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Scott v. Burl

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

February 5, 2018

DANNY BURL, Warden, Tucker Max Unit; et al. DEFENDANTS



         The following recommended disposition has been sent to United States District Judge J. Leon Holmes. Any party may serve and file written objections to this recommendation. Objections should be specific and should include the factual or legal basis for the objection. If the objection is to a factual finding, specifically identify that finding and the evidence that supports your objection. An original and one copy of your objections must be received in the office of the United States District Court Clerk no later than fourteen (14) days from the date of the findings and recommendations. The copy will be furnished to the opposing party. Failure to file timely objections may result in waiver of the right to appeal questions of fact.

         If you are objecting to the recommendation and also desire to submit new, different, or additional evidence, and to have a hearing for this purpose before the District Judge, you must, at the same time that you file your written objections, include the following:

1. Why the record made before the Magistrate Judge is inadequate.
2. Why the evidence proffered at the hearing (if such a hearing is granted) was not offered at the hearing before the Magistrate Judge.
3. The details of any testimony desired to be introduced at the new hearing in the form of an offer of proof, and a copy, or the original, of any documentary or other non-testimonial evidence desired to be introduced at the new hearing.

         From this submission, the District Judge will determine the necessity for an additional evidentiary hearing. Mail your objections and “Statement of Necessity” to:

Clerk, United States District Court Eastern District of Arkansas 600 West Capitol Avenue, Suite A149 Little Rock, AR 72201-3325



         Deverick Scott (“Plaintiff”), an inmate at the Varner Unit of the Arkansas Department of Correction (“ADC”), filed this action pro se and pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. (Doc. Nos. 2, 7.) He alleges Defendants violated his First, Fourth, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendment rights by their implementation and enforcement of punitive segregation policies.[1] (Doc. No. 7 at 20.) Specifically, he contends he was denied due process and made to suffer cruel and unusual punishment by having to serve consecutive thirty day periods in punitive segregation without adequate forty-eight hour relief in between. (Id.) Plaintiff seeks compensatory and punitive damages. (Id. at 24-26.)

         The remaining Defendants are Brown, [2] Watson, [3] Bundick, [4] Bolden, [5] Mark Stephens, Washington, [6] Wendy Kelley, Dale Reed, Moses Jackson, Grant Harris, and Ray Hobbs. They have filed a Motion for Summary Judgment, contending they are entitled to judgment as a matter of law on Plaintiff's claims. (Doc. No. 68.) Plaintiff has responded (Doc. No. 74), and this matter is now ripe for a decision. After careful review, and for the following reasons, I find summary judgment is appropriate and Plaintiff's claims should be DISMISSED.

         II. FACTS

         It is undisputed that Plaintiff has spent a significant amount of time in punitive segregation due to repeated rule violations. (Doc. No. 70 at 4-5.) According to Plaintiff's Amended Complaint, he was denied “adequate” forty-eight hour relief in between consecutive thirty day periods in punitive segregation starting in 2012.[7] (Doc. No. 7 at 7.) Specifically, he alleges he was not removed from his cell for one day during the forty-eight hour relief period and was denied access to news and media, access to his personal property, and full restoration of his commissary privileges, “making him physically still on punitive status for 32 days for 1 disciplinary.” (Id.) Plaintiff contends this caused him to suffer “emotional, mental injury of humiliation, anxiety, depression, and loss of sleep and being racially discriminated and prejudice[d] against.” (Id. at 21.)


         Under Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, summary judgment is proper “if the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). A party asserting that a fact cannot be or is genuinely disputed must support the assertion by citing to particular parts of materials in the record, “including depositions, documents, electronically stored information, affidavits or declarations, stipulations (including those made for purposes of the motion only), admissions, interrogatory answers, or other materials[.]” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(1)(A).

         When ruling on a motion for summary judgment, the court must view the evidence in a light most favorable to the nonmoving party. Naucke v. City of Park Hills, 284 F.3d 923, 927 (8th Cir. 2002). The nonmoving party may not rely on allegations or denials, but must demonstrate the existence of specific facts that create a genuine issue for trial. Mann v. Yarnell, 497 F.3d 822, 825 (8th Cir. 2007). The nonmoving party's allegations must be supported by sufficient probative evidence that would permit a finding in his favor on more than mere speculation, conjecture, or fantasy. Id. (citations omitted). A dispute is genuine if the evidence is such that it could cause a reasonable jury to return a verdict for either party; a fact is material if its resolution affects the outcome of the case. Othman v. City of Country Club Hills, 671 F.3d 672, 675 (8th Cir. 2012). Disputes that are not genuine or that are about facts that are not material will not preclude summary judgment. Sitzes v. City of West Memphis, Ark., 606 F.3d 461, 465 (8th Cir. 2010).

         IV. ANALYSIS

         A. Official Capacity Claims

         Plaintiff has sued Defendants in both their official and personal capacities. (Doc. No. 7 at 20.) He seeks only monetary damages. (Id. at 24-26.) Plaintiff's claims against Defendants in their official capacities are barred pursuant to the doctrine of sovereign immunity. See Will v. Mich. Dep't of State Police, 491 U.S. 58, 71 (1989) (a suit against a state official in his or her official capacity is not a suit against the official but rather a suit against the official's office and, as such, is no different from a suit against the state itself, which is barred by the Eleventh Amendment unless the state has waived its immunity); Burk v. Beene, 948 F.2d 489, 493-94 (8th Cir. 1991) (the State of Arkansas has not waived its Eleventh Amendment immunity). Accordingly, I recommend Plaintiff's official capacity claims against Defendants be dismissed.

         B. Personal ...

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