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McKenney v. Rubashkin

United States District Court, D. Maine

April 26, 2016

PAUL RUBASHKIN, et al., Defendants.


          JOHN C. NIVISON, Magistrate Judge.

         In this action, Plaintiff Robert McKenney alleges that Defendants, three correctional officers at the Two Bridges Regional Jail in Wiscasset, violated his right to due process in connection with disciplinary matters and that they falsely charged him with criminal conduct while he was serving a sentence at the jail.

         The matter is before the Court on Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment (ECF No. 17). Plaintiff, who is no longer incarcerated, did not file an opposition to the motion. Following a review of the pleadings and summary judgment filings, and after consideration of Defendants' arguments, I recommend the Court grant Defendants' motion as to Plaintiff's federal claims, and dismiss without prejudice Plaintiff's state law claims.


         Plaintiff's claims arise as the result of disciplinary charges instituted against him while he was an inmate at the Two Bridges Regional Jail. As a consequence of the charges, Plaintiff was placed in segregated confinement and he was classified as maximum security for the duration of his time in segregation. In his complaint, Plaintiff alleges that Defendants required him to spend "months in 23-[hour] lockdown for nothing." (Complaint at 3, ¶ V, ECF No. 1.) He also asserts that he wrote "numerous grievances" that were "ignored." ( Id. at 2, ¶ 2.C.)[2] In addition, criminal proceedings were initiated following one of the incidents in which he was involved. Plaintiff apparently maintains that the criminal charge lacked probable cause.

         Plaintiff was incarcerated at Two Bridges Regional Jail from August 1, 2014, through July 11, 2015, pursuant to a judgment of conviction on a theft charge. (Defendants' Statement of Material Facts ¶ 1, ECF No. 18.) Defendant Sgt. Kyle Canada is the assistant support services supervisor at Two Bridges Regional Jail. ( Id. ¶ 2.) Defendant Paul Rubashkin is the special projects officer at Two Bridges Regional Jail and a Lincoln County deputy sheriff. His responsibilities include the investigation and initiation of criminal matters. ( Id. ¶ 3.) Defendant Captain James Bailey is currently the corrections captain at the jail, which position is second in command at the jail. ( Id. ¶ 4.)

         On October 16, 2014, Officer Major summoned Defendant Rubashkin to Officer Major's office, where he was searching incoming mail. Officer Major showed Rubashkin a photo that had been mailed to Plaintiff. The photo had an abnormal bulge in the back of the paper that was orange in color. Defendant Rubashkin peeled back the back of the photo and found an approximately 2 mg portion of a Suboxone strip. ( Id. ¶ 5.) Defendant Rubashkin checked the return address, but found no record of the person whose name was listed. ( Id. ¶ 6.) After discovering the Suboxone, Defendant Rubashkin listened to recordings of phone calls between Plaintiff and his girlfriend. ( Id. ¶ 7.) Defendant Rubashkin learned that beginning on October 12, 2014, Plaintiff discussed with his girlfriend her sending Suboxone to the jail, and in subsequent calls he asked her if she had sent Suboxone. ( Id. ¶ 8.)

         On October 16, 2014, after the Suboxone was detected, Plaintiff was placed in administrative segregation. ( Id. ¶ 9.) On October 17, 2014, Defendant Rubashkin went to Plaintiff's cell to issue him a summons for trafficking in prison contraband. Plaintiff refused to sign the summons, and Defendant Rubashkin summoned him for refusing to sign a uniform summons and complaint. ( Id. ¶ 10.)

         On October 21, 2014, Plaintiff requested to be present for an upcoming classification hearing. ( Id. ¶ 11.) At the classification review the next day, Plaintiff stated multiple times that he knew he would be found guilty of the alleged rule violations and that officials might as well classify him as maximum security. ( Id. ¶ 13.)

         As part of its deliberations, the classification committee also considered that Plaintiff had a violent history at Two Bridges Regional Jail, had made violent threats toward staff members, had previous prison drug trafficking charges, had current prison drug trafficking charges, and was believed to have fashioned weapons during his current incarceration. ( Id. ¶ 14.) The committee reclassified Plaintiff to maximum security. ( Id. ¶ 15.)

