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Ambler v. Washington

United States District Court, W.D. Michigan, Northern Division

October 11, 2016

HEIDI WASHINGTON, et al., Defendants.


          Paul L. Maloney, 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 will be dismissed for failure to state a claim.

         Factual Allegations

         Plaintiff Leo Michael Ambler, a state prisoner currently confined at the Chippewa Correctional Facility (URF), filed this pro se civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against Defendants MDOC Director Heidi Washington, Michigan Reformatory (RMI) Warden Carmen Palmer[1], RMI Deputy Warden Gregory Skipper, RMI Deputy Warden Scott Schooley, RMI Classification Director N. Marshall, RMI Resident Unit Manager Rob Sutherland, RMI Corrections Officer Unknown Trieweiler, RMI Food Service Supervisor James Montgomery, RMI Food Service Supervisor Unknown North, RMI Food Service Supervisor Unknown Kurr, RMI Food Service Supervisor Unknown LaRoe, Kinross Correctional Facility (KCF) Warden Duncan MacLaren, KCF Deputy Warden Kathy Olson, KCF Administrative Assistant David Mastaw, KCF Grievance Coordinator Louis Berlinger[2], KCF Assistant Resident Unit Manager Patrick Harrington, KCF Resident Unit Manager Marquita Malette, KCF Lieutenant Stephanie Touri, KCF Corrections Officer Martin Miller, KCF Corrections Officer Michelle Hoey, KCF Corrections Officer Unknown Bury, KCF Corrections Officer James Corrigan, Alger Correctional Facility (LMF) Warden Catherine Bauman, LMF Deputy Warden Anthony Immel, LMF Resident Unit Manager G. Schram, LMF Assistant Resident Unit Supervisor P. Hubble, LMF Mailroom Office Assistant C. White, LMF Mailroom Office Assistant J. Lundquist, LMF Administrative Assistant Dean Potila, and LMF Corrections Officer Lyle Rutter.

         In Plaintiff's complaint, he alleges that he was transferred to RMI in July of 2013, and was classified to work in Food Service by Defendant Marshall. On December 8, 2013, Plaintiff began working under the direct supervision of Defendants Montgomery, Kurr, and LaRoe. Plaintiff spoke with Defendants Kurr regarding his prior experience as a food service clerk. Defendant Kurr and Food Service Supervisor Harkrader told Plaintiff that he could work as a food service clerk part-time until he passed a security clearance. On April 15, 2014, Plaintiff was told that he had not been cleared for the job of food service clerk. Plaintiff sought an explanation from Defendant Marshall, but did not receive a satisfactory explanation. Plaintiff filed a grievance. Defendant Skipper responded to the grievance and informed Plaintiff that no explanation needed to be given.

         On April 21, 2014, Plaintiff witnessed Defendant Montgomery engage in a disagreement with another prisoner, during which he swore at the prisoner and ordered him into the office. The incident was also witnessed by Defendants Kurr, LaRoe, and Trieweiler. Plaintiff was questioned about the incident by Thomsen. On April 23, 2014, Plaintiff was told that Defendant Schooley had laid him in from his work assignment. On April 24, 2014, Plaintiff asked Defendant Kurr about the lay-in during breakfast. Defendant Kurr stated that she did not know about the lay-in and would try to find out. During lunch, Defendant Kurr told Plaintiff that Food Service Supervisors Corder and Harkrader had contacted Defendant Marshall, and that no one knew of any suspension. Plaintiff was told to report for work the next day.

         Plaintiff worked his food service detail from April 25, 2014, until April 28, 2014, without incident. However, on April 28, 2014, Defendant Schooley called Plaintiff into his office and told him that he was suspended because Defendant Schooley would “not have a prisoner working in Food Service who makes allegations of wrong doing against a staff member.” Plaintiff attempted to explain that he had not accused Defendant Montgomery of threatening him, and that it was another prisoner and Plaintiff was merely a witness. However, Defendant Schooley accused Plaintiff of changing his story and ordered him to leave the school building. When Plaintiff went to retrieve his ID card, Defendant LaRoe asked him what had happened, but when Plaintiff attempted to explain, Defendant Schooley appeared and ordered Plaintiff to leave immediately. Plaintiff filed a grievance.

