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Rice v. Turner

United States District Court, N.D. Ohio, Eastern Division

June 21, 2018

ANDRE D. RICE, Plaintiff,
v.
WARDEN NEIL TURNER, et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OF OPINION AND ORDER [RESOLVING ECF NO. 8]

          BENITA Y. PEARSON UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Pro se Plaintiff Andre D. Rice filed a 331-paragraph Complaint asserting claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff names three groups of Defendants. First, He names as Defendants the following officials at the North Central Correctional Complex (NCCC): Warden Neil Turner, Deputy Warden of Operations Taggered Boyd, Education Administrator David Creader, Librarian Ms. McKinna, Case Manager James Webb, Institutional Inspector L. Shuler, Unit Manager Shelly Curry, Notary Ms. Donahue, Sergeant Elliott, Rules Infraction Board Member Sergeant Rushing, Rules Infraction Board Member Sergeant Seville, Corrections Officer Spellman, Corrections Officer Spielman, and Security Threat Group (“STG”) Coordinator Mr. Walton. Second, he names as Defendants the following officials at Trumbull Correctional Institution (“TCI”): Deputy Warden of Operations Bowen, STG Coordinator Lieutenant Black, Principal Mr. Liztenburger, Librarian D. Filkorn, and Institutional Inspector Frederick. Finally, Plaintiff names as Defendants Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction (“ODRC”) Director Gary Mohr and Assistant Chief Inspector Kelly Reichle. In his Complaint (ECF No. 1), Plaintiff alleges he was unfairly labeled as a gang member, causing his security classification to be increased. He contends Defendants did not properly supervise the officers who engaged in these actions, or improperly responded to his grievances. He seeks monetary relief.

         Plaintiff filed a Motion for Leave to Amend the Complaint (ECF No. 8) on February 5, 2018. His proposed Amended Complaint is actually a proposed supplemental pleading and pertains to an incident completely unrelated to any of the incidents described in the Complaint. Furthermore, it is directed primarily at a person who is not named as a Defendant, either in this action or in the supplemental pleading. Given that the Complaint already contains 331 paragraphs, describing incidents occurring over a two-year period of time, the Court denies his request for leave to add another incident to the pleading. Because it is unrelated to any events described in this action, Plaintiff can file another action against the individuals against whom he intends to bring those claims. His Motion for Leave to Amend Complaint (ECF No. 8) is denied.

         I. Background

         A. North Central Correctional Complex

         Plaintiff alleges that on July 28, 2015, he was in the NCCC Law library and overheard Librarian McKinna speaking to another inmate about printing Sovereign Citizen documents. Plaintiff expressed interest in the documents to the other inmate and the inmate allowed Plaintiff to review them. Plaintiff then approached McKinna and asked if he could get a set of the documents. McKinna indicated Plaintiff would have to pay for printing, and he agreed to the terms.

         With the documents in his possession, Plaintiff went to one of the word processors in the law library and began to complete the documents. The library has posted a rule that word processors are only to be used to complete document pertaining to litigation. Plaintiff describes the Sovereign Citizen documents as business-type documents. He indicates he completed his rough draft of the documents by the middle of November 2015. He also indicates McKinna watched him work on the documents in the library. The word processors were closed down in December 2015 for security review. When they were available again, Plaintiff logged in and discovered his documents had been deleted. He asked why this had occurred, and McKinna informed him it was because they were not court litigation documents. McKinna issued a conduct report for him on December 23, 2015- the actual charge on the conduct report is not stated in the pleading. Sergeant Elliott called him into his office, read the report to him, and asked for his plea. Plaintiff pled guilty and Elliott imposed extra duty hours to be completed by the end of the year. Corrections Officer Spillman[1] signed off, acknowledging Plaintiff had completed the additional work.

         On January 13, 2016, Case Manager Webb issued Plaintiff a second conduct report pertaining to the Sovereign Citizen documents. This report charged him with participating in or associating with an unauthorized group. Prior to his conduct hearing, Corrections Officer Speilman came to his cell and told him to pack up his belongings for segregation. Plaintiff contends this proves the result was predetermined. He also contends he was not provided the full 48 hours notice prior to the hearing to allow him to call witnesses. He states the investigation into his conduct was not done correctly because he should have gone directly to segregation during the investigation, not after the finding of guilt. Plaintiff was found guilty of the charges. He was given a fourteen-day security review and moved to segregation.

         In segregation, STG Coordinator Walton came to his cell to do a gang profile. Plaintiff indicates he was told he could refuse to participate and did. He later learned that Case Manager Webb had indicated he had done a security review at the same time and designated Plaintiff as a passive member of an STG. He raised Plaintiff's security classification level from a 1A to a 3B. Unit Manager Curry approved it. Plaintiff protested the increase, claiming he was denied due process, but the designation was upheld.

         Plaintiff also indicates he informed Unit Manager Curry and Case Manager Webb of the final hearing in his divorce case. He needed to have a notary present. The complaint does not allege what other services Plaintiff required of the prison. Although he reminded them several times, no one showed up for the hearing on the date and time it occurred. Curry called the domestic relations court and spoke to the bailiff. She explained that Plaintiff missed his court date because he was in segregation, which Plaintiff claims was not true. He learned the case had been dismissed for failure to prosecute. Plaintiff asked several times to speak to his attorney. He claims Unit Manager Curry and Sergeant Elliott would not facilitate this call. He contends he was denied access to the courts and his Sixth Amendment right to counsel.

         Plaintiff states he was moved from segregation to another cell on February 5, 2016. The heat in that cell was not functioning properly, causing it to feel abnormally cold. He complained to corrections officers and received extra blankets but nothing was done to move him to a different cell or fix the heat. Plaintiff contends the temperatures were so cold that he could not sleep at night. He complained to a captain on February 10, 2016 and was moved to another cell.

         Plaintiff alleges Institutional Inspector Shuler came to the segregation unit and demanded to know where he was. He indicates she yelled at him for filing numerous grievances.

         Plaintiff asserts numerous claims against the NCCC Defendants. He contends McKinna committed libel and defamation for not admitting that she gave him the Sovereign Citizen documents or that she watched him prepare them. He asserts Webb subjected him to Double Jeopardy for charging him with STG conduct pertaining to the Sovereign Citizen documents when he had already been sanctioned for possessing them. He asserts he was denied access to the courts and his Sixth Amendment right to counsel when Curry, Webb, Donahue, and Elliott did not facilitate his call or make notary services available for his final divorce hearing. He claims he was denied due process and equal protection in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment and was unreasonably seized in violation of the Fourth Amendment when he was sanctioned for being a passive member of an STG. He claims he was placed in a cold cell in retaliation for grievances he filed. Finally, Plaintiff contends he suffered cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the Eighth Amendment.

         B. Trumbull ...


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