Aref v. Lynch, No. 15-5154 (D.C. Cir. 2016)Annotate this Case
Appellants, three federal prisoners who spent several years housed in specially designated Communication Management Units (CMUs), filed suit contending that their designation to CMUs violated their due process rights. One appellant also alleges his continued CMU placement was in retaliation for protected speech in violation of the First Amendment. Appellants seek damages under the Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA), 42 U.S.C. 1997e, for injuries arising out of their confinement in CMUs. The district court granted summary judgment for the government. The court found that the duration and atypicality of CMU designation sufficient to give rise to a liberty interest and thus reversed and remanded for further proceedings to determine whether appellants were afforded sufficient process. The court affirmed the judgment as to the retaliation claim because appellant cannot show that his First Amendment rights were violated. The court held that appellants have alleged harms qualifying for compensation under the PLRA because their injuries were neither mental nor emotional in nature and so do not require a showing of physical injury. Nonetheless, the court upheld the district court's grant of summary judgment because the prison official was entitled to qualified immunity.