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Maye v. Klee

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

February 1, 2017

DERRICK MAYE, Plaintiff,
v.
PAUL KLEE, et al., Defendants.

          ORDER OVERRULING DEFENDANTS' OBJECTIONS

          THOMAS L. LUDINGTON United States District Judge

         On February 25, 2014, Plaintiff Derrick Maye, an inmate at Cooper Street Correctional Facility, filed suit against various prison personnel, alleging they violated his First and Fourteenth Amendments. Maye claims that Defendants denied him permission to participate in the Muslim festival of Eid-Ul-Fitr, withheld religious materials, prevented him from filing administrative grievances, and retaliated against him for filing grievances. After Defendants' motion for summary judgment was granted in part and denied in part, Plaintiff was appointed counsel on May 29, 2015. See ECF No. 58. Plaintiff then filed a first amended complaint on October 24, 2015 after obtaining the Court's permission. See ECF Nos. 74, 75. Plaintiff supplemented his amended complaint on February 3, 2016. See ECF No. 99.

         After the close of discovery, on July 15, 2016 Defendants and Plaintiff filed motions for summary judgment. See ECF Nos. 111, 112. In part, Defendants argued that summary judgment was appropriate as to all of Plaintiff's claims for money damages because Plaintiff had only sued Defendants in their official capacities. See ECF No. 111.[1] In response Plaintiff moved to file a second amended complaint, seeking to clarify his intent to sue Defendants in their individual capacities as well as their official capacities. See ECF No. 117. After holding a hearing, on December 12, 2016 Magistrate Judge Stephanie Dawkins Davis granted Plaintiff's motion for leave to amend his complaint, and denied Defendants' motion for summary judgment as moot. See ECF No. 128. The magistrate judge determined that, based on Plaintiff's first amended complaint and the course of proceedings, Defendants were on notice that they were being sued in their individual capacities. Defendants have timely objected.

         I.

         The decision and order of a non-dispositive motion by a magistrate judge will be upheld unless it is clearly erroneous or contrary to law. See 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(A); Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(a); Massey v. City of Ferndale, 7 F.3d 506, 509 (6th Cir. 1993). A district judge shall consider such objections and may modify or set aside any portion of the magistrate judge's order found to be clearly erroneous or contrary to law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(a). “The ‘clearly erroneous' standard applies only to the magistrate judge's factual findings; legal conclusions are reviewed under the plenary ‘contrary to law' standard . . . . Therefore, [the reviewing court] must exercise independent judgment with respect to the magistrate judge's conclusions of law.” Haworth, Inc. v. Herman Miller, Inc., 162 F.R.D. 289, 291 (W.D. Mich. 1995) (citing Gandee v. Glaser, 785 F.Supp. 684, 686 (S.D. Ohio 1992)). “An order is contrary to law when it fails to apply or misapplies relevant statutes, case law, or rules of procedure.” Ford Motor Co. v. United States, 2009 WL 2922875, at *1 (E.D. Mich. Sept. 9, 2009)).

         Defendant currently has two separate objections pending. The first, an objection to the magistrate judge's order allowing Plaintiff to file an amended complaint after he obtained counsel in October of 2015, was never addressed by this Court. See ECF No. 77. The second is an objection to the magistrate judge's recent order allowing Plaintiff to amend his complaint to clarify his individual capacity claims. See ECF No. 130. Each objection will be addressed in turn.

         A.

