United States District Court, E.D. North Carolina, Western Division
LOUISE W. FLANAGAN, District Judge.
This matter comes before the court on the motion to dismiss (DE 24) pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) filed by defendants Security Threat Group ("STG") Coordinator Larry Dunston ("Dunston"), Chief Deputy Secretary for Adult Correction Jennie Lancaster ("Lancaster"), Director of Prisons Robert C. Lewis ("Lewis"), and Secretary of the Department of Public Safety ("DPS") Reuben F. Young ("Young"). The issues raised have been fully briefed and are ripe for adjudication. For the following reasons, the court denies defendant's motion.
STATEMENT OF THE CASE
Plaintiff filed this action pro se pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 on May 9, 2012. Following the court's order of investigation directing North Carolina Prisoner Legal Services ("NCPLS") to investigate plaintiff's action, NCPLS agreed to provide plaintiff representation.
On April 4, 2013, NCPLS filed an amended complaint alleging two claims. Plaintiff first alleged that he is subject to an indefinite detention in solitary confinement as a result of the policies and procedures set forth and enforced by defendants Young, Lancaster, Lewis, and Dunston in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution. Second, plaintiff alleges that the conditions in solitary confinement are atypical and significant in relation to the ordinary incidents of prison life and violate the Eighth Amendment to the United States Constitution. As relief, plaintiff seeks declaratory and injunctive relief against all defendants and compensatory and punitive damages against defendants Dunston and Lewis.
On April 16, 2013, defendants filed a motion to dismiss, arguing that plaintiff failed to state a claim upon which relief may be granted. The motion was fully briefed.
STATEMENT OF FACTS
On January 22, 2012, while plaintiff, a state inmate, was housed in regular population at Bertie Correctional Institution ("Bertie"), a fight occurred in plaintiff's unit. Am. Compl. ¶¶ 12, 39. Plaintiff was not involved with the fight and did not receive a disciplinary infraction. Id . ¶¶ 39, 42. However, two days later, plaintiff was transferred to administrative segregation (solitary confinement) at Bertie. Id . ¶ 45. Lieutenant Biggs, the STG officer at Bertie, visited plaintiff in segregation and assured him that once the investigation into the fight was complete, plaintiff would be released from segregation. Id . ¶ 46.
On February 6, 2012, plaintiff received a notice that recommended he stay on administrative segregation "pending investigation." Id . ¶ 47. Two days later, plaintiff received a notice captioned: "Notice of Action Taken by Classification Authority." The summary of evidence portion on the form stated "[a]gree with additional 45 days on Adm. Seg. pending an investigation." Id . ¶ 48. On February 28, 2012, plaintiff received a notice of hearing which stated that he was being recommended for High Security Maximum Control ("H-Con) status. Id . ¶ 49. The notice also stated that plaintiff was to appear before the Facility Classification Committee ("FCC") on or after March 2, 2012. Id.
Plaintiff subsequently appeared at the FCC hearing. Id . ¶ 52. However, plaintiff was not reasonably informed of the reasons he was being considered for H-Con and was not confronted with any information indicating that placement in H-Con was necessary. Id . On March 6, 2012, plaintiff received a second notice of action taken by the FCC, which stated: "FCC with recommendation for placement on H-Con housing." Id . ¶ 53. On the same day, he received a second notice of hearing indicating that he was being recommended for H-Con and that he would appear before the Director's Classification Committee ("DCC"). Id.
Plaintiff, thereafter, attended the DCC hearing via video conference. Id . ¶ 57. The DPS official appearing through video conference stated that based on what she heard about plaintiff, she was sending him to H-Con. Id . Plaintiff was not confronted with any relevant information indicating placement in H-Con was necessary. Id . Plaintiff then received a third Notice of Action, stating that he was being continued on H-Con. Id . ¶ 58. On March 19, 2012, plaintiff was sent to the H-Con unit at Polk Correctional Institution in Butner, North Carolina. Id . ¶ 60.
On July 16, 2012, plaintiff received notice that a hearing would be held on August 7, 2012. Id . ¶ 79. On the same date, plaintiff also received a Notice of Action taken by the classification authority which stated: "Agree/Disagree with continuation of H-Con." Id . No summary of evidence was provided, and "Agree" was circled and "Disagree" was crossed out. Id . Plaintiff chose not to attend the hearing because he already had been recommended for continuation on H-Con. Id . ¶ 80.
On October 17, 2012, plaintiff received a new notice of hearing for October 22, 2012. Id . ¶ 83. The hearing subsequently was re-scheduled for November 27, 2012. Id . ¶ 84. Plaintiff simultaneously was notified that the classification authority had agreed with his continuation on H-Con status. Id . ¶¶ 84-85. Plaintiff states that DPS was considering promoting plaintiff to M-Con status on the date the amended complaint was filed. Id . ¶ 91.
Prior to being placed in segregation, plaintiff was housed in regular population at Bertie. Id . ¶ 12. As a regular population inmate, plaintiff was permitted to move about Bertie, to leave his housing unit, to participate in outdoor recreation, and to participate in religious services. Id . ¶¶ 14, 16, ...