United States District Court, N.D. Mississippi, Greenville Division
MICHAEL P. MILLS, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
matter comes before the court on the pro se prisoner
complaint of Thomas Earl Campbell, who challenges the
conditions of his confinement under 42 U.S.C. § 1983.
For the purposes of the Prison Litigation Reform Act, the
court notes that the plaintiff was incarcerated when he filed
this suit. The plaintiff has brought the instant case under
42 U.S.C. § 1983, which provides a federal cause of
action against “[e]very person” who under color
of state authority causes the “deprivation of any
rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution
and laws.” 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The plaintiff alleges
that Lt. Sharon Hampton retaliated against him for filing a
lawsuit by reinstating several Rule Violation Reports that
had previously been administratively dismissed. The
defendants have filed a motion  for summary judgment; the
plaintiff has not responded, and the deadline to do so has
expired. The matter is ripe for resolution. For the reasons
set forth below, the motion  by the defendants for
summary judgment will be granted, and judgment will be
entered for the defendants.
judgment is appropriate if the “materials in the
record, including depositions, documents, electronically
stored information, affidavits or declarations, stipulations
(including those made for purposes of the motion only),
admissions, interrogatory answers, or other materials”
show 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) and (c)(1).
“The moving party must show that if the evidentiary
material of record were reduced to admissible evidence in
court, it would be insufficient to permit the nonmoving party
to carry its burden.” Beck v. Texas State Bd. of
Dental Examiners, 204 F.3d 629, 633 (5th Cir.
2000) (citing Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317
(1986), cert. denied, 484 U.S. 1066 (1988)). After a
proper motion for summary judgment is made, the burden shifts
to the non-movant to set forth specific facts showing that
there is a genuine issue for trial. Anderson v. Liberty
Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 249, 106 S.Ct. 2505, 2511, 91
L.Ed.2d 202 (1986); Beck, 204 F.3d at 633; Allen
v. Rapides Parish School Bd., 204 F.3d 619, 621
(5th Cir. 2000); Ragas v. Tennessee Gas
Pipeline Company, 136 F.3d 455, 458 (5th Cir.
law determines what is material. Anderson, 477 U.S.
at 249. “Only disputes over facts that might affect the
outcome of the suit under the governing law will properly
preclude the entry of summary judgment. Factual disputes that
are irrelevant or unnecessary will not be counted.”
Id., at 248. If the non-movant sets forth specific
facts in support of allegations essential to his claim, a
genuine issue is presented. Celotex, 477 U.S. at
327. “Where the record, taken as a whole, could not
lead a rational trier of fact to find for the non-moving
party, there is no genuine issue for trial.”
Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp.,
475 U.S. 574, 587, 89 L.Ed.2d 538 (1986); Federal Savings
and Loan, Inc. v. Krajl, 968 F.2d 500, 503
(5th Cir. 1992). The facts are reviewed drawing
all reasonable inferences in favor of the non-moving party.
Allen, 204 F.3d at 621; PYCA Industries, Inc. v.
Harrison County Waste Water Management Dist., 177 F.3d
351, 161 (5th Cir. 1999); Banc One Capital
Partners Corp. v. Kneipper, 67 F.3d 1187, 1198
(5th Cir. 1995). However, this is so only when
there is “an actual controversy, that is, when both
parties have submitted evidence of contradictory
facts.” Little v. Liquid Air Corp., 37 F.3d
1069, 1075 (5th Cir. 1994); see Edwards v.
Your Credit, Inc., 148 F.3d 427, 432 (5th
Cir. 1998). 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
very purpose of summary judgment is to “pierce the
pleadings and assess the proof in order to see whether there
is a genuine issue for trial.” Advisory Committee Note
to the 1963 Amendments to Rule 56. Indeed, “[t]he
amendment is not intended to derogate from the solemnity of
the pleadings[;] [r]ather, it recognizes that despite the
best efforts of counsel to make his pleadings accurate, they
may be overwhelmingly contradicted by the proof available to
his adversary.” Id. The non-moving party (the
plaintiff in this case), must come forward with proof to
support each element of his claim. The plaintiff cannot meet
this burden with “some metaphysical doubt as to the
material facts, ” Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co., Ltd.
v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586, 106 S.Ct.
