United States District Court, D. Rhode Island
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
J. MCCONNELL, JR., UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Turner, an inmate in the custody of the Rhode Island
Department of Corrections ("RIDOC") and proceeding
pro se, alleges that the RIDOC director and his
employees unlawfully retaliated against him by assigning him
a High Security classification at the Rhode Island Adult
Correctional Institutions and then transferring him to
Florida because he had filed a lawsuit against RIDOC. For the
following reasons, the Court GRANTS the Defendants'
Motion for Summary Judgment. ECF No. 162.
Court has chronicled many of the facts in this case in a
previous order. See ECF No. 74 at 2-5. Because the
First Circuit remanded this case on the sole issue of Mr.
Turner's claims of retaliation (ECF No. 90), the facts
will be limited to those necessary to analyze and decide that
The 2006 Lawsuit
2006, Mr. Turner filed a lawsuit against RIDOC alleging that
another inmate who was his known enemy assaulted him and that
RIDOC was negligent by housing them together. See Turner
v. Wall, No. 06-505 (D.R.I. Nov. 22, 2006), ECF No. 1.
Following the assault, RIDOC transferred Mr. Turner to a
prison in Virginia, The parties ultimately settled this 2006
lawsuit in March 2012. The settlement agreement provided in
part that RIDOC would bring Mr. Turner back to Rhode Island.
In relevant part, the settlement agreement stated:
The State of Rhode Island shall cause Wayman Turner to be
returned to the custody of the State of Rhode Island, Adult
Correction Institutions (ACI), where he will initially be
housed at the High Security Facility. Further decisions
on classification/housing and/or the terms and conditions of
Turner's confinement will be pursuant to the laws of the
State of Rhode Island and any applicable Department of
Corrections (DOC) policies and procedures, as is the case
with the rest of the inmate population. . . . [N]othing
contained herein restricts the DOC from transferring or
reassessing Turner's classification, which shall be
based on the health, safety, welfare, and housing of Turner,
other inmates, DOC staff and/or visitors, as is the case with
the rest of the inmate population.
ECF No. 163-2 at 5 (emphasis added).
Mr. Turner Returns to Rhode Island - The Classification
his return to Rhode Island in 2012, RIDOC placed him in its
High Security Facility. Soon after, Mr. Turner wrote a letter
to RIDOC Warden James Weeden stating that he "fe[lt] it
would be in [his] best interest" not to transfer
directly from High Security to Medium Security, which he
predicted "would be rough." ECF No. 163-10 at 2.
Rather, Mr. Turner requested that RIDOC transfer him to
Maximum Security first before transferring him to Medium
Security. He admitted that one of his listed enemies was in
Maximum Security, but claimed that this would not be an
Turner went before the RIDOC Classification Board on at least
six occasions. See R.I. Gen. Laws § 42-56-31
(explaining duties and role of the Board). Following these
hearings, the Classification Board forwarded its
recommendations to the RIDOC director, who had final
authority to approve or deny the Board's
recommendations. See id.
occasions during this period, Director Wall did not follow
the recommendations of the majority of the Classification
Board concerning Mr. Turner. Director Wall testified that
"[i]n reviewing any request regarding Plaintiffs
classification or transfer, [he] considered the length of his
sentence, the date he would be eligible for parole, his
disciplinary history in Rhode Island and Virginia, his
ongoing enemy issues, and his instrument custody level
score." ECF No. 163-4 at 4. He "did not consider
any litigation Plaintiff was involved in." Id.
Director Wall also testified that he "made decisions
based on the safety of Plaintiff as well as the safe and
smooth running of RIDOC." Id.
Director Wall rejected the recommendation of the
Classification Board for the second time, Mr. Turner sought
an explanation. Director Wall wrote to Mr. Turner:
I have reviewed your institutional record with respect to
your discipline history. Prior to sending you to the Virginia
Department of Corrections you were considered a problematic
inmate. Reports from Virginia also suggest that you were
engaged in a number of disciplinary actions.
Id. at 23.
Turner then wrote back, requesting to stay in Rhode Island.
Director Wall informed Mr. Turner that "[i]t is not at
present our intention to send you out of state to serve your
sentence." Id. at 24. He told Mr. Turner that
he was "comfortable with [his] decision to classify [Mr.
Turner] to High Security (HS)(B' status with a
90-day review." Id. He explained to Mr. Turner
that this "decision was based on [Mr. Turner's]
instrument custody level score of twenty (20), [his] sentence
length, [his] parole eligibility date as well as [his]
institutional record." Id.
Turner filed this complaint against Director Wall, Warden
Weeden, and Associate Director DiNitto. He alleged that the
Defendants "unconstitutionally deprived and turned
deliberate indifferent [sic] to Plaintiffs liberty interest
in avoiding assignment to High Security Prison (Super Max)
... in retaliation for Plaintiff successfully settling a
previous lawsuit." ECF No. 1 at 2-3.
Turner also filed a Motion for a Temporary Restraining Order
seeking "a preliminary injunction, ordering [RIDOC] and
its agents, to keep Plaintiff in the Rhode Island prison
system until he is through litigating his current
Complaint." ECF No. 5 at 2. In a letter to the Court,
Mr. Turner claimed that he was requesting an injunction
because "if [he was] not granted these motions the
Defendants in this case [will] surely move [him] across the
country." ECF No. 2"l at 1.
Request to Transfer Out-of-State
days after asking for a Court order to remain in Rhode
Island, Mr. Turner requested a voluntary transfer out of
Rhode Island. ECF No. 163-7 at 5-8. That same day Mr. Turner
sent a letter to Defendant Joseph DiNitto, Associate Director
of Classifications at RIDOC, stating that he had "just
signed the paperwork to go back out of state."
Id. at 8. lie acknowledged that his transfer request
could result in him being transferred back to Virginia
"or even further away." Id.
is a member of the Interstate Corrections Compact, under
which participating states "may share information and
enter into contracts for the mutually beneficial transfer of
prisoners." See ECF No. 163 at 4. Pursuant to
RIDOC policy, it sent Mr. Turner's transfer package to
other member states of the Interstate Corrections Compact
following his voluntary transfer request.
Florida Department of Corrections informed RIDOC that they
would accept Mr. Turner as an Interstate Corrections Compact
transfer inmate. ECF No.163-7 at 10. This was the first
corrections department to accept Mr. Turner. RIDOC thereupon
transferred Mr. Turner to the Florida Department of
Turner arrived at the Florida Department of Corrections and
within a few weeks he had filed a Motion for a Preliminary
Injunction, requesting that the Court order RIDOC to transfer
him out of Florida. ECF No. 8. At that time, Mr. Turner had
not requested a transfer back to Rhode Island or sought any
administrative remedies. The Court denied Mr. Turner's
Motion for a Preliminary Injunction because he had not yet
exhausted his administrative remedies before seeking the
injunction. ECF No. 31. Thereafter, by letter to Associate
Director DiNitto, Mr. Turner requested that RIDOC transfer
him back to Rhode Island or to a facility elsewhere in New
England. ECF No. 36. In accordance with Mr. Turner's