United States District Court, E.D. Arkansas, Eastern Division
Kristine G. Baker United States District Judge
Darnell Payton, an Arkansas Department of Correction
(“ADC”) inmate, filed this lawsuit pro
se pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Before the Court
are two Partial Recommended Dispositions submitted by United
States Magistrate Judge Beth Deere (Dkt. Nos. 5, 21).
Plaintiff Mr. Payton filed objections to both Partial
Recommended Dispositions (Dkt. Nos. 6, 24). After careful
review of the Partial Recommended Dispositions, a de
novo review of the record, and a review of the
objections, the Court adopts the Partial Recommended
Dispositions as its findings in all respects (Dkt. Nos. 5,
The First Partial Recommended Disposition
Deere recommends the dismissal of Mr. Payton's
retaliation claims because Mr. Payton does not allege that he
engaged in any constitutionally protected activity. See
Lewis v. Jacks, 486 F.3d 1025, 1028 (8th Cir. 2007)
(noting that, to allege a retaliation claim, plaintiff must
allege that he or she engaged in protected activity). The
Court agrees that Mr. Payton's original complaint fails
to state a claim for retaliation, and the Court therefore
dismisses Mr. Payton's retaliation claims.
Deere also recommends the dismissal without prejudice of Mr.
Payton's claims against law library staff member Roebuck,
grievance officer Taylor Bridney, and Chaplain Bishop Thomas.
The Court agrees that Mr. Payton's original complaint
fails to allege any facts explaining how those individuals
violated his constitutional rights. Accordingly, the Court
dismisses without prejudice Mr. Payton's claims against
Mr. Roebuck, Ms. Bridney, and Mr. Thomas.
The Second Partial Recommended Disposition
Judge Deere's initial Partial Recommended Disposition,
defendants moved to dismiss Mr. Payton's deliberate
indifference claims (Dkt. No. 14). Mr. Payton responded to
the motion, which Judge Deere construed as an amended
complaint (Dkt. No. 19). Judge Deere then denied
defendants' motion to dismiss as moot (Dkt. No. 20).
After screening Mr. Payton's claims under the Due Process
and Equal Protection Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment as
set forth in his amended complaint, Judge Deere issued a
second Partial Recommended Disposition in which she
recommends that Mr. Payton's due process and equal
protection claims be dismissed without prejudice (Dkt. No.
Deere recommends dismissal without prejudice of Mr.
Payton's due process claims because he failed to allege
that his conditions of confinement rise to the level of a
denial of a protected liberty interest (Dkt. No. 21, at 2-3).
In his objection, Mr. Payton argues that his removal from a
prison program without explanation rises to the level of a
denial of a liberty interest (Dkt. No. 24, at 6). Mr. Payton
also argues that his due process rights have been violated
because he has become addicted to synthetic marijuana while
incarcerated (Id., at 7). He further argues that his
due process rights have been violated by being placed in
administrative segregation (Id., at 11). After
reviewing Mr. Payton's amended complaint and his
objections to Judge Deere's second Partial Recommended
Disposition, the Court concludes that Mr. Payton has failed
to state due process violation claims for which relief may be
allege a colorable claim under the Due Process Clause of the
Fourteenth Amendment, Mr. Payton must allege conditions that
“constitute an atypical and significant hardship in
relation to the ordinary incidents of prison life so as to
give rise to a constitutionally protected liberty
interest.” Sanchez v. Earls, 532 Fed.Appx.
577, 579 (8th Cir. 2013) (citations omitted). The Due Process
Clause 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.
Lomholt v. Holder, 287 F.3d 683, 684 (8th Cir.
2002); see Allen v. Purkett, 5 F.3d 1151, 1153 (8th
Cir. 1993) (per curiam) (holding prisoner has no
constitutional right to a particular housing unit). With
respect to Mr. Payton's due process claims, while the
Court acknowledges Mr. Payton's claims that drug use is
rampant in the ADC's facilities, the Court concludes that
this conclusory allegation fails to allege that any of the
conditions of his confinement constitute an atypical and
significant hardship in relation to the ordinary incidents of
Deere also recommends dismissal without prejudice of Mr.
Payton's equal protection claims (Dkt. No. 21-3). In his
objection, Mr. Payton argues that the ADC's Brinkley Unit
environment contains the drug synthetic marijuana (Dkt. No.
24, at 8). Mr. Payton states that other inmates who have been
caught under the influence of synthetic marijuana have been
“locked up” for their own safety, and he argues
that he was denied similar treatment (Id.). Mr.
Payton also argues that other inmates who are “a threat
to [themselves] or others” are placed in “safe
and secure environments . . . under direct watch . . .
.” (Id., at 9). Mr. Payton alleges that he
sought a place to be secured and that he “was treated
differently and unequally.” (Id., at 9). The
Court concludes that Mr. Payton has failed to allege that he
“was treated differently than similarly situated
inmates.” Sanchez, 534 Fed.Appx. at 579
(citing Patel v. U.S. Bureau of Prisons, 515 F.3d
807, 815 (8th Cir. 2008). While Mr. Payton has alleged how
other inmates have been treated differently-by being placed
under direct watch or segregation-he has not alleged how
those inmates are similarly situated to him. Instead, Mr.
Payton has alleged that he is addicted to synthetic marijuana
and has been denied his requests for administrative
segregation; he does not allege that any other individuals
who are addicted to such substances and situated similarly to
him have received different treatment. Accordingly, the Court
concludes that Mr. Payton has failed to allege that he was
treated differently than similarly situated inmates, and the
Court therefore dismisses without prejudice his equal
Judge Deere recommends dismissal without prejudice of Mr.
Payton's claims under the Universal Declaration of Human
Rights (Dkt. No. 21, at 3). The Court agrees, as the
Universal Declaration of Human Rights does not provide a
right of action in federal court. Sosa v.
Alvarez-Machain, 542 U.S. 692, 734-35 (2004). The Court
therefore dismisses without prejudice Mr. Payton's claims
under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
therefore ordered that:
Court adopts the Partial Recommended Dispositions as its