United States District Court, N.D. Mississippi, Greenville Division
ORDER OF DISMISSAL
A. SANDERS MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
February 28, 2019, plaintiff Jermaine Alexander Ramsey, an
inmate previously housed at the Marshall County Correctional
Facility (“MCCF”), appeared before the
undersigned for a hearing pursuant to Spears v.
McCotter, 766 F.2d 179 (5th Cir. 1985), to determine
whether there exists a justiciable basis for his claim filed
under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. A plaintiff's claim will be
dismissed if “it lacks an arguable basis in law or
fact, such as when a prisoner alleges the violation of a
legal interest that does not exist.” Martin v.
Scott, 156 F.3d 578 (5th Cir. 1998) (citations omitted).
The Prison Litigation Reform Act applies to this case because
Ramsey was incarcerated when he filed this lawsuit. Ramsey
having consented to U.S. Magistrate Judge jurisdiction in
this case in accordance with 28 U.S.C. § 636(c), the
undersigned has the authority to enter this order and the
accompanying final judgment.
was housed in C custody in long-term segregation in Unit D4
at MCCF on August 21, 2018. On that date, a shakedown
occurred, and all offenders were taken to the recreation yard
wearing only boxers and t-shirts. Ramsey claims that he left
his 2.5 carat diamond Cartier wedding band in his cell, on
top of several “allowable” items, such as
marriage papers and photos of his deceased wife. When he
returned to his cell, Ramsey claims, his wedding band,
photographs, and marriage papers had been confiscated. Ramsey
maintains that other items, such as his religious materials
and commissary items, were also confiscated, and he asserts
that he never received a property receipt for the confiscated
Spears hearing, Ramsey stated that the policy of the
Mississippi Department of Corrections (“MDOC”)
allowed him to possess a wedding band and the other items,
but that they were nonetheless confiscated and held by
Defendants. Ramsey claims that all of the items were
confiscated to punish him for filing a prior lawsuit against
MCCF, and he claims that not allowing him to possess these
particular items violates his right to equal protection. He
also alleges that certain Defendants have attempted to extort
him, stating that certain Defendants approached him in the
recreation yard and informed him that he can have his wedding
band back if he will pay them each $400.
Ramsey has been permitted to proceed in forma
pauperis in this action, his complaint is subject to
dismissal under the Prison Litigation Reform Act
(“PLRA”). See 28 U.S.C.
§1915(e)(2); see also 28 U.S.C. § 1915A
(subjecting prisoner complaint to preliminary screening
regardless of in forma pauperis status). Pursuant to
the PLRA, the Court is obligated to evaluate the complaint
and dismiss it if it is “frivolous or malicious,
” if it “fails to state a claim upon which relief
may be granted, ” or it “seeks monetary relief
against a defendant who is immune from such relief.”
the Court considers whether the confiscation of Ramsey's
personal property violates his right to equal protection. It
is well settled that the Equal Protection Clause of
Fourteenth Amendment prohibits a state from denying any
person the equal protection of the laws. U.S. Const. amend.
XIV, § 1. To establish a violation of the Equal
Protection Clause, a plaintiff must demonstrate that he was
treated differently than similarly-situated persons, and that
“the unequal treatment stemmed from a discriminatory
intent.” Taylor v. Johnson, 257 F.3d 470, 473
(5th Cir. 2001).
has not provided the Court with any facts that would support
his claim, and the Court finds that Ramsey's equal
protection claim must, therefore, be dismissed due to its
conclusory nature. See Koch v. Puckett, 907 F.2d
524, 530 (5th Cir. 1990) (holding that despite liberal
construction given to pro se petitions, “mere
conclusory allegations on a critical issue are insufficient
to raise a constitutional issue”). Moreover,
“[d]iscriminatory purpose ... implies that the
decisionmaker singled out a particular group for disparate
treatment and selected his course of action at least in part
for the purpose of causing its adverse effect on an
identifiable group.” Lavernia v. Lynaugh, 845
F.2d 493, 496 (5th Cir. 1988) (internal quotation marks
omitted). Ramsey has not provided the Court with any facts
that transform his claim into an equal protection claim, and
therefore, it must be dismissed.
the Court considers whether Ramsey has potentially stated a
claim for retaliation. The Fifth Circuit has held that
“[t]o prevail on a claim of retaliation, a prisoner
must establish (1) a specific constitutional right, (2) the
defendant's intent to retaliate against the prisoner for
his or her exercise of that right, (3) a retaliatory adverse
act, and (4) causation.” McDonald v. Steward,
132 F.3d 225, 231 (5th Cir. 1998). “The relevant
showing in such cases must be more than the prisoner's
personal belief that he is the victim of retaliation.”
Johnson v. Rodriguez, 110 F.3d 299, 310 (5th Cir.
1997) (citation and internal quotation marks omitted).
Rather, “[t]he inmate must produce direct evidence of
motivation, or the more probable scenario, allege a
chronology of events from which retaliation may be plausibly
inferred.” Woods v. Smith, 60 F.3d at 1166
(internal quotation marks omitted).
alleges that the deprivation of his personal property is a
retaliatory act for his having filed a prior lawsuit against
the facility. Generally, prisoners enjoy a constitutional
right of access to the courts, see Johnson v. Avery,
393 U.S. 483, 48385 (1969), and therefore, Ramsey's claim
involves a specific constitutional right. However, at his
Spears hearing, Ramsey stated that the prior lawsuit
giving rise to this allegedly unconstitutional confiscation
involved a slip and fall at MCCF, which was filed in this
Court as Ramsey v. Management Training & Corp.,
4:18CV178-RP (N.D. Miss.). That lawsuit was signed on August
22, 2018, one day after the deprivations at issue in ...