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Leggins v. Eggert

United States District Court, D. South Dakota, Southern Division

March 27, 2014

ARDEN WENDELL PAWNEE LEGGINS, Plaintiff,
v.
MATT EGGERT, Unit Coordinator, Sioux Falls State Prison, in his individual capacity; DR. RUGIER, Health Service Doctor, Sioux Falls State Prison, in his individual capacity; HEAD NURSE JENNIFER, Health Service Head Nurse, Sioux Falls State Prison, in her individual capacity; and SCOTT McPHERSON, Doctor at Core Orthopedics Avera Medical Group, in his individual capacity, Defendants.

ORDER GRANTING MOTIONS FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

LAWRENCE L. PIERSOL, District Judge.

Plaintiff, Arden Wendell Pawnee Leggins, is an inmate at the South Dakota State Penitentiary (SDSP) in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. On July 27, 2012, Leggins filed a pro se civil rights lawsuit pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Docket 1. Leggins amended his original complaint on December 10, 2012 (Dockets 9), which he supplemented on December 17, 2012 (Docket 10). The Court screened Leggins's amended complaint shortly thereafter and found that all but one of Leggins' claims survived initial review pursuant to 28 U.S.C. 1915. Docket 11.

Nonetheless, with the Court's permission (Docket 24), Leggins filed a second amended complaint on May 16, 2013, specifically requesting that the court terminate Defendants Fedderson and Fate and realleging the following: (1) Matt Eggert violated the First Amendment by tampering with Leggins' legal mail; (2) Dr. Regier violated the Eighth Amendment by deliberately disregarding Leggins' serious medical needs; and (3) Nurse Jennifer violated the Eighth Amendment by deliberately disregarding Leggins' serious medical needs. Docket 26. Leggins supplemented his second amended complaint on May 22, 2013, to add a claim against Dr. Scott McPherson for violating the Eighth Amendment by deliberately disregarding Leggins' serious medical needs. Docket 28.

On August 14, 2013, Defendants Matt Eggert, Dr. Eugene Regier, and Jennifer Hartmann (SDSP Defendants) moved for summary judgment.[1] Docket 52. Soon thereafter, on August 30, 2013, Defendant Scott McPherson similarly moved for summary judgment. Docket 61, Leggins opposes both motions. Docket 67. For the reasons set forth herein, the Court grants Defendants' motions for summary judgment.

BACKGROUND

Viewed in a light most favorable to Leggins, the nonmoving party, the facts are as follows[2]:

Leggins entered the SDSP on August 6, 2006, to serve a three-year sentence for Possession of a Controlled Substance. Docket 54 at ¶ 1. Pursuant to a parole revocation in 2007, Leggins remains in custody at SDSP. Id. Prison officials at SDSP manage inmate affairs pursuant to established policies. To operate the prison mail system, prison officials adhere to the South Dakota Department of Corrections (SDDOC) Inmate Living Guide. As is relevant to this case, the SDSP's policy on incoming legal or privileged correspondence is as follows:

B. Privileged/legal correspondence directed to an adult offender will be opened by unit staffin the presence of the adult offender.
C. Privileged/legal correspondence for adult offenders will be inspected by unit staff for contraband and to determine the genuineness of the addressor.
1. Staff will not read the privileged/legal correspondence but will inspect the contents of both incoming and outgoing mail, page-by-page and in the presence of the offender to prevent the introduction of contraband and to confirm the contents are privileged/legal and have been sent by addressor.

Docket 52-1 at 4 (citations omitted) (emphasis in original). The SDSP employs a similar policy on outgoing legal correspondence:

C. Outgoing privileged/legal correspondence for adult offenders does not need to have postage attached and must be inspected by unit staff before being sealed and sent out.
1. Each adult offender housing unit will establish a regular time on weekdays for offenders to bring privileged/legal correspondence (with an unsealed, addressed envelope) to the unit coordinator or designee. Staff will make rounds to pick up privileged/legal correspondence in segregation units.
2. Outgoing privileged/legal correspondence from adult offenders will be inspected by staff for contraband.
a. Staffwill not read the privileged/legal correspondence but may inspect the contents page-by-page to prevent the introduction of contraband.
...
b. The inspection of privileged/legal correspondence will always take place in the presence of the offender.
3. If the contents of the outgoing privileged/legal correspondence are determined to be privileged/legal in nature, the correspondence will be sealed in the envelope. Unit staff will indicate on the outside of the ...

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