United States District Court, M.D. Tennessee, Nashville Division
RONNIE QUENTIN BROWN, Plaintiff, No. 415080
BRUCE WESTBROOKS,, Defendants.
order and memorandum entered on May 5, 2017, the court
granted the pro se plaintiff's application to
proceed in forma pauperis and dismissed this action,
finding that the complaint failed to state a claim under 42
U.S.C. § 1983 upon which relief could be granted against
any named defendant. (Docket Nos. 8 and 9). More
particularly, the court found that the plaintiff's claims
for monetary damages against the defendants in their official
capacities are barred by the Eleventh Amendment; the
plaintiff's claims based on any defendant's failure
to respond to the plaintiff's grievances do not state a
claim upon which relief can be granted; and the
plaintiff's due process claims fail as a matter of law.
(Docket No. 8 at pp. 3-5).
plaintiff now has filed a pro se “Motion for
Reconsideration” (Docket No. 13) of the court's
prior order and memorandum in which he essentially asks the
court to reconsider its decision to dismiss his case.
there is no federal procedural rule permitting a
“motion for reconsideration, ” the court
construes the plaintiff's filing (Docket No. 13) as a
motion to alter or amend judgment under Rule 59(e), Fed.
R. Civ. P. Motions to alter or amend judgment may be
granted if there is a clear error of law, newly discovered
evidence, an intervening change in controlling law, or to
prevent manifest injustice. GenCorp, Inc. v. American
Int'l Underwriters, 178 F.3d 804, 834
court has considered the plaintiff's arguments and
reviewed all relevant material in the record, including the
plaintiff's previously filed “motion to be able to
amend the civil case if new or unfound evidence comes
about.” (Docket No. 5). The plaintiff's motion
sought permission from the court to amend his complaint
“if” he found “new evidence”; the
plaintiff did not seek to amend his complaint to add claims
based on newly discovered evidence or even to add different
theories than those theories the plaintiff presented in his
original complaint. Even now the plaintiff does not seek to
amend his original complaint to add new allegations based on
newly discovered evidence. The court cannot issue advisory
opinions. See United Pub. Workers of Am. (C.I.O.) v.
Mitchell, 330 U.S. 75, 89, 67 S.Ct. 556, 91 L.Ed. 754
(1947). In other words, the court cannot rule on matters that
are not presently pending before the court. The court
screened the plaintiff's complaint as submitted pursuant
to the Prison Litigation Reform Act.
plaintiff does not allege that there has been an intervening
change in controlling law that would require the court to
revisit its analysis. Instead, he first insists that his
complaint should not be dismissed because he does not have
“full time access” to a law library or to legal
advice. (Docket No. 13 at p. 1). While in administrative
segregation, the plaintiff has access to a law library and to
a legal aid; even though he believes it is a
“hardship” to wait a week to receive case law or
“to fill out request forms to see a legal aid, ”
the plaintiff does not claim that he lacks access to the
court. (Id.) The plaintiff's complaint was
timely filed and legible, and the court understood the
plaintiff's allegations. The court dismissed the
plaintiff's claims because his allegations, even if all
true, did not state claims upon which relief could be granted
under federal law.
the plaintiff asserts that the court erred in dismissing his
due process claims. (Id. at pp. 2-9). With regard to
these claims, the court explained in its prior memorandum
[t]he filing of false disciplinary charges against an inmate
does not constitute a constitutional violation redressable
under § 1983. Person v. Campbell, No. 98-5638,
1999 WL 454819, at *1 (6th Cir. June 21,
1999)(citation omitted). A prison disciplinary proceeding
does not give rise to a protected liberty interest unless the
restrictions imposed constitute an “atypical and
significant hardship on the inmate in relation to the
ordinary incidents of prison life.” Sandin v.
Conner, 515 U.S. 472, 484 (1995). Confinement to
segregation, the loss of privileges, fines, and restitution
do not constitute an atypical and significant hardship in the
context of prison life. See Freeman v. Rideout, 808
F.2d 949, 951 (2d Cir.1986). See Upshaw v. Jones,
2015 WL 348626, at *4 (W.D. Tenn. Jan. 26, 2015)(finding no
violation of inmate's due process rights when corrections
officer assigned inmate to segregation as punishment prior to
inmate's disciplinary hearing).
(Docket No. 8 at pp. 4-5). In his motion to reconsider, the
plaintiff maintains that, because he “never received a
formal disciplinary charge, ” the court's analysis
falls short. According to the plaintiff, the Warden placed
the plaintiff on administrative segregation based on the
investigation by and the false report of Andrew Brown.