         On October 23, 2014, Lieutenant Colbry and Sergeant Wardwell conducted a disciplinary hearing regarding the incident. ( Id. ¶¶ 16, 18.) Plaintiff was present at the hearing and pled not guilty. ( Id. ¶ 17.) Officers Colbry and Wardwell found Plaintiff guilty and, as a sanction, imposed ten days of disciplinary segregation. ( Id. ¶ 19.) Plaintiff remained on maximum security until he was reclassified to medium security on December 2, 2014, for good behavior.[3] ( Id. ¶ 20.)

         On January 28, 2015, because Plaintiff plead to other charges, the Assistant District Attorney dismissed the criminal charges against Plaintiff for trafficking in prison contraband and failure to sign the uniform summons.[4] ( Id. )

         On March 26, 2015, [5] Plaintiff and another inmate were together in the bathroom area. ( Id. ¶ 22.) After Plaintiff and the other inmate came out of the bathroom, the other inmate was sent to the hospital with a dislocated shoulder. ( Id. ¶ 23.) Officers suspected that a fight had occurred between Plaintiff and the other inmate, but at the time, both inmates refused to provide any information. ( Id. ¶ 24.) On April 9, 2015, Plaintiff admitted that he had hit the other inmate.[6] ( Id. ¶ 25.)

         On April 9, 2015, Plaintiff was charged with a major infraction for fighting, lying and for conduct which disrupts. ( Id. ¶ 26.) Sergeant Grantham, Corporal Rogers, and Officer Major conducted Plaintiff's disciplinary hearing on April 11, 2015. ( Id. ¶ 27.) Plaintiff was present at the hearing and pled not guilty. ( Id. ¶ 28.) The officers dismissed the charges of lying and conduct which disrupts, but found Plaintiff guilty of fighting, for which they imposed a sanction of ten days disciplinary segregation. ( Id. ¶ 29.) Plaintiff was advised of his right to appeal, but declined. ( Id. ¶ 30.)

         In accordance with the sanction, Plaintiff was in disciplinary segregation from April 11, 2015, through April 21, 2015.[7] ( Id. ¶ 31.) On April 13, 2015, Plaintiff was reclassified as maximum security due to his involvement in the fight. ( Id. ¶ 32.) On April 27, 2015, because Plaintiff was not involved in any further incidents, Plaintiff was reclassified as medium security. ( Id. ¶ 33.)


         The grievance procedure for the Two Bridges Regional Jail provides that an inmate can initiate a grievance for, inter alia, an alleged violation of civil, constitutional, or statutory rights. ( Id. ¶ 34.) An inmate must first file a level one grievance. ( Id. ¶ 35.) If an inmate is not satisfied with the response to a level one grievance, the inmate may file a level two grievance.[8] ( Id. ¶ 36.) If an inmate remains unsatisfied after receiving a response to a level two grievance, the inmate may file a grievance with the Maine Department of Corrections for an external review. The external review is the final step in the Two Bridges Regional Jail grievance procedure. ( Id. ¶ 37.)

         During Plaintiff's incarceration at Two Bridges Regional Jail in 2014 and 2015, the only level two grievance Plaintiff filed involved the cost of making photocopies.[9] ( Id. ¶ 38.)

          Disciplinary Hearings

         An inmate may appeal from the decision of a disciplinary hearing officer to the Correctional Administrator or designee within ten days of the disciplinary hearing. To appeal from a disciplinary hearing decision, the inmate must submit an appeal of disciplinary hearing decision form. ( Id. ¶ 39.) The decision of the Correctional Administrator is final. ( Id. ¶ 40.)

         Plaintiff did not appeal from any decisions issued after the disciplinary hearings to which he was a party during his incarceration at the Two Bridges Regional Jail in 2014 and 2015. ( Id. ¶ 41.)

          Classifi ...

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