Submitted: February 7, 2019
from United States District Court for the Southern District
of Iowa - Des Moines
LOKEN, KELLY, and GRASZ, Circuit Judges.
inmate Mark Bitzan appeals following the district court's
grant of summary judgment for defendants on his claims under
42 U.S.C. § 1983 and the Religious Land Use and
Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA). For the reasons
stated below, we affirm in part, reverse in part, and remand
the case for further proceedings.
we find no abuse of discretion in the court's order
separating unrelated claims Bitzan initially raised from the
claims in the underlying case. See Mosley v. Gen. Motors
Corp., 497 F.2d 1330, 1332 (8th Cir. 1974) (applying an
abuse of discretion standard of review). As to the claims at
issue here, we agree with the district court that Bitzan
failed to administratively exhaust some claims, and that he
failed to show a violation of his rights under RLUIPA and the
First Amendment on the claims he exhausted. See Williams
v. City of Carl Junction, 480 F.3d 871, 873 (8th Cir.
2007) (engaging in de novo review of summary judgment order);
Van Wyhe v. Reisch, 581 F.3d 639, 656-58 (8th Cir.
2009) (explaining that to establish a substantial burden
under RLUIPA, plaintiff must show the government action
significantly constrains his religious conduct or expression,
meaningfully curtails his ability to express adherence to his
faith, or denies him reasonable opportunities to engage in
activities that are fundamental to his religion; where inmate
has not shown substantial burden under RLUIPA, claim fails
under First Amendment as well).
agree the district court properly granted summary judgment on
Bitzan's retaliation claims against VanWye, Nelson,
Eaves, Dahm, and Bartruff, because Bitzan did not allege any
facts connecting those defendants to the challenged actions.
See Madewell v. Roberts, 909 F.2d 1203, 1208 (8th
Cir. 1990) (explaining § 1983 liability requires causal
link to, and direct responsibility for, alleged deprivation
of rights); Langford v. Norris, 614 F.3d 445, 460
(8th Cir. 2010) (recognizing "prison supervisors . . .
cannot be held liable under § 1983 on a theory of
respondeat superior," and may be liable only where their
inaction amounts to deliberate indifference to or tacit
authorization of violative practices).
conclude that a genuine issue of material fact remained,
however, as to Bitzan's retaliation claims against
Schierbrock, DeGrange, Wilcox, Eisnnicher, Bowker, Roberts,
and Jill Johnson. Bitzan presented evidence these specific
defendants placed him in administrative segregation and
prevented him from providing his attorney with legal
documents shortly after he filed a previous lawsuit against
prison officials (including Schierbrock, DeGrange, Bowker,
and Roberts), and that they knew of the lawsuit. See
Spencer v. Jackson Cty., 738 F.3d 907, 911-13 (8th Cir.
2013) (to demonstrate retaliation, plaintiff must show he
engaged in protected activity, government official took
action against him that would chill person of ordinary
firmness from continuing activity, and adverse action was
motivated at least in part by exercise of protected activity;
timing of housing demotion one day after filing grievance was
strong evidence of retaliation, and defendants offered no
non-retaliatory motive). Defendants offered no evidence
justifying the adverse actions. See Santiago v.
Blair, 707 F.3d 984, 993 (8th Cir. 2013) (defendant may
defend retaliatory discipline claim by showing "some
evidence" inmate actually committed rule violation).
than offering evidence justifying the adverse actions, the
Appellees argued the actions Bitzan claims were retaliatory
could not have been such since they occurred prior to the
filing of the lawsuit. However, this is simply not the case.
The administrative segregation occurred on or about May 7,
2014, and the lawsuit was filed on April 23, 2014. The
Appellees brief fails to even address the administrative
segregation despite Bitzan's clear argument that it was
in retaliation for the lawsuit. Thus, an issue of material
fact remains. We reverse the order of summary judgment and
conclude that further proceedings are required on the
retaliation claims against these defendants.
judgment is affirmed in part and reversed in part, and the
case is remanded for further proceedings consistent with this
opinion. We deny Bitzan's motion to supplement the record
and his request for judicial notice, and dismiss the appeal
as to defendant Ludwick due to his death.
Circuit Judge, concurring:
regard to the remand of Mark Bitzan's retaliation claims
against certain defendants, I question whether placing an
inmate in administrative segregation, typically a
non-punitive classification, can be actionable retaliation
for his recently filing a lawsuit, and Bitzan's claim
that defendants prevented him from providing his attorney
with legal documents relating to the other lawsuit should be
litigated in that lawsuit, not in a separate lawsuit alleging
retaliation. However, as defendants only presented the
district court with an inaccurate temporal defense to the
retaliation claims, ...