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Edwards v. Villmer

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

November 17, 2017

TOM VILLMER, et al., Defendants.



         This matter is before the court on Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment (ECF No. 182). This matter is fully briefed and ready for disposition.


         Plaintiff Lawrence M. Edwards ("Edwards") is an offender in the Missouri Department of Corrections ("MDOC") and is currently incarcerated at the Eastern Reception Diagnostic Correctional Center ("ERDCC"). (DSUMF, ¶l). At all times related to Edwards' Complaint, he was incarcerated at the Farmington Correctional Center ("FCC"). (DSUMF, ¶2). Defendant Wendy Dashner is employed by MDOC as a Functional Unit Manager ("FUM") at FCC. (DSUMF, ¶3), Defendant James Ford was employed by MDOC as a Corrections Officer II C'COII"), or Sergeant, at FCC. (DSUMF, ¶4).

         Edwards seeks declaratory relief and compensatory damages in the amount of no less than $150, 000.00 against the Defendants. (DSUMF, ¶6). Most of the claims in the amended complaint were previously dismissed by this Court. Defendants Dashner and Ford are the only remaining Defendants. (DSUMF, ¶7).

         Dasher received several telephone calls from the mother of an offender where she expressed concerns for the offender's safety. (DSUMF, ¶8). The mother stated that the calls were made by a different offender. (DSUMF, ¶8). Dasher investigated the source of the telephone calls and determined that they were made by Edwards. (DSUMF, ¶9). Dashner issued a conduct violation to Edwards. (DSUMF, ¶IO). Dashner reported that Edwards was in violation of Rule 12.1. (DSUMF, ¶ll). Edwards was interviewed the same day and made the following statement: "I wrote to Warden Villmer because [the offender] was being threatened." (DSUMF, ¶12). On November 5, 2014, Edwards had a hearing before the Disciplinary Healing Officer ("DHO") after an investigation into the telephone calls. (DSUMF, ¶13). The Disciplinary Action Report shows that witnesses were called and considered, and Edwards prepared a written statement. (DSUMF, ¶14). Based upon the evidence and witness testimony, the DHO found Edwards guilty, but amended the violation from a Rule 12.1 violtion to a Rule 38.3 violation for using another offender's PIN. (DSUMF, ¶15) DHO Charles Buford and Edwards both signed the Disciplinary Action Report, and the Assistant Warden approved the recommended action. (DSUMF, ¶16).

         On October 30, 2014, Edwards filed an Informal Resolution Request ("IRR"), complaining that Dashner and another officer were harassing him and retaliating against him due to filing IRRs against Dashner. (DSUMF, ¶17). Dashner responded that she was not aware that Edwards had filed any previous IRRs. (DSUMF, ¶l 8). Edwards'IRR was denied. (DSUMF, ¶19). On November 24, 2014, Edwards filed a grievance because the DHO had amended the violation from a Rule 12.1 violation to a Rule 38.3 violation and asserted that the accusations against him were false. (DSUMF, ¶20). The Warden denied the grievance stating, "The amending of a violation does not prove the accusation was false. You have failed to provide any additional information/evidence to support your claism FUM Dashner violated your Due Process Rights." (DSUMF, ¶21). On December 5, 2014, Edwards filed a Grievance Appeal, stating that he had an affidavit from the other offender's mother that Dasher had lied. (DSUMF, ¶22). The Deputy Division Director of the Division of Adult Institutions, Dwayne Kemper, denied the Grievance Appeal and informed Edwards that the violation would remain a part of his institutional record. (DSUMF, ¶23).

