The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge Conner
Presently before the court for judgment is the First Amendment retaliation claim of plaintiff Eric Floyd ("Floyd"). A non-jury trial was held. Pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 52, the court's findings of fact and conclusions of law are set forth below.
1. Floyd is a Muslim of the sect of Salafism. (Doc. 116 at 14.)
2. Floyd was incarcerated in the State Correctional Institution at Mahanoy ("SCI-Mahanoy") from May 24, 1995 until his release from custody on November 5, 1999. (Doc. 103 at 1.) During his first period of incarceration at SCI-Mahanoy, Floyd attended religious services led by Imam Rasheed Salahuddin of the Germantown mosque and was provided access to a Salafi book and tape library. (Doc. 116 at 14.) After his release from his first period of incarceration, Floyd worshiped at the Germantown mosque. (Id. at 19.)
3. Floyd returned to SCI-Mahanoy while serving a second sentence on August 9, 2002. (Doc. 103 at 1.) During this second period of incarceration, Floyd attended religious services led by defendant Imam Abdel Hamid Hnesh ("Imam Hnesh"), who had been the Muslim chaplain at SCI-Mahanoy since February of 1999. (Doc. 116 at 150.) Imam Hnesh was neither a member of the Germantown mosque nor a member of the sect of Salafism. (Id. at 16.) Floyd testified that the Salafi book and tape library was not as extensive as it had been during his prior period of incarceration and that he discussed the lack of resources with Imam Hnesh. (Id. at 19-21.)
4. On August 28, 2002, Floyd filed an inmate request slip that was addressed to Imam Hnesh. (Doc. 103 at 1-2.)*fn1 The request slip states, in pertinent part, as follows:
[N]ow may Allah have mercy upon you that it is not from Islam to keep the people of the Da'wah as-Salafiyyah*fn2 from coming up to this jail and teaching Allah[']s religion to the people. The way I see it is you allow the people who oppose the correct Da'wah to come and call to Ash-Shaytaan,*fn3 which we as the ummah*fn4 of this jail oppose you and the[ir] minhaj.*fn5 In short[,] me and the brothers of this ummah and the Da'wah as-Salafiyyah would like for you to allow the people of this Da'wah . . . to start coming up and stop putting or trying to force your minhaj of bid'ah*fn6 on this ummah, for we are not benefit[t]ing. You are not teaching tawheed*fn7 to the people which is a sin of bid'ah so either step down or get down with the correct minhaj. (Doc. 115, Ex. 5 at 6.)
5. Imam Hnesh received at least thirty-four inmate request slips that were similar to Floyd's at or around the same time. (Doc. 115, Ex. 5.) Nine of the request slips used nearly identical language to ask Imam Hnesh to "step down from [his] position." (Id.)
6. On September 5, 2002, Floyd was placed in administrative custody*fn8 pending an investigation into whether the filing of the thirty-five inmate request slips constituted unauthorized group activity in contravention of prison policy. (Doc. 32 ¶ 13; Doc. 73 ¶ 13.)
7. On September 12, 2002, defendant Intelligence Captain Vincent F. Mooney ("Captain Mooney")*fn9 requested a ten-day extension of Floyd's administrative custody based upon the time-consuming nature of the unauthorized group activity investigation. The request was approved by defendant Superintendent Edward J. Klem ("Superintendent Klem").*fn10 (Doc. 32 ¶ 14; Doc. 73 ¶ 14; Doc. 114, Ex. 3.)
8. On September 17, 2002, Floyd filed an inmate request slip that was addressed to Superintendent Klem and that sought clarification of the reason for his confinement. (Doc. 32 ¶ 15; Doc. 73 ¶ 15; Doc. 114, Ex. 4.) The request slip provides, in pertinent part, as follows:
I write for answers and clarification for the following. I have been placed in the [Restricted Housing Unit] under invest[i]gation for violating Rule DCADM 802 . . . . Now it is from my understanding that for me to be held over ten days, you have to give the go ahead, which it seems you have because I am now on my 12th day. So my question to you is, how did I v[i]olate such rule by submitting an indivi[d]ual request stating my opi[nio]n and beliefs from a religious standpoint to a religious chapl[ai]n as I was instructed to by him . . . which was well within my right of freedom of speech when no other inmate signed my request nor did I sign another inmate[']s request. With this said, what I need you to clarify for me is what are the grounds for one to v[i]olate said rule because what I did was no doubt an indivi[d]ual act and in no way a "group activit[y]." . . . . (Doc. 114, Ex. 4.) Deputy Superintendent Novotney responded by informing Floyd that his "continued placement" was "permitted by policy." Novotney then forwarded the request to the security office and provided copies to Captain Mooney and Superintendent Klem. (Id.)
9. Captain Mooney oversaw an investigation that revealed that Floyd was a member of an "extremely sophisticated" organization of inmates. The group of inmates communicated with one another in code, sent literature and other items out of the prison in other inmates' names, and received volumes of religious texts from unauthorized sources. The investigation also revealed that Floyd was a major player in the inmate organization. (See Doc. 116 at 170-73.)
10. On September 20, 2002, Floyd received misconduct number 427695, which charged him with engaging in or encouraging unauthorized group activity by filing an inmate request slip contemporaneously with thirty-four other Salafi inmates.
(Doc. 32 ¶ 16; Doc. 73 ¶ 16.) The misconduct was authored by Captain Mooney and states, in ...