United States District Court, D. Oregon, Eugene Division
OPINION AND ORDER
MICHAEL W. MOSMAN Chief United States District Judge.
Thomasson brings two claims against Defendants, both related
to alleged violations of his constitutional rights.
Defendants filed a Motion for Summary Judgment , arguing
that they are entitled to judgment in their favor on both of
Mr. Thomasson's claims. Mr. Thomasson responded in
opposition , and Defendants replied . For the reasons
stated below, I GRANT Defendants' Motion for Summary
Thomasson is an inmate serving a sentence with the Oregon
Department of Corrections (ODOC). He is currently housed in a
"supermax" facility in Florida under an agreement
between Oregon and Florida pursuant to an Interstate
Corrections Compact. Mr. Thomasson is on "Close
Management" status in Florida, and as a result, he
claims he is held in solitary isolation for 23 hours a day.
to Mr. Thomasson's transfer to Florida, he was housed in
administrative segregation at a prison in Oregon. He claims
he was housed there for 26 days before he received a notice
of hearing on February 13, 2014. While Mr. Thomasson does not
dispute that he received the notice, he believes it was
deficient because it was addressed to another inmate. A few
days after his hearing, Mr. Thomasson was transferred to
reasons behind Mr. Thomasson's stay in administrative
segregation or transfer to a state penitentiary in Florida
are not at issue in this case. Regardless of the reasons, Mr.
Thomasson claims that Defendants have violated his Fourteenth
Amendment procedural due process rights by (1) putting him in
solitary confinement without explanation, (2) failing to
provide him with adequate notice of a hearing, and (3)
transferring him to Florida without a hearing. In addition,
Mr. Thomasson claims that the transfer has impeded his access
to the courts because he does not have access to Oregon law
materials in Florida, which violates his constitutional
Thomasson seeks to hold several individuals connected to the
Oregon Department of Corrections liable for the alleged
violations of his constitutional rights. Specifically, he
brings claims against (1) Jeff Premo, the Superintendent of
an Oregon State Prison, (2) Collete S. Peters, the Director
of Corrections as the Oregon Department of Corrections, (3)
Doug Yancey, a member of the Security Threat Management Unit
at an Oregon State Prison, and (4) Michael F. Gower, the
Assistant Director of Corrections at the Oregon Department of
Corrections. Both claims are brought against all four
individuals in their personal and official capacity.
judgment is proper "if the movant shows 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). The initial burden for a motion for summary judgment
is on the moving party to identify the absence of a genuine
issue of material fact. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett,
477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986). Once that burden is satisfied, the
burden shifts to the non-moving party to demonstrate, through
the production of evidence listed in Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(1),
that there remains a "genuine issue for trial."
Celotex, 477 U.S. at 324. The non-moving party may
not rely upon the pleading allegations, Brinson v. Linda
Rose Joint Venture, 53 F.3d 1044, 1049 (9th Cir. 1995)
(citing Fed. R. Civ. P 56(e)), or 'iinsupported
conjecture or conclusory statements, " Hernandez v.
SpacelabsMed. Inc., 343 F.3d 1107, 1112 (9th Cir. 2003).
All reasonable doubts and inferences to be drawn from the
facts are to be viewed in the light most favorable to the
non-moving party. Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co., Ltd. v.
Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986).
Thomasson brings two claims against Defendants. In Claim I,
Mr. Thomasson alleges that Defendants violated his procedural
due process rights under the Fourteenth Amendment. In Claim
n, Mr. Thomasson alleges that Defendants violated his First,
Fourth, and Fourteenth Amendment rights by failing to provide
him with access to a library with materials on Oregon law,
thereby obstructing his access to the courts. Defendants
argue they are entitled to summary judgment on both claims
because Mr. Thomasson has failed to show that they violated
his constitutional rights. Even if there is a factual dispute
as to whether they violated Mr. Thomasson's
constitutional rights, Defendants argue they are entitled to
qualified immunity. For the reasons explained below, I find
that Defendants are entitled to summary judgment on both
claims. Because Defendants are entitled to smnmary judgment
on the merits of the claims, I do not consider whether they
are entitled to qualified immunity.
