United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Eastern Division
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
W. SIPPEL, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
plaintiff Samuel Lewis Taylor, an inmate at the Crossroads
Correctional Center, brings First Amendment retaliation
claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for alleged retaliation
taken against him in 2012 and 2013 when he was incarcerated
at the Potosi Correctional Center. Taylor claims defendants
Michael Miller, Jason Crawford, Dorine Johnson, Carl Gravett,
and Stanley Pruett, employees of the Missouri Department of
Corrections (MDOC) assigned to Potosi, retaliated against him
for filing a lawsuit against defendant Miller. Defendants
move for summary judgment, arguing Taylor has failed to
exhaust his administrative remedies and failed to provide
evidence of adverse action or retaliatory motive. Taylor
opposes the motion. For the reasons that follow, I will grant
defendants' motion for summary judgment.
ruling on a motion for summary judgment, I must view the
facts and inferences from the facts in the light most
favorable to the nonmoving party. Matsushita Elec. Indus.
Co., Ltd. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587
(1986). The moving party must establish that there is no
genuine issue of material fact and that they are entitled to
judgment as a matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). Once the
moving party has met this burden, the nonmoving party may not
rest on the allegations in its pleadings, but by affidavit or
other evidence must set forth specific facts showing that a
genuine issue of material fact exists. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(1),
(e). If the nonmoving party fails to present evidence
sufficient to establish an essential element of a claim on
which that party bears the burden of proof, summary judgment
is appropriate. Pedersen v. Bio-Med. Applications of
Minn., 775 F.3d 1049, 1053 (8th Cir. 2015). Although a
district court must view the facts in the light most
favorable to the non-moving party, it is not required to
“accept unreasonable inferences or sheer speculation as
fact.” Howard v. Columbia Pub. Sch. Dist., 363
F.3d 797, 800 (8th Cir.2004).
submitted a statement of uncontroverted material facts in
support of their motion along with a number of exhibits.
Taylor filed an affidavit statement of facts in response,
signed under penalty of perjury, in which he admits
defendants' statements of fact in paragraphs 1-8 but
states generally that paragraphs “from 9 throughout
Affiant are controverted.” Aff. Statement ¶ 1, ECF
No. 27. Taylor's statement of facts includes 21 pages of
additional facts but does not specifically controvert
defendants' facts, as required by Local Rule 4.01(E). As
a result, unless otherwise noted, Taylor is deemed to have
admitted the facts in defendants' statement. See
Local Rule 4.01(E) (“All matters set forth in the
statement of the movant shall be deemed admitted for purposes
of summary judgment unless specifically controverted by the
opposing party.”); see also Cross v. MHM Corr.
Servs., Inc., 2014 WL 5385113, at *2 (E.D. Mo. Oct. 10,
2014) (“Plaintiffs' pro se status does not excuse
them from . . . complying with Local Rule 4.01(E).”).
This does not apply to legal conclusions presented as facts
in defendants' statement.
also filed a declaration, signed under penalty of perjury, as
well as 62 exhibits. Defendants filed a reply to Taylor's
statement of controverted material facts and Taylor filed a
surreply, attaching more exhibits. After considering these
materials, and with the summary judgment standard in mind, I
accept the following facts as undisputed except where
Miller served as a Correction Classification Assistant and
Corrections Case Manager during the time of Taylor's
allegations. Doc. 23 ¶¶ 15- 16. Defendant Crawford
was the Property Room Sergeant. Id. ¶ 67.
Defendants Johnson and Gravett were Corrections Officers, and
defendant Pruett was a Corrections Casework Manager.
Id ¶¶ 4-6.
September 26, 2011, Taylor filed a lawsuit against Miller and
other defendants not named in this suit. See Taylor v.
Miller, Case No. 1:11 CV 174 SNLJ (E.D. Mo.). On May 16,
2012, Pruett notarized Taylor's signature on a settlement
agreement in another case, Taylor v. Combs, Case No.
