United States District Court, E.D. Arkansas, Eastern Division
JOHN E. PREVOST, II ADC #144749 PLAINTIFF
MOSES JACKSON, III, et al., DEFENDANTS
Kristine G. Baker United States District Judge
Court has received Proposed Findings and Recommendations
submitted by United States Magistrate Judge Joe J. Volpe
(Dkt. No. 31). While no objections have been filed, and the
time for filing objections has passed, the Court notes that
plaintiff John Prevost filed a response to the motion for
summary judgment two days after Judge Volpe filed the
Proposed Findings and Recommendations. The Court declines to
construe Mr. Prevost's response as an objection to the
Proposed Findings and Recommendations, but the Court will
briefly discuss how Mr. Prevost's response does not
convince the Court to decline the Proposed Findings and
Prevost has not disputed any of the facts included in
defendants' statement of undisputed material facts, and
the Court therefore treats those facts as admitted by Mr.
Prevost (Dkt. No. 29). Mr. Prevost has, however, attached
eight exhibits to his response (Dkt. No. 32). The first is
Arkansas Department of Corrections (“ADC”)
Administrative Directive 13-55, which governs assignments to
field duty work assignment (Dkt. No. 32, at 6). The second
exhibit is grievance number EA-16-00912, in which Mr. Prevost
asserts that he was called to work on Saturday, which is
prohibited by his religion (Id., at 7). The third
exhibit is a response from an ADC official stating that Mr.
Prevost would not be required to work on Saturdays
(Id., at 8). The fourth exhibit is a
“WARDEN/CENTER SUPERVISOR'S DECISION” that
states that Mr. Prevost's complaint had been resolved
(Id., at 9). The fifth exhibit is a portion of the
declaration of separate defendant Gaylon Lay, in which he
states that he removed Mr. Prevost from kitchen duty and sent
him to the Classification Committee when he learned that Mr.
Prevost had been called into work on a Saturday (Dkt. No. 32,
at 10). The sixth exhibit is grievance number EA-16-01661, in
which Mr. Prevost complained that he had not yet been seen by
the Classification Committee (Id., at 11). The
seventh exhibit includes a statement by a prison official
that Mr. Prevost was reassigned by the Classification
Committee on December 20, 2016 (Id., at 12).
Finally, the eighth exhibit is a copy of Administrative
Directive 16-27, which governs the classification of ADC
inmates (Id., at 15).
these exhibits raise a genuine dispute as to any material
fact. First, the Court agrees with Judge Volpe that Mr.
Prevost's official capacity claims under 42 U.S.C. §
1983 for monetary damages against defendants are barred by
the Eleventh Amendment. See Will v. Mich. Dep't of
State Police, 491 U.S. 58, 71 (1989) (holding that a
suit against a state official in his or her official capacity
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) (holding that Arkansas has not waived
its Eleventh Amendment immunity).
the Court agrees with Judge Volpe that Mr. Prevost's
claims for declaratory and injunctive relief are moot, as it
is undisputed that Mr. Prevost has been reassigned from field
duty to another job, and he has not alleged any future wrongs
that he is likely to suffer at defendants' hands. See
Martin v. Sargent, 780 F.2d 1334, 1337 (8th Cir. 1985)
(holding that when a prisoner is no longer subject to the
conditions complained of and has not shown any real or
immediate threat of being wrong again, claims for injunctive
relief are moot, and there is no standing to seek declaratory
Mr. Prevost's claims against defendants in their personal
capacities, the Court also agrees with Judge Volpe that
defendants are entitled to summary judgment on those claims.
The record evidence construed in the light most favorable to
Mr. Prevost do not establish a violation of his
constitutional rights. As a result, defendants are entitled
to qualified immunity on Mr. Prevost's claims against
them in their personal capacities. First, separate defendant
Moses Jackson is entitled to summary judgment because Mr.
