Submitted: July 3, 2019
from United States District Court for the Eastern District of
Arkansas - Pine Bluff
COLLOTON, GRUENDER, and ERICKSON, Circuit Judges.
COLLOTON, CIRCUIT JUDGE.
Hamner sued Arkansas prison officials under 42 U.S.C. §
1983 alleging deprivations of his constitutional rights while
incarcerated. He sought injunctive and declaratory relief and
damages. The district court concluded that Hamner's
complaint failed to state a claim and dismissed the action.
In Hamner's appeal, only the claim for damages presents a
continuing case or controversy. We affirm on the alternative
ground that the complaint does not adequately allege a
violation of Hamner's clearly established constitutional
rights, so the defendants are entitled to qualified immunity.
purposes of a motion to dismiss, we take the facts as alleged
in Hamner's pleadings as true and apply all reasonable
inferences in his favor. Hamner is an inmate in the custody
of the Arkansas Department of Corrections. He suffers from a
number of mental health problems, including borderline
personality disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder,
antisocial personality disorder, anxiety, and depression. He
takes daily medication, as prescribed by a mental health
March 2015, Hamner alerted prison authorities to a potential
attack by another inmate against a prison guard. On March 26,
after providing prison officials more details about the
planned attack, he was transferred from general population to
administrative segregation. Hamner remained in administrative
segregation for 203 days, ultimately transferring back to
general population on October 15, 2015. Hamner alleges that
while administratively segregated, he received no
satisfactory justification for his transfer; the only written
explanation allegedly came on August 12 and cited
"security concerns." Although Hamner details a long
series of reviews and internal grievances, he claims that
none of these processes followed "meaningful or relevant
in administrative segregation, Hamner remained in his cell
for twenty-three hours per day, leaving for "one hour a
day, five days per week," if security concerns or
weather did not interfere. Hamner was allowed three showers
per week, three phone calls per week, and often served cold
food. He had no television in his cell, and could not see the
public television in the hallway due to distance and an
obstructed view. He was allowed to keep a limited number of
books in his cell, but complains that his light bulb was
often burned out, "making it hard to see or read
anything for days." He also lost his job and could not
receive vocational training. He had no roommate and
"rarely any human contact."
segregation allegedly affected Hamner's health. He
describes being "deprived of his prescribed adequate
medical treatment and medication" and having his
"pleas" for treatment "ignored." These
deprivations, combined with the stress of solitary
confinement and the alleged futility of his review process,
impacted his mental health: he "often couldn't
sleep, had a lack of appetite, hallucinations, nightmares,
restlessness, anxiety and panic attacks," and felt a
risk of "irreparable emotional damage" or suicide.
Hamner alleged that he was "skipped [r]andomly at pill
call," and that officers working in the administrative
segregation unit knew about the gaps in his treatment.
March 2017, Hamner sued under 42 U.S.C. § 1983,
asserting that members of the prison classification committee
had violated his rights under the Fourteenth Amendment by
subjecting him to atypical and significantly worse prison
conditions without adequate procedural protections. He
claimed that the prison's periodic reviews were
superficial and did not provide him a meaningful opportunity
to challenge his extended period of segregation. He also
claimed that prison officials had retaliated against him for
filing grievances. The defendants were warden Danny Burls,
classification supervisor Connie Jenkins, building major
Maurice Williams, deputy warden Steve Outlaw, and deputy
director Marvin Evans.
district court screened Hamner's claim under 28 U.S.C.
§ 1915A and concluded that Hamner's detention in
administrative segregation for "nearly seven
months" did not implicate a protected liberty interest.
The court thus dismissed Hamner's due process claim with
prejudice, but allowed the retaliation claim to proceed.
then filed an amended complaint expanding his due process
argument, reiterating his retaliation claim, and raising new
claims under the Eighth Amendment-alleged deliberate
indifference to his serious medical needs and
unconstitutional conditions of confinement. He sought
damages, a declaratory judgment, and injunctive relief. The
district court dismissed all counts for failure to state a
claim on which relief may be granted. See Fed. R.
Civ. P. 12(b)(6). ...