United States District Court, W.D. Michigan, Southern Division
THOMAS R. SNELLING, Plaintiff,
W.O. SMITH et al., Defendants.
T. Neff United States District Judge
a civil rights action brought by a state prisoner pursuant to
42 U.S.C. §§ 1983 and 1985. The Court has granted
Plaintiff leave to proceed in forma pauperis. The
Court conducted an initial review of Plaintiff's
complaint under the Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA), Pub.
L. No. 104-134, 110 Stat. 1321 (1996). Based on that review,
the Court dismissed 33 of the 37 Defendants named in
Plaintiff's complaint for failure to state a claim.
(Opinion and Order, ECF No. 11, 12.) The Court ordered the
complaint to be served against the remaining four Defendants:
Defendants Leitheim, Jensen, Conner, and Strambaugh.
(Id.) In response to the Court's Opinion and
Order, Plaintiff moved to amend his complaint. (ECF No. 13.)
The Court permitted the amendment. (Order, ECF No. 14.)
Plaintiff filed his amended complaint on September 29, 2016.
(ECF No. 21.)
amended complaint is now before the Court for review under
the PLRA. 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 the se
standards, the Court will dismiss Plaintiff's complaint
for failure to state a claim against Defendants Smith,
Shiebner, Christiansen, Miniard, Lewis, Thurlby, Powell,
Hammond, Lemke, Dunn, Downing, Watkins, Kotowicz, Martens,
Hall, Howard, Bledsoe, Salina, Thomas, Doolittle, Zukon,
Duitsman, Daugherty, Mote, Fornwalt, Drabek, Edwards,
Conklin, Davis, Desroaches, Salinas, Vanamburg, Salame, Way,
Simon, Wellman, Burns, Wilson, Merren, Helder, Horford,
Nielsen, Fraulick, Floyd, Greene, Chellium, Scott, Corbett,
Davids, D. Robinson, Morris, Russell, M. Robinson and
Feliciono. The Court will serve the amended complaint
against Defendants Leitheim, Jensen, Conner, and Strambaugh.
is currently incarcerated with the Michigan Department of
Corrections (MDOC) at the Marquette Branch Prison (MBP).
Prior to his detention at MBP, he was housed at the Ionia
Correctional Facility (ICF). Prior to Plaintiff's
detention at ICF, he was housed at the Bellamy Creek
Correctional Facility (IBC). Plaintiff sues four Defendants
from IBC: Deputy Warden J. Davids; Residential Unit Manager
(unknown) Mote; and Grievance Coordinators D. Robinson and M.
Robinson. Plaintiff also sues many Defendants who are MDOC
employees at ICF: Warden W. O. Smith; Deputy Wardens
(unknown) Shiebner and J. Christiansen; Resident Unit Manager
G. Miniard; Assistant Residential Unit Supervisors L.
Thurlby, H. Powell, and J. Fornwalt; Grievance Coordinator C.
Lewis; Lieutenant D. Howard; Lieutenants (unknown) Drabek and
Edwards; Sergeants (unknown) Leitheim, (unknown) Conklin,
(unknown) Davis, (unknown) Desroaches, (unknown) Salinas, and
(unknown) Bledsoe; Corrections Officers (unknown) Hammond,
(unknown) Lemke, (unknown) Vanamburg, (unknown) Salame, P.
Jensen, (unknown) Downing, (unknown) Conner, (unknown)
Strambaugh, (unknown) Watkins, (unknown) Way, (unknown) Dunn,
(unknown) Simon, (unknown) Wellman, (unknown) Burns,
(unknown) Hall, (unknown) Wilson, (unknown) Merren, (unknown)
Helder, (unknown) Horford, (unknown) Nielsen, (unknown)
Fraulick, (unknown) Floyd, (unknown) Greene, (unknown)
Chellium, (unknown) Scott, (unknown) Corbett, (unknown)
Martens, and (unknown) Kotowicz; Registered Nurses (unknown)
Thomas and (unknown) Doolittle; Librarian P. Zukon; Food
Service Director (unknown) Daugherty; Hearing Investigator
(unknown) Duitsman; and Hearing Officer S. Morris.
also sues one Defendant from MBP: Librarian (unknown)
Feliciono. Finally, Plaintiff sues MDOC Grievance Manager R.
Russell. Each Defendant is sued in his or her official and
amended complaint purports to raise four claims: Count I,
retaliation for for Plaintiff's protected conduct of
filing civil suits against the MDOC; Count II, excessive
force; Count III, exhaustion of administrative remedies
misled obstructed by prison staff; and Count IV, cruel and
unusual punishment. (Am. Comp., ECF No. 21, PageID.99-100.)
