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Graham v. Bullock

United States District Court, W.D. North Carolina, Charlotte Division

June 23, 2015

JAMES GRAHAM, Plaintiff,
v.
GLENN BULLOCK, et al., Defendants.

ORDER

FRANK D. WHITNEY, Chief District Judge.

THIS MATTER comes before the Court on a Motion for Summary Judgment by Defendants Glenn Bullock, Jane Kahan, and Lawrence Parsons. (Doc. No. 21).

I. BACKGROUND

A. Procedural Background

Pro se Plaintiff James Graham is a prisoner of the State of North Carolina, currently incarcerated at Harnett Correctional Institution in Lillington, North Carolina. He is serving consecutive sentences totaling 26 years for three convictions for robbery with a dangerous weapon and one conviction for assault with a deadly weapon inflicting serious injury. Plaintiff filed this action on March 13, 2013, naming the following persons as Defendants: (1) Glenn Bullock, identified as a Unit Manager at Lanesboro Correctional Institution; (2) Lawrence Parsons, identified as the Assistant Superintendent for Custody/Operations III at Lanesboro; and (3) Jane Kahan, identified as a former Unit Manager and current Captain at Lanesboro. Plaintiff alleges that Defendants violated his First Amendment right to access the courts-specifically, his right to pursue his litigation in a conditions-of-confinement action he filed in the Eastern District of North Carolina-by depriving him of paper and pens to draft legal papers while he was incarcerated at Lanesboro. On October 8, 2013, Defendants filed their Answer. (Doc. No. 14). On September 8, 2014, the Court entered a scheduling order by which dispositive motions were due on or before January 18, 2015. (Doc. No. 17). On February 23, 2015, after receiving an extension of time, Defendants filed the pending motion for summary judgment. (Doc. No. 21). On April 21, 2015, this Court entered an order in accordance with Roseboro v. Garrison, 528 F.2d 309 (4th Cir. 1975), advising Plaintiff of the requirements for filing a response to the motion for summary judgment and of the manner in which evidence could be submitted to the Court. (Doc. No. 27). Plaintiff did not file a response to the summary judgment motion.[1]

B. Factual Background

1. The Summary Judgment Evidence

a. Plaintiff's Allegations

As noted, Plaintiff did not respond to the summary judgment motion, and the time to do so has passed. Therefore, the only materials presented by Plaintiff as to his claim are the allegations in his Complaint. Plaintiff alleges in the Complaint that he transferred to Lanesboro on April 10, 2011, and was housed on Anson Unit in "solitary confinement." (Doc. No. 1 at 4). Plaintiff further alleges that, at the time, he was involved as a plaintiff in "nonfrivolous litigation" challenging his conditions of confinement in an action filed in the Eastern District of North Carolina. (Id. at 4; 6). Plaintiff alleges that, upon his arrival at Lanesboro, he asked Defendants on multiple occasions, both verbally and in writing, to provide him with writing materials for his legal matters, but that they did not do so. Specifically, Plaintiff alleges that he sent a request for information to Defendant Parsons, the Assistant Superintendent, to ask him how he should request writing materials. (Id. at 4). Plaintiff contends that Defendant Parsons responded in writing that he should submit a request for writing materials to his Unit Manager. (Id. at 5). Plaintiff alleges that he submitted written requests for writing materials to Defendant Bullock, the Unit Manager, eighteen times in the following four months, but that he was never given any. (Id.). Plaintiff alleges that, during this same period, he requested writing materials from Defendant Bullock verbally in person on eight occasions, but that, despite Bullock's repeated commitment to provide them, Plaintiff never received any. (Id.).

Plaintiff further alleges that on August 24, 2011, he received a memorandum notifying him that Defendant Bullock would no longer be serving as the Unit Manager for Anson Unit and that the new Unit Manager was Defendant Kahan. (Id. at 5). Plaintiff contends that he requested writing materials from Defendant Kahan twenty-one times over the course of the next six months but never received any. (Id.). He alleges that Defendant Kahan either did not respond to his requests or told him that there were not paper, pens, or envelopes available. (Id.). Plaintiff alleges that during June through November 2011 he also wrote nine letters to Defendant Parsons, asking him to provide Plaintiff with writing materials or to order Defendants Bullock and Kahan to do so. (Id. at 6). Plaintiff alleges that he never received any response to any of these letters, nor were any writing materials provided. (Id.). Plaintiff asserts that, as a direct result of the failure of Defendants to provide him with writing materials, he was unable to respond to a pending motion for summary judgment in his conditions-of-confinement case in the Eastern District of North Carolina, and the motion was granted and the case dismissed.[2] (Id.). Plaintiff seeks "an injunction directing defendant Parsons to send a memo to Unit Managers on Solitary Confinement Units - Richmond and Anson - mandating that Indigent prisoners be given paper, pens, and envelopes to address legal matters upon request." (Id. at 4). He also seeks punitive and compensatory damages both in this action and in the conditions-of-confinement case that was dismissed. (Id.).

b. Defendants' Summary Judgment Materials

In support of their summary judgment motion, Defendants have offered the following evidence:

Plaintiff was transferred to the Anson Unit (a high-security segregation unit) at Lanesboro on April 10, 2011. At that time, Plaintiff had pending a single, federal lawsuit regarding conditions of confinement at another facility, in Graham v. Keller, 10-CT-3144 (E.D. N.C. ), filed in the Eastern District of North Carolina on August 3, 2010.[3] Plaintiff was transferred to Lanesboro on April 10, 2011. On April 15, 2011, Plaintiff filed with the Eastern District a notification of his change of address. ( Id., Doc. No. 22). On April 20, 2011, Plaintiff filed a second, identical notification of address change. ( Id., Doc. No. 23). On August 12, 2011, Defendant Bullock was transferred to another unit and Defendant Kahan assumed the role of Plaintiff's Unit Manager. See (Doc. No. 21-4 at ΒΆ 2: Amy Kahan Aff.). October 10, 2011, the defendants in the Eastern District of North Carolina action filed their motion for summary judgment and supporting materials. (Graham v. Keller, 10-CT-3144 (E.D. N.C. ), Doc. No. 32). On October 27, 2011, Plaintiff submitted a grievance complaining that Defendants Parsons and Bullock (but not Defendant Kahan) failed to provide him with "writing materials for legal matters." (Doc. No. 21-2 at 3: Def.'s Ex. B).

On December 21, 2011, Plaintiff's grievance was reviewed and considered resolved by the Inmate Grievance Review Board. (Id. at 1). On January 5, 2012, Plaintiff filed a motion for an extension of time in which to respond to the motion for summary judgment in the Eastern District action. (Graham v. Keller, 10-CT-3144 (E.D. N.C. ), Doc. No. 35). On February 3, 2012, the Eastern District granted the motion, and gave Plaintiff until February 12, 2012, to respond to the pending summary judgment motion in that court. ( Id., Doc. No. 36). On August 22, 2012, after seven months with no further communication from Plaintiff, the Eastern District court granted the defendants' motion for summary judgment and dismissed Plaintiff's action in that court. ( Id., Doc. No. 37). According to Defendants, while the Eastern District case was pending and Plaintiff was incarcerated at Lanesboro, he filed only three filings with the federal court, consisting of three total sheets of paper. Defendants further note that, despite Plaintiff's knowledge of the procedure by which he could ask for an extension in the pleading schedule (as evidenced by his having ...


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