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Stein v. Lalonde

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

October 28, 2016

RICHARD DEAN STEIN, Plaintiff,
v.
DAVID LALONDE, 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 will be dismissed for failure to state a claim.

         Factual Allegations

         Plaintiff Richard Dean Stein, a state prisoner currently confined at the Baraga Maximum Correctional Facility (AMF), filed this pro se civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against Defendants Resident Unit Manager David LaLonde, Deputy Warden D. Isard, Deputy Warden Connie Horton, Resident Unit Manager M. LaCrosse, Manager of the Grievance Section Richard D. Russell, Grievance Coordinator M. McLean, Warden Jeffrey Woods, Hearing Officer Unknown O'Brien, Hearing Officer Unknown Theut, Hearing Investigator John McCollum, Captain J. Miller, Assistant Resident Unit Supervisor K. Dunton, Corrections Officer D. Rosebohm, Sergeant P. Thompson, Corrections Officer P. Irwin, Corrections Officer Unknown Ortiz, Sergeant Unknown Pawley, Corrections Officer L. A. Livermore, Sergeant W. Henderson, and Sergeant Unknown Ormsbee.

         In his complaint, Plaintiff alleges that he arrived at the Chippewa Correctional Facility (URF) on January 28, 2016. Plaintiff had previously been at URF and had informed his Assistant Resident Unit Supervisor and both Inspectors of a smuggling operation that involved an Aramark employee during his prior incarceration. When Plaintiff arrived on January 28, 2016, Assistant Resident Unit Supervisor McDonald was shocked to see Plaintiff and suggested that he lay low. McDonald told Plaintiff that he would talk to the Inspectors.

         Plaintiff alleges that on February 19, 2016, he was approached by some prisoners in the unit bathroom, who told Plaintiff that they would kill him if he did not hold an “ounce of weed.” Plaintiff left his unit and went to the Annex building during count. Once there, Plaintiff informed officials that he was locking up and refused to go back to his unit. Plaintiff received a class II misconduct ticket for being out of place. Plaintiff was placed in handcuffs and taken to segregation. Plaintiff's defense to the misconduct ticket was that he was threatened by 6 unknown prisoners in the bathroom, who told Plaintiff that he had to hold something for them, “or else.” Plaintiff states that he went back to his cell, got soap to wash his hands, and then walked to the control Annex. Defendant Ormsbee elevated the misconduct to a class I. Plaintiff was found guilty of the misconduct by Defendant O'Brien, and was sentenced to 30 days loss of privileges. Plaintiff's appeal was denied by Defendant Russell.

         On February 22, 2016, Plaintiff was ordered by Defendant Rosebohm to return to level two custody. Plaintiff refused. Defendants LaLonde and Isard told Plaintiff that if he refused to return to the general population, he would receive a misconduct and remain in segregation. Plaintiff claims that Defendant Isard stated, “I don't know why you[‘re] back here, and could care less, but you need [to] tell me what's going on.” When Plaintiff explained his situation and stated that he would be killed if he returned to general population, Defendants LaLonde and Isard refused to believe Plaintiff. Defendant Isard stated that his story was “bullshit” and ordered Plaintiff to leave segregation or take a misconduct. Plaintiff refused to go to the general population and was taken back to his cell by Defendant Rosebohm, who wrote a class II misconduct on Plaintiff. Plaintiff's misconduct was elevated to a class I by Defendant Thompson in order to revoke Plaintiff's bond and keep him in segregation. Plaintiff was found guilty of a class I misconduct, resulting in 10 days detention and 30 days loss of privileges. Plaintiff claims that his property was not returned to him after the completion of his sanctions.

         Plaintiff filed a grievance, which was rejected by Defendant LaCrosse, who summarized the investigation information as follows:

Per [Resident Unit Manager] LaLonde, the grievant was seen by SCC on 2/22/16. He added, prisoner claims a group of unknown black prisoners surrounded him in the E-Unit bathroom and told him to hold an ounce [of] weed for them or they were going to stick him. Prisoner claims he has no idea who these prisoners were. Says he thinks it's probably related to the threats he received last time he was here. SCC found no evidence that prisoner has been threatened or that his safety is in jeopardy in GP [general population] at URF. PC [protective custody] request denied, release to level 2.

