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Martin v. Duffy

United States Court of Appeals, Fourth Circuit

June 1, 2017

ANTHONY FRED MARTIN, Plaintiff - Appellant,
v.
SUSAN DUFFY, Defendant-Appellee.

          Argued: March 21, 2017

         Appeal from the United States District Court for the District of South Carolina, at Florence. David C. Norton, District Judge. (4:15-cv-04947-DCN)

         ARGUED:

          Kylie Danelle Barnhart, WEST VIRGINIA UNIVERSITY COLLEGE OF LAW, Morgantown, West Virginia, for Appellant.

          Andrew Lindemann, DAVIDSON & LINDEMANN, P.A., Columbia, South Carolina, for Appellee.

         ON BRIEF:

          Lawrence D. Rosenberg, JONES DAY, Washington, D.C., for Appellant.

          Andrew Lindemann, DAVIDSON & LINDEMANN, P.A., Columbia, South Carolina, for Appellee.

          Before GREGORY, Chief Judge, and WYNN and HARRIS, Circuit Judges.

         Affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded by published opinion. Judge Wynn wrote the opinion, in which Chief Judge Gregory and Judge Harris joined.

          WYNN, Circuit Judge.

         Defendant Susan Duffy ("Duffy"), a captain at Perry Correctional Institution ("Perry CI")-a state prison within the South Carolina Department of Corrections system-placed Plaintiff Anthony Fred Martin ("Martin"), an inmate at Perry CI, in segregation after Martin filed a grievance against a prison sergeant contending that the sergeant inappropriately touched him during a shakedown. Alleging that his placement in segregation violated his constitutional rights to freedom from retaliation for filing a grievance, equal protection, and due process, Martin filed a pro se complaint under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against Duffy.

         The district court dismissed Martin's complaint for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted. We agree that Martin failed to state claims under the Equal Protection and Due Process Clauses. But construing Martin's complaint liberally, as we must, we conclude that Martin pleaded sufficient facts to state a claim that Duffy violated Martin's First Amendment rights by placing him in segregation as retaliation for filing a grievance. And we further conclude that Duffy is not entitled to qualified immunity from Martin's retaliation claim because, under this Court's precedent, it was clearly established at the time Duffy placed Martin in segregation that retaliating against an inmate for filing a grievance violates the inmate's rights under the First Amendment. Booker v. S.C. Dep't of Corr., 855 F.3d 533, 546 (4th Cir. 2017). Accordingly, we reverse, in part, the district court's dismissal of Martin's action.

         I.

         A.

         On September 11, 2014, Martin filed an electronic message through the prison kiosk system, alleging that a prison sergeant inappropriately touched him during a shakedown. The next day, Duffy removed Martin from the general inmate population and placed him in a holding cell in the administrative building. Martin alleged that, once in holding, Duffy "questioned [him] relentlessly about an informal resolution attempt of [his grievance alleging] inappropriate an[d] unwanted touching 'battery' against [the sergeant that Martin] had filed the day before." J.A. 4. Martin also alleged that, following Duffy's questioning, Duffy placed Martin in pre-hearing detention or "segregation" in an attempt to "maintain the integrity of [the] investigation" into Martin's complaint against the sergeant. J.A. 10, 13.

         Subsequently, on November 18, 2014, Martin submitted a "Request to Staff Member" chit to Duffy complaining that "[Duffy] had no justifiable means to lock [him] away" and that "[i]f an investigation was or is being conducted, no one ha[d] spoken to [him] concerning [the] matter." J.A. 15. In this same "Request to Staff Member" chit, Martin accused Duffy of violating South Carolina Department of Corrections procedure by reprising against him "for [his] participating in an informal resolution" of his earlier grievance. J.A. 15. A month later, Duffy responded to Martin, stating that Martin had been placed under investigation by the Division of Investigations; that he was no longer under investigation; and that he was currently on the "yard list" to return to the general population. J.A. 15.

         When prison officials arranged for Martin to return to the general inmate population on December 31, 2014, 110 days after his initial placement in segregation, Martin refused to reenter the general population and instead requested a transfer to another prison "as a resolution to the situation." J.A. 5. Later that afternoon, a lieutenant filed an incident report recounting Martin's "refus[al] to go to the yard per classifications" and citing Martin for "[r]efusing to obey" orders. J.A. 16.

         Nearly two weeks later, on January 16, 2015, Martin submitted an "Inmate Request" through the prison's Offender Management System, reciting his interactions with Duffy, his allegation that Duffy placed him in segregation "for attempting to informally resolve an allegation of battery against [a sergeant] by way of the electronic KIOSK, " and his "attempt[] to informally resolve the issue" with no response. J.A. 10. In response to Martin's "Inmate Request, " a prison official notified Martin that he was not under investigation; that officials believed his allegations had been found invalid by investigators; and that his refusal to return to the general population had resulted in a "pending charge." J.A. 10. Consequently, on January 22, 2015, prison officials held a hearing regarding Martin's refusal to return to the general population on December 31, 2014. Martin refused to attend the hearing. A hearing officer found Martin guilty of the charged offense and imposed various sanctions.

         Approximately five months later, Martin received his requested transfer to Broad River Correctional Institution. According to Martin, during the 110 days that he remained in segregation, he never received a hearing regarding his detention, nor was he ever informed ...


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