         In his initial complaint, Maye brought allegations against thirteen Defendants, only six of which were identified by name: Warden Paul Klee, Deputy Warden Sherman Campbell, Deputy Warden Lee McRoberts, Resident Unit Manager Brian Evers, Assistant Resident Unit Supervisor Ronald Nichols, and Chaplain Joseph Serafin. The rest of the Defendants were identified as John Does 1-6 and Jane Doe. On April 30, 2014, the six named Defendants filed a motion for summary judgment, asserting that they were entitled to qualified immunity. On January 20, 2015, the magistrate judge then presiding over the case, Judge Michael Hluchaniuk, issued a report recommending that Defendants' motion for summary judgment be granted in part and denied in part. Magistrate Judge Hluchaniuk determined that: (1) Warden Paul Klee was entitled to summary judgment because he was not personally involved in the matters at issue; (2) Deputy Warden Campbell, Deputy Warden McRobert, Brian Evers, and Ronald Nichols were entitled to summary judgment because their actions did not rise to the level of constitutional concerns; and (3) Chaplain Serafin was not entitled to qualified immunity because there is a question of fact regarding whether he violated Maye's clearly established constitutional right. The magistrate judge's report was adopted by this Court on February 25, 2015. See ECF No. 51.

         i.

         After obtaining counsel, on July 27, 2015 Plaintiff moved to amend his complaint. See ECF No. 63. Plaintiff's proposed amended complaint clarified and added claims against Warden Joe Barrett, Deputy Warden Willie Riley, and Chaplain Will Taylor for their roles in denying Plaintiff the right to celebrate Eid Ul-Fitr with a feast in 2014 and for denying Maye the opportunity to partake in the one-hour religious service for Eid Ul-Fitr. The proposed amended complaint also added claims against Michael Martin, the special activities coordinator for the MDOC, who allegedly instructed defendant Serafin to deny Plaintiff and other Muslims from the Nation of Islam the right to take part in the Eid Ul-Fitr festivities in 2013. Finally, the proposed amended complaint alleged that Cooper Street Facility officials sent Plaintiff letters in June 2015 advising him that they intended to refuse an Eid Ul-Fitr feast for 2015. Apparently, MDOC officials followed through with this plan and denied Plaintiff's request to participate in the feast despite his counsel's intervention and assurances from MDOC's counsel that this would not happen. Id.

         In opposing Plaintiff's motion to amend, Defendants argued that Plaintiff had failed to exhaust his administrative remedies against Martin and Riley. Defendants also argued that Plaintiff's proposed claim regarding the 2015 Eid Ul-Fitr feast raised issues already addressed by the court in the case of Dowdy et al v. Caruso, Case No. 06-11765 (E. D. Mich. 2006), and that his proposed claims would therefore be futile. In reply, Plaintiff argued that he had exhausted his remedies to the extent he was permitted to do so and that his claims raise different issues than those addressed by the Dowdy court.

         By an order dated October 14, 2015 the magistrate judge granted in part and denied in part Plaintiff's motion for leave to amend. See ECF No. 74. The magistrate judge found Defendant's argument that Plaintiff had not sufficiently exhausted his claims against Martin and Riley to be without merit after determining that under Jones v. Bock, 549 U.S. 199 (2007) Plaintiff had provided prison officials with adequate notice of the issues he was grieving. The magistrate judge determined that Plaintiff had not sufficiently exhausted his claims against proposed defendants Warden Barrett and Chaplain Thomas, but noted that Plaintiff was free to file a motion to supplement his complaint under Rule 15(d) once the claims had been exhausted. The magistrate judge further determined that Dowdy did not preclude plaintiffs from seeking individualized relief in separate lawsuits.

         ii.

         Defendants objected to the magistrate judge's order on October 28, 2015. See ECF No. 77. Defendants first argue that the magistrate judge clearly erred in allowing Plaintiff to add a claim against Michael Martin, the special activities coordinator for the MDOC. Specifically, Defendants argue that the magistrate judge erred in relying on the Supreme Court's opinion in Jones v. Bock, 549 U.S. 199 (2007). The analysis in Jones was grounded in the Prison Litigation Reform Act (“PLRA”), 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(a). The Court then found that while “[t]he PLRA requires exhaustion of ‘such administrative remedies as are available, ' … nothing in the statute imposes a ‘name all defendants' requirement….” Jones, 549 ...


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