2:07 CV 4060 NKL (W.D. Mo.). Doc. 27 and Doc. 38 ¶ 4.
Taylor alleges Pruett must have told Miller about the
settlement, which led Miller to retaliate against him and
direct other officials to retaliate against him to dissuade
him from continuing his lawsuit against Miller. Doc. 26 at 5.
Taylor claims the retaliation began in August 2012 and
included the following incidents:
• In August 2012, Taylor was assigned to Housing Unit 3.
Doc. 23 ¶ 12. On August 13, 2012, Jason Lee, a
corrections officer in Housing Unit 3 and a nonparty to this
suit, confiscated Taylor's television. Doc. 23 ¶ 18.
Taylor testified that Lee told Taylor that classification
staff instructed him to confiscate the television, so Taylor
believes that because Miller was in classification, Miller
told Lee to take the television. Id ¶ 19; Doc.
23-1, Ex. A, 14:10-15:7; Doc. 27 ¶ 8. Miller was
assigned to Housing Unit 4 at the time. Doc. 23 ¶ 15.
Lee did not mention the lawsuit. Doc. 23-1 at 15:18- 21.
Taylor claims the television was taken to Crawford in the
property room and Taylor was told his television was
confiscated because his property list showed he had two
televisions when he was only permitted to have one. See
id 23:5-17; Doc. 31-2, Exs. 13-14. Taylor claims this
was error because his previous television had been damaged
and confiscated and should have been removed from his
property list. Doc. 27 ¶¶ 5, 8. Taylor got his
television back within a few weeks. Doc. 23-1 at 13; Doc. 27
• On August 14, 2012, Taylor alleges Crawford
confiscated his Koss headphones. Doc. 23 ¶ 20; Doc. 27
¶ 10. Taylor claims the headphones were taken at
Miller's direction, in retaliation for the lawsuit
against him. Taylor claims Crawford told Taylor that
classification instructed him to confiscate the headphones,
but Crawford did not say who gave him the directive. Doc. 23
¶ 21; Doc. 27 ¶ 10. Taylor asserts “[i]t
would stand to reason that Miller directed Crawford to
confiscate Koss Headphones as Crawford and Miller admitted
knowing each other.” Doc. 27 ¶ 10. Prison
officials had mistakenly engraved Taylor's headphones
with another inmate's number. Doc. 23 ¶ 23; Doc.
31-2, Ex. 17. The headphones were confiscated and corrected,
and in September 2012, Taylor agreed to receive the returned
headphones with the mistaken and corrected engraving on them.
Doc. 23 ¶ 24; Doc. 27 ¶ 11.
• On October 2, 2012, Taylor claims Gravett searched his
cell (3A-26), confiscated some of his legal documents
pertaining to Case No. 1:11 CV 174 SNLJ, and damaged his
watch. Doc. 23 ¶ 26. Gravett denies removing legal
documents from Taylor's cell during a search or damaging
his property. Doc. 23 ¶ 28; Doc. 38 ¶ 13. The
Potosi cell search log Taylor submitted does not show cell
3A-26 was searched on October 2, 2012. Doc. 27 ¶12; Doc.
31-2, Ex. 19.
• On October 29, 2012, Taylor alleges Gravett and
Johnson searched his cell (3B-29). Taylor claims Johnson
intentionally dropped and broke his typewriter and the
defendants took seventy 46-cent stamps during the search to
impede Taylor's lawsuit against Miller. Doc. 9 at 8; Doc.
23 ¶ 39. Taylor claims he saw Johnson speaking with
Miller's wife, also a Potosi employee, a couple of days
before Johnson and Gravett searched his cell. Doc. 22 at 12
n.1; Doc. 23 ¶ 50-51. He believes this shows that the
cell search was done at the direction of Miller or his wife.
Doc. 23-1 at 41-42.
