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Lewis v. Kelley

United States District Court, E.D. Arkansas, Pine Bluff Division

October 2, 2017

ARRON MICHAEL LEWIS, ADC #151373 PLAINTIFF
v.
WENDY KELLEY, et al. DEFENDANTS

          RECOMMENDED DISPOSITION

         I. Procedure for Filing Objections

         This Recommended Disposition (“Recommendation”) has been sent to Judge James M. Moody Jr. You may file written objections to this Recommendation. If you file objections, they must be specific and must include the factual or legal basis for your objection. Your objections must be received in the office of the United States District Court Clerk within fourteen (14) days of this Recommendation.

         If no objections are filed, Judge Moody can adopt this Recommendation without independently reviewing the record. By not objecting, you may also waive any right to appeal questions of fact.

         II. Background

         Arron Michael Lewis, an Arkansas Department of Correction (“ADC”) inmate, filed this lawsuit without the help of a lawyer under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. He claims that the Defendants violated his first amendment rights by retaliating against him. (Docket entry #1) He seeks monetary damages, as well as unspecified injunctive relief.

         Defendants have moved for summary judgment on Mr. Lewis's claims against them. (#27) Mr. Lewis has responded to the motion, and it is ripe for decision. (#43, #44)

         III. Discussion

         A. Standard

         Summary judgment is appropriate only when the evidence, viewed in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party, shows that there is no real dispute about the facts that are important to the outcome of the case. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56; Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322-23, 106 S.Ct. 2548 (1986); Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 246 (1986). As moving parties, the Defendants bear the burden of producing admissible evidence showing that there is no real dispute. If they offer such evidence, Mr. Lewis is obligated to meet evidence with evidence if he is to avoid summary judgment.

         B. Factual History

         On April 24, 2016, Mr. Lewis called the Prison Rape Elimination Act (“PREA”) hotline to report that he had observed an inmate in cell 378 masturbating while an ADC officer watched. He claimed that the inmate stuck his penis through the food trap of the cell door, which had been left open.

         Surveillance video footage of the barracks that includes cell 378 on the date and time Mr. Lewis identified in his PREA hotline report were preserved. Defendant Stephens reviewed the video footage and determined that the food trap to cell 378 was not open and that no ADC officer was standing outside of that cell at the time in question. Because Mr. Lewis made a false report to the PREA hotline, Defendant Stephens charged him with the following rule violations: unauthorized use of mail/phone; failure to obey order of staff; lying to a staff members; and unauthorized use of state property. At the disciplinary hearing, Defendant Banister found Mr. Lewis guilty of all charges based on Defendant Stephens's statement. As a result of the disciplinary conviction, Mr. Lewis's classification was reduced to Level IV.

         C. Sovereign Immunity

         Mr. Lewis's claims for money damages from the Defendants in their official capacities are barred by sovereign immunity. A civil litigant cannot recover money damages from state actors sued in their official capacities. Will v. Michigan Dep't of State Police, 491 U.S. 58 (1989). ...


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