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Williams v. Miron

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

December 1, 2016

UNKNOWN MIRON et al., Defendants.



         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, the Court will dismiss Plaintiff's complaint for failure to state a claim against Defendants Denman, Lindemuth, Salo, Immel and Nylander. The Court will serve the complaint against Defendant Miron.


          I. Factual allegations

          Plaintiff Bobby Allen Williams presently is incarcerated with the Michigan Department of Corrections (MDOC) at the Alger Correctional Facility (LMF). He sues the following LMF officials: Sergeant (unknown) Miron; Assistant Resident Unit Managers (ARUMs) J. Denman and T. Solo; Resident Unit Manager (RUM) (unknown) Lindemuth; Accountant T. Immel; Business Manager B. Nylander; and six unknown cell-extraction-response- team (CERT) members (Unknown Parties).

         Plaintiff alleges that, on May 4, 2013, Defendant Miron threatened to forcibly extract Plaintiff's cellmate from his cell, without a legitimate basis for the threat, thereby provoking Plaintiff's cellmate. Defendants Miron and the unknown CERT member came to the cell to perform the extraction. Plaintiff repeatedly asked to be permitted to leave his cell and to take his property, so that neither he nor his property would be injured or damaged. Miron refused, saying, “F**k you and your property, I[']m giving your black ass a direct order to get on your bunk and stay there, I'm going to gas both of you, I'm in control, and Young Black ass gonna do what I say period!” (Compl., ECF No. 1, PageID.6.) Plaintiff's cellmate then activated the fire sprinkling system. Defendant Miron shot three rounds of chemical agents into the cell, causing Plaintiff extreme physical pain and injuries to Plaintiff's eyes, nose throat, lungs and skin. The sprinkler system flooded the cell, causing irreparable damage to Plaintiff's legal mail, legal exhibits, court transcripts and orders, as well as his recently prepared habeas corpus petition, brief, and exhibits. As a result of his exposure to the gas, Plaintiff had to seek medical treatment both on that date and later dates.

         Plaintiff filed a grievance about Miron's refusal to allow Plaintiff to leave his cell with the property. Defendant Salo reviewed the Step-I grievance and concluded that Plaintiff should seek reimbursement from the Prisoner Benefit Fund for the cost of replacing his legal property, but that the damage was not caused by LMF staff, but by Plaintiff's cellmate. Defendant Lindemuth signed the Step-I grievance. Plaintiff complains that Defendants Salo and Lindemuth covered up the improper actions of Defendant Miron and the unknown CERT officers by placing all of the blame for the damage on Plaintiff's cellmate.

         Plaintiff appealed the grievance to Step II, complaining that he needed immediate replacement of his materials in order to meet court deadlines. On May 23, 2013, Warden Bauman responded at Step II, indicating that the MDOC was not responsible for the reimbursement of funds, as its personnel did not cause the damage. Bauman indicated, however, that Defendant Lindemuth had instructed Plaintiff to provide documentation so that he could receive restitution from the prisoner involved.

         Plaintiff thereafter appealed to Step III. On October 15, 2013, Plaintiff's Step-III appeal was denied on the grounds that the responses at Steps I and II had been appropriate.

         Plaintiff requested copies of all documents from the Michigan Supreme Court that were lost in the incident. On June 10, 2013, he was informed that the cost of copying would be $62.50. Plaintiff received a letter from the Michigan Court of Appeals on July 7, 2013, indicating that copies of documents from that court would cost $40.00. On July 2, 2013, he sought reimbursement from Defendant Business Manager Nylander. On August 7, 2013, Defendant Nylander credited Plaintiff's prisoner trust account with $102.50. Shortly thereafter, however, Defendant Immel removed the funds that had been placed in Plaintiff's account, preventing Plaintiff from obtaining copies of the records that had been destroyed.

         Plaintiff alleges that, because he lacked the necessary records, the petition for habeas corpus that he filed in this Court on January 13, 2014, was a mere skeleton petition, lacking supporting documents. Plaintiff's petition was denied on August 30, 2016. See Williams v. Bauman, No. 2:14-cv-12 (W.D. Mich. Aug. 30, 2016).

         For relief, Plaintiff seeks compensatory and punitive damages.

         II. Failure to state a claim

         A complaint may be dismissed for failure to state a claim if it fails “‘to give the defendant fair notice of what the . . . claim is and the grounds upon which it rests.'” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (quoting Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 47 (1957)). While a complaint need not contain detailed factual allegations, a Plaintiff's allegations must include more than labels and conclusions. Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555; Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (“Threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice.”). The court must determine whether the complaint contains “enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570. “A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679. Although the plausibility standard is not equivalent to a “‘probability requirement, ' . . . it asks for more than a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556). “[W]here the well-pleaded facts do not permit the court to infer more than the mere possibility of misconduct, the complaint has alleged - ...

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