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Collins v. Norwood

United States District Court, D. Kansas

June 28, 2018

JUSTIN JADE COLLINS, Plaintiff,
v.
JOE NORWOOD, et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          SAM A. CROW U.S. SENIOR DISTRICT JUDGE

         This matter is before the Court on Defendants' motion to dismiss (Doc. 25). Plaintiff has filed no response to the motion. For the reasons described herein, Defendants' motion to dismiss is granted.

         I. Background

         Mr. Collins served as a confidential source in a wide-spread corruption investigation at the Lansing Correctional Facility in Lansing, Kansas (“LCF”) which occurred in 2015. Doc. 1-1 at 16. He was transferred away from LCF on October 8, 2015. See KASPER Profile for Plaintiff, Doc. 21-1 at 3. Then, at some point, his identity as a confidential informant was leaked by an unidentified KDOC employee to security threat groups (“STGs”) at LCF implicated in the corruption investigation and was revealed in a LCF employee's civil service appeal of administrative action taken based on the investigation. Doc. 1 at 2. Mr. Collins was transferred back to LCF on August 22, 2017. See KASPER Profile for Plaintiff, Doc. 21-1 at 3. The next day, he met with Ron Erwin, Special Agent Supervisor for the Enforcement, Apprehension and Investigative Unit at LCF, and reported he had been labeled a snitch by his fellow inmates and “green lighted” for attack by the STGs. Doc. 1-1 at 16. On August 24, 2017, Mr. Erwin prepared an Administrative Segregation Report recommending restrictive housing for Mr. Collins until he could be approved for transfer out of state pursuant to interstate compact. Id. Plaintiff subsequently made repeated requests for the out of state transfer, but he had not received a response to his requests at the time he filed this lawsuit on October 30, 2017. Doc. 1-1 at 2-4, 6, 9, 11-14. Plaintiff was transferred to a detention facility in Missouri on November 15, 2017. See KASPER Profile, Doc. 21-1 at 3.

         II. Complaint

         Plaintiff's complaint alleged that Defendants violated his Eighth Amendment rights by failing to respond appropriately to the leaking of his identity as a confidential informant. Mr. Collins alleged he was not safe in long term protective custody and furthermore should not be required to spend the remainder of his confinement (approximately three more years) in segregation. He sought injunctive relief in the form of an order directing his transfer to an out of state prison, as well as punitive damages in the amount of $1 million.

         III. Motion to Dismiss

         In their motion to dismiss (Doc. 25) and memorandum in support (Doc. 26), Defendants argue Plaintiff's complaint should be dismissed for a number of reasons. First, they point out that Plaintiff received the primary relief he was requesting, transfer out of state, thus making his complaint moot and depriving the Court of jurisdiction. They also argue the Eleventh Amendment bars claims against Defendants in their official capacities, and that Defendants are entitled to qualified immunity as well because Plaintiff has not demonstrated that any defendant acted with deliberate indifference. Last, Defendants claim the lack of personal participation by the named defendants in the alleged constitutional violation requires dismissal.

         IV. Standard

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) allows dismissal of a complaint where the facts alleged fail to state a claim to relief “that is plausible on its face.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). “A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Id. at 678. All well-pleaded factual allegations in the complaint are accepted as true and viewed in the light most favorable to the plaintiff for purposes of determining whether the complaint states a plausible claim for relief. Id.; Smith v. United States, 561 F.3d 1090, 1098 (10th Cir. 2009). The Court's job is to assess whether the plaintiff's complaint, along with any attached exhibits, is legally sufficient to state a claim for which relief may be granted. Smith, 561 F.2d at 1098.

         In this case, the Court ordered the Kansas Department of Corrections to file a Martinez report. For purposes of a motion to dismiss, any factual allegations contained in the Martinez report that conflict with Plaintiff's factual allegations cannot be considered by the Court.

         V. Discussion

         A. Mootness of claim for injunctive relief

         Defendants argue that the primary relief Plaintiff requested in his complaint was an injunction ordering his transfer to an out of state prison. Since Plaintiff has received the requested transfer, his claim is moot. The Court agrees. Plaintiff's claim for injunctive relief became moot when he was transferred to a facility in Missouri, and that claim must be dismissed. See ...


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