himself. Rather, regulations must be a product of the state legislative process in order to create a liberty interest.
Considering the above criteria, the regulations at issue in this case do not establish a liberty interest. The Service Order is nothing more than an internal document issued by the Superintendent of the Detention Facility. The District of Columbia City Council did not enact the Adjustment Board Procedures as part of a district-wide statute, and played no other part in its existence. Despite the Superintendent's use of mandatory language, the regulations do not bind his discretion. Therefore, plaintiff's due process claim fails for lack of a liberty interest.
B. Qualified Immunity Defense
Defendants next argue that they are entitled to the defense of qualified immunity for their alleged misconduct. They contend that because they were acting in their official capacities as detention facility employees when they subjected plaintiff to disciplinary proceedings, they cannot be held individually liable for any wrongful acts they may have committed in connection with that conduct. The court agrees with this contention.
The Supreme Court established the current qualified immunity analysis in Harlow v. Fitzgerald, 457 U.S. 800, 73 L. Ed. 2d 396, 102 S. Ct. 2727 (1982). In that case the plaintiff, a Department of Air Force employee, alleged that two senior White House aides to former President Nixon conspired to wrongfully terminate him. The Court held that by virtue of their official executive positions, defendants enjoyed qualified immunity from civil liability. Id. at 807. The Court further specified the test to determine whether a defendant may claim qualified immunity, as follows: "Government officials performing discretionary functions, generally are shielded from liability for civil damages insofar as their conduct does not violate clearly established statutory or constitutional rights of which a reasonable person would have known." Id. at 818. This amounts to a two part test: First, whether the defendant violated the plaintiff's federal rights; second, whether those rights were clearly established from an objective point of view.
The shield of qualified immunity applies to federal and state officials alike who are sued for constitutional violations. Butz v. Economou, 438 U.S. 478, 500, 57 L. Ed. 2d 895, 98 S. Ct. 2894 (1978). Since Harlow, the Supreme Court has identified corrections employees as part of the class of officials who may claim the qualified immunity defense. Procunier v. Navarette, 434 U.S. 555, 55 L. Ed. 2d 24, 98 S. Ct. 855 (1978). The court of appeals for this circuit has also recently recognized qualified immunity in the context of prisoners suing prison officials. See, e.g., Kimberlin v. Quinlan, 303 U.S. App. D.C. 330, 6 F.3d 789 (D.C. Cir. 1993) (qualified immunity conferred on Director of Bureau of Prisons when inmate brought section 1983 suit alleging violation of his constitutional rights for denial of access to the press and due process of law); Crawford-El v. Britton, 293 U.S. App. D.C. 47, 951 F.2d 1314 (D.C. Cir. 1991) (qualified immunity recognized for prison officials in connection with inmate's section 1983 suit claiming that prison official's misdelivery of his legal papers during prison transfer was intentional interference with his constitutional right of access to the courts); Brogsdale v. Barry, 288 U.S. App. D.C. 311, 926 F.2d 1184 (D.C. Cir. 1991) (Mayor and corrections officials granted qualified immunity from civil rights claims under section 1983 after prisoners were injured in a fire caused by rioting).
Against this background of prisoner cases, the court holds that defendants in this case are entitled to the qualified immunity defense. Plaintiff has failed to properly allege the violation of a clearly established right -- indeed, of any constitutional right at all. As previously discussed, plaintiff's due process claims cannot withstand dismissal since there is no liberty interest in an inmate's housing status at the D.C. Detention Facility. Plaintiff has thereby failed to satisfy the necessary threshold inquiry -- the violation of a constitutional right -- in the determination of defendants' qualified immunity claim. Therefore, defendants are entitled to immediate dismissal prior to the commencement of discovery. Mitchell v. Forsyth, 472 U.S. 511, 526, 86 L. Ed. 2d 411, 105 S. Ct. 2806 (1985).
For purposes of this analysis, even assuming that plaintiff could properly allege a due process violation, he would still be unable to overcome defendants' qualified immunity claim. As discussed, the second half of the two-part qualified immunity analysis focuses on whether or not the constitutional rights were clearly established at the time of the violation, such that defendants knew or should have known that their conduct was wrongful. The Supreme Court has not defined the specific manner in which rights become clearly established. Still, the court finds that plaintiff's constitutional rights were certainly not "clearly established" in this case. A vacated split decision is the closest any court in this circuit has come to establishing a liberty interest in internal prison regulations. Therefore, defendants are entitled to the qualified immunity defense regardless of the court's ruling on the existence of a liberty interest.
C. Personal Involvement of High-Level Defendants
Defendants' final contention is that the claims against defendants Henderson, Britton, and Fulton should be dismissed because the complaint fails to establish their personal involvement in the conduct at issue. They claim plaintiff has not shown any link between the alleged constitutional infringement and the actions of these managing officials.
Plaintiff's amended complaint, with respect to defendants Britton and Fulton, effectively alleges a respondeat superior theory. But this doctrine is not a sufficient basis for a valid claim here. Plaintiff must do more than make mere inferences to the involvement of a named defendant in a section 1983 claim, especially when that defendant is a government official. A complaint must specifically allege the involvement of each individual defendant, not rest on the "bare assumption that policy decisions made [elsewhere] might have affected [plaintiff's] treatment in [the detention facility]." Cameron v. Thornburgh, 299 U.S. App. D.C. 228, 983 F.2d 253, 258 (D.C. Cir. 1993).
The complaint fails to make the required factual averment as to the individual involvement of defendants Britton and Fulton. Accordingly, these defendants will be dismissed.
Defendant Henderson, on the other hand, has been specifically implicated in this case. Plaintiff alleges that Administrator Henderson failed to respond to plaintiff's appeals and grievances of the Adjustment Board's decisions, in violation of the Service Order. These allegations show sufficient personal involvement by Henderson to prevent his dismissal.
For the foregoing reasons, defendants' motion to dismiss the complaint for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted or, in the alternative, for summary judgment shall be GRANTED with respect to all defendants, in a separate order issued this date.
ROYCE C. LAMBERTH
United States District Judge
DATE: March 24, 1994
This matter comes before the court on defendants' motion to dismiss plaintiff's complaint for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted or, in the alternative, for summary judgment. Upon consideration of the parties' filings and the relevant law, it is hereby ORDERED:
1. Defendants' motion to dismiss the amended complaint or, in the alternative, for summary judgment, is GRANTED for the reasons set forth in the accompanying memorandum;
2. This case now stands DISMISSED WITH PREJUDICE.
ROYCE C. LAMBERTH
United States District Judge
DATE: March 24, 1994