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Williams v. Utah Department of Corrections

United States Court of Appeals, Tenth Circuit

July 8, 2019

REGINALD WILLIAMS, Plaintiff - Appellant,
v.
UTAH DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS; BRIAN ALLGAIER, Utah Dept of Corrections; MATTHEW B. ANDERSON, Utah Dept of Corrections; CRAIG BALLS, Utah Dept of Corrections; ALFRED C. BIGELOW, Utah Dept of Corrections; LARRY BUSSIO, Utah Dept of Corrections; JOHN CAPELL, Dept of Corrections; BILLIE CASPER, Dept of Corrections; RICHARD K. ELLIS, Treasurer's Office; PAUL GARDNER, Dept of Corrections; MIKE HADDON, Dept of Corrections; RAYMOND KNIGHT, Dept of Corrections; DOUG RICHINS; ROSELLE MILLER, Div of Purchasing; GARY SESSIONS, Dept of Corrections; HELEN SHREVE, Dept of Corrections; PAMELA SORENSEN, Dept of Corrections; ROBERT STRONG, Dept of Corrections; STEVEN TURLEY, Dept of Corrections, Defendants - Appellees, and ZIONS FIRST NATIONAL BANK; ZIONS BANCORPORATION; A. SCOTT ANDERSON; DEREK LOUTENSOCK; JACK MAY; VIRGINIA SMITH, Zions Bank, Defendants.

         Submitted on the briefs: [*]

          Appeal from the United States District Court for the District of Utah (D.C. No. 2:13-CV-00319-DN)

          Wesley D. Felix, Deiss Law PC, Salt Lake City, Utah, for Plaintiff-Appellant.

          Joshua D. Davidson, Assistant Utah Solicitor General, Salt Lake City, Utah, for Defendants-Appellees.

          Before McHUGH, BALDOCK, and KELLY, Circuit Judges.

          BALDOCK, CIRCUIT JUDGE

         Reginald Williams, an inmate at the Utah Department of Corrections (UDOC), appeals the judgment entered in favor of UDOC and numerous prison officials on his claim that UDOC failed to pay interest on prison accounts in violation of the Takings Clause of the Fifth Amendment, and that prison officials retaliated against him for raising this claim. We exercise jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1291 and affirm, albeit for reasons other than those stated by the district court, and remand with instructions to the district court to dismiss Mr. Williams' claims without prejudice.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Believing that Utah state law requires UDOC to pay interest on prison accounts, Mr. Williams investigated the relationship between UDOC and Zions First National Bank (Zions Bank). Based on his investigation, he concluded that Zions Bank had a contract with UDOC to hold prisoner funds in an account administered by UDOC, and that the interest earned on the funds was illegally retained by the bank, when it should have been paid to the prisoners who owned the funds. Mr. Williams believed that, in response to this investigation, UDOC retaliated against him by, among other things, seizing his legal papers and giving him a negative parole report, which resulted in the denial of parole. He claimed that he was a model prisoner who was similarly situated to other prisoners who had been granted parole.

         Mr. Williams, then proceeding pro se, filed suit pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, against UDOC, numerous prison officials, Zions Bank, and several Zions Bank employees. He alleged takings and due-process constitutional violations for withholding interest on inmate funds, and retaliation in violation of the First Amendment for raising these issues.[1] After the district court appointed counsel for Mr. Williams, all defendants filed motions to dismiss. The district court dismissed all claims except the retaliation claim, and dismissed all defendants except five prison officials. The remaining defendants then filed a motion for summary judgment on the retaliation claim, which the district court granted.

         In their motion to dismiss, UDOC and the prison-official defendants (collectively, the UDOC Defendants) asserted Eleventh Amendment immunity, claiming that as an arm of the State of Utah, UDOC was immune from suit, and that the prison personnel were similarly immune from suit for claims against them in their official capacities. Mr. Williams presented no argument regarding the Eleventh Amendment, and the district court did not address Eleventh Amendment immunity in any of its rulings. On appeal, the UDOC Defendants renew their argument that they are immune from suit under the Eleventh Amendment.

         II. DISCUSSION

         A. Eleventh Amendment Immunity

         The Eleventh Amendment states, "The Judicial power of the United States shall not be construed to extend to any suit in law or equity, commenced or prosecuted against one of the United States by Citizens of another State, or by Citizens or Subjects of any Foreign State." U.S. Const. amend XI. The Eleventh Amendment bars suits in federal court against a nonconsenting state brought by the state's own citizens. See Edelman v. Jordan, 415 U.S. 651, 662-63 (1974). This immunity extends to arms of the state and to state officials who are sued for damages in their official capacity. See Peterson v. Martinez, 707 F.3d 1197, 1205 (10th Cir. 2013). "[O]nce effectively asserted[, ] [Eleventh Amendment] ...


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