1348, 1356 (1986), “conclusory allegations, ”
Lujan v. National Wildlife Federation, 497 U.S. 871,
871-73, 110 S.Ct. 3177, 3180 (1990), “unsubstantiated
assertions, ” Hopper v. Frank, 16 F.3d 92
(5th Cir. 1994), or by a mere
“scintilla” of evidence, Davis v. Chevron
U.S.A., Inc., 14 F.3d 1082 (5th Cir. 1994).
would undermine the purposes of summary judgment if a party
could defeat such a motion by simply “replac[ing]
conclusory allegations of the complaint or answer with
conclusory allegations of an affidavit.” Lujan v.
National Wildlife Federation, 497 U.S. 871, 888, 110
S.Ct. 3177, 3188 (1990). In considering a motion for summary
judgment, a court must also determine whether the non-moving
party's allegations are plausible.
Matsushita, supra. (emphasis added).
“[D]etermining whether a complaint states a plausible
claim is context-specific, requiring the reviewing court to
draw on its experience and common sense.” Ashcroft
v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 129 S.Ct. 1937 (2009)
(discussing plausibility of claim as a requirement to survive
a motion to dismiss under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6)).
considering a motion for summary judgment, once the court
“has determined the relevant set of facts and drawn all
inferences in favor of the nonmoving party to the extent
supportable by the record, [the ultimate decision
becomes] purely a question of law.” Scott v.
Harris, 550 U.S. 372, 381 (2007) (emphasis in original).
“When opposing parties tell two different stories, one
of which is blatantly contradicted by the record, so that no
reasonable jury could believe it, a court should not adopt
that version of the facts for purposes of ruling on the
motion for summary judgment.” Id. at 380.
Edward Campbell is a state inmate in the custody of the
Mississippi Department of Corrections (“MDOC”).
Campbell received three Rule Violation Reports (RVR's) in
the dining hall in Unit 29-E at the Mississippi State
Penitentiary - two for “cussing” a guard, and one
for failing to obey the order of a staff member. Doc. 15.
Campbell testified at the Spears hearing that he,
indeed, failed to obey the order of staff member Sergeant
Barbara Johnson, who threatened to spray him with mace to
gain his compliance. Id. He alleges that he was just
trying to get his high-calorie meal prescribed by a doctor -
and that he should not have been punished. Id. He
also alleges that these three RVR's were dismissed on
January 14, 2015.
to Campbell, he filed a federal lawsuit against medical
providers on February 13, 2015, and the next day, on February
14, 2015, Lt. Sharon Hampton, a correctional officer at the
Mississippi State Penitentiary, retaliated against him for
doing so by “resurrecting” the three previously
dismissed RVR's. Id. After Campbell was found
guilty of these three RVR's, he alleges that Hampton
refused to provide him with the completed RVR's, thus
preventing him from appealing the guilty findings.
alleges that the three guilty findings, combined with two
others for which he was found guilty without investigation,
cost him “good time, ” thus delaying his release.
He also alleges that he can no longer earn good time credits
to shorten his sentence as a result of these five RVR's.
Evidence of Retaliation
discussed below, Mr. Campbell has only his personal belief
that he is the victim of retaliation. Prison officials may
not retaliate against prisoners for exercising their
constitutional rights. Morris v. Powell, 449 F.3d
682, 684 (5th Cir. 2006). On the other hand,
courts must view such claims with skepticism to keep from
getting bogged down in every act of discipline prison
officials impose. Id. The elements of a claim under
a retaliation theory are the plaintiff's invocation of
“a specific constitutional right, ” the
defendant's intent to retaliate against the plaintiff for
his or her exercise of that right, a retaliatory adverse act,
and causation, i.e., “but for the retaliatory
motive the complained of incident . . . would not have
occurred.” Woods v. Smith, 60 F.3d 1161, 1166
(5th Cir.1995) (citations omitted), cert.
denied, 516 U.S. 1084, 116 S.Ct. 800, 133 L.Ed.2d 747
(1996). A prisoner seeking to establish a retaliation claim
must also show that the prison official's conduct was
sufficiently adverse so that it would be capable of deterring
a person of ordinary firmness from exercising his
constitutional rights in the future. Winding v.
Grimes, 4:08CV99-FKB, 2010 WL 706515 at 3 (S.D.Miss.
Feb. 22, 2010); citing Morris v. Powell, 449 F.3d
682, 684-85 (5th Cir. 2006) at 685. A single