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Batson v. Kelley

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

January 24, 2018

CHRISTOPHER BATSON, PLAINTIFF
v.
WENDY KELLEY, et al. DEFENDANTS

          RECOMMENDED DISPOSITION

         I. Procedure for Filing Objections

         This Recommended Disposition (“Recommendation”) has been sent to Judge J. Leon Holmes. 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 Holmes can adopt this Recommendation without independently reviewing the record. By not objecting, you may also waive any right to appeal questions of fact.

         II. Discussion

         A. Background

         Javon Sanders, an Arkansas Department of Correction (“ADC”) inmate, filed this civil rights lawsuit on behalf of himself and Christopher Batson. (Docket entry #1) They allege that the ADC's failure to pay inmates adequate compensation for prison work assignments violates: the Fifth, Thirteenth, and Fifteenth Amendments; the United Nations International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights; the International Declaration of Human Rights; and the Sherman Act. They explain that they are bringing this lawsuit under Bivens v. Six Unknown Agents, 91 S.Ct. 1999 (1971). They sue thirteen individuals in their official capacities only. They seek both monetary damages and injunctive relief. The Court Clerk severed this case into two separate lawsuits.

         The Court recently dismissed Mr. Sanders's complaint based on his failure to state a constitutional claim. Sanders v. Kelley, E.D. Ark. No. 5:17-306-JLH-BD (Jan. 17, 2018). For the same reasons, the Court recommends that Mr. Batson's claims be DISMISSED.

         B. Screening

         The Prison Litigation Reform Act (“PLRA”) requires federal courts to screen prisoner complaints seeking relief against a governmental entity, officer, or employee. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a). The Court must dismiss a complaint or any part of the complaint where the prisoner has raised claims that are legally frivolous or malicious; that fail to state a claim upon which relief may be granted; or that seek monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from paying damages. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b).

         Unfortunately for Mr. Batson, “[t]here is no constitutional right to prison wages and any such compensation is by grace of the state.” Hrbek v. Farrier, 787 F.2d 414, 416 (8th Cir. 1986) (citing Sigler v. Lowrie, 404 F.2d 659, 661 (8th Cir. 1968)).

         Mr. Batson also claims that the Defendants violated the United Nations International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (“ICCPR”), an international treaty to which the United States is a party. The Court is unaware of any “judicial decision authorizing a private right of action under the ICCPR.” Ralk v. Lincoln County, 81 F.Supp.2d 1372 (S.D. Ga. 2000).

         Likewise, Mr. Batson's claim that Defendants violated the International Declaration of Human Rights fails for the same reason. Sosa v. Alvarez-Machain, 542 U.S. 692, 734-35 (2004) (the Universal Declaration of Human Rights does not provide a private right of action in federal courts).

         Furthermore, Mr. Batson should not be allowed to proceed on his claim under the Sherman Act. He claims that the Defendants violated the Sherman Act by “maintaining an illegal price scheme by requiring prisoners at [] several institutions of the ADC to work for no equitable remuneration to produce food and dairy products at its facilities.” (#1 at p.35) He explains that “[a]s a result of these practices, it is undermining and prohibiting the competitive bidding for sales of food and dairy products to the ADC by private corporations.” (Id. at p.36) His claim, however, is not well taken.

To bring a federal antitrust claim, a private plaintiff must demonstrate that he has suffered an “antitrust injury” as a result of the alleged conduct of the defendants. An “antitrust injury” is an “injury of the type the antitrust laws were intended to prevent . . ...

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