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Taylor v. Phillips

United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Southeastern Division

August 28, 2014

PAULA PHILLIPS, et al., Defendants.


STEPHEN N. LIMBAUGH, Jr., District Judge.

This matter is before the Court on defendants' renewed motion for summary judgment (#59), plaintiff's motion for summary judgment (#63), plaintiff's motion to reopen discovery (#66), and attorney David Kirby's motion to withdraw (#62). Remaining defendants in this 42 U.S.C. § 1983 action are Paula Huffman Phillips, Michael McGill, John Roach, and Jody Arnold. Defendants are employees of the Missouri Department of Corrections ("MDOC") whom he alleges, in late 2006 and into 2007, retaliated against him for filing a lawsuit against defendant Phillips. These matters are now ripe for disposition.

I. Factual Background

The following facts are uncontested except where indicated.

Defendant Phillips was a Functional Unit Manager from 2006 and 2007 at Southeast Correctional Center ("SECC"), where plaintiff was incarcerated during the period relevant to this case. Defendants McGill, Roach, and Arnold were each Corrections Officers at SECC during the time of Taylor's allegations.

On May 30, 2006, plaintiff filed a lawsuit against defendant Phillips in this Court. ( See Taylor v. Phillips, 1:06-cv-72-CAS.) Plaintiff alleges that, in December 2006 and March 2007, he asked for and received permission from defendant Phillips to have extra time in the law library in order to work on his claim against Phillips.

The subject of this lawsuit is that, according to plaintiff, defendant Phillips retaliated against him by ordering other defendants to search his cell, remove his property, and remove funds from his accounts. Plaintiff's original complaint included several incidents, but defendants have been granted summary judgment as to all of them ( see #57) except for the following:

• On January 3, 2007, an SECC search and movement team randomly searched every cell in plaintiff's housing unit as a result of an incident on the recreation yard two days earlier. The search was conducted for the safety and security of the institution due to an incident two days earlier. Plaintiff alleges that defendant Phillips instructed a member of the search team to take his Koss headphones. Defendants state that the headphones had been altered, which justified their removal, but the headphones were returned to plaintiff on January 30. Plaintiff discovered that they were no longer working properly, so he tried to have them sent back to the manufacturer for repair. He alleges that defendant Phillips instructed others not to send out his headphones for repair, and he states that he has not seen the headphones since he turned the headphones and $5 (plus postage) over to the property room for shipment. Defendants counter that plaintiff never informed the institution that he wanted the headphones sent out.

• On January 28, 2007, defendant McGill conducted a random monthly search of plaintiff's cell. McGill issued plaintiff a conduct violation for Rule #22.1, Taking Property Without Consent, due to his possession of a stolen scrub brush. Plaintiff also received a conduct violation for possession of contraband due to his possessing sheets of carbon paper. A nonparty hearing officer found plaintiff guilty of the conduct violation issued by McGill.

• In February 2007, plaintiff alleges that defendant Phillips directed defendant McGill and nonparty John Hoskins to search his cell. Plaintiff further alleges that after the search, his typewriter keys did not work and his carbon paper and legal documents were missing. In the numerous informal resolution requests ("IRRs") that plaintiff filed during the early months of 2007, however, not one of them mentions his typewriter.

Plaintiff claims that the above events constituted retaliation in violation of his Constitutional rights. Defendants have moved for summary judgment.

II. Legal Standard

Pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(c), a district court may grant a motion for summary judgment if all of the information before the court demonstrates that "there is no genuine issue as to material fact and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Poller v. Columbia Broadcasting System, Inc., 368 U.S. 464, 467 (1962). The burden is on the moving party. City of Mt. Pleasant, Iowa v. Assoc. Elec. Co-op., Inc., 838 F.2d 268, 273 (8th Cir. 1988). After the moving party discharges this burden, the nonmoving party must do more than show that there is some doubt as to the facts. Matsushita Elec. Industrial Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986). Instead, the nonmoving party bears the burden of setting forth specific facts showing that there is sufficient evidence in its favor to allow a jury to return a verdict for it. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 249 (1986); Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 324 (1986).

In ruling on a motion for summary judgment, the court must review the facts in a light most favorable to the party opposing the motion and give that party the benefit of any inferences that logically can be drawn from those facts. Buller v. Buechler, 706 F.2d 844, 846 (8th Cir. 1983). The court is required to resolve all conflicts of evidence in favor of the nonmoving party. Robert Johnson Grain Co. v. Chem. ...

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