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Hansler v. Kelley

United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Hot Springs Division

November 13, 2018

MICHAEL HANSLER, PLAINTIFF
v.
WENDY KELLEY (Director, ADC), DEXTER PAYNE (Deputy Director ADC), MS. FAUST (Ouachita River Unit (ORU) Warden), TERRIE DYER (ORU Mailroom Officer), CHAPLAIN N. GILLION[1] (ORU Chaplain), G. MUSSLEWHITE (ORU Deputy Warden), KING (ORU Captain), BENNETT (ORU Corporal), CRYSTAL R. LITTLETON (Grievance Office), DEPUTY WARDEN ANTHONY JACKSON, MAILROOM SUPERVISOR SUE ALFORD, DEFENDANTS

          ORDER

          P. K. HOLMES, III, CHIEF U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE

         Plaintiff proceeds in this matter pro se and in forma pauperis pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Currently before the Court is Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment. (ECF No. 58.).

         I. BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff filed his Complaint on August 31, 2016. (ECF No. 1). Plaintiff is a member of the Wiccan religion and alleges his constitutional rights under the First and Fourteenth Amendments, as well as his rights under the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA), were violated while incarcerated at the Arkansas Department of Correction (“ADC”) Ouachita River Unit. (“ORU”). Specifically, he alleges the denial and confiscation of his Wiccan Bible and Book of Grimoires, the lack of paid Wiccan religious leaders on staff with the ADC, and the requirement that an approved volunteer supervise Wiccan religious services violate his constitutional rights. (Id. at 5-36). Plaintiff also alleges that these violations are the “direct result” of Ark Code. § 16-123-401. (Id. at 9).

         On January 11, 2017, Defendants Bennett, Faust, Gillion, Kelley King, Musselwhite, and Payne filed a Motion to Dismiss for Failure to State a Claim. (ECF No. 12). On August 27, 2017, the Court entered an Order granting in part and denying in part the Motion to Dismiss. (ECF No. 27). Plaintiff's official capacity prospective injunctive relief claims concerning his Wiccan Bible and Book of Grimoires, RLUIPA and First Amendment Free Expression Claims regarding his Wiccan Bible and Book of Grimoires, and his Fourteenth Amendment Due Process Claim regarding his Book of Grimoires remained for further consideration. Review of Plaintiff's Ark. Code § 16-123-401 claim was deferred pending consideration of his federal claims. (Id. at 23-25).

         On December 21, 2017, the Court entered an Order granting Plaintiff's Motion to add Defendant Littleton, Vent and Jackson as Defendants in the case in place of the previous John and Jane Doe ORU Publication Review Committee Defendants. (ECF No. 41). On April 13, 2018, the Court entered an Order adding Defendants Dyer and Alford in place of the Jane Doe ORU Mailroom Officer Defendant. (ECF No. 54).

         On June 29, 2018, Defendants filed the current Motion for Summary Judgment. (ECF No. 58). On July 2, 2018, the Court entered an Order directing Plaintiff to respond to the Motion, which he did on August 20, 2018. (ECF Nos. 64, 67-69).

         Defendants argue they are entitled to summary judgment in this case because: 1) Plaintiff's claims for injunctive relief against Defendants Faust, Jackson, Gillion, Musselwhite, King, Bennett, Littleton, Dyer, and Alford are now moot; 2) Plaintiff failed to establish any violation of his constitutional rights, or rights under RLUIPA; and 3) Defendant are entitled to qualified immunity because Plaintiff failed to establish any violations of his constitutional rights or rights under RLUIPA. (ECF No. 58 at 1-2). Defendants further argue that because they are entitled to summary judgment, the Court should decline to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over Plaintiff's Ark. Code § 16-123-401 claim. (Id. at 2).

         II. LEGAL STANDARD

         Summary judgment is appropriate if, after viewing the facts and all reasonable inferences in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party, Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986), the record "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). "Once a party moving for summary judgment has made a sufficient showing, the burden rests with the non-moving party to set forth specific facts, by affidavit or other evidence, showing that a genuine issue of material fact exists.” National Bank of Commerce v. Dow Chemical Co., 165 F.3d 602, 607 (8th Cir. 1999).

         The non-moving party "must do more than simply show that there is some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts." Matsushita, 475 U.S. at 586. "They must show there is sufficient evidence to support a jury verdict in their favor." National Bank, 165 F.3d at 607 (citing Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 249 (1986)). "A case founded on speculation or suspicion is insufficient to survive a motion for summary judgment." Id. (citing, Metge v. Baehler, 762 F.2d 621, 625 (8th Cir. 1985)). “When opposing parties tell two different stories, one of which is blatantly contradicted by the record, so that no reasonable jury could believe it, a court should not adopt that version of the facts for purposes of ruling on a motion for summary judgment.” Scott v. Harris, 550 U.S. 372, 380 (2007).

         III. ANALYSIS

         A. Official Capacity Claims for Prospective Injunctive Relief Against Ouachita River Unit Employees Faust, Jackson, Gillion, Musselwhite, King, Bennett, Vent, Littleton, Dyer and Alford

          Plaintiff filed his Complaint while he was incarcerated in the ADC Ouachita River Unit and his allegations concerned issues which occurred within the Ouachita River Unit. (ECF No. 1 at 2). On October 19, 2017, he was transferred to the ADC Varner Unit. Defendants Faust, Jackson, Gilliom, Musselwhite, King, Bennett, Vent, Littleton, Dyer and Alford are employed at the Ouachita River Unit. Their power and authority to act is thus limited to the Ouachita River Unit. (ECF No. 59 at 11). Plaintiff's transfer to the Varner Unit therefore rendered his Complaint and request for prospective injunctive relief against these Defendants moot. See Smith v. Hundley, 190 F.3d 852, 855 (8th Cir. 1999) (holding an inmate's First Amendment claims regarding denial of items to perform religious practices moot once he was transferred from one state penitentiary facility to another state penitentiary facility). See also Martin v. Sargent,780 F.2d 1334, 1337 (8th Cir. 1985) (holding an inmate's claims regarding prison conditions were moot once the inmate was transferred and no longer subject to those ...


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