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Kennedy v. Enler

United States District Court, S.D. Mississippi, Northern Division

June 18, 2014

RICHARD KENNEDY, Plaintiff,
v.
SMCI CAPT. ENLER, Defendant.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

JOHN M. ROPER, Sr., Chief Magistrate Judge.

BEFORE THE COURT is a motion for summary judgment [19] filed by SMCI Capt. Enler [Enler]. Having considered the submissions of the parties, all matters made a part of the record in this case, as well as applicable law, the Court finds as follows.

Background

Kennedy was housed at Marion Walthall County Correctional Facility [MWCF] on March 26, 2013. He allegedly was involved in an assault on an inmate, although Kennedy claims he was on the other side of the housing unit at the time of the attack. [4, p. 1.] He was issued a Rules Violation Report [RVR] which resulted in the loss of his trusty status for one year and all privileges for a period of two months. ( Id., p. 2.) Kennedy claims that he was transferred to the South Mississippi Correctional Institution [SMCI] as a result of receiving the RVR. [16, p. 4.]

According to Kennedy, the defendants have not produced evidence that he was involved in the assault. [6, p. 2.] He contends that there is no camera coverage to show he was involved in the assault; no weapon was produced and no officer was present to observe the incident. [6, p. 3.]

Kennedy claims that his constitutional rights were violated because he was denied procedural due process when he was wrongfully found to be guilty of the RVR. [1-1, p. 4.] Kennedy seeks to have the RVR removed from his record, and to be transferred back to MWCF. [19-1, p. 4.]

Enler filed her answer to the complaint on October 3, 2013, invoking the protections of Eleventh Amendment immunity in connection with this case. [7, p. 3.] At the omnibus hearing, the parties consented to have a United States magistrate judge conduct any and all further proceedings in the case and order the entry of final judgment, and the District Judge subsequently entered an order [15] of reference. 28 U.S.C. § 636(c); FED.R.CIV.P. 73.

ANALYSIS

I. Official Capacity Claims against Enler

The Eleventh Amendment bars official capacity claims for money damages against prison officials. Oliver v. Scott, 276 F.3d 736, 742 (5th Cir. 2002). Kennedy's claims for money damages brought against Enler in her official capacity are barred under these principles, consequently, the Court concludes that the motion for summary judgment filed by Enler should be granted on any claims against her acting in her official capacity.

A narrow exception to Eleventh Amendment immunity exists which allows a state official to be sued in her official capacity for injunctive relief. Ex Parte Young, 209 U.S. 123, 159-160 (1908). "This exception strips the individual state actor of immunity and allows a private citizen to sue that individual in federal court for prospective injunctive relief based on allegations that the actor violated federal law." McKinley v. Abbott, 643 F.3d 403, 406 (5th Cir. 2011). A state official can be sued in her official capacity for injunctive relief under § 1983 because "official-capacity actions for prospective relief are not treated as actions against the State." Kentucky v. Graham, 473 U.S. 159, 167, n. 14 (1985) (citing Ex parte Young, 209 U.S. at 159-160). Kennedy's claim for injunctive relief is discussed below.

II. Claim for Injunctive Relief

Enler claims that Kennedy seeks injunctive relief to remove the RVR from his institutional record and to be transferred back to MWCF. [1.] Enler contends that the Eleventh Amendment bars such relief. [20, p. 5.] The Eleventh Amendment does not prevent federal courts from granting prospective injunctive relief to prevent a continuing violation of federal law. Ex parte Young, 209 U.S. at 155-6. There is no right to a claims for retrospective injunctive relief, which seeks to declare that state officers violated federal law in the past. Green v. Mansour, 474 U.S. 64 (1985). Because such a declaration would be necessary to remove the RVR from ...


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