United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Eastern Division
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
G. FLEISSIG UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
matter is before the Court on the parties' cross motions
for summary judgment. ECF Nos. 139 & 145. For the reasons
set forth below, the Court will grant Defendant's motion
and deny Plaintiff's motion.
Lawrence Edwards, a Missouri Department of Corrections
(“MODOC”) inmate and participant in MODOC's
Missouri Sex Offender Program (“MOSOP”), filed
this complaint, pro se, on July 28, 2017. In the claims that
remain, Plaintiff alleges that Defendant Les Semar, a
functional unit manager at Farmington Correctional Center
(“FCC”), where Plaintiff was at one point housed,
intentionally delayed Plaintiff's progress in MOSOP in
retaliation for Plaintiff having filed grievances against two
of Semar's coworkers. Specifically, Plaintiff alleges
that Semar delayed Plaintiff's entry into Phase II of
MOSOP beyond the time permitted under MODOC policy-until
January 29, 2018-resulting in the loss of Plaintiff's
good time eligibility release date of February 23, 2017.
Plaintiff seeks damages and injunctive relief, including
advancement in MOSOP and good-time credits to make him
eligible for earlier release.
purpose of the motions before the Court, the record
establishes the following. Semar was a functional unit manager at
FCC from 2005 until October 1, 2015. Sometime before August
6, 2015, Plaintiff sought a transfer from FCC for his own
safety, due to his cooperation with police in the
investigation of another FCC inmate. Plaintiff attempted to
withdraw his transfer request on August 6, 2015, allegedly
due to pressure or coercion by Semar. According to Plaintiff,
Semar told Plaintiff that “if [he] attempted to
transfer [Semar] would contact his best friend MOSOP Director
Gould and make sure Plaintiff served his maximum sentence of
2024.” ECF No. 139 at 28. Plaintiff alleges that his
attorney assisted him in re-seeking a transfer and that Semar
ultimately approved Plaintiff's transfer request on
September 9, 2015.
filed several grievances while incarcerated at FCC and
elsewhere, including grievances against officers Wendy
Dashner and James Ford, whom Plaintiff alleges are friends of
Semar. Plaintiff claims that Semar “threatened
Plaintiff by telling him it would be in his best interest to
dismiss the [grievances] he had against [Semar's] two
co-workers, and would give Plaintiff until that afternoon to
rethink his decision.” Id. Semar retired from
MODOC on October 1, 2015. On October 13, 2015, Plaintiff was
transferred to Moberly Correctional Center
(“MCC”). MCC did not offer MOSOP, and on October
13, 2015, MCC staff immediately submitted Plaintiff for
transfer to Eastern Reception, Diagnostic and Correctional
Center (“ERDCC”). Plaintiff's transfer to
ERDCC occurred on December 8, 2015. Plaintiff began MOSOP
Phase I at ERDCC on February 11, 2016.
alleges that after his completion of MOSOP Phase I in March
2016, he was not immediately enrolled in MOSOP Phase II.
Instead, Plaintiff's enrollment in Phase II was delayed
by nearly two years, until January 29, 2018. Plaintiff began
MOSOP Phase II on January 29, 2018 and completed Phase II on
January 28, 2019. Plaintiff alleges that, because of his
delayed entry into MOSOP Phase II, he lost his GTE release
date of February 23, 2017.
alleges that the delay in his enrollment in MOSOP Phase II
was in retaliation for his grievances. Specifically,
Plaintiff alleges that he “realizes that FUM
Semar's threat to have MOSOP Director Gould to make
plaintiff serve his maximum sentence of 2024 is actually
being carried out since his 2-23-2017 GTE been took
[sic].” Am. Compl. ¶ 27.
is administered by Corizon Health, the healthcare contractor
for MODOC. Semar never worked for Corizon or for MOSOP. Semar
has submitted evidence, including his sworn declaration and
that of MOSOP Director, Gould, that Semar had no control over
MOSOP scheduling; Semar never contacted anyone at MOSOP
regarding Plaintiff or Plaintiff's participation in
MOSOP; and Semar did not threaten Plaintiff. See,
e.g., ECF Nos. 146-23 & 146-25. In response to this
evidence, Plaintiff offers his own declaration reiterating
the facts stated above.
Rule of Civil Procedure 56(a) provides that summary judgment
shall be granted “if the movant shows that there is no
genuine issue as to any material fact and the movant is
entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” “[T]he
burden of demonstrating that there are no genuine issues of
material fact rests on the moving party, ” and the
court must view “the evidence and the inferences that
may be reasonably drawn [therefrom] in the light most
favorable to the non moving party.” Allard v.
Baldwin, 779 F.3d 768, 771 (8th Cir. 2015).
disputed fact is not material unless it may affect the
outcome of the suit under governing law.” Hill v.
St. Louis Univ., 123 F.3d 1114, 1118-19 (8th Cir. 1997)
(citation omitted). Once the movant has met his burden, the
nonmoving party may not rest on the allegations in his
pleadings but must, by affidavit and other evidence, set
forth specific facts showing that a genuine issue of material
fact exists. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(1), (e). “Where the
record taken as a whole could not lead a rational trier of
fact to find for the nonmoving party, there is no genuine
issue for trial.” Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v.
Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986). A
plaintiff's status as a pro se prisoner does not excuse
him from responding to a defendant's motion “with
specific factual support for his claims to avoid summary
judgment.” Beck v. Skon, 253 F.3d 330, 333
(8th Cir. 2001).
Amendment Retaliation § 1983
plaintiff in a § 1983 action must show that a defendant
deprived him of a constitutional right while acting under
color of state law. “Liability under § 1983
requires a causal link to, and direct responsibility for, the
deprivation of rights.” Madewell v. Roberts,
909 F.2d 1203, 1208 (8th Cir. 1990). “A defendant will
not be held liable under § 1983 unless he was personally