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Dunn v. Earls

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

June 27, 2017

MITCHELL DUNN, Plaintiff,
v.
ALAN EARLS, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          JOHN A. ROSS, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         This matter is before the Court on Defendant Alan Earls' unopposed motion for summary judgment[1] (Doc. No. 27). For the following reasons, the motion will be granted.

         Background

         Pro se plaintiff Mitchell Dunn, a Missouri inmate confined at Potosi Correctional Center (“PCC”), brings this action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against defendant Alan Earls (“Earls”), Deputy Warden at PCC, arising from his detention in single-cell administrative segregation. (Complaint (“Compl.”), Doc. No. 1).[2] Specifically, Plaintiff alleges he is being held in Administrative Segregation “for no apparent lawful reason.” (Id.). Plaintiff asserts that he has already served in excess of twelve months in administrative segregation for assault and that the Administrative Segregation Committee “has gone above the law by holding [him] falsely in detention when there is no valid reason.” (Id.).[3] Plaintiff further alleges the Committee stated that he was never going to be released to the general population “unless [he] take[s] a program.” (Id.)

         Defendant Earls moves for summary judgment on the grounds that Plaintiff was not deprived of a liberty interest when he was placed in administrative segregation; that appropriate procedures for review of his placement were followed; and that sufficient evidence supported findings that his placement was appropriate because he presented a risk to the safety and security of the institution. Earls also argues he is entitled to summary judgment based on the doctrine of qualified immunity.

         Facts[4]

         On June 14, 2014, while incarcerated at South Central Correctional Center (“SCCC”), Plaintiff was placed in administrative segregation following a serious assault on his cellmate. He pled guilty to the assault and was sentenced to five years to run concurrently with his existing sentence. On October 9, 2014, Plaintiff was transferred from SCCC to PCC for safety and security reasons. Upon his arrival, he received a classification hearing regarding his continued assignment to administrative segregation and was subsequently placed in a single-man cell because of his extreme assaultive behavior towards other offenders (Doc. No. 28-12).

         Plaintiff's classification status was next reviewed on November 6, 2014, and continued (Doc. No. 28-5). Following a review of his classification status on February 5, 2015 (Doc. No. 28-6), Plaintiff was moved to a two-man cell. Within days, Plaintiff requested protective custody from his cellmate (Doc. No. 28-7) and was moved back to single-man status “for his own safety or that of others” and “for the security and good order of the institution” (Id.; Doc. No. 28-22). On March 11, 2015, Plaintiff was again moved to a double-man cell (Doc. Nos. 28-8, 28-22). That same day, Plaintiff indicated that he wished to be removed from the cell, and that if he were not removed, he would harm his cellmate. Plaintiff received a conduct violation for this threat. (Doc. Nos. 28-8, 28-23). He was moved to another double-man cell, but on March 12, 2015, requested protective custody from his new cellmate, and moved back to a single-man cell “for the security and good order of the institution.” (Doc. No. 28-10).

         On April 28, 2015, Plaintiff filed an Informal Resolution Request (“IRR”) alleging he had been promised that he would be released into the general population (Doc. No. 28-11). In response to Plaintiff's IRR, Case Manager Tim McFarland indicated that Deputy Division Director Dwayne Kempker had placed Plaintiff on a single cell mandate due to his determination that Plaintiff was a long term threat to other offenders and denied his request for immediate release from Administrative Segregation (Doc. No. 28-14).

         On May 5, 2015, Plaintiff's classification status was again reviewed. The Committee noted that on March 11, 2015, Plaintiff received a conduct violation regarding the threat to his cell mate, and ordered him to continue his assignment, accrue no violations, and treat staff appropriately (Doc. No. 28-13).

         Plaintiff filed a grievance in response to the resolution of his IRR on June 8, 2015, alleging he was being held in Administrative Segregation for an excessive period and requesting that he be released back into the population (Doc. No. 28-15). PCC Warden Cindy Griffith responded that his assignment was being reviewed in accordance with established policy and that based on his behavioral history, Administrative Segregation was appropriate (Doc. No. 28-16). Plaintiff appealed this response (Doc. No. 28-17).

         At Plaintiff's August 8, 2015 classification hearing, the Committee ordered him to continue his assignment, accrue no violations, and to treat staff appropriately (Doc. No. 28-18). On September 10, 2015, the Deputy Division Director reviewed and denied Plaintiff's grievance appeal, citing the severe injury to Plaintiff's cellmate at SCCC for his finding that it was in the interest of the safety and security of the institution to keep Plaintiff in administrative segregation (Doc. No. 28-19).

         On November 3, 2015 and January 26, 2016, Plaintiff's classification status was again reviewed and continued with the same conditions (Doc. Nos. 28-20, -21). On May 24, 2016, Plaintiff was moved to a two man cell (Id. at ¶ 16), and released from administrative segregation on July 12, 2016[5] (Doc. No. 28-22).

         Legal ...


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