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Humphrey v. South Mississippi Correctional Institution

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

February 22, 2017




         BEFORE THE COURT are cross-motions for summary judgment: a Motion for Summary Judgment filed by Plaintiff Omar Khayyam Humphrey (ECF No. 22) and a Motion for Summary Judgment Based on Sovereign and Qualified Immunity (ECF No. 24) filed by Defendants Jacquelyn Banks, Marshall Fisher, Marshall Turner, and James Cooksey. Plaintiff Omar Khayyam Humphrey filed a document entitled "Forwarding Letter to Magistrate Judge John C. Gargiulo Concerning Errors in Motion for Summary Judgment of the Defendants" (ECF No. 26), which the Court construes as a response in opposition to Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment.

         Having reviewed the submissions of the parties and relevant law, the Court determines that Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment (ECF No. 24) should be GRANTED and Plaintiffs Motion for Summary Judgment (ECF No. 22) should be DENIED. All other pending motions (ECF No. 11); (ECF No. 21); (ECF No. 29) will be denied as moot. Plaintiffs claims regarding the propriety of his housing classification and the prison classification system itself will be dismissed with prejudice for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. Plaintiff's claims that he wrongfully received an RVR will be dismissed without prejudice for failure to exhaust administrative remedies. Because some of Plaintiff's claims are dismissed for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted, he will be assessed a strike under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(g). This is Plaintiff's third strike. See Humphrey v. Murry, 4:10-cv-132-WAP-SAA (N.D. Miss. Dec. 1, 2010); Humphrey v. Miss. Dep't of Corr., 4:10-cv-81-MPM-DAS (N.D. Miss. Nov. 29, 2010).

         I. BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff Omar Khayyam Humphrey is an inmate in the custody of the Mississippi Department of Corrections (MDOC), currently incarcerated at South Mississippi Correctional Institute (SMCI) in Leakesville, Mississippi. On December 28, 2015, Hawkins filed his Complaint (ECF No. 1) against Defendants SMCI, MDOC, Jacquelyn Banks, Marshall Fisher, Marshall Turner, and James Cooksey, alleging violations of his rights provided by the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments of the United States Constitution and seeking both monetary damages and injunctive relief pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Defendants SMCI and MDOC were dismissed pursuant to this Court's February 10, 2016 Order (ECF No. 6). Plaintiff seeks “compensation for every year [he has] been incarcerated in the MDOC under [its] unlawful/unsound classification housing [him] in harm's way, ” “injunctive relief to revamp the current classification plan, ” and a transfer to Marshall County Correctional Facility. (ECF No. 1, at 4); (ECF No. 29).

         In his Complaint, Humphrey states that he has been - and continues to be - “housed in harm's way” because he is not affiliated with a gang and a majority of the other inmates housed in his unit are affiliated with one of several gangs. (ECF No. 1, at 4). He states that he is “constantly harassed” because he is unaffiliated and, as a result, suffers severe anxiety for which a psychiatrist has prescribed him Buspar, Celexa, and Risperdal. Id. Humphrey asserts that he has repeatedly “notified officials of the extortions, assaults and harassment, ” but that prison officials “turned a death [sic] ear and blind eye to my complaint.” Id. at 6. He has not personally been assaulted, but says that he has witnessed other unaffiliated inmates get assaulted. Id. at 7-8. Due to Defendants' alleged “deliberate indifference” to Humphrey's circumstances, Humphrey states that he is “living in constant fear for [his] safety and life.” Id. at 6.

         In a document entitled “Petition for Preliminary Injunction” (ECF No. 11), Mr. Humphrey recounted an incident that occurred on April 1, 2016, in which he received a Rule Violation Report (RVR) for being in the shower after 10:00 a.m. He did not request relief related to the RVR in this filing, but he did allege that it was wrongfully given in his testimony during the omnibus hearing[1] held on May 31, 2016. He stated that a gang closed off the showers while its members were showering, and he was not able to shower until they were finished, which is why he showered later than inmates are supposed to. However, he has not provided the Court with a copy of the RVR hearing decision and has not indicated what - if any - punishment he received as a result.[2]

         On June 17, 2016, Plaintiff filed his Motion for Summary Judgment (ECF No. 22). In his Motion he argues (1) that the material facts are not in dispute; (2) that “the record is clear” that Defendants were deliberately indifferent to his “health, safety, and life when [he] put them on notice” of being “a non-gang member housed in harm's way;” and (3) that “[t]he classification process is ‘unsound' due to housing non gang member inmates in harm's way with the ‘majority' of gang member inmates and their rivalries.” Id. at 2-3. Plaintiff avers that he is housed in conditions that violate both the Eight Amendment's prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment and the Fourteenth Amendment's rights to due process of law and equal protection under the law. Id. at 3.

         On June 30, 2016, Defendants filed their Motion for Summary Judgment based on Sovereign and Qualified Immunity (ECF No. 24). Defendants do not challenge the factual assertions in Plaintiff's Complaint, but assert that his allegations fail to state claims for which relief can be granted. Specifically, Defendants argue (1) that to the extent Plaintiff seeks monetary damages from Defendants in their official capacities, such claims are barred by Eleventh Amendment sovereign immunity, and (2) that to the extent Plaintiff seeks (a) monetary relief from Defendants in their individual capacities or (b) injunctive relief from Defendants in either their individual or official capacities, Defendants are entitled to qualified immunity because Plaintiff has failed to allege a violation of his constitutional rights. (ECF No. 25, at 4-11). Plaintiff filed a response in opposition (ECF No. 26) to Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment on July 13, 2016, in which he reiterates the arguments made in his own Motion for Summary Judgment.


          A. Summary Judgment

         Summary Judgment is mandated against the party who fails to make a showing sufficient to establish the existence of an element essential to that party's case and on which that party has the burden of proof at trial. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e); Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986). A motion for summary judgment shall be granted “if the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute of material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). In evaluating a motion for summary judgment, the Court must construe “all facts and inferences in the light most favorable to the non-moving party.” McFaul v. Valenzuela, 684 F.3d 564, 571 (5th Cir. 2012).

         The movant bears the initial burden of identifying those portions of the pleadings and discovery on file, together with any affidavits, which they believe demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of material fact. Celotex, 477 U.S. at 323-25. If the movant carries this burden, the burden shifts to the non-moving party to show that summary judgment should not be granted. Id. at 324-25.

         The Plaintiff may not rest upon mere allegations in his Complaint, but must set forth specific facts showing the existence of a genuine issue for trial. Abarca v. Metro Transit Auth., 404 F.3d 938, 940 (5th Cir. 2005). In the absence of any proof, the Court will not assume that Plaintiff “could or would prove the necessary facts.” Little v. Liquid Air Corp., 37 F.3d 1069, 1075 (5th Cir. 1994). B. The Prison Litigation Reform Act Because Plaintiff is a prisoner pursuing a civil action seeking redress from government employees, the Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA), Pub. L. No. 104-134, 110 Stat. 1321, H.R. 3019 (codified as amended in scattered titles and sections of the United States Code), applies and requires that this case be screened.

         The PLRA provides that “the Court shall dismiss the case at any time if the court determines that . . . the action . . . (i) is frivolous or malicious; (ii) fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted; or (iii) seeks monetary relief against a defendant who is immune from such relief.” 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b); see 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B). Accordingly, the statute “accords judges not only the authority to dismiss a claim based on an indisputably meritless legal theory, but also the unusual power to pierce the veil of the ...

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