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Payton v. Marlette

United States District Court, Tenth Circuit

June 19, 2013

CARREY MARLETTE, et al., Defendants.


MONTI L. BELOT, District Judge.

This case comes before the court on defendants' motion to dismiss or, in the alternative, motion for summary judgment. (Doc. 35). The motion has been fully briefed and is ripe for decision. (Docs. 36, 40).[1] Defendants' motion is granted for the reasons herein.

I. Facts[2]

Plaintiff Darryl Payton is currently incarcerated at the El Dorado Correctional Facility (EDCF). On November 30, 2009, plaintiff was issued a disciplinary report for using stimulants. Plaintiff pled guilty and was placed in segregation for 30 days. Upon his release, plaintiff was placed in the classification "lay-in cause" until September 17, 2010. Plaintiff was also placed in administrative segregation from May 21 through June 23, 2010.

On February 1, 2011, plaintiff was advised that visiting privileges for Valencia Rankins, plaintiff's daughter, could not be processed due to the lack of verification of their relationship. Rankins had provided her birth certificate to EDCF but it did not list plaintiff as her father. On February 14, Rankins wrote to the Secretary of Corrections, Ray Roberts, stating that the Unit Team Manager Maureen Malott was incorrectly interpreting prison policy regarding relationship verification. At some point, Rankins also contacted Kansas State Senator Oletha Faust-Goudeau about the denial of her visitation. On February 18, Deputy Warden Susan Gibreal informed Rankins that any documentation of family relationship would be accepted or that Rankins could be added to plaintiff's approved visitation list as a friend. On February 23, Faust-Goudeau called Gibreal to speak with her about the visitation policy. There is nothing in the record to indicate that Rankins has followed through with the required verification and plaintiff does not allege that he is being denied visitations by Rankins.

In early March 2011, plaintiff was interviewed for a position by Tommy McKay, a supervisor of Century Manufacturing at EDCF. On March 3, McKay sent an email to officer Schilta Pyles and Malott requesting to hire plaintiff. All requests concerning employment offers must be presented and approved by the Program Management Committee. Susan Gibreal and James Heimgartner, members of the committee, denied McKay's request to hire plaintiff. Plaintiff was informed of the denial on March 3. On March 21, plaintiff submitted a grievance. On March 25, Malott stated that plaintiff's employment was denied due to his history of disciplinary actions and use of stimulants, both of which are supported by the record. Plaintiff appealed to the warden and Roberts. The decision was upheld on April 19. This series of events serves as the basis for all but one of the remaining claims. Liberally construed, plaintiff claims he was told by Malot he was denied the job because the senator contacted the prison about Rankins and that Malot, along with Gibreal, Heimgartner and Snyder "conspired" to retaliate against him for the senator's inquiry by denying him employment at Century Manufacturing. (Doc. 1, Counts III-VII, pp. 5-7).

On April 27, plaintiff filed a grievance concerning his relocation from one cell house to another. Prior to his move, plaintiff had requested that he be moved to a different cell house because of his allergic reaction to animals which were located in his cell house. Team members agreed to move plaintiff during a conference. However, plaintiff was not moved to the specific cell house that he requested. Plaintiff's grievance was denied as it was deemed an issue that was not grievable. (Id. at 7-8).

Defendants deny that they violated plaintiff's constitutional rights and assert that they are entitled to qualified immunity.

II. Pro Se Status

Before analyzing defendants' motion for summary judgment, the court notes plaintiff is not represented by counsel. It has long been the rule that pro se pleadings, including complaints and pleadings connected with summary judgment, must be liberally construed. See Hall v. Bellmon , 935 F.2d 1106, 1110 & n.3 (10th Cir. 1991); Hill v. Corrections Corp. of America , 14 F.Supp.2d 1235, 1237 (D. Kan. 1998). This rule requires the court to look beyond a failure to cite proper legal authority, confusion of legal theories, and poor syntax or sentence construction. See Hall , 935 F.2d at 1110. Liberal construction does not, however, require this court to assume the role of advocate for the pro se litigant. See id. Plaintiff is expected to construct his own arguments or theories and adhere to the same rules of procedure that govern any other litigant in this district. See id.; Hill , 14 F.Supp.2d at 1237. Additionally, the court need not accept as true plaintiff's conclusory allegations because no special legal training is required to recount the facts surrounding alleged injuries. See Hill , 14 F.Supp.2d at 1237. Thus, the court is required to accept as true only plaintiff's well-pleaded and supported factual contentions. See id. In the end, plaintiff's pro se status, in and of itself, does not prevent this court from granting summary judgment. See Northington v. Jackson , 973 F.2d 1518, 1521 (10th Cir. 1992).

III. Summary Judgment Standard

The rules applicable to the resolution of this case, now at the summary judgment stage, are well-known and are only briefly outlined here. Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(c) directs the entry of summary judgment in favor of a party who "show[s] that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c). An issue is "genuine" if sufficient evidence exists so that a rational trier of fact could resolve the issue either way and an issue is "material" if under the substantive law it is essential to the proper disposition of the claim. Adamson v. Multi Community Diversified Svcs., Inc. , 514 F.3d 1136, 1145 (10th Cir. 2008). When confronted with a fully briefed motion for summary judgment, the court must ultimately determine "whether there is the need for a trial-whether, in other words, there are any genuine factual issues that properly can be resolved only by a finder of fact because they may reasonably be resolved in favor of either party." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc. , 477 U.S. 242, 250 (1986). If so, the court cannot grant summary judgment. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett , 477 U.S. 317, 322-23 (1986).

IV. Analysis

A. Lay-in Status ...

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