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Chandler v. Thompson

United States District Court, Fifth Circuit

November 13, 2013

EXSO CHANDLER, Plaintiff,
v.
THELMA THOMPSON, Defendants.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

SHARION AYCOCK, District Judge.

This matter comes before the court on the pro se prisoner complaint of Exso Chandler, who challenges the conditions of his confinement under 42 U.S.C. ยง 1983. For the purposes of the Prison Litigation Reform Act, the court notes that the plaintiff was incarcerated when he filed this suit. The defendants have filed a motion [Doc. 37] for summary judgment. Chandler has responded [Doc. 39], [Doc. 45], [Doc. 46] to the motion, and the defendants have replied [Doc. 47], [Doc. 48]. Chandler has presented an additional brief [Doc. 49] in opposition to the motion for summary judgment. The matter is ripe for resolution. For the reasons set forth below, the motion [Doc. 37] for summary judgment will be granted in part and denied in part.

Factual Allegations

Exso Chandler is an inmate in the custody of the Mississippi Department of Corrections ("MDOC") and housed at the Mississippi State Penitentiary ("MSP"). He alleges in his complaint that the defendants have violated his constitutional rights. In January 2012, at Building 26-A, Corrections Officer Thelma Thompson became angry and verbally abused Chandler. Chandler had never seen her that angry before, though it seemed that her demeanor changed after Christmas and has continued. The other inmates in Unit 26-A noticed the change, but no one could determine what triggered it. She took out her unidentified frustrations on many inmates in her charge, issuing numerous rule violation reports, even for the most minor infractions. Chandler wrote Deputy Commissioner Emmitt Sparkman about Thompson's actions. Afterward, she wrote four Rule Violation Reports against him over a period of nine months, which Chandler believes were baseless. Each time he complained to her about it, she said, "You're the jailhouse lawyer. Write it up." One time, after a shakedown of the unit was complete, Thompson searched Chandler's locker a second time and threw his belongings around his cell, stating, "You know the law; write it up." In addition, on February 12, 2012, Thompson would not mail a Valentine Chandler had written to his granddaughter. Thompson said that the letter was contraband, but Chandler believes inmates are permitted to send such letters under Mississippi Department of Corrections policy. Chandler made the card with a pencil and pen (which he believes are permitted), not with colored pencils and markers (which he believes are not permitted). Chandler claims that he notified Defendant Clarissa Williams, Thompson's supervisor, of the harassment and that she failed to supervise Thompson properly. Chandler seeks both injunctive relief and compensatory and punitive damages for violations of his constitutional rights and emotional distress.

On July 18, 2013, the defendants filed a motion [Doc. 37] for summary judgment in which they challenged the merits of the plaintiff's claims, as well as asserted the defenses of immunity under the Eleventh Amendment and Qualified Immunity. Chandler then filed his Response [Doc. 39], [Doc. 45], [Doc. 46] to the motion for summary judgment, arguing the following in opposition:

a. Plaintiff's claim for retaliation is not just about Defendant Thompson's onetime refusal to mail his personal mail that she considered contraband, but also about multiple "false" Rule Violation Reports issued to him by Defendant Thompson as well.
b. Defendants have failed to produce all documents related to complaints made by other inmates about Defendant Thompson in violation of Court Order [Dkt #23] and Plaintiff knows of other inmates' complaints about Thompson because he has written some of them.
c. Plaintiff possesses an Equal Protection Claim against Defendant Thompson that has not been addressed.

Chandler argues in his response that there were multiple "false" Rule Violation Reports ("RVR's") that demonstrate retaliation by Thompson, attaching four RVR's numbered 01218109, 01219779, 01220772, and 01291021. [Doc. 46-1] at 9-12.

RVR No. 01218109 was issued by Defendant Thompson to Chandler on April 24, 2012, alleging that Chandler refused to clean up around his bed. An investigation was conducted at Chandler's request and a hearing held by a hearing officer. Chandler was found guilty and given eight (8) hours of "extra-duty". [Doc. 46-1] at 9.

RVR No. 01219779 was issued by Defendant Thompson to Chandler on July 26, 2012 for sleeping on the floor in violation of prison rules after two (2) warnings. An investigation was conducted, a hearing held by a hearing officer, and Chandler was found guilty and given eight (8) hours of "extra duty". Id. at 10.

RVR No. 01220772 was issued by Defendant Thompson to Chandler on September 2, 2012, for smoking a cigarette in violation of prison rules. An investigation was conducted at Chandler's request. He denied smoking - alleging that the cigarette was someone else's and that he just put it out with his foot. A hearing was held by a hearing officer and Chandler was found not guilty. Id. at 11.

RVR No. 01291021 was issued by Defendant Thompson to Chandler on December 24, 2012 for smoking in violation of prison rules. An investigation was conducted at Chandler's request, and a hearing was conducted with a hearing officer. Chandler was found guilty and was punished by losing telephone, canteen and visitation privileges for thirty days. Id. at 12.

The defendants replied [Doc. 47], [Doc. 48] in support of the motion for summary judgment, and Chandler submitted another brief [Doc. 49] in opposition to the motion. Chandler has since been moved to another unit where Thelma Thompson is not a prison ...


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