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Knox v. Allbaugh

United States District Court, E.D. Oklahoma

March 6, 2019

ANTONE L. KNOX, Plaintiff,
v.
JOSEPH ALLBAUGH, et. al., Defendants.

          REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          SUZANNE MITCHELL UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         Antone L. Knox (Plaintiff), a prisoner in the custody of the Oklahoma Department of Corrections (DOC) custody and housed at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary (OSP) in McAlester, Oklahoma, brings this action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 alleging violations of his federal constitutional rights. See Doc. 1.[1] He appears pro se.[2]

         Plaintiff names the following Defendants, each in their individual and official capacities: DOC Director Joe Allbaugh; OSP Deputy Warden Natalie Cooper; OSP Chaplain Charles Allen; and OSP Warden Mike Carpenter. See Id. at 1-3.

         Chief United States District Judge Joe Heaton has referred this matter to the undersigned Magistrate Judge for initial proceedings consistent with 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B), (C). See Doc. 7. Following mandatory screening of Plaintiff's complaint, the undersigned recommends the transfer of this action to the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Oklahoma.

         I. Plaintiff's claims.

         Plaintiff generally maintains Defendant Allbaugh, as DOC, director is responsible for DOC policy that allegedly infringes Plaintiff's religious dietary rights at OSP; that Defendant OSP Deputy Warden Cooper is liable for restrictions bearing on Plaintiff's personal and legal mail at OSP; that Defendant OSP Chaplain Allen has interfered with Plaintiff's chosen religious diet and engaged in retaliation; and that Defendant OSP Warden Carpenter, as supervisor, has failed to remedy these alleged violations. See Doc. 1, at 1-2.

         II. Screening.

         Federal law requires the court to screen complaints filed by prisoners seeking relief against a governmental entity or an officer or employee of a governmental entity. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a). The court must dismiss any frivolous or malicious claim, any claim asking for monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief, or any claim on which the court cannot grant relief. Id. § 1915A(b).

         One aspect of screening is reviewing whether venue is proper “when the defense is obvious from the face of the complaint and no further factual record is required to be developed.” Trujillo v. Williams, 465 F.3d 1210, 1217 (10th Cir. 2006) (citation omitted). Moreover, “the court acting on its own motion, may raise the issue of whether a change of venue would be in the interest of justice.” Love's Travel Stops & Country Stores, Inc. v. Oakview Constr., Inc., No. CIV-10-235-D, 2010 WL 4811450, at *6 (W.D. Okla. Nov. 19, 2010) (unpublished order).

         III. Analysis.

         “[T]he term ‘venue' refers to the geographic specification of the proper court or courts for the litigation of a civil action . . . .” 28 U.S.C. § 1390(a). The proper venue for Plaintiff's action is in the “judicial district in which any defendant resides” or the “judicial district in which a substantial part of the events or omissions giving rise to the claim occurred . . . .” Id. § 1391(b)(1), (2).

         A. Venue is proper in the Western District of Oklahoma.

         Here, Plaintiff identifies Defendant Allbaugh as “a citizen of Okla City, Oklahoma.” Doc. 1, at 1. He also identifies Defendant Allbaugh as the “Okla. Dept. of. Corr. Director.” Id. at 1. “Venue for actions filed by any prisoner of any state prison . . . in which . . . the [DOC] . . . or any officer or employee that has multicounty responsibilities is named as a party shall be in the county of the official residence of the [DOC].” Okla. Stat. tit. 57, § 566.4(G)(1). And, Oklahoma County is “the county of the official residence of the Department of Corrections . . . .” State ex rel. Dep't of Corr. v. Brock, 513 P.2d 1293, 1295 (Okla. 1973).

         “Oklahoma is divided into three judicial districts . . . known as the Northern, Eastern, and Western Districts of Oklahoma.” 28 U.S.C. § 116. Oklahoma County is in the Western District. See Id. ยง ...


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