United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Northern Division
Elizabeth A. Stafford Magistrate Judge.
ORDER OVERRULING OBJECTIONS, ADOPTING REPORT AND
RECOMMENDATION, GRANTING MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT, AND
DISMISSING CLAIMS WITH PREJUDICE
L. LUDINGTON United States District Judge.
31, 2014, Plaintiff Angel Peterson, a Michigan Department of
Corrections (“MDOC”) prisoner proceeding pro se
filed a complaint under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against Rocky
Burris, Michigan State Industries, and Millicent Warren,
alleging numerous violations of state and federal law arising
out of the termination of her employment with the prison
dental lab. On December 4, 2014 Defendants filed a motion to
dismiss, arguing that Peterson had failed to state claims
upon which relief could be granted. See ECF No. 22.
That motion was granted in part and denied in part on June
17, 2015. See ECF No. 42. Her claims for deliberate
indifference in violation of the Eighth Amendment and equal
protection violations under the Fifth and Fourteenth
Amendments survived that order, as did her state law claims.
filed a motion for summary judgment on March 21, 2016.
See ECF No. 72. In response, Plaintiff moved to
amend her complaint. See ECF No. 79. On January 4,
2017 Magistrate Judge Elizabeth A. Stafford issued her report
and recommendation, recommending that Defendant's motion
be granted, Plaintiff's request for leave to amend be
denied, and Plaintiff's claims be dismissed with
original complaint Plaintiff Peterson alleges that, during
her confinement by the MDOC, she held the lead position in
the processing department of Michigan State Industries
(“MSI”) Dental Lab for over a year. On January 2,
2012 she was allegedly demoted and reassigned to the Set-Up
Department. Her immediate supervisor, Defendant Rocky Burris,
informed her that she was being reassigned because she was
“not getting along with anyone.” Plaintiff
alleges that a fellow inmate, Vincincia, informed Plaintiff
that she had made a personal request to Defendant Burris to
have Plaintiff reassigned. Plaintiff alleges that Inmate
Vincincia's complaints also led to the demotion and
reassignment of a fellow inmate named Jones.
her demotion, Plaintiff alleges that on January 9, 2012
Inmate Vincincia offered Plaintiff and fellow inmates parts
that were stolen from the Prison's education department
while Defendant Burris was out to lunch. After Peterson
allegedly refused to accept the stolen equipment, Inmate
Vincincia raised her hand as if to hit Peterson but did not
actually hit Peterson. Peterson reported the incident to
Burris when he returned. Instead of punishing the inmate,
Peterson claims that Burris told her that “You get
under people's skin.” Peterson claims that Burris
did not punish the other inmate due to their
alleges that in March of 2012 Defendant Burris wrote her the
first of three improper counseling memos. The first memo
reprimanded her for arguing with a coworker on a day that
Burris had been out on sick leave: “In other words, Mr.
Burris was not present when this alleged argument
happened.” Indeed, Peterson claims that the argument
never took place, and therefore she was improperly
reprimanded. On May 30, 2012 Plaintiff filed a grievance
regarding her demotion and pay reduction, arguing that a
fellow inmate named Lemon was treated differently in that she
was demoted but continued to receive the higher pay rate.
Plaintiff also grieved the stolen equipment incident and her
first counseling memo. Plaintiff's grievance was denied
on June 14, 2012.
the grievance appeal was pending, on August 20, 2012 Peterson
received another counseling memo for leaving a critical tool
out. Although Peterson asserts that it was unintentional, she
concedes that this second counseling memo was valid.
August 27, 2012, Peterson received a third counseling memo
for having a “poor attitude.” During a
particularly heavy rain, a hole in the MSI Dental Lab ceiling
began leaking. According to Peterson “[t]he conditions
were so poor that some of the electricity to the lighting was
disconnected in order to prevent electrocution or any other
accidents that could have occurred because of the extreme
leaking.” Compl. 7. Despite the danger, Burris did not
allow Peterson to move to another area. Instead, he permitted
Peterson to move to a different seat within the same area.
Peterson, however, “was reluctant to move . . . for two
(2) reasons: 1) She was in possession of a critical tool . .
. 2) The plaintiff's negative history with Mr. Burris . .
. .” Compl. 7. As a result of Peterson's reluctance
to move seats, Burris wrote the third and final counseling
memo stating that Peterson had a “bad attitude.”
Burris then terminated Peterson's employment.
then filed additional grievances and appeals, all of which
were rejected. She claims that despite exhausting all her
administrative remedies, Defendants “have violated the
plaintiff's constitutional rights by failing to address
valid concerns that include but are not limited to Mr.
Burris' ill will and retaliation against the plaintiff
for questioning and reporting the deplorable work conditions,
which ultimately resulted in the plaintiff being wrongfully
terminated from employment in the MSI Dental Lab.”
31, 2014, Peterson filed suit in this Court, raising six
claims: (1) Deliberate Indifference in violation of the
Eighth Amendment; (2) Equal Protection in violation of the
Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments; (3) Libel and Slander under
Michigan law; (4) Religious Discrimination in violation of
the First and Fourteenth Amendments pursuant to the Religious
Land Use and Institutionalized Person Act
(“RLUIPA”); (5) Sexual Harassment in violation of
federal and state law; and (6) Procedural Due Process under
the Fourteenth Amendment. On November 17, 2014, Peterson
filed an “Amended Complaint” that added two
Defendants to the litigation: Michigan State Industries and