the merits, he cannot prevail at the summary judgment stage.
Beard, 548 U.S. at 530.
factual inferences must be viewed in a light most favorable
to the plaintiff and pro se complaints are entitled
to liberal interpretation, a pro se litigant does not escape
the burden of establishing by sufficient evidence a genuine
dispute of material fact. See Beard, 548 U.S. at
525; McKeithen v. Jackson, 606 Fed.Appx. 937, 938
(11th Cir. 2015); Ivory v. Warden, 600 Fed.Appx.
670, 675 (2015). Thus, Clegg's pro se status alone does
not compel this court to disregard elementary principles of
production and proof in a civil case.
extent Clegg lodges claims against defendant Carlton in her
official capacity and seeks monetary damages, Carlton is
entitled to absolute immunity. Official capacity lawsuits are
“in all respects other than name, . . . treated as a
suit against the entity.” Kentucky v. Graham,
473 U.S. 159, 166 (1985).
“[T]he Eleventh Amendment prohibits federal courts from
entertaining suits by private parties against States and
their agencies [or employees].” Alabama v.
Pugh, 438 U.S. 781, 781, 98 S.Ct. 3057, 57 L.Ed.2d 1114
(1978). There are two exceptions to this prohibition: where
the state has waived its immunity or where Congress has
abrogated that immunity. Virginia Office for Prot. &
Advocacy v. Stewart, 563 U.S. 247, 131 S.Ct. 1632,
1637-38, 179 L.Ed.2d 675 (2011). “A State's consent
to suit must be ‘unequivocally expressed' in the
text of [a] relevant statute.” Sossamon v.
Texas, 563 U.S. 277, 131 S.Ct. 1651, 1658, 179 L.Ed.2d
700 (2011) (quoting Pennhurst State Sch. & Hosp. v.
Halderman, 465 U.S. 89, 98, 104 S.Ct. 900, 79 L.Ed.2d 67
(1984)). “Waiver may not be implied.”
Id. Likewise, “Congress' intent to
abrogate the States' immunity from suit must be obvious
from ‘a clear legislative statement.'”
Seminole Tribe of Fla. v. Florida, 517 U.S. 44, 55,
116 S.Ct. 1114, 134 L.Ed.2d 252 (1996) (quoting
Blatchford v. Native Vill. of Noatak, 501 U.S. 775,
786, 111 S.Ct. 2578, 115 L.Ed.2d 686 (1991)).
Selensky v. Alabama, 619 Fed.Appx. 846, 848-49 (11th
Cir. 2015). Thus, a state official may not be sued in her
official capacity unless the state has waived its Eleventh
Amendment immunity, see Pennhurst State School &
Hospital v. Halderman, 465 U.S. 89, 100 (1984), or
Congress has abrogated the State's immunity, see
Seminole Tribe v. Florida, 517 U.S. 44, 59 (1996).
Neither waiver nor abrogation applies here. The Alabama
Constitution states that “the State of Alabama shall
never be made a defendant in any court of law or
equity.” Ala. Const. art. I, § 14. The Supreme
Court has recognized that this prohibits Alabama from waiving
its immunity from suit. Pugh, 438 U.S. at 782, 98
S.Ct. 3057 (citing Ala. Const. art. I, § 14.)
Selensky, 619 Fed.Appx. at 849. “Alabama has
not waived its Eleventh Amendment immunity in § 1983
cases, nor has Congress abated it.” Holmes v.
Hale, 701 Fed.Appx. 751, 753 (11th Cir. 2017) (citing
Carr v. City of Florence, Ala., 916 F.2d 1521, 1525
(11th Cir. 1990)).
light of the foregoing, the defendant is entitled to
sovereign immunity under the Eleventh Amendment for claims
seeking monetary damages from her in her official capacity.
Selensky, 619 Fed.Appx. at 849; Harbert
Int'l, Inc. v. James, 157 F.3d 1271, 1277 (11th Cir.
1998) (holding that state officials sued in their official
capacities are protected from suit for damages under the
Eleventh Amendment); Edwards v. Wallace Community
College, 49 ...