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Richards v. Heyns

United States District Court, Western District of Michigan, Southern Division

March 6, 2015

KYLE B. RICHARDS et al., Plaintiffs,
DANIEL HEYNS et al., Defendants.



This is a civil rights action brought by two state prisoners under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff Gilde has been dismissed for lack of prosecution. The Court has granted Plaintiff Richards leave to proceed in forma pauperis . Under the Prison Litigation Reform Act, PUB. L. NO. 104-134, 110 STAT. 1321 (1996), the Court is required to dismiss any prisoner action brought under federal law if the complaint is frivolous, malicious, fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted, or seeks monetary relief from a defendant immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2), 1915A; 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(c). The Court must read Plaintiff's pro se complaint indulgently, see Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972), and accept Plaintiff's allegations as true, unless they are clearly irrational or wholly incredible. Denton v. Hernandez, 504 U.S. 25, 33 (1992). Applying these standards, Plaintiff's action will be dismissed as frivolous and/or for failure to state a claim.

Factual Allegations

Plaintiff Kyle B. Richards is incarceratedbythe Michigan Department of Corrections (MDOC) at the Ionia Correctional Facility (ICF). Most of the defendants in this action are employees of the MDOC ("MDOC Defendants"): MDOC Director Daniel Heyns, ICF Deputy Wardens Willie Smith and Erica Huss; Resident Unit Manager (RUM) Mike Smith; and Assistant Resident Unit Supervisor (ARUS) (unknown) Haynes. The other defendants are state police officers (Colonel Kriste Kibbey Etue and Lieutenant Colonel Gary Gorski) and Ionia County prosecutors (Ronald Schafer and Kyle Butler).

Plaintiff Richards is an active litigant in the federal courts in the State of Michigan, having filed at least fourteen civil rights actions in the Western District alone since 2012. On numerous occasions, his complaints have been dismissed as frivolous or for failure to state a claim. See, e.g., Richards et al. v. Heinz et al., No. 1:12-cv-1197 (W.D. Mich. Mar. 5, 2013); Richards et al. v. Heyns et al., No. 1:12-cv-1269 (W.D. Mich. Jan. 11, 2013); Richards v. Smith et al., No. 1:11-cv-10929 (E.D. Mich. May 16, 2011); Richards v. Swartz et al., No. 2:10-cv-13759 (E.D. Mich. Oct. 14, 2010); Richards v. Schuster et al., No. 2:10-cv-10100 (E.D. Mich. July 8, 2010).

It is not unusual for Plaintiff to make extreme allegations of misconduct by prison officials, or to describe prison conditions that cause him to suffer a variety of alarmingly severe physical ailments. In addition, some prison conditions, and some forms of mistreatment, seem to follow him from one prison facility to another. Some of his allegations about his present conditions at ICF are curiously similar to his allegations in other actions regarding his conditions at Bellamy Creek Correctional Facility (IBC) in 2012. For instance, when Plaintiff was incarcerated at IBC, he alleged that he was suffering from fatigue, nausea, headaches, vomiting, and dangerous weight loss because prison officials were depriving him of meals and because the food portions that were not adequate to sustain him. See Richards v. Snyder, No. 1:12-cv-299 (W.D. Mich.); Richards et al. v. Heyns, No. 1:12-cv-1134 (W.D. Mich.), docket #1, Compl. 3. Plaintiff now makes similar allegations about his conditions at ICF.

Similarly, Plaintiff has filed several actions complaining that he does not receive adequate "sensory stimulation." While he was at IBC, he complained that he could not watch television or listen to the radio. See, e.g., Richards et al. v. Heyns et al., No. 1:12-cv-1134 (W.D. Mich.); Richards et al. v. Heyns et al., No. 1:12-cv-1262 (W.D. Mich.). These activities might be considered a luxury for some, but Plaintiff contends that they are essential for his survival; without them, he suffers from an incredible array of life-threatening conditions, including: seizures, heart palpitations, ulcers, stomach pains, internal bleeding, vomiting, and blood in his urine. See Richards v. Snyder et al., No. 1:14-cv-299 (W.D. Mich.), docket #1, Compl. 7-11. Although books are available to him for recreational reading, they allegedly pose a detrimental risk to his health: the amount of concentration required to read them might induce a life-threatening seizure. Id. at 11; see also Richards et al. v. Snyder et al., No. 1:14-cv-84 (W.D. Mich.), docket #35, Am. Compl. 6, 15, 17 (complaining about a lack of pornographic publications and "recreational appliances" at IBC; books were not adequate because they could trigger seizures that would "likely kill" Plaintiff). Plaintiff now makes similar allegations about a lack of adequate sensory stimulation at ICF.

Almost all of the allegations in the instant action are stated on behalf of "Plaintiffs, " referring to both Plaintiff Richards and Plaintiff Gilde. At this stage of the proceedings, however, Plaintiff Gilde has been dismissed from the action. Consequently, his claims have also been dismissed. Plaintiff Richards lacks standing to assert the constitutional rights of prisoner Gilde, or any other person. Newsom v Norris, 888 F.2d 371, 381 (6th Cir. 1989); Raines v. Goedde, No. 92- 3120, 1992 WL 188120, at *2 (6th Cir. Aug. 6, 1992). As a layman, Plaintiff may only represent himself with respect to his individual claims; he may not assert claims on behalf of others. See O'Malley v. Brierley, 477 F.2d 785 (3d Cir. 1973); Lutz v. LaVelle, 809 F.Supp. 323, 325 (M.D. Pa. 1991); Snead v. Kirkland, 462 F.Supp. 914, 918 (E.D. Pa. 1978). Thus, the Court will consider only those claims and allegations that pertain to Plaintiff Richards.

