United States District Court, W.D. Virginia, Roanoke Division
Meade Sargent United States Magistrate Judge
Pamela Meade Sargent United States Magistrate Judge The pro
se plaintiff, Maxwell Tyler Hardoby, (“Hardoby”),
a Virginia Department of Corrections, (“VDOC”),
inmate, brings this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983, against the Southwest Virginia Regional Jail
Authority, (“Jail Authority”), where he was held
before being transferred to VDOC custody. Hardoby's only
claim remaining before the court is a claim that the Jail
Authority violated his rights under the First Amendment by
refusing to allow him to receive an individual subscription
to a national daily newspaper through the mail.
matter has been transferred to the undersigned based on the
parties' consent pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c)(2).
The matter is before the court on the Jail Authority's
motion for summary judgment, (Docket Item No. 36), and
Hardoby's response. (Docket Item No. 44.) For the reasons
set out below, the court will grant summary judgment in the
Jail Authority's favor.
is no dispute in the material facts. Hardoby was incarcerated
by the Jail Authority from the date of his arrest on March
20, 2015, until his transfer to VDOC custody on or about June
20, 2016, to complete service of his sentence. While being
held in the Jail Authority's Abingdon facility, Hardoby,
on March 9, 2016, requested permission to receive a mail
subscription to a national daily newspaper. That request was
denied. In response, Hardoby offered to surrender the
previous day's newspaper when he received the next one.
Hardoby, by affidavit, stated that on many days, he did not
get to read a newspaper when he was held at the Abingdon
facility because of the number of inmates wanting to read the
Authority Superintendent Stephen Clear, by affidavit, stated
that the Jail Authority provides inmates at each of its
facilities with one local newspaper and one national
newspaper. Clear stated that the Jail Authority implemented a
policy effective March 1, 2015, to no longer allow inmates to
receive personal reading material from outside publishers.
This policy was amended on June 1, 2016, to allow books to be
ordered from a publishing company on a case-by-case basis
upon the approval of the Jail Administrator or designee.
Clear stated that the Jail Authority would accept approved
donations of books, periodicals and newspapers to its
libraries. Clear stated that the Jail Authority “does
not have the available resources to deliver newspaper
subscriptions to individual inmates on a daily
basis….” He also stated that “the
accumulation of daily newspaper subscriptions by inmates
would create a fire hazard.” According to Clear:
“The Authority denied Hardoby's request for
individual newspaper subscriptions because of legitimate
safety and security issues as well as limited resources to
accommodate the requested newspaper subscriptions.”
claims that the Jail Authority violated his First Amendment
rights by refusing to allow him to receive an individual
subscription to a national daily newspaper. The Jail
Authority argues that the no individual newspaper
subscription policy is valid because it is reasonably related
to a legitimate penological interest. The Jail Authority also
argues that Hardoby's claim is moot because he has sought
only injunctive relief, and he is no longer incarcerated at
the Jail Authority's Abingdon facility.
regard to a motion for summary judgment, the standard for
review is well-settled. The court should grant summary
judgment only when the record reveals that “there is 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); see, e.g., Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S.
317, 322-23 (1986); Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc.,
477 U.S. 242, 250 (1986); Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co.,
Ltd. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586-87 (1986).
A genuine issue of fact exists “if the evidence is such
that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the
nonmoving party.” Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248.
In considering a motion for summary judgment, the court must
view the facts and the reasonable inferences to be drawn from
the facts in the light most favorable to the party opposing
the motion. See Anderson, 477 U.S. at 255;
Matsushita, 475 U.S. at 587. In order to be
successful on a motion for summary judgment, a moving party
"must show that there is an absence of evidence to
support the non-moving party's case" or that
"the evidence is so one-sided that one party must
prevail as a matter of law." Lexington-South Elkhorn
Water Dist. v. City of Wilmore, Ky., 93 F.3d 230, 233
(6th Cir. 1996). When a motion for summary judgment is made
and is properly supported by affidavits, depositions or
answers to interrogatories, the nonmoving party may not rest
on the mere allegations or denials of the pleadings. See
Oliver v. Va. Dep't of Corrs., 2010 WL 1417833, at
*2 (W.D. Va. Apr. 6, 2010) (citing Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e)).
Instead, the nonmoving party must respond by affidavits or
otherwise and present specific facts from which a jury could
reasonably find for either side. See Anderson, 477
U.S. at 256-57.
on the court's review of the record before it, no genuine
dispute of material fact exists with regard to Hardoby's
First Amendment claim. The Jail Authority admits that it
denied Hardoby's request to receive an individual
subscription to a national daily newspaper pursuant to the
policy put in effect on March 1, 2015. As stated above,
Clear, the Jail Authority Superintendent, has given two
reasons for the implementation of this policy. Clear stated
that the policy promotes good housekeeping standards, which,
in turn, promote fire safety. Clear also stated that the Jail
Authority denied Hardoby's request because it does not
have the resources to deliver newspapers to inmates on a
daily basis. Hardoby has offered evidence that the policy is
not necessary to promote fire safety, in that he has offered
to keep only one copy of the newspaper in his cell at a time.
prison regulation impinges on an inmate's constitutional
rights, the regulation is valid if it is reasonably related
to legitimate penological interests. See Turner
v. Safley, 482 U.S. 78, 89 (1987). Several factors are
relevant in determining the reasonableness of the regulation:
First, there must be a “valid, rational
connection” between the prison regulation and the
legitimate governmental interest put forward to justify it.
… A second factor relevant … is whether there
are alternative means of exercising the right that remain
open to prison inmates. … A third consideration is the
impact accommodation of the asserted constitutional right
will have on guards and other inmates, and on the allocation
of prison resources generally. … Finally the absence
of ready alternatives is evidence of the reasonableness of a
prison regulation. … By the same token, the existence
of obvious, easy alternatives may be evidence that the
regulation is not reasonable, but is an “exaggerated
response” to prison concerns.
Turner, 482 U.S. at 89-90 (internal citations
case, Hardoby's challenge might succeed, if the only
reason offered by the Jail Authority for the implementation
of the no individual newspaper subscription policy was to
promote fire safety. Hardoby has offered an alternative that
would allow him to receive a daily newspaper, but not allow
those newspapers to accumulate in his cell, creating a fire
danger. He, or any inmate who received an individual
newspaper subscription, could be permitted to keep only one
newspaper at a time in his cell. The existence of such an
obvious, easy ...