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Florida Prisoner’s Retaliation Claim Reinstated

The Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the dismissal of a Florida prisoner’s civil rights action alleging retaliation and due process violations. The Florida federal district court dismissed the action during the initial screening state, finding that prisoner Glenn Smith failed to state a claim.

Smith claimed that he was subject to retaliation for exercising his First Amendment right to (1) protest having a cellmate when he previously was beaten by a cellmate, and (2) to complain about the guards’ action during the incident. Smith was issued a disciplinary report for disorderly conduct for the incident.

The Eleventh Circuit held the district court erred in dismissing the retaliation claim because Smith had a right to his protest and that the guard, M. Villapando, made false allegations against Smith in the report. As Smith admitted only to a disobeying orders report, and not to disorderly conduct, the claim should not have been dismissed.

The Eleventh Circuit further found the district court erred in dismissing Smith’s due process claim. That claim was dismissed because the district court found it would require restoration of gain time and imply the validity of his conviction or sentence. Since no gain time was revoked, this rationale does not apply.

Accordingly, the district court’s dismissal order was vacated and the matter remanded for further proceedings. See: Smith v. Correctional Officer M. Villapando, 268 Fed. Appx, 682 (11th Cir. 2008).

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Related legal case

Smith v. Correctional Officer M. Villapando