In "Claim 1" of the complaint, Plaintiff contends that Director Heyns, Deputy Wardens Smith and Huss, ARUS Haynes, and RUM Smith have physically abused him and prisoner Gilde on a "daily" basis, through physical beatings and the misuse of belly chains and handcuffs. (Compl., docket #1, Page ID##3, 7.) "Every day, " Plaintiff contends, he and Gilde are placed in cuffs and shackles and removed from their cells so that Defendants can "brutally and sadistically beat[]" them. (Id. at Page ID#7.) On a "daily" basis, Defendants have "punched, kicked, stomped on, and shoved or dragged [Plaintiffs] around . . . with the assistance of their officers, capt[ai]ns, ser[]geants, and l[ieu]tenants." (Id .) Through their "malicious handling" Plaintiff's belly chains and handcuffs on a daily basis, Defendants have allegedly dislocated Plaintiff's shoulder, inflicted "severe" cuts on his wrist, and caused him to experience "internal bleeding" and blood loss to his limbs, which "endanger[s]" his "vital organs." (Id.) Plaintiff contends that Defendants' conduct violates his rights under the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments, and constitutes torture under 18 U.S.C. § 2340.

In "Claim 2, " Plaintiff asserts that MDOC Defendants are responsible for unsafe conditions at ICF because the facility is not adequately monitored by security cameras, which are able to observe only twenty percent of his unit. (Id. at Page ID#8.) MDOC Defendants allegedly use the unobserved areas, such as the corridors and showers, to "brutalize" and "maliciously assault" prisoners. (Id.) The Governor of Michigan has allegedly ordered a "security upgrade" at ICF due to four prisoner escapes, three suicides, and two murders by prison guards in the year preceding the filing of the complaint. (Id.) Plaintiff claims that these conditions violate the Eighth Amendment.

In "Claim 3, " Plaintiff contends that MDOC Defendants have maintained unsanitary conditions at ICF. (Id. at Page ID#9.) Plaintiff asserts that the facility has become "an ecosystem of various insects, rodents, rats, mice, and other natural wildlife that occup[]y the interior . . . ventilation systems." (Id.) The ventilation ducts have the smell of skunk odor, and Plaintiff alleges that they contain "‘black mold' and various other molds" that "release mold spores" and cause "respiratory problems" for Plaintiff. (Id.) In addition, excessive dust in the ventilation system has blocked the flow of clean air and "damaged" Plaintiff's respiratory system, causing "bouts of frequent suff[o]cation." (Id.) Also, bee hives and wasp nests infest "most" cell windows in the prison, and water at the facility, which contains "E. coli" bacteria, is "tainted dark brown and green colors[.]" (Id.)

In "Claim 4, " Plaintiff contends that MDOC Defendants have deprived him of adequate "sensory stimulation" because he spends "hours" each day in his cell without access to a television, electronic games, or pornography. (Id. at Page ID#10.) The lack of adequate sensory stimulation has caused "extreme degrees of stress, " resulting in high blood pressure, hypertension, heart palpitations, and other symptoms of "stress related injury." (Id.)

In "Claim 5, " Plaintiff alleges that the food portions at ICF are not adequate to sustain him. (Id.) He has lost "excess" weight and experiences fatigue and lethargy from this "substan[t]ial and dangerous" weight loss. (Id.) In addition, on "many" days, Plaintiff and other prisoners are not fed a "majority" of meals by MDOC Defendants. (Id.) According to Plaintiff, "staff / Defendants" cover up their actions by marking in the prison log that the prisoner refused his meal tray. (Id.) Plaintiff contends that this "forced starvation" violates the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments and constitutes torture under 18 U.S.C. § 2340.

In "Claim 6, " Plaintiff contends that he has attempted to file criminal complaints with the Michigan State Police and the FBI, without success. (Id. at Page ID#11.) Officers Etue and Gorski allegedly failed to create an effective system for the police to receive and review prisoner complaints, thereby depriving Plaintiff of the right to file a criminal complaint and his right under the First Amendment to petition for redress of grievances. Plaintiff also contends that he has been denied equal protection under the law because he has been deprived of the right to file a criminal complaint solely because he is a state prisoner.

Next, in "Claim 7, " Plaintiff contends that Prosecutors Schafer and Butler have destroyed or concealed evidence about "ongoing police brutality, corruption, and assaults on prisoners, " and about officers who commit perjury and bring false charges against prisoners. (Id. at Page ID#12.) For instance, the complaint asserts that "Plaintiff" (it is not clear which one) was convicted in "case 14-K-15993-FH" based on false testimony because "favorable" evidence was lost or destroyed. (Id. at Page ID#13.) Plaintiff also complains that Schafer and Butler have failed to "register or file" complaints sent to them about criminal conduct. (Id.)

As relief for the foregoing claims, Plaintiff seeks damages and an injunction requiring (1) an upgrade in the prison's security system to cover blind spots, including all entrances, corridors and showers; (2) the condemnation and destruction of ICF due to black mold, E. coli and other health hazards, and (3) an amendment to the MDOC property policy so that the "PS3, PS4, Xbox One, and a variety of other electronic games" ...

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