United States District Court, W.D. Kentucky
Martinez GREEN RIVER CORRECTIONAL COMPLEX PRO SE
B. Russell, Senior Judge United States District Court
matter comes before the Court upon a Motion for Summary
Judgment, [R. 274], by Defendants Amber Bray, Bill Harvey,
Mary Herrell, Tim Lane, Josh Patton, CTO Victoria, and Randy
White (“Defendants”). [R. 274.] Plaintiff Leonel
Martinez responded, pro se. [R. 284.] Also before the Court
are four motions submitted by Martinez: “Motion on
Response to Defendants Affidavit of Perjury, ” [R.
268], “Motion to Object for this Court to Allowed
Defendants to File a 3rd Motion for Summary Judgment, ”
[R. 275], “Motion to Appoint Counsel, ” [R. 283],
and “Motion for this Court to Recognized as a
Retaliation Claim, ” [R. 285]. These matters are ripe
for adjudication. For the reasons stated herein,
Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment, [R. 274], is
GRANTED, and Martinez's four motions are DENIED.
Leonel Martinez is a Hispanic man who was incarcerated at
Kentucky State Penitentiary (“KSP”) during the
time period of the claims in this case. [R. 1 at 1-2.] On
April 8, 2013, Plaintiff Martinez filed a verified Complaint
with the Court alleging that he was denied prison employment
based on his race by Unit Administrator Bill Harvey and
Warden Randy White. [R. 1.] Martinez claims:
Each time I file for a prison job, Bill Harvey who is the one
in charge of given [sic] inmates jobs refuses to give me any
jobs that I have requested. But instead he will give an
inmate who has less clear conduct a job. I do feel
discriminated against because I am Hispanic and he shows
favoritism to other inmates . . . This action is before this
court asking the following relief herein. The reason is due
to the lack of investigation into the matter of my grievance
before the Warden that justifies the right to an equal
opportunity of a job placement has fully been mishandled for
reasons of a personal conflict or other reasons of Bill
Harvey and also Warden Randy White.
[R. 1 at 2-3.] Martinez alleges that his claims against White
and Harvey occurred during February and March of 2013.
[Id. at 3.] On initial review of Martinez's
claims, the Court allowed Martinez's Fourteenth Amendment
equal protection claim to proceed against White and Harvey.
[R. 21.] On September 16, 2014, Martinez filed a verified
Amended Complaint in which, amongst other claims, he alleged:
Josh Patton, Tim Lane, and Victoria use raceist [sic] remarks
such as if you want a job go back to Mexico. This has been
happening from 7-19-14 thru [sic] 9-10-14 and even still to
date! I want this to stop! When I file applications for jobs
they are over looked by the above people and given to other
people who are white, black or [I]ndian!
[R. 32 at 6.] On April 10, 2015, the Court allowed
Martinez's claim that he was denied prison employment
based on race under the Equal Protection Clause of the
Fourteenth Amendment to proceed against Defendants Patton,
Lane, and Victoria. [R. 37 at 6.]
18, 2015, Martinez submitted a motion to add two defendants
to the case: corrections officers Amber Bray and Mary
Herrell. [R. 47 at 1.] In that motion, Martinez alleges:
“I have been put in segregation by two different female
officers for discrimination and retaliation.”
[Id.] In detail, Martinez claims that both Bray and
Herrell falsely reported him for inappropriate sexual
behavior as retaliation for filing the instant
lawsuit. On June 24, 2015, the Court granted
Martinez's motion, and Bray and Herrell were added to the
case as defendants. [R. 53.]
Martinez's surviving claims are as follows: a Fourteenth
Amendment equal protection claim against defendants Randy
White, Bill Harvey, Josh Patton, Tim Lane, and CTO Victoria,
[R. 21 at 8; R. 37 at 6], and a First Amendment Retaliation
claim against defendants Amber Bray and Mary Herrell. [R. 47;
R. 53.] Currently before the Court is Defendants' Motion
for Summary Judgment, [R. 274].
judgment is appropriate when the record, viewed in the light
most favorable to the nonmoving party, reveals “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). A genuine dispute of material fact exists
where “there is sufficient evidence favoring the
nonmoving party for a jury to return a verdict for that
party.” Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477
U.S. 242, 249 (1986). The Court “may not make
credibility determinations nor weigh the evidence when
determining whether an issue of fact remains for
trial.” Laster v. City of Kalamazoo, 746 F.3d
714, 726 (6th Cir. 2014) (citing Logan v. Denny's,
Inc., 259 F.3d 558, 566 (6th Cir. 2001); Ahlers v.
