United States District Court, W.D. Kentucky, Louisville Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
N. Stivers, Judge.
matter is before the Court on Defendant's Motion for
Summary Judgment (DN 13). No response has been filed, and the
motion is ripe for adjudication. For the following reasons,
the motion is GRANTED.
STATEMENT OF FACTS
Dexter Epperson (“Epperson”) is incarcerated at
Luther Luckett Correctional Complex. (Compl. 1, DN 1). On May
4, 2016, Steven Crawford (“Crawford”), a
correctional officer, allegedly dragged Epperson's prayer
rug across the floor. (Compl. 4). Epperson filed a grievance
against Crawford over the incident on the same date. (Notice
Filing Ex. C, at 2, DN 6-3). Subsequently, Crawford
purportedly approached Epperson to discuss the matter, and
after Epperson notified Crawford that a grievance had been
filed, Crawford allegedly stated that “[y]ou're
starting a war you won't win. My pen works as good as
yours on paper.” (Compl. 4).
15, 2016, Epperson was taking a shower when Crawford entered
his shower. (Compl. 4). Crawford purportedly asked Epperson
why he was in the shower during the inmate “count
time.” (Compl. 4-5). According to Epperson, inmates
usually receive an announcement warning them of the count and
giving them ten minutes to prepare. (Compl. 4). After
Epperson protested the lack of any announcement, Crawford
asked him “[h]ow does it feel to be put in the position
you're in now, Mr. Epperson? See how easy it is s for me
to get you, I told you, you're starting a war you
can't win. You file paperwork on me, that grievance, and
I'll file paperwork on you, you got a disciplinary report
coming.” (Compl. 5). Epperson surmises that this
incident was in retaliation for the pending grievance. As a
result of that incident, Crawford issued a disciplinary
report accusing Epperson of “[r]efusing/failing to
comply with institutional count/lock-up[.]” (Compl. 5;
Notice Filing Ex. A, at 1, DN 6-1).
18, 2016, the adjustment officer found Epperson guilty of the
charge. (Compl. 5; Notice Filing Ex. B, at 1, DN 6-2). As his
punishment, Epperson received “10 days [disciplinary]
[segregation] (suspended for 180 days), [and] 30 days gym
restriction[.]” (Notice Filing Ex. B, at 1). After the
determination of Epperson's guilt, Crawford allegedly
approached Epperson and told him “I got you.”
(Compl. 5). While Epperson told Crawford that he had
withdrawn all of his grievances, Crawford stated that he was
informed that only one had been withdrawn of the two filed by
Epperson filed against him. (Compl. 5-6). Crawford then
purportedly stated “[t]o [sic] little to [sic] late.
Should have withdrawn all of them.” (Compl. 6).
Epperson responded that he would try to withdraw the
remaining grievance. (Compl. 6). Epperson requested the
withdrawal of his grievances against Crawford. (Notice Filing
Ex. C, at 1; Notice Filing Ex. D, at 1, DN 6-4; Notice Filing
Ex. E, at 1, DN 6-5).
then filed this action against Crawford. The Court has
previously construed the Complaint as asserting claims under
the Religious Land Use & Institutionalized Person Act
(“RLUIPA”), 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000cc to
-2000cc-5, and the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution
relating to alleged violations of Epperson's right to the
free exercise of religion and retaliation. (Mem. Op. &
Order 3, DN 7). In its initial screening pursuant to 28
U.S.C. § 1915A, the Court dismissed Epperson's
RLUIPA and free exercise of religion claims, but the Court
permitted his retaliation claim to proceed. (Mem. Op. &
Order 5-7). Pursuant to the Court's scheduling order, the
parties had until February 20, 2017, to conduct discovery.
Subsequently, Defendant moved for summary
judgment. (Def.'s Mot. Summ. J., DN 13).
Court has subject-matter jurisdiction of this matter based
upon federal question jurisdiction. See 28 U.S.C.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
ruling on a motion for summary judgment, the Court must
determine whether there is any genuine issue of material fact
that would preclude entry of judgment for the moving party as
a matter of law. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(a). The
moving party bears the initial burden of stating the basis
for the motion and identifying evidence in the record that
demonstrates an absence of a genuine issue of material fact.
See Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322
(1986). If the moving party satisfies its burden, the
non-moving party must then produce specific evidence proving
the existence of a genuine issue of fact for trial. See
Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 247-48
the Court must view the evidence in the light most favorable
to the non-moving party, the non-moving party must do more
than merely show the existence of some “metaphysical
doubt as to the material facts.” Matsushita Elec.
Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586
(1986) (citation omitted). Rather, the non-moving party must
present specific facts proving that a genuine factual issue
exists by “citing to particular parts of the 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). “The mere
existence of a scintilla of evidence in support of the
[non-moving party's] position will be insufficient; there
must be evidence on which the jury could reasonably find for
the [non-moving party].” Anderson, 477 U.S. at
Court has construed Epperson's surviving cause of action
as a First Amendment retaliation claim. (Order 6-7, DN 7). To
prove a claim of retaliation, Epperson must present ...