Prevost's claims against him are based solely upon his
position as Deputy Warden. See Boyd v. Knox, 47 F.3d
966, 968 (8th Cir. 1995) (holding that there is no
respondeat superior liability under § 1983).
the Court agrees that no reasonable juror could conclude that
defendants violated Mr. Prevost's rights under the Eighth
Amendment, as there is no evidence that any of defendants
“kn[ew] of and disregard[ed] an excessive risk to
inmate health or safety.” Farmer v. Brennan,
511 U.S. 825, 837 (1994).
the Court agrees with Judge Volpe that, based upon the
undisputed record evidence, no reasonable juror could
conclude that Mr. Prevost's due process rights under the
Fourteenth Amendment were violated. The undisputed facts show
that Mr. Prevost was transferred out of the kitchen to field
work without being presented to the Classification Committee,
which Mr. Prevost argues was a violation of Administrative
Directive 16-27. The Due Process Clause, however, does not
protect prisoners from every adverse change in their
confinement and does not, itself, create a protected liberty
interest in any particular prison classification or job
assignment. Lomholt v. Holder, 287 F.3d 683, 684
(8th Cir. 2002). To the extent Mr. Prevost alleges that
defendants violated Administrative Directive 16-27 by
transferring Mr. Prevost to field work without consulting the
Classification Committee, the Court notes that “there
is no § 1983 liability for violating prison
policy.” Gardner v. Howard, 109 F.3d 427, 430
(8th Cir. 1997); see Phillips v. Norris, 320 F.3d
844, 847 (8th Cir. 2003) (holding that prisoners do not have
a due process right to enforce compliance with internal
prison rules or regulations). Accordingly, taking the
undisputed record evidence in the light most favorable to Mr.
Prevost, no reasonable juror could conclude that defendants
violated Mr. Prevost's due process rights under the
the Court agrees with Judge Volpe that summary judgment as a
matter of law is appropriate on Mr. Prevost's First
Amendment retaliation claim. There is no record evidence that
Mr. Prevost's transfer to field duty was done in
retaliation for Mr. Prevost's request to not work on
Saturdays. Indeed, the declaration of Mr. Lay, which is
presented by Mr. Prevost, states that “[i]nmate kitchen
duty requires Saturday duty because the kitchen does not
close at the prison for weekends or holidays.” (Dkt.
No. 32, at 13). There is no other record evidence that raises
the inference that the job transfer was done in retaliation
for Mr. Prevost's exercise of his First Amendment rights.
Even taking the record evidence in the light most favorable
to Mr. Prevost, the Court concludes that no reasonable juror
could conclude that defendants' transfer of Mr.
Prevost's work assignment was done to retaliate against
Mr. Prevost for the exercise of his First Amendment rights.
the Court agrees with Judge Volpe that summary judgment as a
matter of law is appropriate as to Mr. Prevost's First
Amendment free exercise claim. There are four factors that
must be considered when evaluating whether a prison
regulation impermissibly infringes on a constitutional right:
(1) whether there is a “valid rational
connection” between the prison regulation and the
government interest justifying it; (2) whether there is an
alterative means available to the prisoner to exercise the
right; (3) whether an accommodation would have “a
significant ‘ripple effect'” on the guards,
other inmates, and prison resources; and (4) whether there is
an alternative that fully accommodates the prisoner “at
de minimus cost to valid penological interests.”
Murphy v. Mo. Dep't of Corr., 372 F.3d 979,
982-83 (8th Cir. 2004) (quoting Turner v. Safley,
482 U.S. 78, 90-91 (1987)). First, the Court concludes that
there was a valid rational connection between defendants'
decision to assign Mr. Prevost to field duty given that
record evidence indicates that the prison kitchen must remain
open on Saturdays. Second, there is no record evidence that
an alternative assignment in the kitchen would have allowed
Mr. Prevost to continue exercising his religious rights.
Third, there is undisputed record evidence that the kitchen
where Mr. Prevost worked had to be open on Saturdays, which
suggests that accommodating Mr. Prevost by allowing him to
remain at the kitchen would have had a ripple effect on other
kitchen workers and on those who relied upon the
kitchen's services. Fourth, the undisputed record
evidence is that Mr. Prevost's religious rights were
fully accommodated by transferring him to field work.
Accordingly, construing the record evidence in the light most
favorable to Mr. Prevost, the Court concludes that no
reasonable juror could conclude that defendants violated Mr.
Prevost's First Amendment rights.
therefore ordered that:
Court adopts the Proposed Findings and Recommendations as its