(Docket No. 13 at p. 2). In other words, the Warden moved the
plaintiff to segregation during the investigation of a
disciplinary incident that could have resulted in
disciplinary charges against the plaintiff and a subsequent
disciplinary hearing on those charges.
court explained previously, an inmate does not have a liberty
interest in a particular security classification or in
freedom from segregation. Miller v. Campbell, 108
F.Supp.2d 960, 963 (W.D. Tenn. 2000)(citations omitted). The
Supreme Court long has held that the Due Process Clause does
not protect every change in the conditions of confinement
having an impact on a prisoner. See Meachum v. Fano,
427 U.S. 215, 225 (1976). In Sandin v. Conner, 515
U.S. 472, 484 (1995), the Court set forth the standard for
determining when a prisoner's loss of liberty implicates
a federally cognizable liberty interest protected by the Due
Process Clause. According to the Sandin Court, a
prisoner is entitled to the protections of due process only
when a deprivation “will inevitably affect the duration
of his sentence” or imposes an “atypical and
significant hardship on the inmate in relation to the
ordinary incidents of prison life.” Sandin,
515 U.S. at 486-87; see also Jones v. Baker, 155
F.3d 810, 812 (6th Cir. 1998); Rimmer-Bey v. Brown,
62 F.3d 789, 790-91 (6th Cir. 1995).
in administrative segregation “is the sort of
confinement that inmates should reasonably anticipate
receiving at some point in their incarceration.”
Hewitt v. Helms, 459 U.S. 460, 467-73 (1983). Thus,
it is considered atypical and significant only in
“extreme circumstances.” Joseph v.
Curtin, 410 Fed.Appx. 865, 868 (6th Cir. 2010).
Generally, courts will consider the nature and duration of a
stay in segregation to determine whether it imposes an
“atypical and significant hardship.”
Harden-Bey v. Rutter, 524 F.3d 789, 794 (6th Cir.
2008). In Sandin, the Supreme Court concluded that
the segregation at issue in that case (disciplinary
segregation for 30 days) did not impose an atypical and
significant hardship. Sandin, 515 U.S. at 484.
Similarly, the Sixth Circuit has held that placement in
administrative segregation for a relatively short period of
time does not require the protections of due process.
Rimmer-Bey, 62 F.3d at 790-91; see Joseph v.
Curtin, 410 Fed.Appx. 865, 868 (6th Cir. 2010) (61 days
in segregation is not atypical and significant). The Sixth
Circuit also has held, in specific circumstances, that
confinement in segregation for a relatively long period of
time does not implicate a liberty interest. S ee, e.g.,
Baker, 155 F.3d at 812-23 (two years of segregation
while the inmate was investigated for the murder of a prison
guard in a riot); Mackey v. Dyke, 111 F.3d
460 (6th Cir. 1997) (one year of segregation following
convictions for possession of illegal contraband and assault,
including a 117-day delay in reclassification due to prison
crowding). But cf. Selby v. Caruso, 734 F.3d 554,
559 (6th Cir. 2013) (13 years of segregation implicates a
liberty interest); Harden-Bey, 524 F.3d at 795
(remanding to the district court to consider whether the
plaintiff's allegedly “indefinite” period of
segregation, i.e., three years without an
explanation from prison officials, implicates a liberty
interest); Harris v. Caruso, 465 Fed.Appx. 481, 484
(6th Cir. 2012) (eight years of segregation implicates a
liberty interest). Here, the plaintiff's allegations
pertaining to his segregation do not at this time rise to the
level of an atypical and significant hardship. The plaintiff
has failed to state a claim for violation of his Fourteenth
Amendment due process rights.
plaintiff further states that he did not receive written
notice of his change in placement or a due process hearing at
which he could challenge the accusations made against him
again, both of which are required by “policy
404.10(2)(c).” (Docket No. 13 at p. 2). He also states
that the defendants did not follow “policy
502.01.” (Id. at p. 5). While the court can
understand the frustration the plaintiff is experiencing, the
law states that alleged violations of facility policies are
not actionable under § 1983. See Upshaw, 2015
WL 348626, at *4; Levine v. Torvik, 986 F.2d 1505,
1515 (6th Cir. 1993), overruled in part on other
grounds by Thompson v. Keohane, 516 U.S. 99, 111
the plaintiff alleges that his placement in administrative
segregation deprives him of the opportunity to participate in
educational programs, subjects him to longer
“lock-in” times, restricts his contact with other
inmates, and subjects him to “extreme security measures
such as frequent cell and body searches.” (Docket No.
13 at pp. 2-3). The plaintiff claims these conditions
constitute “an atypical hardship.” However,
prisoners have no constitutionally cognizable right to
participate in rehabilitative or educational programs.
See Rhodes v. Chapman, 452 U.S. 337, 348 (1981);
Moody v. Daggett, 429 U.S. 78, 88 n.9 (1976);
Canterino v. Wilson, 869 F.2d 948, 952-54 (6th Cir.
1989); Kenner v. Martin, 648 F.2d 1080, 1081
(6th Cir. 1981)(per curiam); Carter
v. Corrs. Corp. of Am., No. 98-6336, 1999 WL 427352, at
*1 (6th Cir. June 15, 1999).
in segregation is a routine discomfort that is
“‘part of the penalty that criminal offenders pay
for their offenses against society.'” Hudson v.
McMillian, 503 U.S. 1, 9 (1992) (quoting Rhodes, 452
U.S. 337, 347 (1981)); see also Jones v. Waller, No.
98-5739, 1999 WL 313893, at *2 (6th Cir. May 4, 1999). The
plaintiff here has not alleged that he is being denied basic
human needs and requirements. The Sixth Circuit has held
that, without a showing that basic human needs were not met,
the denial of privileges as a result of administrative
segregation cannot ...