         On May 9, 2014, Plaintiff's work detail was officially cancelled and he was reclassified to the jobs of Library Aide and Gym Porter. On May 13, 2014, Defendant Marshall interviewed Plaintiff on his grievance and stated, “You accused an employee of inappropriate behavior, which if found valid would potentially lead to discharge of the employee. An investigation of the incident through video and eyewitnesses did not validate your claim.” On May 22, 2014, Plaintiff was transferred to KCF, despite the fact that he had not requested a transfer and was not eligible for placement into a transfer pool until July 5, 2014. The reason given for the transfer was to accommodate bed space for a “force feed” from another prison.

         On June 16, 2014, Plaintiff gave Defendant Harrington a statement describing an incident with some prisoners at the R. A. Handlon Correctional Facility (MTU) the previous year, and indicating that he was currently being threatened by associates of those individuals. On November 10, 2014, Plaintiff was approached by two unknown black prisoners, who told him that if he wanted to stay on the KCF yard, he would have to start paying protection. When Plaintiff returned to his cell, he discovered that his wall locker had been broken into and his cellmate, prisoner Hawk, was agitated. Plaintiff found much of his personal property was missing and began to pack his remaining property in a duffle bag and two footlockers. Plaintiff then went to the officers' desk and told Defendants Hoey and Miller about the threats and the destruction of his locker. Plaintiff stated that he no longer felt safe in the unit or facility. Defendant Hoey called for Defendant Touri and took Plaintiff to his cell to secure his property. Defendant Hoey told Plaintiff that his property would be secured in Defendant Harrington's office and sent Plaintiff to the office to talk to Defendant Touri. Plaintiff was then taken to a protection cell by Defendant Miller.

         On November 14, 2014, Plaintiff sent a written request to Defendant Berlinger for a DTMB-1104 form to file an Administrative Board Prisoner Property Claim. However, Defendant Berlinger did not respond. In addition, Plaintiff was seen by Defendants Olson and Malette regarding the loss of his property. Defendant Malett told Plaintiff that it was a dog-eat-dog world and that Plaintiff should go back to the yard. Plaintiff was given a direct order to leave segregation later that day, but Plaintiff refused. Plaintiff received a class II misconduct for disobeying a direct order. Plaintiff's misconduct was reviewed by Defendant Touri, who elevated it to a class I, stating that Plaintiff was unmanageable and refused to follow staff direction.

         On November 18, 2014, Plaintiff sent a second request for a DTMB-1104 form to file an Administrative Board Prisoner Property Claim. Defendant Berlinger subsequently returned the second request along with a response which improperly directed Plaintiff to file a grievance explaining the loss and identifying the staff who were responsible. Plaintiff filed a grievance in compliance with Defendant Berlinger's instructions, even though he was aware that they were contrary to departmental practice.

         On November 20, 2014, Plaintiff was given 10 days segregation for the class I misconduct. On November 21, 2014, Plaintiff was told that he was to be confined in administrative segregation pending a transfer to another facility. On November 26, 2014, Plaintiff was transferred to LMF. Plaintiff received his personal property, which was opened to search for contraband. Plaintiff noticed that some items were missing from his duffel bag. However, property belonging to his former cellmate Hawk, who as also being transferred, was searched at the same time. During the search, Plaintiff noticed that some of his stolen property was in Defendant Hawk's possession. On November 27, 2014, Plaintiff sent a written notice to Defendant Rutter at LMF regarding the property in prisoner Hawk's possession. On November 30, 2014, Plaintiff filed a grievance on Defendant Bury regarding the property which was missing from his duffle bag. Plaintiff also filed a grievance on Defendant Berlinger for failing to provide him with a DTMB-1104 form.

         Plaintiff's grievance against Defendant Hoey and Miller for the initial loss of his property was denied by Defendants Harrington and Malette, who did not address the damage to the locker where the property had been stolen, but instead noted that there had been no damage to Plaintiff's segregation locker. Defendants Mastaw and Olson denied Plaintiff's grievance against Defendant Berlinger.

         On January 8, 2015, Plaintiff plugged his new MP3 player into the Alger kiosk to download his personal music catalog. When Plaintiff checked his System Message logs, he discovered that his stolen MP3 player had been plugged into the KCF kiosk on November 27, 2014. Plaintiff mailed a letter to ACCESS Corrections Company to obtain a printout of the system messages from November 10, 2014, until January 8, 2015. Plaintiff received a reply indicating that the system messages are not archived and that the ...

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