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Canada v. Gilbert

United States District Court, W.D. Virginia, Roanoke Division

October 18, 2016

KELVIN A. CANADA, Plaintiff,
v.
CHRISTOPHER GILBERT, ET AL., Defendants.

          Kelvin A. Canada, Pro Se Plaintiff.

          OPINION

          James P. Jones United States District Judge

         The plaintiff, Kelvin A. Canada, an inmate proceeding pro se, filed this prisoner civil rights action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Canada alleges that Virginia prison officials misused body cavity searches and strip cell conditions and destroyed his personal property items in retaliation for a petition he wrote to administrators about prison conditions. He has also submitted a Supplemental Complaint alleging imposition of an excessive fine. After review of Canada's submissions, I conclude that this action must be summarily dismissed.

         I.

         Canada was incarcerated for several years at Red Onion State Prison (“Red Onion”) in Pound, Virginia, where the constitutional violations alleged in his Complaint allegedly arose.[1] He separates his allegations into four claims.

         Denial of Recreation and Showers.

         On January 7, 2016, Officers S. Patrick and N. Stephens came to Canada's cell for routine shower procedures that required Canada to place his shower items in the tray box and submit to a visual body cavity search. After Canada did so, Patrick ordered: “Turn around, face the back wall and spread your buttocks open again.” (Compl. 7, ECF No. 1.) Canada said, “I've already spread my buttocks once.” (Id.) Canada claims that Stephens then shut the tray box and denied Canada a shower. When Canada asked why, Stephens allegedly replied, “Because you shouldn't of put my name in your damn Petition.”[2] (Id. at 8.)

         Canada alleges that he complained to Sargent Hall about missing his shower and was told that he had been denied a shower for not spreading his buttocks. Canada allegedly told Hall, “That's a lie, I complied with the strip-search and spread my buttocks. I've been at Red Onion for 17-years on segregation. I know what the (strip search) protocol is.” (Id. at 9.) Hall allegedly placed Canada on “strip-cell for threatening staff, ” which Canada denied doing. Canada claims that Hall then said, “In my eyes and ears you did when you wrote that (petition).” (Id. at 10.)

         Investigator Jesse Wagner interviewed Canada on January 29 about his grievances against officers at Red Onion. Wagner told Canada, “The policy of Red Onion says prisoners must comply with the (strip-search) procedure” in order to leave their cells, and “[i]f an officer tells you to spread your buttocks, and it's not to his approval you must do it again. If you don't comply, you w[on't] come out [of] your cell for (rec) or (shower).” (Id. at 14, 15.) Canada claims that Wagner misstated VDOC policy.

         Canada also claims that on February 4, he asked Sargent Jordan Fleming why he had denied recreation and showers to Inmates Rivera and Davis. Fleming allegedly stated, “[Y]ou ain't going to (rec) or (shower) either for speaking up for [them] and for writing that petition. . . . As long as I'm taking up the (rec) [and] (shower) list you will never come out [of] that cell for nothing.” (Id. at 19.)

         On February 9, 2016, Officers J. Lovell and J.T. Fleming allegedly denied Canada a shower “for the same typical bogus reason that was used on Jan. 7, 2016.” (Id. at 20.) Canada alleges that various officers denied him showers or recreation in this manner on February 12, 13, 23, and 28, and March 12, 2016. Each time, the officer(s) allegedly cited Canada's failure to comply with some procedure.

         Canada contends that officers retaliated against him using false accusations of failure to comply with search procedures to deny him showers and recreation. He also claims that the strip search procedures at Red Onion were dehumanizing and degrading, in violation of the Fourth Amendment.

         Retaliatory Placement in Strip Cell.

         In his complaint, Canada also alleges that on January 7, 2016, Sargent Hall placed Canada on strip cell for eight and a half hours “with nothing but a pair of ‘boxers' on, ” after accusing him of stating, “I'm going to fuck your staff up.” (Id. at 31.) Canada allegedly denies making any such threat. While on strip cell, Canada was denied sheets, blankets, a mattress, soap, toilet paper, socks, and toothpaste, and could not wash his hands before eating his lunch. He alleges that he had to exercise to keep warm.

         Canada contends that Hall placed him on strip cell to retaliate against him for writing the petition. Canada also argues that strip cell was cruel and unusual punishment for a minor infraction, such as a verbal threat, and that Hall's actions denied him due process and violated VDOC policy.

         Retaliatory Destruction of Property.

         Canada alleges that on February 9, 2016, an officer refused him a shower, stating that he had not complied with strip search procedures. Canada complained, and Sargent Hall allegedly placed him on strip cell “for no reason.” (Id. at 38.) In frustration, Canada threw feces at the officers, who then placed him in restraints in a nearby cell. Canada insists that when he left his cell, his personal property was packed up in bags on his bottom bunk. When he was released from ambulatory restraints, however, the property inventory sheet indicated that “2 bags of Canada's property had feces at the bottom of them and had to be red-bagged in a ‘bio-hazard' bag.” (Id. at 41.) The items in these bags allegedly included five family photo albums, a battery charger, eight rechargeable batteries, a prayer rug, a pair of Reebok shower shoes, a medical therapy ball, and six books. Canada values the property at $60, 878. (Id. at 49.)

         Canada denies that his property bags could have been exposed to the feces that landed inside his tray box and in front of his cell door. He contends that the officers purposely placed his property on the floor in retaliation so ...


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