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JACKSON v. NORRIS

October 3, 1990

RAYMOND O. JACKSON
v.
STEPHEN H. NORRIS, ET AL.


John T. Nixon, United States District Judge.


The opinion of the court was delivered by: NIXON

JOHN T. NIXON, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

 The Court is in receipt of the Report and Recommendation issued by the Magistrate regarding the defendants' motions for summary judgment, and the plaintiff's objections to the Report and Recommendation.

 FACTS

 The plaintiff Raymond Jackson, an inmate at the DeBerry Correctional Institute (Deberry), filed this suit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 alleging that his legal mail had been opened outside his presence on several occasions and that this action deprived him of access to the courts in violation of the First and Fourteenth Amendments. Jackson alleges eight separate instances in which his mail was handled improperly.

 The plaintiff sued Commissioner of Corrections Stephen Norris, Warden Michael Dutton, and mailroom clerk Michael Kendrick. The plaintiff claims that Commissioner Norris and Warden Dutton failed to respond to a grievance that he filed regarding the alleged problems with his mail, that Dutton failed to respond to a letter he wrote about his mail, and that both Norris and Dutton failed to adequately train the prison staff in the proper handling of inmate mail.

 The Court referred the case to the Magistrate for consideration of its malicious or frivolous nature under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(d) and the Magistrate, determining that it was not frivolous, ordered the defendants to respond. The defendants then filed a motion for summary judgment, *fn1" which the Magistrate recommended should be granted. This Court issued an order on April 20, 1989 adopting the recommendation and dismissing the case, which was subsequently reversed by the Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. Jackson v. Norris, 883 F.2d 75 (6th Cir. 1989). The defendants then made motions for summary judgment on different grounds, which the Court referred to the Magistrate for consideration.

 DISCUSSION

 I. The Law of the Case

 The Magistrate stated in the Report and Recommendation that the law of the case doctrine requires denial of the defendants' motions for summary judgment, because the Court of Appeals held in its order of August 16, 1989 that summary judgment is inappropriate in this action. This Court does not adopt that finding, however, because the earlier motions were based on different grounds than the presently pending motions, and it does not appear to this Court that the Sixth Circuit meant that summary judgment could not be granted on any of the issues in the case. *fn2" This interpretation is supported by the language of the Sixth Circuit's order, which states:

 
Because the grounds upon which the district court chose to grant summary judgment were incorrect, we vacate the order of the district court and remand the case for further proceedings.

 Jackson v. Norris, 883 F.2d 75, slip opinion at 3 (emphasis added). Accordingly, the Court will consider the merits of the issues raised in the defendants' motions for summary judgment.

 Rule 56(c) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides that summary judgment may be granted "if the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law."

 In Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 106 S. Ct. 2505, 91 L. Ed. 2d 202 (1986), the U.S. Supreme Court explained the District Court's function in ruling upon a motion for summary judgment:

 
By its very terms, [the Rule 56(c)] standard provides that the mere existence of some alleged actual dispute between the parties will not defeat an otherwise properly supported motion for summary judgment; the ...

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