United States District Court, W.D. North Carolina, Asheville Division
KARL L. COVINGTON, JR., Plaintiff,
KENNETH E. LASSITER, et al., Defendants.
D. WHITNEY CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
MATTER comes before the Court on a Motion to Dismiss
by Defendants, (Doc. No. 21). Also pending before this Court
is a Motion for Preliminary Injunction/TRO filed by
Plaintiff. (Doc. No. 8).
Plaintiff Karl L. Covington, Jr., a North Carolina prisoner
incarcerated at Lanesboro Correctional Institution in
Polkton, North Carolina, filed this action on December 1,
2016, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, naming the following
persons as Defendants: (1) Kenneth E. Lassiter, identified as
the “overseer” of the “RDU” program
for the North Carolina Department of Public Safety
(“NCDPS”); (2) Christian Crawford, identified as
the Superintendent of programs at Marion Correctional
Institution; and (3) Keith Turner, identified as a Unit
Manager at Marion. (Doc. No. 1 at 3). Plaintiff alleges a
violation of his Fourteenth Amendment due process rights
stemming from his commitment to the “Rehabilitative
Diversion Unit” (“RDU”)
Program while he was incarcerated at Marion
Correctional Institution. (Doc. No. 1). Plaintiff alleges the
On 5-10-16 I was transferred to Marion C.I. for the RDU
Program . . . . Upon arrival the rules were explained as well
as the reason for my enrollment in the RDU program. On
5-18-16 I wrote a letter/grievance [to] Mr. Lassiter who is
the program overseer as well as a grievance to Mr. Turner the
unit manager of my unit.
On 5-31-16, Mr. Kenneth Lassiter forward a response through
Mr. Christian Crawford . . . and we had a verbal discussion.
The conversation was that the RDU program is a restrictive
housing for control purposes program and the plaintiff is
enrolled due to his past disciplinary history. And on 6-1-16
the procedural due process to enroll plaintiff in program
will be started soon.
On 6-1-16, as Mr. Kenneth Lassiter/Christian Crawford said I
received a notification of the recommended disciplinary
disposition and my first classification hearing out of two.
The facility classification is the first classification
hearing where they judge on what action is necessary and
either deny or agree or overturn it with another decision. .
. . The facility classification board is not final it is just
the first step. The actual hearing for FCC was on 6-6-16.
When they recommended Max/I-Con/ RHCP (which is a control
status and restrictive housing).
On 6-3-16 as of the defendant unit manager Turner
acknowledged Plaintiff's letter he sent a policy on RDU
explaining that RDU is a program in adherence with conditions
of confinement. . . .
On 6-6-16 at the FCC hearing the taken by authority
classification was overturned to RDU. . . . After FCC
overturned the initial disposition on 6-1-16 they continued
the procedural due process on to the DCA .....
On 6-14-16 I was notified of my DCA final disposition hearing
. . . not for Max/I-Con/RHCP but for RDU.
On 6-20-16 at the final disposition classification hearing I
was enrolled in the RDU program.
On 8-30-16 Plaintiff received his most recent incarceration
summary, . . . show[ing] Plaintiff is not on restrictive
housing for control purposes. It also shows Plaintiff is on
general population inmate which proves that the control
status Max/Icon/RHCP that was overturned on 6-1-16 . . . and
the RDU status that the defendants say is a confined or
restrictive housing for control purposes program is not the
case. So basically the RDU program is violating the
Plaintiff's 14th Amendment right because the procedural
due process disposition was overturned but was still enforced
under a disguised RDU program status.
(Id. at 3-7). Plaintiff also alleges that he is
entitled to be classified as having general population
status, but that the RDU program is “really another
solitary confined program.” (Doc. No. 4 at 2).
Plaintiff alleges that his “rights were violated due to
being placed on disciplinary solitary confinement after the
classification board denied disciplinary control
status.” (Id.). As relief, Plaintiff seeks
“injunctive relief as well as a declaratory judgment to
be released from the RDU program and transferred to Maury
C.I. and relieved of the disciplinary program.”
(Id. at 4).
December 5, 2016, this Court ordered Plaintiff to provide
documentation related to his inmate trust account and to
document the exhaustion of his administrative remedies. (Doc.
No. 3). On December 13, 2016, Plaintiff filed a document
indicating that he had not exhausted his administrative
remedies. (Doc. No. 6). On August 4, 2017, Defendants
Lassiter, Crawford, and Turner filed the pending motion to
dismiss, asserting that (1) Plaintiff failed to exhaust his
administrative remedies, (2) the Complaint fails to state a
claim against them, (3) they are entitled to qualified
immunity, and (4) they enjoy Eleventh Amendment sovereign
immunity from damages to the extent that Plaintiff has sued
them in their official capacities. (Doc. No. 21). On August
16, 2017, this Court received notice from Plaintiff that he