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Shelby v. Gelios

December 30, 2009


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Reagan, District Judge


I. Introduction

On August 15, 2005, David Shelby, an inmate previously housed at the Federal Correctional Institution in Greenville, Illinois, and presently housed at the Federal Correctional Institution in Milan, Michigan, filed a civil rights complaint in this Court under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Shelby named three Defendants -- M. Gelios, Pliler and Bob Whitehouse.

Shelby alleges that his due process rights were violated during prison disciplinary proceedings. Specifically, Shelby claims he was issued a false charge accusing him of possessing contraband and that discipline was imposed without any supporting evidence. Shelby successfully challenged the disciplinary proceedings in habeas litigation. On August 4, 2004, the United States District Court for the District of Colorado granted Shelby's petition and ordered the Bureau or Prisons to expunge the disciplinary proceeding from Shelby's prison record.

On January 24, 2007, the undersigned Judge found that the instant complaint did not survive review under § 1915A and dismissed the action with prejudice, assessing one strike under the provisions of 28 U.S.C. § 1915(g). Shelby appealed the Court's judgment, and, on August 5, 2008, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals remanded the case for further development of the record and resolution of issues of fact as to whether Defendants' actions violated Shelby's due process rights. Shelby v. Gelios, 287 Fed.Appx. 526 (7th Cir. 2008). More specifically, the Seventh Circuit concluded that Shelby sought damages for the temporary loss of his good-time credits, for which he could potentially be entitled to nominal and punitive damages. Shelby, Fed.Appx. 526 at 528 (citations omitted).

On August 10, 2009, Defendants moved to dismiss or for summary judgment (Doc. 64). Defendants Gelios and Pliler seek dismissal for failure to state a claim for relief, and all Defendants seek judgment in their favor based on qualified immunity. The motion is opposed (Docs. 69, 70).

II. Background

On November 28, 2002, Shelby was confined at FCI-Greenville, where he was assigned to a 10-man "tank" cell. He shared the cell with four other inmates and was not able to exclude uninvited inmates. At approximately 10:00 a.m., while Shelby was working at his kitchen job, the cell was searched by correctional officers. At the time of the search, the cell was occupied by four inmates -- some of whom were Shelby's cellmates. Items believed to be contraband were discovered under, next to and on a cellmate's bunk, as well as on a bunk that was unassigned but used by someone other than Shelby.

After the search, Gelios interviewed Shelby, who denied all knowledge of the items that were found in the cell. In January 2003, Gelios charged Shelby with a violation of disciplinary code 113: possession of any narcotics. As a result of the charge, Shelby was relocated to a special housing unit.

Pliler investigated the charge on January 3, 2003. Following his interview with Shelby, Pliler found that Gelios's charge was adequately supported and referred the charge to a disciplinary hearing officer, Whitehouse, for further proceedings.

A hearing was held on January 16, 2003. Whitehouse heard testimony from and reviewed a written statement from an inmate who accepted full and exclusive responsibility for the contraband discovered during the search. Although Shelby's innocence was demonstrated with credible evidence, Whitehouse found Shelby guilty of possession of narcotics and imposed sanctions, including 30 days of disciplinary segregation, 40 days of disallowed good conduct time and 180 days of lost visitation privileges.

Shelby challenged the sanctions in habeas corpus proceedings. On August 4, 2004, Judge Phillip S. Figa granted Shelby's habeas petition, finding that he was disciplined without enough evidence to satisfy the "some evidence" standard. That decision was not challenged on appeal; Shelby's disciplinary conviction was expunged and his good conduct credits restored.

III. Defendants Gelios and Pliler

Gelios and Pliler seek dismissal of Shelby's complaint on the basis that the allegations against them do not state a viable due process claim. The argument is evaluated under Rule 56 of the Federal ...

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