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Ward v. Denmark

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

January 21, 2015

ALPHONSO T. WARD, Plaintiff,
v.
JOHNNIE DENMARK, ET AL., Defendants.

REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

MICHAEL T. PARKER, Magistrate Judge.

THIS MATTER is before the Court on Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment [43]. Having reviewed the parties' submissions, the record, and the applicable law, the undersigned recommends that Defendants' Motion be granted and this action be dismissed with prejudice. Additionally, because Plaintiff's claims are frivolous, the undersigned recommends that this dismissal be counted as a strike against Plaintiff pursuant to the provisions of the Prison Litigation Reform Act.

BACKGROUND

On August 21, 2013, Plaintiff Alphonso Ward, proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis, filed his Complaint [1] pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The allegations in Plaintiff's Complaint occurred while he was a post-conviction inmate at South Mississippi Correctional Institution ("SMCI") in Leakesville, Mississippi.[1] In his Complaint and as clarified in his testimony at the Spears [2] hearing, Plaintiff asserts claims against Defendants Johnnie Denmark, Joy Ross, Glenda Smith, and Lt. Herndon.

Plaintiff claims that Defendant Joy Ross denied him due process in connection with Rule Violation Reports ("RVRs") issued against him. Specifically, Plaintiff alleges that, after receiving an RVR, he appeared before Ross at a disciplinary hearing, during which Ross stated that she would begin issuing RVRs against Plaintiff without cause and find him guilty without evidence. Thereafter, Plaintiff received several RVRs, and at the hearings on the RVRs, Ross allegedly found him guilty based on Plaintiff's refusal to attend the hearings. Plaintiff alleges that he never refused to attend the hearings. Plaintiff claims that Ross violated prison policy by finding that he refused to attend the hearings without signatures from other officers verifying that he refused to attend the hearings. Additionally, Plaintiff claims that Ross's decision on Plaintiff's guilt should have been based on the staff reports, not on Plaintiff's absence from the hearings.

Plaintiff alleges that he informed Defendant Johnnie Denmark of Ross's comment that she would issue RVRs against Plaintiff without cause and find him guilty without evidence. Plaintiff alleges that Denmark reviewed his grievances through the Administrative Remedy Program ("ARP") but failed to properly respond to the grievances.

Plaintiff also claims that Defendant Lt. Herndon retaliated against him after he filed this action. According to Plaintiff, Herndon conducted a hearing on an RVR issued against him and stated that because Plaintiff filed suit against Ross, she is going to find Plaintiff guilty of all his RVRs.

Additionally, Plaintiff claims that Defendant Glenda Smith failed to protect him from another inmate. According to Plaintiff, Smith witnessed multiple inmates huddling together. Plaintiff allegedly requested that Smith open the zone door so that he could leave the area, but Smith ignored his request. Thereafter, one of the inmates from the huddle hit Plaintiff in the face with a sock filled with dominoes which resulted in a broken eye socket.

As relief, Plaintiff seeks compensatory and punitive damages in the amount of $100, 000. Plaintiff also seeks to have his custody classification changed.[3] Defendants have moved for summary judgment, arguing that they are entitled to a judgment as a matter of law.

SUMMARY JUDGMENT STANDARD

A motion for summary judgment will be granted only when "the record indicates that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.'" Causey v. Sewell Cadillac-Chevrolet, Inc., 394 F.3d 285, 288 (5th Cir. 2004) (citing Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c); Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986)). The Court must view "the evidence in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party." Id. However, the nonmoving party "cannot defeat summary judgment with conclusory allegations, unsubstantiated assertions, or only a scintilla of evidence.'" Turner v. Baylor Richardson Medical Center, 476 F.3d 337, 343 (5th Cir. 2007) (quoting Little v. Liquid Air Corp., 37 F.3d 1069, 1075 (5th Cir. 1994)). In the absence of proof, the Court does not "assume that the nonmoving party could or would prove the necessary facts." Little, 37 F.3d at 1075 (emphasis omitted).

ANALYSIS

Plaintiff's claims are before the Court pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Section 1983 "neither provides a general remedy for the alleged torts of state officials nor opens the federal courthouse doors to relieve the complaints of all who suffer injury at the hands of the state or its officers." White v. Thomas, 660 F.2d 680, 683 (5th Cir. 1981). Rather, "[i]t affords a remedy only to those who suffer, as a result of state action, deprivation of rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution and laws' of the United States." Id. (quoting 42 U.S.C. § 1983). Accordingly, Plaintiff must demonstrate a genuine issue of material fact as to the following two ...


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