• Taylor filed an Informal Resolution Request (IRR)
reporting his typewriter damaged. During the discussion of
the IRR, Taylor alleges Pruett ordered him to bring his
typewriter to the classification office for confiscation and
that he has not seen the typewriter again. He also claims
Miller was present when he delivered the typewriter. Doc. 9
at 9; Doc. 23 ¶ 52.
• On December 7, 2012, Taylor alleges Gravett called
Taylor out of his cell to report to the canteen, where
another staff member issued Taylor two conduct violations.
Doc. 23 ¶ 55. As a result of the conduct violations,
Taylor was confined to administrative segregation. Doc. 9 at
10; Doc. 23 ¶ 64-65. According to prison records, these
events occurred around and after 12:55 pm on December 7,
2012. Doc 23 ¶ 58; Doc. 23-14 at 13, Ex. M. Taylor was
in Housing Unit 3. Doc. 23 ¶ 60. On December 7, 2012,
Gravett was working first shift (11 pm to 7 am) in Housing
Unit 4 and left the facility at 7:30 am, after his scheduled
shift. Id ¶¶ 61-62. Taylor also claims his
cellmate told him Gravett had another prisoner pack up
Taylor's personal property and allowed the prisoner to
steal some of it, though it is unclear when this alleged
• Taylor alleges he was released from administrative
segregation in January 2013. Doc. 9 at 11. He claims his
crockpot and 49ers coat were confiscated from his cell while
he was in administrative segregation. Doc. 23 ¶ 63. Taylor
filed an IRR, and the response explained that an offender is
not permitted to retain “grandfathered” items per
MDOC policy if he commits a violation that results in
assignment to administrative segregation. Id ¶
69- 71; Doc. 23-15 Ex. N; PCC SOP/IS22-1.1, Offender Property
Control Procedures; Doc. 23-16 Ex. O. Taylor gave Crawford,
the property room sergeant, postage to mail out the crockpot
and coat, but he alleges he was not allowed to send these
items out per MDOC policy. Docs. 27 and 38 ¶ 47;
see Doc. 23 ¶ 67. Taylor also alleges Crawford
refused to allow him to send his typewriter out for repairs.
Doc. 27 ¶ 30; Doc. 38 ¶ 30-31.
• Taylor claims that in either January or March 2013, he
asked Miller to send him to clothing issue to replace his
winter coat that had been confiscated, but Miller denied the
request. Doc. 9 at 12; Doc. 27 ¶ 49. On March 18, 2013,
Johnson issued Taylor a conduct violation for disobeying an
order by wearing a sweatshirt under state-issued clothing.
Doc. 23 ¶ 72. Taylor was found guilty of the conduct
violation. Id. ¶ 73.
February 12, 2015, Taylor filed this suit, and on March 25,
2015, and June 17, 2015, he filed amended complaints. On
preliminary review, I dismissed all of Taylor's claims
except his First Amendment retaliation claims against the
defendants in their individual capacities. See Mem.
& Order, ECF No. 11; 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B).
Defendants now move for summary judgment, arguing Taylor
failed to exhaust administrative remedies and failed to
provide affirmative evidence they took adverse actions
against him or acted with a retaliatory motive.
Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA) provides that “[n]o
action shall be brought with respect to prison conditions
under section 1983 of this title, or any other Federal law,
by a prisoner confined in any jail, prison, or other
correctional facility until such administrative remedies as
are available are exhausted.” 42 U.S.C. §
1997e(a). Exhaustion is mandatory under the PLRA. Ross v.
Blake, 136 S.Ct. 1850, 1856 (2016). If an inmate fails
to exhaust before filing suit in federal court, unexhausted
claims must be dismissed. Johnson v. Jones, 340 F.3d
624, 627 (8th Cir. 2003). The PLRA contains one textual
exception to mandatory exhaustion: availability, meaning an
inmate is only required to exhaust administrative remedies
that are actually available to him. Ross, 136 S.Ct.
at 1858. “[T]he PLRA ...