Although those are the only numbered claims, Plaintiff also
references First Amendment violations such as denial of
access to the law library and religious services as well as
due process violations. (Id.)
amended complaint contains only conclusory allegations of the
elements of each claim without specifying the underlying
factual detail or identifying what claims are raised against
which Defendant. That deficiency is addressed to a certain
extent on three pages of Plaintiff's amended complaint
where he lists each Defendant by last name and includes a
phrase, typically three to ten words, that explains each
Defendant's “Personal Involvement.” (ECF No.
21, PageID.100-102.) By way of example, the personal
involvement of the first six Defendants is described as
W.O. Smith-In charge of Defendants made threats directly to
plaintiff on 8-1-16 Shiebner-Deputy Warden brought complaints
directly to for resolve violated rights J. Christiansen-was
directly responsible for immediate const. violations
repeatedly G. Miniard-was in acts with Christiansen directly
involved in several acts v plaintiff C. Lewis-MAIN issue is
refusal of “exhaustion of Adm remedies” as most
G.C. fabricate L. Thurlby-several acts within seg. refusal to
mail legal mail and const. violations
(Am. Compl., ECF No. 21, PageID.100.)
standing alone or combined with the conclusory allegations in
the Statement of Claim, Plaintiff's cryptic
“Personal Involvement” phrases do not provide
sufficient detail to the Defendants to give notice of the
claim each Defendant must defend against. See
Section II, infra.
Court identified the same pleading deficiency in
Plaintiff's initial complaint. Rather than correcting the
problem in his amended complaint, Plaintiff simply employed
the same insufficient allegations against dozens of new
Plaintiff filed his initial complaint (ECF No. 1), he also
filed a document entitled Memorandum of Support for
Plaintiff's Complaint (ECF No. 2). Plaintiff's
Memorandum provides some additional detail to permit a more
meaningful assessment of Plaintiff's claims. It was the
detail provided in the Memorandum that permitted some of
Plaintiff's claims to survive initial review under the
PLRA. Although the initial complaint has been displaced by
Plaintiff's amended complaint,  the Court will consider
Plaintiff's Memorandum as part of the amended complaint
as well. However, the Court will consider Plaintiff's
Memorandum only with regard to the claims raised in the
amended complaint against the Defendants identified in the
amended complaint covers the period beginning in November of
2015 through his current placement at MBP in 2016. Plaintiff
was detained at IBC at the beginning of the period. He
contends that Warden Trierweiler and Defendants Davids and
Mote increased Plaintiff's security level in retaliation
for Plaintiff's lawsuits against IBC staff. That
allegedly retaliatory action resulted in Plaintiff's
transfer to ICF.
Plaintiff arrived at ICF he claims he was subjected to
inappropriate conditions of confinement, all in retaliation
for the lawsuits and grievances he had filed. Specifically,
Plaintiff contends he was placed in administrative
segregation without hearing or justification; he was placed
in a dirty cell; his property was withheld, broken or simply
stolen; he was denied store privileges, shower privileges,
yard privileges, laundry, clothing, bathroom facilities, a
mattress, and appropriate food (he was denied meals, placed
on food loaf, and provided different food than that given to
prisoners at Level II); he was not permitted to send legal
mail or access the law library; he was subjected to threats
of violence; he was branded a snitch and put in jeopardy of
harm from other prisoners; he was refused protective custody;
denied medication; and denied access to religious services.
Plaintiff contends that all of these “adverse
actions” were in retaliation for his lawsuits and
grievances against the Defendants or other MDOC personnel.
Read liberally, Plaintiff's amended complaint also
describes the “adverse actions” as cruel and
unusual punishment in violation of the Eighth Amendment.
also claims he was subjected to excessive force. Plaintiff
notes that he was sprayed with a chemical agent without cause
on April 27, 2016, by Defendant Leitheim. Plaintiff further
claims that “staff” participated in the spraying
and subsequent physical abuse, but he does not identify the
staff members involved.
complains that he was also subjected to excessive force on
November 10, 2015, by Defendant Jensen. Plaintiff claims that
Defendant Jensen, while removing Plaintiff's handcuffs
through the food slot, forcefully ripped them off causing
injury. Plaintiff alleges that Defendant Downing was present,
but he does not allege that Defendant Downing used excessive
claims he suffered similar injuries on November 25, 2015. On
that date, while removing Plaintiff's handcuffs through
the food slot, Defendant Conner pulled Plaintiff's hands
directly through the slot and Defendant Strambaugh forcefully
bent Plaintiff's hands and wrists upward.
Plaintiff claims that several Defendants fabricated
misconduct charges against him, interfered with his use of
the prison grievance system to exhaust his administrative
remedies, and interfered with his access to the courts by
preventing him ...