Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Martinez v. White

United States District Court, W.D. Kentucky

April 1, 2019

LEONEL MARTINEZ, PLAINTIFF
v.
RANDY WHITE, WARDEN et al., DEFENDANTS

          Leonel Martinez GREEN RIVER CORRECTIONAL COMPLEX PRO SE

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          Thomas B. Russell, Senior Judge United States District Court

         This 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.

         BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff 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.]

         On May 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.[1] On June 24, 2015, the Court granted Martinez's motion, and Bray and Herrell were added to the case as defendants. [R. 53.]

         Thus, 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].

         LEGAL STANDARD

         Summary 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).

         As the 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).

         Additionally, 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 Cir.1975).

         Finally, 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).

         DISCUSSION

         In 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.

         I. Equal Protection Claims

         Martinez 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.]

         In 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 ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.