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Sublett v. White

United States District Court, W.D. Kentucky, Paducah Division

February 27, 2014

DAMIEN A. SUBLETT, Plaintiff,
v.
RANDY WHITE, et al., Defendants.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

THOMAS B. RUSSELL, Senior District Judge.

This matter is before the Court upon Defendants Amy Fisher, Chris Wilson, Jamie Caraway, James Beavers, Duke Pettit, Daniel Smith, Garth Thompson, Bruce Von Dwingelo, Randy White, and Earnest William's Motions for Summary Judgment. (Docket Nos. 54, 55, 56, 58.) Plaintiff Damien A. Sublett has responded. (Docket Nos. 61, 62, 71.) Defendants have replied. (Docket Nos. 63, 69, 76.) This matter is now fully briefed and ripe for adjudication. For the following reasons and consistent with the below opinion, the Court will GRANT in part and DENY in part Defendants' Motions for Summary Judgment. The only remaining claims are the failure to protect claims premised on the failure to place Plaintiff in protective custody as against Defendant Chris Wilson and Defendants James Beavers, Duke Pettit, Daniel Smith, Garth Thompson, Bruce Von Dwingelo, Randy White, and Earnest William.

Plaintiff Damien A. Sublett has also filed a Motion for Summary Judgment. (Docket No. 66.) Defendants Jamie Caraway, Amy Fisher, and Chris Wilson have responded. (Docket No. 71.) Plaintiff has replied. (Docket No. 78.) Plaintiff also filed additional declarations and an additional motion for summary judgment, (Docket Nos. 79, 80, 81, 82), to which Defendants have responded. (Docket No. 84.) This matter is now fully briefed and ripe for adjudication. For the following reasons, the Court will DENY Plaintiff Sublett's Motion for Summary Judgment. (Docket Nos. 66, 82.)

STANDARD

Summary judgment is appropriate where "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). In determining whether summary judgment is appropriate, a court must resolve all ambiguities and draw all reasonable inferences against the moving party. See Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986).

"[N]ot every issue of fact or conflicting inference presents a genuine issue of material fact." Street v. J. C. Bradford & Co., 886 F.2d 1472, 1477 (6th Cir. 1989). The test is whether the party bearing the burden of proof has presented a jury question as to each element in the case. Hartsel v. Keys, 87 F.3d 795, 799 (6th Cir. 1996). The plaintiff must present more than a mere scintilla of evidence in support of his position; the plaintiff must present evidence on which the trier of fact could reasonably find for the plaintiff. See id. (citing Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 252 (1986)). The plaintiff may accomplish this by "citing to particular parts of materials in the record" or by "showing that the materials cited do not establish the absence... of a genuine dispute...." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(1). Mere speculation will not suffice to defeat a motion for summary judgment; "the mere existence of a colorable factual dispute will not defeat a properly supported motion for summary judgment. A genuine dispute between the parties on an issue of material fact must exist to render summary judgment inappropriate." Moinette v. Elec. Data Sys. Corp., 90 F.3d 1173, 1177 (6th Cir. 1996).

DISCUSSION

Defendants Amy Fisher and Jamie Caraway

Plaintiff appears to claim Defendant Fisher verified his legal mail pursuant to Kentucky State Penitentiary (KSP) Policy 14-04-01 and also read his legal mail in violation of KSP Policy 14-04-01, both in violation of his Constitutional rights. (Docket No. 25.) Plaintiff also claims Defendant Caraway read his mail on June 4, 2013.[1] Defendants Fisher and Caraway argue that even accepting Plaintiff's version of the facts, they should be granted summary judgment on these claims. Specifically, Defendants argue that: (1) the Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA) bars these claims; (2) any review of mail was not a violation of Plaintiff's Constitutional Rights; and (3) they are entitled to qualified immunity.

I. Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA)

The PLRA requires that a prisoner bringing an action with respect to prison conditions under 42 U.S.C. ยง 1983 first exhaust his available administrative remedies. See Porter v. Nussle, 534 U.S. 516, 532 (2002). Exhaustion of administrative remedies is mandatory under the PLRA and unexhausted claims cannot be brought in courts. Jones v. Bock, 549 U.S. 199, 211 (2007). The Supreme Court has previously held that a requirement that that all defendants be named in a grievance "lacks a textual basis in the PLRA." Id. at 217. However, the Court also made clear that "[t]he level of detail necessary in a grievance to comply with the grievance procedures will vary from system to system and claim to claim, but it is the prison's requirements, and not the PLRA, that define the boundaries of proper exhaustion." Id. at 218. "To exhaust his administrative remedies, a prisoner must adhere to the institutional grievance policy...." Risher v. Lappin, 639 F.3d 236, 240 (6th Cir. 2011) (citing Woodford v. Ngo, 548 U.S. 91, 90-91 (2006)). "This court requires an inmate to make affirmative efforts to comply with the administrative procedures, ' and analyzes whether those efforts to exhaust were sufficient under the circumstances.'" Id. (quoting Napier v. Laurel Cnty., Ky., 636 F.3d 1218, 224-25 (6th Cir. 2011)).

II. Plaintiff's Grievance Concerning Kentucky State Penitentiary Policy 14-04-01

Kentucky State Penitentiary Policy 14-04-01 states in relevant part:

H. POSTAGE
1. The inmate shall pay postage for outgoing legal mail to attorneys and the courts, unless the inmate is certified as indigent.
a. Legal postage to attorneys and the courts shall be paid for indigent inmates.
b. The requesting inmate, regardless of indigency shall pay for certified or insured mail.
2. Indigent inmates requesting postage for outgoing mail to attorneys and the courts shall bring the mail to the mailroom. The material shall be unsealed at the time it is presented to the mailroom for indigency verification.
a. When indigency has been verified, the Program Director or his designee shall:
(1) Verify that the materials to be mailed are legal pleadings or correspondence qualified in Paragraph 1 of this section, and that ...

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