Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Thomas v. Paul

United States District Court, D. New Hampshire

September 17, 2019

Oliver Thomas
v.
Joey Paul and M. Vigneault

          ORDER

          STEVEN J. McAULIFFE UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Before the court is defendants' Supplemental Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. No. 77). Plaintiff, Oliver Thomas, objects. See Doc. No. 79.

         Background

         Thomas alleges violations of his constitutional rights while he was an inmate at the Federal Correctional Institution in Berlin, New Hampshire (“FCI Berlin”). Since filing this action, he has been transferred to FCI Forrest City Medium, in Arkansas.

         Thomas, who is African American, filed a complaint in federal district court on January 6, 2016, alleging that while employed in the prison laundry at FCI Berlin he was subjected to racial discrimination and violations of his First Amendment right to free speech. In its preliminary review pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2), the court construed Thomas's Complaint as asserting three types of claims:

         In Claim 1, Thomas alleges that defendants, two FCI Berlin laundry room supervisors, Corrections Officer (“C.O.”) Joey Paul and C.O. M. Vigneault, violated his Fifth Amendment right to equal protection by: (a) firing him because of his race; (b) paying him less than they paid white inmates and denying him a bonus paid to white inmates; and (c) demoting him so his position could be given to a white inmate.

         In Claim 2, Thomas asserts that defendants violated his First Amendment right to petition the government by firing him in retaliation for threatening to report their racially and sexually motivated behavior to prison officials.

         And in Claim 3, Thomas claims that defendants violated his First Amendment right to free speech by coercing him to lie to safety inspectors, by threatening to fire him if he told the truth about improper practices in the laundry. See July 13, 2016 Order (Doc. No. 11) (approving May 16, 2016 Report and Recommendation (“R&R”) (Doc. No. 5)).

         Thomas seeks reinstatement with full benefits, back pay, compensatory damages, punitive damages, declaratory relief, and other unspecified injunctive relief. The court construed Thomas's damages claims as asserted against Paul and Vigneault in their individual capacities under Bivens v. Six Unknown Named Agents of the Fed. Bureau of Narcotics, 403 U.S. 388 (1971).

         In 2017, defendants moved to dismiss Thomas's claims for failure to state a claim and failure to exhaust administrative remedies. The court denied the motion without prejudice as to the exhaustion argument. See July 17, 2017 Order (Doc. No. 54) (approving June 21, 2017 R&R (Doc. No. 53)). Defendants then filed a Motion for Summary Judgment, focusing on Claims 1 and 2. (Doc. No. 64).

         The court denied the Motion for Summary Judgment without prejudice to defendants' ability to refile a similar dispositive motion addressing four issues identified by the court. See Sept. 10, 2018 Order (Doc. No. 71). The court appointed counsel to represent Thomas for the purpose of responding to any dispositive motion filed by defendants in response to the Sept. 10, 2018 Order. See Sept. 10, 2018 Order (Doc. No. 72); Oct. 5, 2018 Order (Doc. No. 73).

         Defendants have filed a supplemental motion for summary judgment (Doc. No. 77), and Thomas, through counsel, has filed an objection (Doc. No. 79). This matter is ripe for review.

         Summary Judgment Standard

         When ruling on a motion for summary judgment, the court is “obliged to review the record in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party, and to draw all reasonable inferences in the nonmoving party's favor.” Block Island Fishing, Inc. v. Rogers,844 F.3d 358, 360 (1st Cir. 2016) (citation omitted). Summary judgment is appropriate when the record reveals “no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). In this context, a factual dispute “is ‘genuine' if the evidence of record permits a rational factfinder to resolve it in favor of either party, and ‘material' if its existence or nonexistence has the potential to change the outcome of the suit.” Rando v. Leonard, 826 F.3d 553, 556 (1st Cir. 2016) (citation omitted). Consequently, “[a]s to issues on which the party opposing summary judgment would bear the burden of proof at trial, that party may not simply rely on the absence of evidence but, rather, must point to definite and competent evidence showing the existence of a genuine issue of material fact.” Perez v. Lorraine Enters., 769 F.3d 23, 29-30 (1st Cir. 2014). In other words, ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.