Procedural Due Process Violations
Thomasson argues Defendants violated his procedural due
process rights by (1) putting him in solitary confinement for
26 days without explanation or adequate notice of a hearing,
and (2) sending him to a prison in Florida, where he remains
in solitary isolation. Defendants argue they are entitled to
summary judgment on this claim under both theories because
Mr. Thomasson has failed to show they violated a protected
liberty interest, either under the Due Process Clause itself
or under state law. See LaFleur v. Nooth,
2:12-CV-00637-SI, 2014 WL 1236138, at *3 (D. Or. Mar. 25,
2014) ("The Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth
Amendment protects liberty interests that arise either under
the clause itself or under state law." (citing
Chappell v. Manderville, 706 F.3d 1052, 1062 (9th
Cir. 2013)). For the following reasons, Mr. Thomasson has
failed to show that Defendants violated a liberty interest
created under the Due Process Clause itself or under state
law. As such, I GRANT summary judgment in Defendants'
favor on Claim I.
Due Process Violation Arising From the Clause Itself
Process Clause in itself "does not protect every change
in the conditions of confinement having a substantial adverse
impact on the prisoner." Sandin v. Conner, 515
U.S. 472, 478 (1995) (citation omitted); see also
Wilkinson v. Austin, 545 U.S. 209, 221 (2005)
("[T]he Constitution itself does not give rise to a
liberty interest in avoiding transfer to more adverse
conditions of confinement."(citation omitted)). Standing
alone, it "does not confer a liberty interest in freedom
from the conditions or degree of confinement ordinarily
contemplated by a prison sentence." LaFleur,
2014 WL 1236138, at *3; see also Sandin, 515 U.S. At
480 (explaining that the Due Process Clause "confers no
liberty interest in freedom from state action taken within
the [criminal] sentence imposed." (citation omitted)
(internal quotation marks omitted)). "[A]s long as the
conditions or degree of confinement to which the prisoner is
subjected is within the sentence imposed upon him ... the Due
Process Clause does not in itself subject an inmate's
treatment by prison authorities to judicial oversight."
Chappell, 706 F.3d at 1063 (quoting Montanye v.
Haymes, 427 U.S. 236, 242 (1976)).
prisoner's transfer to a maximum security facility or a
prison with more burdensome conditions is "within the
normal limits or range of custody" that a state may
impose and not itself a due process violation.
Sandin, at 478 (citation omitted). This is so
because even if "life in one prison is much more
disagreeable than in another, " such circumstances do
not themselves implicate a Fourteenth Amendment liberty
interest. Meachum v. Fano, 427 U.S. 215, 225 (1976)
("Transfers between institutions ... are made for a
variety of reasons and often involve no more than informed
predictions as to what would  best seive institutional
security or the safely and welfare of the inmate.");
see also Olim v. Wakinekoiia, 461 U.S. 238, 245-46
(1983) (adopting Meachum for interstate transfers
and explaining that "an imnate has no justifiable
expectation . . . that he will be incarcerated in any
particular State"). Similarly, temporary placement in
administrative segregation does not itself constitute a due
process violation. May v. Baldwin, 109 F.3d 557, 565
(9th Cir. 1997).
under Meachum, Sandin, Olim, and May, it is
clear that Mr. Thomasson's claims grounded in his
placement in administrative segregation and transfer to
Florida do not, standing alone, rise to the level of a
constitutional due process violation. Accordingly, Defendants
are entitled to judgment as a matter of law on Claim I on the
theory that they violated Mr. Thomasson's Fourteenth
Amendment procedural due process rights simply by placing him
in administrative segregation and then transferring him to