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Pendleton v. Hinte

United States District Court, S.D. West Virginia

March 27, 2019

RICKY VINCENT PENDLETON, Plaintiff,
v.
KELLI HINTE, SHERRIE SNYDER, and CHERYL CHANDLER, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          JOHN T. COPENHAVER, JR. SENIOR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Pending is the defendants' supplemental motion to dismiss plaintiff's amended complaint, [1] filed August 17, 2016. This action was previously referred to the Honorable Dwane L. Tinsley, United States Magistrate Judge, for submission to the court of his Proposed Findings and Recommendation (“PF&R”) for disposition pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B).

         I. Background

         Plaintiff Ricky Vincent Pendleton is an African-American prisoner incarcerated at the Mount Olive Correctional Complex (“Mount Olive”). On August 13, 2014, plaintiff was placed in punitive segregation for violating prison rules, namely, an encounter with Officer Erin Linville and possessing contraband consisting of a pair of Department of Corrections issued sweatpants and shorts which had been altered to add pockets contrary to prison rules. See Defs.' Mem. Supp. Mot. Dismiss, ECF No. 23-1, at 9-10.

         The plaintiff was charged with compromising Officer Erin Linville, who stated that the plaintiff “Asked me if I were nervous, this is prison after all” and told her “You don't need to be worried, not while I'm around.” Id. at 10. The plaintiff had also been placed in punitive segregation in 2012 for compromising an employee of Mount Olive, Susan Trent. Id. at 11.

         As stated by the defendants in their original memorandum in support of their motion to dismiss, “punitive segregation is for one or two months and it is a punishment for an inmate's violation of a prison disciplinary rule.” ECF No. 24, at 1 n.1.

         Also on August 13, 2014, Officer Janiszewski interviewed the plaintiff about an allegation that he had been “involved” with a female correctional officer, Delta Butler. As a part of that investigation, Officer Boggs seized an incoming letter from “Rebecca Hart” in the mailroom, and Officer Janiszewski seized another letter in the plaintiff's possession that was addressed to “Rebecca Hart.”

         Seven weeks later, on October 1, 2014, the

         Administrative Segregation Committee (“Committee”), comprised of defendants Kelli Hinte, Sherrie Snyder and Cheryl Chandler, presided over plaintiff's administrative segregation hearing to determine whether the plaintiff should be assigned to administrative segregation upon his completion of the punitive segregation sanction for prison rule violations. ECF No. 8, at 5.

         Administrative segregation differs from punitive segregation in that administrative segregation “inmates are the most serious institutional security and public risk within the Division of Corrections.” Admin. Segregation Policy Directive, ECF No. 73-1, at 13. “An inmate who is serving sixty (60) days Punitive Segregation will be reviewed by the Administrative Segregation Committee within twenty-one (21) days prior to their Punitive Segregation release. If placed on Administrative Segregation, the remainder of the inmate's Punitive Segregation sentence shall become null and void.” Id. at 15. The Committee bases its decision to recommend administrative segregation upon the preponderance of available information or evidence, such as:

(a) A record of disciplinary rule violations . . . which shows a pattern or tendency of behavior, which is . . . threatening to the inmates, staff, self, or the public.
(b) Information from staff or other inmates indicating that the inmate has engaged in or plans to engage in activities which may be a threat to the public, staff, self, or other inmates . . . .
* * *
(d) Specific information showing that the inmate is involved in any behavior that disrupts the safe, secure operation of the ...

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