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Hampton v. Gilmore

United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Terre Haute Division

February 27, 2017

KEVIN GILMORE Asst. Super., GATLIN FERRO Aramark Food Supervisor, LOIS CARDINAL L Dorm CC4 Counselor, Defendants.


          Hon. Jane Magnus-Stinson, Chief Judge

         Plaintiff Edward Hampton brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging that his constitutional rights were violated while he was incarcerated at the Wabash Valley Correctional Facility (“Wabash Valley”). Hampton alleges that the defendants retaliated against him in violation of his First Amendment and due process rights. Hampton moves for summary judgment on his claims and the defendants have filed cross motions.[1] For the following reasons, Hampton's motion for summary judgment [dkt 50] is denied and the defendants' motions for summary judgment are granted.

         I. Statement of Facts

         Hampton's motion for summary judgment and the cross-motions relate to his claim that his removal from his prison job was the product of retaliation against him for filing lawsuits. The following statement of facts, therefore, is considered to be true for purposes of Hampton's motion and the defendants' cross-motions for summary judgment.

         Hampton filed the complaint for cause number 2:15-cv-00135 against Wabash Valley Superintendent Bruce Lemmon and Unit Team Manager Kevin Hunter on May 14, 2015. Hampton started working in the production kitchen at Wabash Valley on June 25, 2015.[2] Hampton's tasks included washing pots and pans, unloading trucks, washing cart trucks, and working on the D-Line to make food trays. During this time, defendant Gatlin Ferro was an employee of Aramark Correctional Services, LLC, (“Aramark”) working as the food services director in the food production kitchen at Wabash Valley. While Aramark provides food services to the prison, the inmates are not employees of Aramark. They are assigned to work in the kitchen areas by the Indiana Department of Correction (“IDOC”) and Aramark works with the IDOC once this assignment is made.

         While working in the production kitchen, Hampton was observed engaging in several activities that were below expectations. These activities included sleeping while he was supposed to be working, not wearing a beard guard, and generally not working. Because of Hampton's poor performance while working in the production kitchen, Ferro made a reclassification request. The classification request was made to the IDOC using State Form 3380R. [Dkt. 64-4.] This evaluation reported that Hampton required too much supervision, failed to show initiative, exhibited a negative influence on others, and that his disinterest in the position help up the production line. Ferro cannot reclassify an inmate out of the kitchen on his own, but was required to make a request for reclassification. The reclassification request is then either accepted or rejected.

         Hampton never had any contact with Ferro and never spoke to him prior to the reclassification request, other than saying hello or receiving instructions on what to do at work. He never had any altercations or complications with Ferro until the day he was removed from his job. When Ferro made the reclassification request, he had no knowledge of any lawsuits Hampton had filed. He had never discussed any other lawsuits Hampton had filed with anyone, including Hampton.

         On July 22, 2015, Wabash Valley Case Worker Lori Cardinal submitted the form “Report of Classification Hearing” to Jennifer Davis, a Classification Case Worker at Wabash Valley. The report stated that, due to the work evaluation completed by Ferro, Cardinal recommended Hampton be re-classified out of his position and into Idle No Pay or “INP” status. Jennifer Davis approved the reclassification decision on July 23, 2015. As a result, Hampton was transferred to another dormitory in general population and placed on Idle No Pay status for 90 days. Idle No Pay meant that Hampton was not eligible for another job until the 90 days had lapsed On July 22, 2015, Cardinal informed Hampton that he could appeal the decision. Hampton requested to keep his job until her recommendation was ruled upon and the appeal decided, but Cardinal denied this request. Hampton informed Cardinal that he believed the decision violated his rights because he had not been granted the opportunity to challenge the decision through an adversarial hearing. Hampton's only conversation about his prior litigation with Cardinal was when he first began his job, when she stated that she had heard that he had filed lawsuits. He had no other conversation with Cardinal about his prior lawsuit.

         On July 24, 2015, Hampton completed and submitted a classification appeal challenging his removal from his job. The appeal was delivered to Wabash Valley Assistant Superintendent Kevin Gilmore, whose job it is to review and decide classification appeals. Gilmore determined that there was no reason to reverse the classification decision and denied the classification appeal on July 29, 2015. Hampton's only other communication with Gilmore was to request in writing that his 90-day placement on Idle No Pay be waived or vacated. Hampton learned this request had been denied secondhand through a counselor. This news led Hampton to believe that the decision to remove him must be the product of retaliation for his prior lawsuits.[3] He has also testified that this reclassification was the product of “either retaliation or incompetence.” Hampton believes that Gilmore has knowledge of the earlier suit by virtue of his position at Wabash Valley.

         Hampton's removal from his job did not result in the loss of any earned good time credit, nor did it otherwise cause an extension of his sentence.

         II. Summary Judgment Standard

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(a) provides that summary judgment is appropriate “if the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” In ruling on a motion for summary judgment, the admissible evidence presented by the non-moving party must be believed and all reasonable inferences must be drawn in the non-movant's favor. Hemsworth v., Inc., 476 F.3d 487, 490 (7th Cir. 2007); Zerante v. DeLuca, 555 F.3d 582, 584 (7th Cir. 2009) (“We view the record in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party and draw all reasonable inferences in that party's favor.”). However, “[a] party who bears the burden of proof on a particular issue may not rest on its pleadings, but must affirmatively demonstrate, by specific factual allegations, that there is a genuine issue of material fact that requires trial.” Hemsworth, 476 F.3d at 490. Finally, the non-moving party bears the burden of specifically identifying the relevant evidence of record, and “the court is not required to scour the record in search of evidence to defeat a motion for summary judgment.” Ritchie v. Glidden Co., 242 F.3d 713, 723 (7th Cir. 2001). Even though the parties have filed cross motions for summary judgment, the general standards for summary judgment do not change: with “cross summary judgment motions, we construe all facts and inferences therefrom ‘in favor of the party against whom the motion under consideration is made.'” In re United Air Lines, Inc., 453 F.3d 463, 468 (7th Cir. 2006) (quoting Kort v. Diversified Collection Services, Inc., 394 F.3d 530, 536 (7th Cir. 2005)).

         III. Discussion

         Hampton argues that he is entitled to summary judgment because the defendants violated his due process rights when they removed him from his prison job and that the defendants removed him from his prison job in retaliation for filing lawsuits. The defendants respond and move for summary judgment arguing that there is no cognizable procedural due process claim based on the asserted ...

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