Latson v. Clarke (P)

The court granted summary judgment as to various claims by plaintiff and former inmate Reginald Latson, who alleges he was denied medical treatment and subjected to abuse prior to being conditionally pardoned by the Governor of Virginia.

Latson’s claims under the Americans with Disabilities Act and Rehabilitation Act are time-barred. Contrary to his argument, those claims were not made possible by the ADA Amendments Act, and he therefore cannot avail himself of the four-year catch-all limitations period therein. The evidence is clear that autism spectrum disorder and intellectual disability are lifelong conditions that are not episodic but ever-present and do not go into remission. Thus, they would have been recognized as disabilities under the pre-amendment version of the ADA, and the applicable limitations period is the one year provided by Virginia’s Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act.

While courts are increasingly recognizing restrictive-housing conditions as Eighth Amendment violations, qualified immunity applies except for violations of clearly-established law. Given that the state of the law is evolving rather than clearly established, the individual defendants didn’t violate a clear standard in 2014 and 2015 by assigning Latson in restrictive housing.

Undisputed facts also fail to establish the individual defendants’ deliberate indifference to Latson’s serious medical needs. They are not medical professionals, and there is no evidence that they intentionally interfered with treatment prescribed by the treatment team or denied Latson access to necessary treatment. The evidence does not support Latson’s argument that the very act of placing him in restrictive housing was meant to interfere with his treatment.

The defendants are also entitled to summary judgment as to Latson’s due process claims. While he has established a liberty interest in avoiding restrictive housing, he received all the process that was due to him under the Fourteenth Amendment. The realities of prison administration required that Latson be segregated while he was being assessed to reduce the risk of harm to Latson or others that could have resulted from placing him immediately into general population without fully understanding his needs. Further, no case law in 2014 held that the defendants were required to provide any additional procedural protections beyond what they provided.

Finally, although Latson showed that placing him in restrictive housing would chill the speech of an ordinary person in his circumstances, he has not rebutted testimony that Latson was administratively segregated for his own protection and that other inmates at different facilities who were pardoned were also placed in isolation while awaiting release and that the general practice was to house pardoned individuals by themselves for their protection.

Motion for summary judgment granted.

Latson v. Clarke (P), No. 1:16cv39, Nov. 6, 2018. WDVA at Abingdon (Jones).

Categories: Opinions, U.S. District Court - Western District of Virginia

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