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Ancar v. Robertson

United States District Court, M.D. Louisiana

May 9, 2019

ALLEN ANCAR #299054
v.
RANDALL ROBERTSON, ET AL.

          NOTICE

          RICHARD L. BOURGEOIS, JR. UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         Please take notice that the attached Magistrate Judge's Report has been filed with the Clerk of the United States District Court.

         In accordance with 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1), you have fourteen (14) days after being served with the attached Report to file written objections to the proposed findings of fact, conclusions of law and recommendations therein. Failure to file written objections to the proposed findings, conclusions, and recommendations within 14 days after being served will bar you, except upon grounds of plain error, from attacking on appeal the unobjected-to proposed factual findings and legal conclusions of the Magistrate Judge which have been accepted by the District Court.

         ABSOLUTELY NO EXTENSION OF TIME SHALL BE GRANTED TO FILE WRITTEN OBJECTIONS TO THE MAGISTRATE JUDGE'S REPORT.

         MAGISTRATE JUDGE'S REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

         This matter comes before the Court on the Motion for Summary Judgment filed on behalf of defendants Randall Robertson and William Folk (R. Doc. 49). The Motion is opposed. See R. Doc. 58.

         The pro se plaintiff, an inmate incarcerated at the Louisiana State Penitentiary (“LSP”), Angola, Louisiana, filed this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against Col. Randall Robertson, Officer William Folk, and former legal programs director Trish Foster complaining that his constitutional rights have been violated due to the defendants' retaliation for filing a grievance regarding alleged unconstitutional conditions of confinement.[1]

         Defendants Robertson and Folk move for summary judgment relying upon the pleadings, a Statement of Undisputed Facts, and copies of a May 5, 2017 Disciplinary Board Hearing Report, LSP Directive No. 18.002, and ARP No. LSP-2017-1493 Input Report. The plaintiff opposes the Motion relying upon the pleadings, a Statement of Undisputed and Disputed Facts, the declarations of Tory Boatner, Arthur Lewis, and Brandon Earls, the plaintiff's own declaration, results of the plaintiff's internal review board hearing, and a copy of L.A.C. Title 22 § 325, Part I. Corrections.

         Pursuant to well-established legal principles, summary judgment is appropriate where there is no genuine disputed issue as to any material fact, and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Rule 56, Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317 (1986); Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242 (1986). A party moving for summary judgment must inform the Court of the basis for the motion and identify those portions of the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories and admissions on file, together with affidavits, if any, that show that there is no such genuine issue of material fact. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, supra, 477 U.S. at 323. If the moving party carries its burden of proof under Rule 56, the opposing party must direct the Court's attention to specific evidence in the record which demonstrates that the non-moving party can satisfy a reasonable jury that it is entitled to a verdict in its favor. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., supra, 477 U.S. at 248. This burden is not satisfied by some metaphysical doubt as to alleged material facts, by unsworn and unsubstantiated assertions, by conclusory allegations, or by a mere scintilla of evidence. Little v. Liquid Air Corp., 37 F.3d 1069, 1075 (5th Cir. 1994). Rather, Rule 56 mandates that summary judgment be entered against a party who fails to make a showing sufficient to establish the existence of an element essential to that party's case and on which that party will bear the burden of proof at trial. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, supra, 477 U.S. at 323. Summary judgment is appropriate in any case where the evidence is so weak or tenuous on essential facts that the evidence could not support a judgment in favor of the non-moving party. Little v. Liquid Air Corp., supra, 37 F.3d at 1075. In resolving a motion for summary judgment, the Court must review the facts and inferences in the light most favorable to the non-moving party, and the Court may not evaluate the credibility of witnesses, weigh the evidence, or resolve factual disputes. International Shortstop, Inc. v. Rally's, Inc., 939 F.2d 1257, 1263 (5th Cir. 1991).

         In his Complaint, the plaintiff alleges the following with regards to defendants Robertson and Folk: On April 5, 2017 he submitted a form to defendant Folk, a classification officer, requesting a change in work assignment. On April 10, 2017, the plaintiff filed a grievance regarding alleged unconstitutional conditions of confinement, which included claims made against Assistant Warden Ray Vittorio. The plaintiff's request for a change in work assignment was denied on May 31, 2017 for lack of eligibility due to rule violations which occurred on May 5, 2017.

         Defendant Robertson is Assistant Warden Vittorio's designee for reviewing and approving requests for changes in work assignments. Defendants Folk and Robertson colluded to delay processing the plaintiff's job change form, until the plaintiff committed a rule violation, in retaliation for the plaintiff's filing of a grievance against Assistant Warden Vittorio.

         Defendants Robertson and Folk assert, inter alia, that they are entitled to qualified immunity in connection with the plaintiff's claim. Specifically, the moving defendants contend that the plaintiff's allegations and evidentiary showing fail to show the existence of a genuine issue of disputed fact relative to any alleged violation of the plaintiff's constitutional rights.

         The qualified immunity defense is a familiar one and, employing a two-step process, operates to protect public officials who are performing discretionary tasks. Huff v. Crites, 473 Fed.Appx. 398 (5th Cir. 2012). As enunciated in Saucier v. Katz, 533 U.S. 194 (2001), the first step in the analysis is to consider whether, taking the facts as alleged in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, the defendant's conduct violated the plaintiff's constitutional rights. Id. at 201. Second, the district court looks to whether the rights allegedly violated were clearly established. Id. This inquiry, the Court stated, is undertaken in light of the specific context of the case, not as a broad, general proposition. Id. The relevant, dispositive inquiry in determining whether a constitutional right was clearly established is whether it would have been clear to a reasonable state official that his conduct was unlawful in the situation which he confronted. Id. at 202. The assertion of the qualified immunity defense alters the summary judgment burden of proof. Michalik v. Hermann, 422 F.3d 252, 262 (5th Cir. 2005). Once a defendant pleads qualified immunity, the burden shifts to the plaintiff, who “must rebut the defense by establishing that the official's allegedly wrongful conduct violated clearly established law and that genuine issues of material fact exist regarding the reasonableness of the official's conduct.” Gates v. Texas Department of Protective and Regulatory Services, 537 F.3d 404, 419 (5th Cir. 2008), citing Michalik v. Hermann, supra, 422 F.3d at 262.[2]

         Undertaking the qualified immunity analysis with respect to the plaintiff's claim for retaliation asserted against defendants Robertson and Folk, the Court finds that motion for summary judgment should be granted. Specifically, the Court finds that the plaintiff has failed to provide competent summary judgment evidence showing ...


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