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Lay v. G.T.L. Phone Corp.

United States District Court, E.D. Oklahoma

March 29, 2019

WADE LAY, Plaintiff,
v.
G.T.L. PHONE CORP., et al., Defendants.

          OPINION AND ORDER

          James H. Payne United States District Judge Eastern District of Oklahoma

         This action is before the Court on Defendants' motions to dismiss or for summary judgment. The Court has before it for consideration Plaintiff's complaint (Dkt. 1), the parties' motions (Dkts. 47, 51) and a special report prepared by the Oklahoma Department of Corrections (DOC) at the direction of the Court, in accordance with Martinez v. Aaron, 570 F.2d 317 (10th Cir. 1978) (Dkt. 46).

         Plaintiff, a pro se, death-sentenced prisoner in the custody of DOC is incarcerated at Oklahoma State Penitentiary (OSP) in McAlester, Oklahoma. He brings this action under the authority of 42 U.S.C. § 1983 seeking relief for alleged constitutional violations at his facility. The defendants are G.T.L. Phone Corporation (GTL), DOC, OSP, OSP Warden Terry Royal, OSP H-Unit Manager Jerry Perry, and OSP Case Manager Miss Schlueter.

         Standard of Review

         The pleading standard for all civil actions was articulated in Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544 (2007). See Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 684 (2009). To avoid dismissal for failure to state a claim under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6), a complaint must present factual allegations, assumed to be true, that “raise a right to relief above the speculative level.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555. The complaint must contain “enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Id. at 570. A court must accept all the well-pleaded allegations of the complaint as true, even if doubtful in fact, and must construe the allegations in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. Id. at 555-56. “So, when the allegations in a complaint, however true, could not raise a claim of entitlement to relief, ” the cause of action should be dismissed. Id. at 558.

         A pro se plaintiff's complaint must be broadly construed under this standard. Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007); Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972). The generous construction to be given to the pro se litigant's allegations “does not relieve the plaintiff of the burden of alleging sufficient facts on which a recognized legal claim could be based.” Hall v. Bellmon, 935 F.2d 1106, 1110 (10th Cir. 1991). Notwithstanding a pro se plaintiff's various mistakes or misunderstandings of legal doctrines or procedural requirements, “if a court can reasonably read the pleadings to state a valid claim on which the plaintiff could prevail, it should do so . . . .” Id. A reviewing court need not accept “mere conclusions characterizing pleaded facts.” Bryson v. City of Edmond, 905 F.2d 1386, 1390 (10th Cir. 1990); see also Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555. The Court “will not supply additional factual allegations to round out a plaintiff's complaint or construct a legal theory on a plaintiff's behalf.” Whitney v.§ New Mexico, 113 F.3d 1170, 1173-74 (10th Cir. 1997). With these standards in mind, the court turns to the merits of Defendants' motions.

         Background

         The DOC defendants allege that on September 23, 2017, Plaintiff received a misconduct for covering his cell window and refusing multiple orders to remove the covering from the window. (Dkt. 47-6 at 49). On September 25, 2017, Plaintiff was summoned to Defendant Schleuter's office to investigate the September 23, 2017, disciplinary violation. Id. at 47-5 at 45). Plaintiff, however, refused to be escorted to Schleuter's office, refused to be restrained, and blocked his food passage. Id. As a result, Plaintiff received another misconduct for tampering with a locking device and failure to obey verbal orders. (Dkt. 47-5 at 45; Dkt. 47-6 at 50).

         As a sanction for the September 23, 2017, and September 25, 2017, misconducts, Plaintiff's phone privileges were suspended for 90 days. (Dkt. 47-6 at 46). When the phone system denied his call, Plaintiff was instructed to submit an updated GTL phone list to GTL, and he made a privileged call to his attorney in the H-Unit programs room. Id.

         Defendant G.T.L. Phone Corporation

         Plaintiff alleges Defendant GTL has collaborated with prison officials to deprive him of his “fundamental right to communicate with his habeas corpus attorneys, the federal public defender . . . in Oklahoma City.” He further claims:

The G.T.L. Phone Corporation has falsely represented conditions surrounding Wade Lay's phone connections under the pretense of technical difficulties. The G.T.L. representative entangled the G.T.L. Corporation in the prejudice and abuse of prison officials interfeering [sic] in the Plaintiff's rights under the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act (AEDPA), and the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.

(Dkt. 1 at 2).

         In support of his claim, Plaintiff cites 28 U.S.C. § 2254(b)(1)(B)(ii): “An application for a writ of habeas corpus on behalf of a person in custody pursuant to the judgment of a State court shall not be granted unless it appears that circumstances exist that render such process ineffective to protect the rights of the applicant.” This lawsuit, however, does not concern ...


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