United States District Court, W.D. Virginia, Roanoke Division
Jackson L. Kiser, Senior United States District Judge.
Wall, a Virginia inmate proceeding pro se, commenced this
action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against twenty-one
defendants, all of whom are or were employees of Red Onion
State Prison ("ROSP") or officials with the
Virginia Department of Corrections ("VDOC").
Currently pending are Defendants' Motion for Summary
Judgment [ECF No. 81], and Wall's Counter Motion for
Summary Judgment [ECF No. 96]. The Motions for Summary
Judgment were referred, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §
636(b)(1)(B), to a United States Magistrate Judge; she issued
a Report and Recommendation ("Report") [ECF No.
99], to which the parties timely filed their objections [ECF
Nos. 100, 101]. For the reasons that follow, I will overrule
the parties' objections and adopt the Report, grant
Defendants' motion in part and deny it in part, and deny
Wall's unverified, Second Amended Complaint [ECF No. 12],
as amended by ECF No. 50, he alleged that Defendants violated
his First Amendment rights by retaliating against him for
filing a § 1983 action against a ROSP canine officer and
for filing informal complaints and grievances against ROSP
officers. Specifically, Wall alleged that various defendants
retaliated against him by filing false or exaggerated
disciplinary charges against him, upholding these charges on
appeal, threatening him and placing him in long-term
segregation confinement and in unfavorable security
classifications, or upholding the confinement and security
classification decisions. He also asserted due process
claims, a conspiracy claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1985, and
multiple state law tort claims.
review of the presented evidence, the magistrate judge
recommended granting Defendants' motion as to everything
except two claims against defendants Artrip and Lynch in
their individual capacities. These two claims contend that in
retaliation for Wall's filing of administrative
grievances and/or a lawsuit, (1) in the summer of 2013,
Artrip assigned Wall to segregation without the required
administrative approval of the Central Classification
Services; and (2) on November 6, 2014, Lynch filed a
fabricated charge against Wall for threatening bodily harm.
report pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b), the magistrate
judge makes only recommendations to the court. The
recommendations have no presumptive weight, and
responsibility for making a final determination remains with
the court. Mathews v. Weber, 423 U.S. 261, 270-71
(1976). The court is charged with making "a de
novo determination of those portions of the report
or specified proposed findings or recommendations to which
objection is made," and may "accept, reject, or
modify, in whole or in part, the findings or
recommendations" of the magistrate judge. 28 U.S.C.
§ 636(b)(1). In response to a party's objection, the
district judge must make "his own determination on the
basis of the record developed before the magistrate"
judge. Aluminum Co. of Am., Badin Works,
Badin, N.C. v. U.S. Envtl. Prot. Agency, 663 F.2d 499,
502 (4th Cir. 1981). In the absence of specific objections to
the report, the court is not required to give any explanation
for adopting its findings and recommendations. Camby v.
Davis. 718 F.2d 198, 199-200 (4th Cir. 1983). Objections
that only repeat arguments and evidence raised before a
magistrate judge are considered general objections to the
entirety of the report, which have the same effect as a
failure to object. Veney v. Astrue, 539 F.Supp.2d
841, 845 (W.D. Va. 2008).
objects to the magistrate judge's findings that Wall
failed to present a disputed material fact on which he could
persuade a fact finder to rule in his favor on the claims
recommended for dismissal. In support of these generalized
objections, Wall points to allegations in his complaint as
amended and exhibits in the record that the magistrate judge
clearly reviewed. Wall also reiterates his own summary
judgment arguments and his arguments in opposition to
Defendants' motion. Nevertheless, in response to
Wall's objections, I have reviewed, de novo, the
portions of the Report and the record related to each of his
objections. I conclude that his concerns have been adequately
addressed in the Report and will, therefore, overrule his
[T]o state a colorable retaliation claim under Section 1983,
a plaintiff must allege that (1) he engaged in protected
First Amendment activity, (2) the defendant took some action
that adversely affected his First Amendment rights, and (3)
there was a causal relationship between his protected
activity and the defendant's conduct.
Martin v. Duffy, 858 F.3d 239, 249 (4th Cir. 2017),
cert denied, 138 S.Ct. 738, (2018). "[A]
plaintiff suffers adverse action if the defendant's
allegedly retaliatory conduct would likely deter a person of
ordinary firmness from the exercise of First Amendment
have objected to the Report's recommendation that summary
judgment be denied as to the claim that Lynch retaliated for
Wall's lawsuit against a canine officer by charging Wall
for threatening bodily harm. Specifically, Defendants argue
that the guilty finding at the disciplinary hearing on this
charge is dispositive of the retaliation claim against Lynch.
reviewed, de novo, the related portions of the
Report and the record relevant to Defendants' objection.
In the cases on which Defendants rely, record evidence
clearly indicated that the inmate plaintiff took an
action that was not allowed under prison rules, for which the
defendant charged him-writing threats or derogatory language
in grievances, dousing an officer with a beverage, scuffling
with another inmate, or possessing excess canteen items). See
Hunnicutt v.Kitt. No. 3:10-CV-857 CSH, 2012 WL
1247268 (D. Conn. Apr. 13, 2012); Cowans v. Warren.
150 F.3d 910, 912 (8th Cir. 1998); Henderson v.
Baird. 29 F.3d 464, 469 (8th Cir. 1994); Orebaugh v.
Caspari. 910 F.2d 526, 528 (8th Cir. 1990). No such
clarity exists regarding Wall's conduct-he expressly
denies making the threat for which Lynch charged
him. Moreover, I find persuasive the analysis and holding of
Mabenv. Thelen, 887 F.3d 252, 262 (6th Cir. 2018)
("A finding of guilt at a prison misconduct hearing does
not act as an absolute bar to a prisoner's First
Amendment retaliation claim.").
the evidence in the light most favorable to Wall, while Lynch
escorted Wall to his cell on November 6, 2014, the officer
said, "I heard what happened with you suing Officer
Looney" and "I will make sure your ass goes back to
C-Building," where long-term segregation inmates were
confined. R&R 28-29 [ECF No. 99]. Lynch then brought the
disciplinary charge claiming that Wall threatened,
"I'll get you the next time I come to the
yard." Id. at 28. At the disciplinary hearing,
Wall denied making the statement for which he was charged,
was found guilty, and was fined $12. I agree with the
magistrate judge that Wall's evidence presents genuine
issues of material fact on which he might persuade a fact
finder that Lynch falsely charged Wall with making a threat
of bodily harm in retaliation for Wall's prior law suit
against another canine officer and that Lynch's
retaliatory action resulted in a substantial adverse impact
on Wall. Therefore, I will overrule Defendants'
I agree with the magistrate judge's factual findings
based on the record, her legal conclusions as to the outcome
of Wall's claims, and her recommended disposition of the
parties' motions. Accordingly, I will adopt the Report,
deny the defendants' motion for summary ...