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Albert Pete Veenstra Iii v. Corrections Corporation of America (Cca)

March 28, 2011

ALBERT PETE VEENSTRA III, PLAINTIFF,
v.
CORRECTIONS CORPORATION OF AMERICA (CCA), A TENNESSEE CORPORATION; STEVEN CONRY, V.P., CCA; ICC MAILROOM SUPERVISOR, KATHY RADFORD; PHILIP VALDEZ, WARDEN ICC; JOHN/JANE, MAILROOM EMPLOYEES 1&2; GRIEVANCE COORDINATOR CHESTER PENN; JOEL VANCE YOUNG, ASSISTANT WARDEN ICC; SUED IN THEIR INDIVIDUAL AND OFFICIAL CAPACITIES, AND THEIR SUCCESSORS IN OFFICE, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Honorable Edward J. Lodge U. S. District Judge

MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER

Before the Court are Defendants' Motion to Dismiss (Dkt. 18), Plaintiff's Motion to Supplement (Dkt. 22), and Plaintiff's Request for Clarification (Dkt. 35). Having fully reviewed the record, the Court finds that the facts and legal arguments are adequately presented. Accordingly, in the interest of avoiding further delay, and because the Court finds that the decisional process would not be significantly aided by oral argument, this matter shall be decided on the record before this Court Dist. Idaho Loc. Civ. R. 7.1.

As explained more fully below, the Court will grant in part and deny in part Defendants' Motion to Dismiss (Dkt. 18) and grant Plaintiff's Motion to Supplement (Dkt. 22) and Request for Clarification (Dkt. 35).

BACKGROUND

On June 18, 2008, Plaintiff Albert Pete Veenstra III ("Plaintiff") was transferred from the Idaho Corrections Center ("ICC"), a private prison operated by Defendant Corrections Corporation of America ("CCA"), to the Bill Clayton Detention Center ("BCDC") in Littlefield, Texas. It is undisputed that Plaintiff's mail should have been forwarded to him at this new facility for sixty days, ending on August 18, 2008.

Plaintiff alleges that ICC Mailroom Supervisor Kathy Radford ("Radford") and CCA violated this policy sometime between August 8 and 11, 2008 by failing to forward his legal mail, in particular, a Supreme Court Record prepared by the Gooding County District Court Clerk that was mailed to Plaintiff on August 7, 2008. See Plaintiff's Response to Defendant Kathy Radford's Affidavit, Ex. 1 (Dkt. 20-3). The Supreme Court Record was returned to the Gooding County District Court Clerk on August 11 or 12, 2008 without a forwarding address. Id. at Ex. 3.*fn1

Plaintiff alleges that it was important for him to receive this legal mail because he was representing himself pro se in the state court appellate proceedings. However, there is no allegation that Plaintiff was prejudiced in his state court appeal as a result of the delay.

Regardless, Plaintiff did not file a concern form regarding the incident until he was transferred back to ICC on September 17, 2009, over a year after the alleged incident. Five days after his transfer, Plaintiff filed an inmate concern form. The next day, ICC Staff responded that the incident form was untimely. Plaintiff filed both a grievance and a grievance appeal, thus exhausting his administrative remedies to the extent they were still available to him over a year after the incident occurred.

On November 6, 2009, Plaintiff initiated the instant proceedings by filing a Complaint (Dkt. 1). The original Complaint named two Defendants: ICC Mail Room Supervisor Kathy Radford ("Radford") and Corrections Corporation of America ("CCA"), the private company operating the ICC. The allegations were specific to the single incident described above, wherein Plaintiff's legal mail was allegedly returned to the Gooding County District Court Clerk without a forwarding address.

The Court conducted an initial review of the Complaint and allowed Plaintiff to proceed with the claim against Radford. Dkt. 6, p. 4. In contrast, Plaintiff was not allowed to proceed with the claims against CCA, because the allegations did not reflect that CCA had a widespread policy or custom of failing to forward legal mail. Id. at pp. 5-7. The Initial Review provided Plaintiff with leave to amend the Complaint, which Plaintiff did, filing the First Amended Complaint on July 12, 2010. (Dkt. 14).

In the First Amended Complaint, Plaintiff continues to allege that Radford is responsible for the August 2008 incident in which his legal mail was returned to sender without a forwarding address. Id. In addition, Plaintiff added allegations concerning on- going mail issues and a new claim regarding the manner in which the grievance procedures are handled at ICC.

The First Amended Complaint names the following Defendants: (1) Radford;

(2) CCA; (3) Steven Conry, a Vice President of CCA; (4) Phillip Valdez, ICC Warden;

(5) Chester Penn, grievance coordinator at ICC; and (6) Joel Vance Young, Assistant Warden at ICC. Plaintiff's claims are: (1) Defendants Valdez, Conry, and Young condoned improper mail room procedures in violation of the First, Fifth, and Fourteenth Amendments; (2) Defendant Radford failed to follow established policies and directives in operating the mailroom in violation of the First, Fifth, and Fourteenth Amendments; (3) Defendant Radford violated 18 U.S.C. §§ 1701, 1702, and 1703 in obstructing Plaintiff's legal mail and causing undue delay; and (4) Defendant Penn failed to follow established policies and directives in the overall ICC grievance process in violation of the First, Fifth, and Fourteenth Amendments.

In response, Defendants filed a Motion to Dismiss (Dkt. 18) on the basis that Plaintiff failed to exhaust his administrative remedies. Defendants contend that claims based on the alleged failure to forward legal mail in August 2008 were not exhausted in a timely manner. In addition, Defendants contend that the additional claims based on allegations that his mail that was not received ...


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