See ECF No. 1-1. Defendant LaCrosse then noted that a prisoner shall be classified to protective segregation only if SCC determines that there is a reasonable basis to believe the prisoner needs protection based on a review of the facts provided by the prisoner or, if a hearing was conducted, as found by the hearing officer. Id. Defendant LaCrosse concluded that the interview conducted by the SCC on 2/22/16 found that Plaintiff's claimed need for protection was unsubstantiated based on all the available information. Id.

         Plaintiff's step II appeal was rejected by Defendant Horton, who stated, “The interview conducted by SCC [security classification committee] ¶ 2/22/2016 resulted in the prisoner's protection request being unsubstantiated based on all available information at that time.” Defendant Horton further stated that Defendants Isard and LaLonde did not violate policy or engage in any inappropriate behavior. The rejection of the grievance was upheld at step III by Defendant Russell.

         Defendant Irwin wrote a class II misconduct ticket on Plaintiff on March 7, 2016, for refusing to return to the general population. The misconduct was improperly elevated to a class I by Defendant Thompson. Plaintiff was found guilty on March 10, 2016, by Defendant Theut. Defendant Russell denied Plaintiff's appeal. On March 20, 2016, Defendant Ortiz wrote a class II misconduct ticket on Plaintiff for disobeying an order to return to the general population. This misconduct was elevated to a class I by Defendant Pawley. Defendant Theut found Plaintiff guilty on March 22, 2016, and Plaintiff's appeal was denied by Defendant Russell. On April 1, 2016, Defendant Livermore wrote a class II misconduct ticket on Plaintiff for refusing to leave segregation. Defendant Henderson elevated it to a class I misconduct. Plaintiff was found guilty by Defendant Theut and his appeal was denied by Defendant Russell.

         Plaintiff alleges that Defendant Dunton participated in SCC hearings on April 11, 2016, and on April 26, 2016. Defendant Dunton asked Plaintiff one or two questions, but otherwise was silent while Defendant LaLonde berated Plaintiff regarding his refusal to return to general population.

         Plaintiff claims that Defendant McCollum failed to give him the documents he asked for to prepare for this misconduct hearing on April 22, 2016. Defendant McCollum noted that it was Plaintiff's fifth misconduct and that he had asked for the hearing packs from his four previous misconduct hearings. Defendant McCollum stated that Plaintiff had requested all the documents from previous misconduct hearings in each of his four prior hearings as well. Defendant McCollum determined that Plaintiff's request was partially duplicative and refused to give Plaintiff copies of documents that he had already received in order to prepare for his fourth misconduct hearing. Plaintiff complains that this denial violated his due process rights.

         At some point, Defendant LaLonde had Plaintiff removed from Quarry Unit Segregation and sent to a more hostile segregation unit in Steamboat. Defendant Irwin informed Plaintiff of the move minutes before the 2:00 pm shift change, and stated that he needed to hurry up and pack. Plaintiff asked for another big plastic bag and two small bags, and Defendant Irwin gave him the bags, but continued to insist that Plaintiff hurry. Plaintiff was taken to Steamboat unit by a transporting officer, who told Plaintiff that he must have angered Defendant LaLonde, because the order for the move had been made minutes before shift change. When Plaintiff arrived at Steamboat, the officers were not expecting him. The transporting officer stated, “LaLonde apparently was pissed off at him and moved him outta Quarry Unit to Steamboat.” Plaintiff asked about his property and was told that it had to be checked before he could have it. Plaintiff was led to the showers and his handcuffs and dog leash were removed. Plaintiff was strip searched, got redressed, and was taken to a cell at the end of the wing which had mice in it. Plaintiff claims that the move to Steamboat was done after his security classification meeting with Defendants LaLonde and Miller.

         Plaintiff claims that the named Defendants ignored his claims that he was in danger and punished Plaintiff for asking for protection by writing misconduct tickets on him. Plaintiff was found guilty of the tickets by Defendant Hearing Officers O'Brien and Theut. Plaintiff's repeated misconduct tickets for refusing to return to the general population resulted in Plaintiff's continued confinement in segregation and eventual increase in security classification to a level five. When ...


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