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Miller v. Felt

United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Texarkana Division

July 12, 2016

MELTON LEE MILLER, Plaintiff,
v.
JOHN FELT; SANDRA DAUZAT; And ASHLEY VAIL, Defendants.

          Melton Lee Miller, Plaintiff, Pro Se.

          John Felt, Defendant, represented by Gary L. Sullivan, Arkansas Attorney General's Office.

          Ashley Vail, Defendant, represented by Gary L. Sullivan, Arkansas Attorney General's Office.

          REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION OF THE MAGISTRATE JUDGE

          BARRY A. BRYANT, Magistrate Judge.

         Plaintiff Melton Lee Miller originally submitted this pro se action for filing on September 8, 2015. ECF No. 1. Pursuant to the provisions of 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1) and (3)(2014), the Honorable Susan O. Hickey, United States District Judge, referred this case to the undersigned for the purpose of making a Report and Recommendation.

         The case is before me on a Motion to Dismiss (ECF No. 16) filed by Defendants John Felts and Ashley Vailes[1]. Plaintiff has filed a Response and a Supplement to Response (ECF Nos. 19, 20).

         BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff is currently an inmate of the Arkansas Department of Correction - Wrightsville Unit in Wrightsville, Arkansas. ECF No. 18. Defendant John Felts is the Chairman of the Arkansas Board of Parole. Defendant Ashley Vailes is an Administrative Law Judge at the Arkansas Board of Parole. Plaintiff alleges his constitutional rights were violated because the documents relating to his parole revocation had his first name misspelled by one letter ("Milton" instead of "Melton") and he was denied the right to confront the witnesses against him at his parole hearing. ECF No. 1. Pre-service, this Court dismissed Plaintiff's claim regarding the spelling of his name for failure to state a claim, leaving only his claim he was denied the right to confront witnesses for resolution. ECF No. 10.

         Defendants Felts and Vailes have moved to dismiss the case against them on the following grounds: (1) Plaintiff has failed to state a constitutional claim for which relief can be granted under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12 (b)(6); (2) Defendants are entitled to absolute immunity from suit; (3) Defendants are entitled to qualified immunity; and (4) Plaintiff's claims are barred by Heck v. Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477 (1994). Defendants also assert that a dismissal in this matter should be counted as a "strike" for purposes of 28 U.S.C. § 1915 (g).

         APPLICABLE LAW

         Fed. R. Civ. P. 12 (b)(6) provides that a motion to dismiss should be granted on a plaintiff's claim if he "fail[s] to state a claim upon which relief can be granted." A complaint should be dismissed for failure to state a claim if it appears beyond a doubt the plaintiff's complaint can prove no set of facts to support the plaintiff's purported cause of action. Schaller Tel. Co. v. Golden Sky Sys., Inc., 298 F.3d 736, 740 (8th Cir. 2001). In determining whether to dismiss this action under Rule 12 (b)(6), the Court will assume the facts alleged in Plaintiff's Complaint are correct and will draw reasonable inferences from the facts in favor of the allegations in the Complaint. Turner v. Holbrook, 278 F.3d 754, 757 (8th Cir. 2002); In re Navarre Corp. Sec. Litig., 299 F.3d 735, 738 (8th Cir. 2002).

         In order to state a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, a plaintiff must allege that the defendant acted under color of state law and that he violated a right secured by the Constitution. West v. Atkins, 487 U.S. 42 (1988); Dunham v. Wadley, 195 F.3d 1007, 1009 (8th Cir.1999). The deprivation must be intentional; mere negligence will not suffice to state a claim for deprivation of a constitutional right under § 1983. Daniels v. Williams, 474 U.S. 327 (1986); Davidson v. Cannon, 474 U.S. 344 (1986).

         DISCUSSION

         The facts set forth in Plaintiff's Complaint do not support any plausible cause of action for relief under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. According to Plaintiff, his parole was revoked on July 9, 2015 and Defendant Vailes was the presiding judge during the hearing. ECF No. 1. Plaintiff's only remaining claim - that he was not permitted to confront witnesses against him - is directly related to his parole hearing and decision. It is well settled that inmates do not have a constitutionally protected ...


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