Schebil, 188 F.3d 365, 369 (6th Cir. 1999)). “The
ultimate question is ‘whether the evidence presents a
sufficient disagreement to require submission to a jury or
whether it is so one-sided that one party must prevail as a
matter of law.'” Back v. Nestlé USA,
Inc., 694 F.3d 571, 575 (6th Cir. 2012) (quoting
Anderson, 477 U.S. at 251-52).
party moving for summary judgment, the defendant must
shoulder the burden of showing the absence of a genuine
dispute of material fact as to at least one essential element
of the plaintiff's claims. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c); see
also Laster, 746 F.3d at 726 (citing Celotex Corp.
v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 324 (1986)). Assuming the
defendant satisfies his or her burden of production, the
plaintiff “must-by deposition, answers to
interrogatories, affidavits, and admissions on file-show
specific facts that reveal a genuine issue for trial.”
Laster, 746 F.3d at 726 (citing Celotex
Corp., 477 U.S. at 324).
the Court acknowledges that pro se pleadings are to be held
to a less stringent standard than formal pleadings drafted by
attorneys. See Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519
(1972). The duty to be less stringent with pro se
complainants, however, “does not require [the Court] to
conjure up unpled allegations, ” McDonald v. Hall, 610
F.2d 16, 19 (1st Cir.1979) (citation omitted), nor to create
a claim for a pro se plaintiff, Clark v. Nat'l
Travelers Life Ins. Co., 518 F.2d 1167, 1169 (6th
it should be noted that “‘a verified complaint .
. . satisfies the burden of the nonmovant to respond' to
a motion for summary judgment, unlike ‘mere allegations
or denials' in unverified pleadings.” King v.
Harwood, 852 F.3d 568, 578 (6th Cir. 2017) (quoting
Thaddeus-X v. Blatter, 175 F.3d 378, 385 (6th Cir.
1999)) (en banc).
their Motion for Summary Judgment, Defendants contest both
Martinez's equal protection claim as well as his
retaliation claim. [See generally R. 274.] The Court
will analyze each of their arguments in turn.
Equal Protection Claims
contends that he was denied prison employment because he is
Hispanic. [R. 1 at 2; R. 32 at 6.] The Court allowed this
matter to proceed as a Fourteenth Amendment equal protection
claim against Defendants Randy White, Bill Harvey, Josh
Patton, Tim Lane, and CTO Victoria. [R. 21 at 8; R. 37 at 6.]
response to Martinez's equal protection claim, Defendants
argue that they are entitled to qualified immunity. Pursuant
to the doctrine of qualified immunity, “government
officials performing discretionary functions generally are
shielded from liability for civil damages insofar as their
conduct does not violate clearly established statutory or
constitutional rights of which a reasonable person would have
known.” Harlow v. Fitzgerald,457 U.S. 800,
818 (1982). The question of whether qualified immunity is
available to a defendant involves a two-step process:
“[f]irst, the court must determine whether, based upon
the applicable law, the facts viewed in the light most
favorable to the plaintiffs show that a constitutional
violation has occurred.” Bell v. Johnson, 308
F.3d 594, 601 (6th Cir. 2002). Then, “if a violation
could be made out on a favorable view of the parties'
submissions, the next, sequential step is to ask whether the
right was clearly established.” Saucier v.
Katz,533 U.S. 194 (2001). In order for a law to be
deemed as “clearly established, the contours of the
right must be sufficiently clear that a reasonable official
would understand that what he is doing violates that
right.” Bell, 308 F.3d at 602. In other words,
“the unlawfulness [of the action] must be
apparent.” Id. The Supreme Court has stated
that the sequence of these ...