         In September 2014, MDOC replaced the Prison Rape Elimination Act ("PREA") Assessment with the Adult Internal Risk Assessment ("AIRA"). (DSUMF, ¶24). On October 27, 2014, Edwards was reassessed by Correctional Manager II Baxley and his score was determined to be Alpha. (DSUMF, ¶25). All case managers were instructed to perform new classification assessments on offenders using AIRA. (DSUMF, ¶26). Dashner did not direct anyone to reevaluate Edwards. (DSUMF, ¶27). On November 12, 2014, Edwards filed an IRR against Dashner, wherein he accused her of retaliating against him because the previous conduct violation ("CDV") was dropped for inaccurate information. (DSUMF, ¶28). The IRR response found that Edwards received due process on his CDV and was found guilty of violating Rule 38.3 and denied the IRR. (DSUMF, ¶29). On December 3, 2014, Edwards filed an Offender Grievance stating that Dashner had issued the previous CDV because "[s]he is white and I am black, which poses-cultural distances/differences, separate realities, visible/invisible barricades that places white and blacks on the opposite sides of the racial spectrum." (DSUMF, ¶30). On December 24, 2014, the Warden responded that Edwards did not present any substantial evidence that would warrant changes to the CDV. The Warden's response noted that Edwards had been hostile and rude to Dashner. (DSUMF, ¶31). On January 5, 2015, Edwards filed an offender Grievance Appeal, (DSUMF, ¶32). On February 6, 2015, Deputy Division Director Kempker denied the Grievance Appeal. (DSUMF, ¶33).

         On December 11, 2014, Edwards' cell was searched by Corrections Officer I Goodson, who removed a blanket and a ball cap. (DSUMF, ¶34). On December 15, 2014, Edwards filed an IRR alleging harassment and retaliation by Ford and Dashner based on the removal of the ball cap. (DSUMF, ¶35). Correctional Officer I Goodson issued a CDV for violating Rule 24.1 for being in possession of a blue ball cap that was not on Edwards' property list. After an investigation, the CDV was dismissed and the ball cap was returned to Edwards. (DSUMF, ¶36). The IRR response did not address Edwards' allegations of retaliation. (DSUMF, ¶37). Edwards did not mention the retaliation in his Offender Grievance. (DSUMF, ¶38). Edwards did not file a Grievance Appeal. (DSUMF, ¶39). Ford issued a CDV to Edwards on December 18, 2014 for failing to report his appointment with the Grievance Officer. (DSUMF, ¶40). The CDV was sustained, but the DHO, Julie Smith, amended it to a violation of Rule 41.1 (institutional rules). (DSUMF, ¶41). On December 18, 2014, Edwards filed an IRR against Ford for depriving him of his Federal and State constitutional rights by being denied access to the courts. (DSUMF, ¶42). Edwards' IRR was denied and he was reminded that each IRR is limited to one grievable issue. (DSUMF, ¶43). On January 29, 2015, Edwards filed an Offender Grievance that requested a review of Edwards' complaint against Ford. The Warden responded to Edwards' Grievance as follows:

Information received concerning the above subject indicates the following: A review of the documentation indicates you are now assigned to HU#9 and assigned as a dorm worker. As to your complaint that COII Ford has deprived you of your right to access to the courts, I find no evidence to support this claim. You do not have a current Medical Lay-In that would prevent you from working in Food Service. You have failed to provide any evidence that HU#6 staff has violated your rights or acted unprofessionally.

(DSUMF, ¶45). On March 19, 2015, Edwards filed a Grievance Appeal. (DSUMF, ¶46). Edwards stated that he had a medical lay-in that specified janitorial services restrictions, (DSUMF, ¶47). Edwards did not present any evidence of any wrongdoing by Ford, and Edwards' Grievance Appeal was denied. (DSUMF, ¶48). On January 14, 2015, Corrections Officer Terry Snow issued a CDV to Edwards for being in possession of contraband, a violation of Rule 24.6. (DSUMF, ¶49). Ford was the interviewing officer that attempted to resolve the IRR. (DSUMF, ¶50). Edwards was found guilty of the conduct violation. (DSUMF, ¶51). On January 20, 2015, Edwards filed an IRR against Ford, Corrections Officer I Snow and Corrections Officers Dunn. (DSUMF, ¶52). In response to the IRR, it was noted that Ford had not ordered that the CDV be issued. The IRR was denied because there was no evidence to indicate that Ford ordered the staff to issue violations to Edwards. (DSUMF, ¶53). On March 10, 2015, Edwards filed his Offender Grievance related to his January 20, 2015 IRR. (DSUMF, ¶54). The Warden responded to the Offender Grievance and found Edwards was not targeted or harassed. Rather, Edwards was placed in Housing Unit 5 (administrative segregation) because of Edwards' own actions. Edwards' grievance was denied. (DSUMF, ¶55). On April 20, 2015, Edwards filed a grievance appeal that was denied for the reasons previously stated. (DSUMF, 156).



         A. ...

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