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Canada v. Wall

United States District Court, D. Rhode Island

April 3, 2018



          John J. McConnell, Jr. United States District Judge

         Kelvin A. Canada has been incarcerated since his 1994 conviction in Virginia for murder, attempted murder, use of a firearm, shooting into an occupied vehicle, and shooting into an occupied building. See Canada v. Bay No. 7:05CV00362, 2005 WL 2122703, at *1 (W.D. Va. Sept. 2, 2005).[1]In June 2016, Virginia officials transferred Mr. Canada to the Rhode Island Adult Correctional Institution ("ACI").[2]Canada v. Gilbert, No. 7:16CV00190, 2016 WL 6082050, at *1 n.l (W.D. Va. Oct. 18, 2016). While at the ACI, Mr. Canada filed this case alleging myriad constitutional violations by employees of the Rhode Island Department of Corrections. Specifically, Mr. Canada alleges that he was wrongfully disciplined; had nude photos, newspapers, magazines, and books confiscated! was deprived of outdoor recreation; was deprived the use of his MP3 player; and was subjected to unsanitary conditions of confinement. ECF No. 14. Defendants Ashbel T. Wall II, James Weeden, Mathew Kettle, Joseph Jankowski, Walter Duffy, and Jeffrey Aceto (the "State Defendants") have filed a Motion to Dismiss. ECF No. 58.

         To survive a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), a complaint must contain "sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to 'state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'" Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Bell Atl Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). A plaintiffs claim is plausible when it states sufficient facts that allow "the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable." Id.

         "The Court must accept a plaintiffs allegations as true and construe them in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, and review pleadings of a pro se plaintiff liberally. However, the Court need not credit bald assertions or unverifiable conclusions." Tucker v. Wall, No. 07-406 ML, 2010 WL 322155, at *8 (D.R.I. Jan. 27, 2010) (citations omitted).

         1. Confiscated Nude Photographs (Claim l)

         Mr. Canada alleges that Defendant Captain Duffy violated his constitutional rights when he "unconstitutionally confiscated 9 nude photos from [his] property." ECF No. 14 at 4. He also alleges that on two occasions the month before, unnamed person(s) denied him "17-nude photos" from an "approved vendor." Id.

         First, this claim only applies to Defendant Captain Duffy; Mr. Canada fails to make any specific allegation against any other individual Defendant related to the confiscation of nude photos. And as Captain Duffy, Mr. Canada does not set forth sufficient plausible facts to establish a constitutional violation.

         "[W]hen a prison regulation impinges on inmates' constitutional rights, the regulation is valid if it is reasonably related to legitimate penological interests. In our view, such a standard is necessary if 'prison administrators . . ., and not the courts, [are] to make the difficult judgments concerning institutional operations." Turner v. Safley, 482 U.S. 78, 89 (1987) (alterations in original) (quoting Jones v. N.C. Prisoners' Union, 433 U.S. 119, 128 (1977)).

         As Mr. Canada knows from when he sued officials at the Red Onion State Prison in Virginia over possession of nude photographs, a "prison has a legitimate interest in keeping order, which may be negatively impacted by prisoners' possession of naked pictures of wives or girlfriends." Canada v. Bay, No. 7:08cv00219, 2010 WL 2179062, at *5 (W.D. Va. May 28, 2010); see Canada v. Ray, No. 7:08cv00219, 2011 WL 565611, at *6-7 (W.D. Va. Feb. 9, 2011) ("[I]t axiomatic that the possession of intimate photographs of friends, girlfriends, or wives has a greater potential to lead to tension and conflict . . ., and, therefore, that banning intimate personal photographs is rationally related to controlling conflict."), affd, 437 Fed.Appx. 263 (4th Cir. 2011); see also Moses v. Dennehy 523 F.Supp.2d 57, 63 (D. Mass. 2007) (holding that "a ban on nude, semi-nude, or sexually explicit material is not wholly irrational or arbitrary on its face with respect to prison safety, " and that, "as matter of law . . . there is a rational relationship between the banning of sexually explicit material and the safety and rehabilitation efforts" of the department of corrections).

         Because Mr. Canada fails to meet his burden of alleging unconstitutional acts by Captain Duffy, the Court dismisses this claim.

         2. Confiscated Hardcover Books (Claim 2)

         Mr. Canada alleges that the State Defendants did not allow him to have or purchase hardcover books, including dictionaries, encyclopedias, and medical and law books. However, Mr. Canada fails to set forth any hardcover books that he wanted to purchase that were not also available in softcover. He has therefore failed to show any "actual injury" resulting from the denial of access to hardcover books. See Pressley v. Beard, 266 Fed.Appx. 216, 218 (3d Cir. 2008). Moreover, he fails to attribute these acts to any of the named State Defendants. Therefore, Mr. Canada fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.

         3. Disciplinary Confinement (Claims 3, 5, and 7)

         Mr. Canada complains of the disciplinary confinement he received after prison officials found him guilty of certain prison infractions.[3] He asserts that, because of the discipline, he was deprived of phone calls, visitation, newspapers, television, ...

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