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Bergey v. Tribley

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

May 20, 2015

ROBERT BERGEY, Plaintiff,
v.
LINDA TRIBLEY et al., Defendants.

OPINION

GORDON J. QUIST UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

This is a civil rights action brought by a state prisoner pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The Court has granted Plaintiff 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 against Defendants Penrose, Perttu, Russell, Barber, and MacLeod will be dismissed for failure to state a claim. The Court will order service of the complaint against Defendants Klingforth, Tribley, McGuire and Yon.

Factual Allegations

Plaintiff Robert Lyle Bergey is a state prisoner presently incarcerated with the Michigan Department of Corrections (MDOC) at Carson City Correctional Facility, though the events about which he complains occurred while he was incarcerated at Ojibway Correctional Facility (OCF). Most of the Defendants are MDOC employees located at OCF: Warden Linda Tribley, “Mailroom - GOA” Brenda Klingforth, “Mailroom - GOA” Jeannine MacLeod, Inspector Michael S. Yon, Assistant Resident Unit Supervisor (ARUS) Ronda McGuire, “A / HI” (Unknown) Penrose, and Resident Unit Manager (RUM) T. Perttu. Plaintiff also sues MDOC Grievance Section Manager Richard D. Russell and Ombudsman Keith Barber of the Office of Legislative Corrections Ombudsman. (Compl., docket #1, Page ID##2-3.)

According to the complaint, Plaintiff’s “personal” outgoing mail has been opened and read by MDOC officials, including Warden Tribley and OCF mailroom staff. (Id. at Page ID#3.) Plaintiff became aware of what was happening in January 2013, when his grandmother informed him that all of his mail to her since December 2012 had been opened and then taped closed.

MDOC policies prohibit prisoners from sending mail that “is a threat to the security, good order, or discipline of the facility, may facilitate or encourage criminal activity, or may interfere with the rehabilitation of the prisoner, ” including the following:

1. Mail violating federal or state law.
2. Mail violating postal regulations.
3. Mail containing physical contraband, which is defined as any property that a prisoner is not specifically authorized to possess or that is from an unauthorized source. This includes postage stamps, except that a prisoner may receive a single stamped self-addressed envelope from an attorney, a court, or a legitimate religious organization.
4. Mail containing a criminal plan or conspiracy.
5. Mail containing threats.
6. Mail addressed to anyone who has objected to receiving mail from the prisoner sending the mail. This only applies after the prisoner has been notified of the objection. A prisoner who continues to send mail to a person who has objected to receiving mail from that prisoner after receiving notice of the objection also may be subject to discipline in accordance with PD 03.03.105 “Prisoner Discipline”.
7. Mail for the purpose of operating a business enterprise while within the facility.

(MDOC Policy Directive 05.03.118 ΒΆ D (Sept. 14, 2009), docket #1-1.) Plaintiff contends that OCF Operating Procedure 05.03.118 (effective April 1, 2013) provided that if a prison official had reasonable grounds to believe that a prisoner is sending mail in violation of the foregoing policy, the prisoner would be issued a notice of violation and a hearing would be conducted on the matter. If, after a hearing, it was determined that the mail violates the policy, then the mail ...


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