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Thomas v. Denney

Court of Appeals of Missouri, Western District, Fourth Division

December 16, 2014

DAMON THOMAS, Appellant,
v.
LARRY DENNEY, ET AL., Respondents

Page 326

[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

Page 327

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cole County, Missouri. Honorable Daniel Richard Green, Judge.

For Appellant: Karon Ramsey, Kansas City, MO.

For Respondents: James Emanuel, Jefferson City, MO.

Before Division Four: Alok Ahuja, C.J. Presiding, James Edward Welsh, J., and Tracey Mason-White, Sp.J. All concur.

OPINION

James Edward Welsh, Judge.

Page 328

Damon Thomas appeals the circuit court's judgment dismissing his petition against the Missouri Department of Corrections and certain of its employees. We affirm.

Background

Damon Thomas is an inmate under the authority of the Missouri Department of Corrections (" the Department" ). In October 2013, Thomas filed a lawsuit against the Department and several of its employees raising allegations related to his period of confinement at Crossroads Correctional Center (" Crossroads" ). In addition to the Department, Thomas also named as defendants Cyndi Prudden, Deputy Division Director, Division of Adult Institutions, and the following officials at Crossroads: Warden Larry Denney, Assistant Warden Terry Page, Adjustment Officer K. Herring, and B. Brooke, whose position is stated as " F.U.M." [1] The lawsuit related to disciplinary action taken against Thomas and his subsequent placement in administrative segregation.

On February 10, 2012, Defendant Brooke issued Thomas a conduct violation. It alleged that a year-long investigation had found that Thomas had conspired with other inmates, family members, and outside civilian personnel " to attempt to introduce contraband believed to be narcotics into the institution" and had " arranged financial transactions between family members and other offenders to assist in funding illegal activities." Following a hearing before the prison's adjustment board, Thomas was found guilty of possession/use of an intoxicating substance " by engaging in a scheme or plan to introduce a controlled substance into the facility." Thomas was thereafter placed in administrative segregation and his visits were restricted. He was in administrative segregation when he filed his lawsuit.[2]

In his " Second Amended Petition for Declaratory Judgment and Injunctive Relief," Thomas sought judicial review, pursuant to section 536.150 RSMo[3] of Missouri's Administrative Procedures Act (" APA" ), of his confinement in administrative segregation. He alleged that the decision was " unconstitutional, unlawful, unreasonable, arbitrary, capricious, [and] involve[d] an abuse of discretion." See § 536.150.1. Thomas also alleged that the defendants had subjected him " to cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the Eighth Amendment to the United States Constitution." Specifically, he claimed that, " throughout the time [he] was held in segregation, he was housed in filthy conditions, denied showers and denied the minimum three (3) hour[s] out of cell per week." Among other things, Thomas sought a declaration " that the Findings and Discipline imposed upon [him] as a result of these proceedings is null and void and [that it] be dismissed and expunged from [his] record."

Defendants moved to dismiss Thomas's second amended petition on five grounds. The first ground, improper service of process on the Department and Prudden, was ...


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